FULLBACK ALSO A SPECIAL-TEAMS ACE
By Jay Heater
Cal's Byron Storer, a special-teams maniac, obviously hasn't taken too many shots to the head. Storer, along with starting center Alex Mack, were named Thursday to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team, which puts them in the pool of candidates for Academic All-America recognition. Besides being a second-team All-Pacific-10 selection the past two seasons as a special-teams player, Storer became the Golden Bears' starting fullback this season. His starting role hasn't kept him from putting together another stellar season on special teams. It is a brutal role, in which Storer either delivers huge hits as he gathers a full head of steam to make a tackle or sacrifices his body to wipe out blockers. ``Special teams are not about the individual,'' Storer said. ``They are all about team. Since Day One here at Cal, that's been my thing.'' Although Storer doesn't get a lot of recognition for his special-teams work, he said his teammates understand his role. ``They all see what I'm doing,'' he said. ``And I just love it.'' Storer arrived at Cal from Central Catholic High School in Modesto in 2002 at a time when Chris Manderino was starting his run as a four-year starter at fullback. Storer redshirted that season and knew he would have to become a solid special-teams player if he was going to get on the field. ``I found my role,'' he said. Storer has been a very special player from that first season, Cal Coach Jeff Tedford said. ``He brings such passion and toughness to the job,'' Tedford said. ``He takes such great pride in it.''
• Construction on Cal's new Student-Athlete High-Performance Center -- to be built along the outer rim of Memorial Stadium's west side -- will begin Dec. 11 as long as the project is approved Tuesday and Wednesday when the Board of Regents meets in Los Angeles, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said. The project is expected to take 14 months to complete, but it will not affect Cal's 2007 football season.
• Tedford has been named one of 10 finalists for the first Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award to be announced Dec. 16. The others are Mack Brown (Texas), Lloyd Carr (Michigan), Danny Hale (Bloomsburg), Bobby Petrino (Louisville), Greg Schiano (Rutgers), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Mel Tjeerdsma (Northwest Missouri State), Jim Tressel (Ohio State) and Tommy Tuberville (Auburn). A panel of college football experts will choose the winner along with a fan vote. Fans can vote at www.coachoftheyear.com.
• Marcus O'Keith, a key player on special teams, will not play Saturday against Arizona because of turf toe.
• Tedford said DeSean Jackson, listed at 165 pounds, is better built for punt returns, in which players must be able to move side-to-side quickly, than kickoff returns, in which the return man can get a head of steam and most of the running is straight ahead. Jackson, who does not return kickoffs, tied a conference record Saturday against UCLA with his third punt return for a touchdown this season.