BY Steven Dunst
Tailback Marshawn Lynch stood up on the podium to collect his hardware after a typically stellar performance in the 2006 Holiday Bowl. The No. 20 Cal football team just crushed Texas A&M 45-10 in the Bears’ most decisive win of the bowl season, but the throngs of Cal fans in attendance had more important matters to tend to, begging Lynch to return for, “One more year! One more year!” While Lynch laughed and danced long after the game ended, he knew what everyone else would find out formally mere days later: that was his last game in blue and gold. The Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year wasted little time in revealing the most thinly-veiled secret since former Bears quarterback Aaron Rodgers turned pro two years ago.
“The opportunity to play in the NFL is something that I have always dreamed of," Lynch said in a statement. "Right now, it is just hitting me that my dreams are going to have the chance to come true.” His intentions to declare for the draft have been obvious to those close to the program for awhile now, and there is no reason to second-guess one of the most prolific tailbacks in Bears history. He had nothing left to prove on the collegiate level. Lynch fought through nagging ankle injuries, ran for over 1,000 yards in two straight seasons and helped bring
Considering this is a weak year for running back prospects, Lynch’s draft stock will never be higher. His declaration will also help the Bears maintain national relevance in the off-season. Having two first-round selections (corner Daymeion Hughes should also go in the first 30 picks) can do wonders for recruiting. Every high school player wants to go to a college that gives him a chance to make it to the NFL. Lynch leaves
Forsett has proven he can be sensational when the line is blocking well, but he still needs to quiet critics who claim he struggles against bigger defensive fronts. Case in point: he rushed for one yard on five carries in the season-opener against
Short of a Heisman Trophy, Lynch picked up just about every piece of hardware a Bears running back can dream of. And he went out on top, with the crowd’s adulation showered upon him after one of the biggest wins of the Tedford era. Now it’s Forsett’s turn.