We're sure the sight brought tears of fond remembrance to the eyes of Yahoo! Sports colleague Mike Silver, a proud (and VERY vocal) Cal alum. During the Golden Bears' spring practice on Saturday, one fast and powerful halfback impressed by hitting the edge and scoring a 22-yard touchdown.
Turns out it was Marshawn Lynch, who racked up 3.230 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns for Cal from 2004 through 2006 before the Buffalo Bills took him in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft. Traded to the Seattle Seahawks in October 2010, Lynch is a three-time Pro Bowler who put up his best season in 2012. He amassed 1,590 rushing yards, ranking third in the NFL and defining Seattle's physical style.
But on Saturday, Lynch was just one of the guys in the program.
“It was a little mix," he told Mike Yam of the Pac-12 Network when asked if it was his idea to get back into his No. 10 Cal jersey. "My boy KP [longtime Cal assistant director of player personnel Kevin Parker] asked me if I would do it, and I got his back."
"We told the guys if anybody tackled him, it was going to be a $25 million fine," new Cal head coach Dykes said of Lynch's play. "I didn't want to be getting a call from Pete."
"Pete," of course, is Pete Carroll, Lynch's head coach in Seattle. Carroll got quite enough of Lynch (the collegiate version) back in the day -- he was USC's head coach from 2001 through 2009.
The Cal program is trying to engineer a return to relevance under Dykes after a 3-9 record and the firing of former head coach Jeff Tedford following the 2012 campaign.
"It felt pretty good out there," Lynch said of his return to school. "Just being out here, seeing the young guys building those relationships with their new teammates and friends ... They were struggling, but I hope this regime turns it back into what it was when I was here.”
That would be a good thing for the program. In Lynch's three years with the Bears, Cal put up a 28-9 record in the regular season, and went 2-1 in bowl games. They won't be able to keep that big, fast running back around, but perhaps Lynch's exhibition performance bodes well for the team's future.
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