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Best's Best Bet

Will Cal Football star Jahvid Best return for his senior season or high tail it to the NFL?


With apologies to Raiders fans, it’s no stretch to say that UC Berkeley tailback Jahvid Best is the biggest football star in the East Bay. Early this season, Best’s name was on the short list of Heisman Trophy candidates, and the Golden Bears were ranked as high as number six in the nation by the Associated Press, following a game in which Best ran for five touchdowns.

As the 2009 season winds down, the multimillion-dollar question is: Will the Vallejo native return for his senior year at Cal or take his chances with the NFL draft? We asked some sports authorities to weigh in.

Larry Beil, sports anchor, KGO-7

He’s clearly one of the best explosive runners in the nation, so I’m sure [Cal coach] Jeff Tedford would be very happy if he came back. But, he would certainly be a first-round pick in the NFL. If he’s motivated >>>
by the dollars, I would tell him, “Take the money, and go to the NFL.” I know Jeff would want to kill me for saying that, and Bears fans certainly don’t want to hear it, but that’s the realistic answer.

Mark Ibanez, sports director/anchor, KTVU-2:

Look at what just happened to the QB at Oklahoma, Sam Bradford. He could have entered the NFL draft this year and didn’t, then he injured his shoulder. In light of that, I’d be saying Best has gotta get the money. What’s the purpose of getting a college degree—to get a great living? He can do that in the NFL.

For an NFL team, he’s very marketable—a likable, personable guy with great talent. The only question I have
is whether he’ll be a first-round draft pick. I think he has some proving left to do, seeing as he was shut down by USC and Oregon.

Jonathan Okanes, writer for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune:

No, I don’t [think he’ll return for his senior year]. Right now, he’s projected as a first-round NFL draft pick. It would be hard to pass up that opportunity, especially as a running back (greater risk of injury). Depending on what he does the remainder of this season, he should still rank fairly high among Cal’s all-time backs.

Phil Nho, blogger, Bearswithfangs.com:

I’d consider it unlikely that Best will return for his senior year. I’d love to see the 49ers take Best, after passing up on what I thought were two obvious draft errors involving Cal players—picking Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers and passing up on DeSean Jackson twice.

Cal Football’s final regular season game is December 5 at University of Washington.

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