When I got to Cal, you could say I was at the bottom of the totem pole. 

Maybe I was riding all that momentum to get to Berkeley, but once I got here I realized just how talented some of these guys were. I ended up redshirting the 2016 season, which meant that I could keep all four years of eligibility if I sat out that entire year.

It was pretty obvious at that point that, like Kobe said, the job wasn't finished. In fact, it hadn't even really started.

Being on the team still had its perks. I still remember a game that season against Utah, when our defense came up with a goal line stand to beat the nationally-ranked Utes in the closing seconds. It was one of the most exciting games I had ever seen, and our fans rushed the field to celebrate. And even though I hadn't played a single snap because of my redshirt status, I still had people coming up to me and telling me what a great job I did. I still get a good laugh about that now.

But as I kept pushing myself further, I started to get the results I wanted. I became a starter as a redshirt freshman, and I've never looked back. I've made 25 straight starts, but the funny thing is, the better I played, the less I actually got to be a part of the game.

It's ironic that when I was in high school I worked hard so I could get into the game. But once I became a standout cornerback, nobody wanted to throw my way. 

Nnamdi Asomugha, who is one of the best defensive players to ever come out of Cal, had the same issue when he was in his prime with the Raiders. During one stretch from 2007-10, he was thrown at just 1.75 times per game.

And while I have a long way to go before I can ever say I'm at that level, I know the frustration he probably went through. I've had games where I wasn't thrown at the entire game - not even once. But there's always something to work on. In fact, if I'm not getting the ball thrown my way, it's proof that I still have work to do. Richard Sherman once said that good corners are shutdown corners, but great cornerbacks fool the opposing quarterback into thinking his receiver is open. That’s when they pounce for the interception.

(Photo courtesy of Cal Athletics)

By that standard, I'm not a great cornerback yet. The other thing is I want to help our team win more games. Last year we started 3-0, but we went through an up-and-down season to finish 7-6. Just like with my own performance, good but not great.

The cool thing was seeing that even after we went through a losing streak midway through the year, we didn't give up on each other. After losing three in a row we beat Oregon State and then the next week we faced Washington, who has won the Pac-12 North for three straight years. But on that day, we were the better team, and our fans tried to storm the field before security told them to head back up.

I don't know if 2019 has any big wins like that in store, but I just hope that if the students storm the field after a big win, and they tell me good job, that I've actually given them a reason to say so.

Go Bears!

Camryn Bynum #24

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Thomas Hager1 Comment