O'Callaghan, Merz, and Philip are seniors - Cameron a junior.
All four will be gone next year, with Cameron the possible exception if he decides to return for a senior season (he will graduate in spring). Given the critical nature of the left tackle position (the position most responsible for guarding the quarterback's back), Cal fans - and Coach Michalczik - have to hope that Cameron returns - or that new JC recruit Mike Gibson or other young talent on the squad can step into the role.
The signal caller on the offensive line - Marvin Philip - made the national final-six watch-list for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation's best center. O'Callaghan was last week awarded the Morris Trophy for being Pac-10's best offensive lineman. "Best in the Pac-10."
What makes the Morris Trophy particularly meaningful is that the winner is selected by the votes of the defensive linemen in the conference - not by coaches, not by the press, and not by the guru-prognosticators. Given that D-linemen won't vote for a player, however good, who plays underhanded football, the votes the winner receives are not only for strong play, they are also for respect.
Last Saturday, on the field at Memorial after practice, Marvin Philip and Ryan O'Callaghan spoke about their years at Cal. Both had been asked to come to the sidelines for a joint interview.
As they arrived, we expressed congratulations to O'Callaghan for winning the Morris Trophy.
"What?" exploded Philip at O'Callaghan. "You didn't tell me!"
O'Callaghan blushed, stammered, and said something eloquent like, "Yeah".
Marvin took the step or two needed to reach O-Callaghan, then banged him on the shoulder pads, saying, "That's great, man, why didn't you tell me?" A lot of bangs and bumps and hugs followed in the style favored by young men today.
It's unfortunate that our video camera was not rolling because it was a moment of joy shared by teammates who have been in the trenches together for years.
O'Callaghan had just not been able to bring himself to tell his closest teammates about the honor he had received. He's a modest guy, not given to bragging, a player who prefers to express himself in the ways he gets the job done on the field.
This was anticipated, of course, so the interview was set up to include both players. As the two arrived at the sideline - and after the news was shared about the Morris Trophy - Marvin asked to describe just what the Morris Trophy means to the Pac-10 guys on the front lines - given that Ryan would not brag about his accomplishments.
The attached video will fill in the details. You will see two predominant themes: Ryan's modesty - and Marvin's class.
Cal is going to seriously miss these guys - but they will always be Cal Bears.
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