Over the years, there have been many players who donned the blue and gold of Cal that came with inspiring stories and senior linebacker Robert Mullins is no exception in that regard.
Starring for a loaded Dorsey defense in 2005 as a junior Mullins set a school record with 165 tackles on the year, along with five sacks and two interceptions before going down with a serious hip injury.
Despite the injury, the Bears never backed off Mullins' recruitment and stuck with their offer.
Mullins eventually signed with Cal in 2007 but delayed entry to Cal till spring 2008 as he continued to rehab.
The senior linebacker's rehab from his injury was a long and arduous one.
His rehab included a process where holes were drilled in his hip to stimulate cartilege growth and some even feared a Bo Jackson -variety of hip necrosis, which is virtually always a career-ender in any competitive sport.
Once at Cal, Mullins still had to deal with a variety of injuries and his playing time was limited to three games in 2008 before missing all of 2009 to injuries.
In 2010 and 2011, Mullins stil battled injuries but was able to put up eight tackles and a forced fumble as a redshirt soph and nine tackles and a sack as a junior before finally coming into his senior season healthy for the first time in almost a decade.
The senior clearly relishes the opportunity to go out with a bang, starting both of the Bears' first two games this year.
"It's extremely special," said Mullins. "I appreciate every day that I get a chance to play.
"Earlier in the past, I didn't know if I'd get that chance again. I'm extremely grateful every time I get to step on the field and play this game.
"You never know how many downs you'll have left. In this sport, every play can be your last.
"I'm extremely grateful but I'm not looking in the past. We're playing in the present right now and despite all the things that happened to me in the past -all the injuries and whatnot- my focus is to work hard now and make us better. Me getting better as an individual and us as a defense."
In just the fourth start of his career, the eloquent Mullins sounds almost like a grad assistant or a coach as he talks about how facing Ohio State in the Horseshoe is a tremendous and exciting opportunity but one where the team, especially the younger players who will see significant playing time need to stay focused on the task at hand, without getting caught up in the hype and distractions that can be a difficult hurdle to overcome while trying to win in such a hostile environment.
"Getting caught up in the hype can be kind of venomous to some guys," said Mullins. "Sometimes they lose focus and don't have the right things in mind.
"Their first priority is to play. The hype? That's all extra. Hoo-rah has never gotten me a tackle. It's never gotten anyone a tackle or a touchdown.
"At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is our execution. That's what you stress.
"Hey, be excited. Be very excited, because it's going to be a great atmospere. But understand what's important. And what's important is the win and our consistency."
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