- Apr 20, 2004
not all that positive intresting to see his prespective on some of these guys and there futures though
By Richard Cirminiello
Remember Armon Dorrough? How about Justin Tomerlin? Wasn’t Cecil “The Diesel’ going to truck on up to Syracuse, and finally give the Orange someone to fear under center? Each year, countless former high school stars confirm that the recruitment of teenage athletes is very much an inexact science. Yet, that won’t stop an optimistic horde of college football fans from saturating themselves with drool as National Letter of Intent signing day fast approaches.
Injuries, academic struggles and poor scouting are just a few of the many reasons a kid fails to make the leap from big man in prep school to big man on campus. For every Larry Fitzgerald, who breaks records, there’s at least one Carlos Campbell, who can’t break into the starting lineup. For every Derrick Johnson, a Derron Johnson.
The next few weeks leading up to the Feb. 2 signing day are a time of celebration and anticipation. A time to throw out the welcome mat and familiarize yourself with a new wave of recruits that’ll wear your school’s colors for the next few years. However, a quick review of how some of the crème de la crème of the Class of 2001 have panned out might temper your enthusiasm. Don’t be floored if that cant-miss you’re currently fawning over can’t cut it at the next level. Hey, didn’t you used to be Kevin Noel?
1. RB Kelly Baraka, Michigan – Baraka was touted as the next great Wolverine back, but wound up being one of the school’s most publicized and embarrassing recruiting busts. The prep All-American was arrested twice in 2001 for marijuana possession, and was dismissed from the team the following spring. Baraka bounced around the junior-college circuit without ever playing a down in Ann Arbor.
2. DE Mark Anderson, Stanford – One of the prized catches of Ty Willingham’s first-rate recruiting class never had a chance to make his mark on the Farm. A spate of knee injuries essentially ended Anderson’s college career before it began, and he decided to transfer to Montana State to be closer to home. He had it all—speed, size, strength and smarts—so it was no surprise he received more than 30 scholarships from major programs.
3. WR Roscoe Crosby, Clemson – An enormously gifted athlete, Crosby turned out to be a colossal tease to Tiger fans. After breaking the school record for receptions and receiving yards by a true freshman, the two-sport star sat out 2002 with a serious elbow injury and 2003 for personal reasons. Crosby hoped to play one more year of college football this fall, but doing so would nullify his claim to $400,000, which he believes is owed to him by the Kansas City Royals.
4. CB Dominic Robinson, Florida State – Robinson earned four letters in Tallahassee, but that’s chump change for a player that was widely touted as the top cornerback prospect in the nation in 2000. He never did make it in the Seminole secondary, switching to wide receiver early in his career, and getting reps as a punt returner. Robinson had the occasional moment at receiver, but never caught more than 17 passes in a season, and will be remembered as a disappointment.
5. OL Blake Larsen, Iowa – Larsen was one of the most heavily recruited players to come out of western Iowa in quite some time, but never lived up to all of the attention or scholarship offers he received. His injuries have out numbered his snaps the past four years, fueling Larsen’s decision last month to leave the university with a degree in Health and Sports Studies and one year of unused eligibility.
6. QB D.J. Shockley, Georgia – This will change this year. Shockley has a unique one-year window of opportunity to make noise in Athens and validate those scouts who projected him as a Top 10 prospect. Now that David Greene has graduated, the offense is his, a reality that unsettles some Dawg fans. He never could unseat Greene, and worse, has rarely been consistent in relief. To get the most out of Shockley, Mark Richt plans to dust off the playbook he used when he coached Charlie Ward at Florida State.
7. ATH Quan Cosby, Texas – The ‘Horns had visions of using the combustible Cosby much the way Miami utilizes Devin Hester and USC features Reggie Bush. He was nearly that versatile and explosive. However, the Anaheim Angels offered some quan of their own, canceling The Cosby Show in Austin. He’s recently hinted that after four years toiling in the minor leagues, he may be ready to return to the gridiron to play for either Texas, Oklahoma or Baylor.
8. QB Cecil Howard, Syracuse – The man who’d finally give Syracuse a viable successor to Donovan McNabb never played a down for the Orangemen. A depressed Howard shocked the upstate New York community when he bolted after just one year, transferring to Youngstown State, and later Northeastern, in a frenetic one-week span.
9. QB Joe Mauer, Florida State – Had Mauer not chosen Major League Baseball over college football, the ‘Noles would have had a viable option for Chris Rix the past two seasons. He was selected first overall in 2001 by the hometown Minnesota Twins, and made his debut in the bigs last year.
10. QB Adrian McPherson, Florida State – ‘Nole coaches knew Joe Mauer was a risk to give up pitching footballs for catching baseballs, and McPherson represented a terrific Plan B. However, one year after arriving on campus, he was exiled for gambling allegations and his role in a check cashing scam. He was last seen piling up big numbers for the Indiana Firebirds of the Arena Football League, and has hired uber-agent Leigh Steinberg to represent him in April’s NFL Draft.
11. QB Brent Rawls, Oklahoma – A sobering example of the ten-cent head sabotaging the million-dollar arm. Physically, Rawls was a prototypical drop-back passer, but upstairs, he lacked maturity and good sense. In Norman, he struggled in the classroom, became a regular in Bob Stoops’ doghouse, and ultimately transferred to Louisiana Tech in 2003. With a second chance in Ruston, he never qualified academically, and opted to sign a deal last November with the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings of the Arena Football League.
12. WR Angelo Chattams, Ohio State – Regarded by some as the next coming of Joey Galloway, Chattams became better known for getting charged with the theft of a set of golf clubs in 2002. After catching just two balls as a Buckeye, an upper spine injury ended his football career a year later.
13. QB Kyle Matter, Stanford – Filling in for Chris Lewis as a freshman, Matter showed flashes of the potential that made him a Prep All-American and one of the top-rated passers of his class. It was all downhill after 2002, however. He slid to No. 3 on the depth chart the following season, and didn’t throw a single pass this past year. With underclassmen still ahead of him at the position, Matter is destined to finish his Cardinal career as a high-profile holder on field goals and extra points.
14. CB Gerard Ross, Florida State – Over the past four years, Ross has been unable to recapture the form that made him one of the highest-ranked defensive backs coming out of high school. He’s been a liability in pass coverage, and has routinely been surpassed on the depth chart by younger teammates. Ross, who has been an asset on special teams, has one more year of eligibility left with the ‘Noles.
15. DE Marquis Elmore, Georgia – Early academic issues and a slow-to-heal back set Elmore back his first two years in Athens. In 2001, he attended Hargrave Military Academy to work on his grades, and the following year, surgery for a herniated disc forced him to be redshirted. The past two seasons have been largely spent on the sidelines, watching his teammates make plays. The coaches still believe Elmore can be an effective pass-rusher, and he has two years left to prove them right.
16. DE Redgie Arden, Ohio State – Since arriving in Columbus, Arden has made all of his headlines away from the ‘Shoe getting arrested twice for drunk driving, had his nose broken outside a West Virginia bar and sat out the entire 2004 season with an injury. Arden has played linebacker and tight end, but will be at defensive end when he tries to salvage his career this spring.
17. DL Jared Helming, Nebraska – One of the gems of Frank Solich’s fourth recruiting class has never developed into the kind of lineman Husker fans envisioned when he was named the Missouri Player of the Year. Helming sat out 2002 with a torn ACL in his left knee, and has bounced between the offensive and defensive lines, never establishing a foothold on either unit. His next start in 2005 will be the first of his Nebraska career.
18. WR Jerome Janet, Kansas State – The former All-American with track star speed sprinted out of Manhattan just days into his first summer camp. Janet returned home to Tulsa to play for the Golden Hurricane, but lasted just one pedestrian season before getting booted for academic and conduct issues.
19. CB Derron Johnson, Memphis – Memphis beat out a bunch of much bigger schools to get Johnson’s signature, but it never paid off for the program. The corner with the huge frame and great speed was moved to wide receiver as a freshman, academically ineligible as a sophomore and no longer affiliated with the Tigers before even completing his junior season.
20. C Zachary Giles, Notre Dame – The former All-American and player of the year in Massachusetts has yet to work his way to the top of the depth chart in four seasons in South Bend. Save for a start at Michigan State in 2003, Giles’ primarily role has been to add depth to the Irish offensive line.
21. RB Ty Eriks, Washington – Eriks’ career in Seattle has not been a complete washout, but it certainly hasn’t approached expectations when he was one of the best big backs in the nation in 2000. He’s bounced around the depth chart, playing tailback, fullback, safety and linebacker before finally finding a home at defensive end. Eriks had nine tackles last year, and has one more season to become an impact pass-rusher on the Dawg D.
22. ATH Carlos Campbell, Notre Dame – Campbell had the gamebreaking speed that the Irish so dearly covet these days, but that never translated into stardom in South Bend. For four seasons, he languished as a little-used backup, two at wide receiver and two at cornerback. Campbell’s biggest contributions came as a gunner on the punt team, site of the only touchdown of his four-year career.
23. OL Ron Lunford, Florida State – The behemoth guard is still blessed with potential, but has yet to come close to the level that made him one of the most sought after linemen in the country four years ago. Lunford’s limited starts have been the result of other’s injuries, and he’s struggled to keep his weight under control. He’ll be counted on to step in 2005, and have a salary run type season.
24. RB J.R. Lemon, Stanford – While it’s still a little strong to label J.R., well, a lemon, his perfect blend of size and speed hasn’t exactly led to the kind of production many expected when he was one of the most heralded backs in America. Whether it’s been injuries or poor line play, Lemon has struggled to locate consistency, and has never rushed for more than 500 yards in a season. He has one year in Walt Harris’ offense to show NFL scouts he’s worthy of a draft choice.
25. QB Brodie Croyle, Alabama – If not for some bad luck, Croyle would have no business in this discussion. When healthy, he’s shown glimpses of the form that made him the most coveted prep quarterback in the country. Problem is, he’s missed 11 games the last two years due to shoulder and knee injuries, and had nearly as many career interceptions as touchdowns before this year’s three-game season. How Croyle’s college career is ultimately judged will depend heavily on how he performs in 2005.