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Recruiting 2012 - 2008 2-Stars To All-Star D
Nebraska LB Lavonte David
Nebraska LB Lavonte David
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 26, 2012


Which under-the-radar defensive prospects from the 2008 class turned into stars?


Recruiting 2012 - 2008 Lookback

The All-Star 2-Star Defense


By Richard Cirminiello 
Follow us ... #ColFootballNews 
 
The 2008 5-Star Prospects. Were They Worth It?
- 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50
- 2007 Class | 2006 Class | 2005 Class | 2004 Class

CFN Top Prospects for 2012
- No. 1 to 50 | No. 51 to 100 | No. 101 to 150
- No. 151 to 200No. 201 to 250 | No. 251 to 300
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers
- Tight Ends | Off. Tackles | Guards & Centers 
- Def. Ends | Def. Tackles | Linebackers | Corners | Safeties 

- 2008 All-Star Two-Star Offense
 
For all of the attention that was heaped on mega-recruits, such as Terrelle Pryor, Julio Jones and A.J. Green, four years ago, it’s often the far more anonymous two-star athletes who wind up making or breaking the eventual grade of a school’s recruiting class. They represent the foundation for so many universities that are fortunate to land even one blue-chipper in a cycle, let alone multiple of the so-called can’t-miss prospects.

Every year, there are handfuls of untapped athletes who soar well beyond forecasts, making their high school ratings appear uninformed, and their new coaching staffs look like bona fide geniuses. They bloom late, overachieve, and forever leave behind a day when NFL scouts, pro agents, and members of the media couldn’t pick them out of a lineup.

While there were many rags-to-riches tales from the Class of 2008, a select few stood out for the length of their progression over the course of four short years. Though they may have begun with a mere two-star designation and minimal notoriety, all have authored four or five-star careers, with a very good chance of continuing to play at the next level.

*Each player’s two-star ranking was determined by Scout.com in 2008

Defense

DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
As a first-generation Haitian, who’s first love was soccer, Mercilus was a little late to the game of football growing up in Ohio. He’s making up for lost time. In one of the biggest individual surprises of 2011, the junior went from 0-60 practically overnight, racking up 22.5 stops for loss, a nation’s-high 16 sacks and a Big Ten-record nine forced fumbles. He won the Hendricks Award, given to the nation’s best end, in his first full season of action, and promptly declared for the NFL Draft. While still a little raw in his fundamentals, scouts are excited about a ceiling that’s far from being reached.

DT Drew Nowak, Western Michigan
The Green Bay native really wanted to be a Badger, but the offer never came from Bret Bielema’s staff. The home team’s loss wound up being Western Michigan’s gain. Nowak could have gone to Army or Air Force, opting instead to flourish in Kalamazoo. A 240-pound tight end when he arrived, he blossomed into a 295-pound force on the inside for the Broncos in 2011. The MAC Defensive Player of the Year compiled an un-tackle-like 91 stops, 20.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Self-made and hard-working, he now has his sights set on bucking the odds on Sundays.

DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
Ohio wanted Worthy. So did Cincinnati. The Buckeyes, however, took a pass, an indication of how he was being sized up in his home state. He wound up choosing the Spartans, a decision that’s been benefitting the program ever since. After redshirting in 2008, he took his game to a whole new level a year later, earning Freshman All-American honors. The next two seasons were spent frustrating opposing Big Ten blockers with a wicked blend of quickness and brute strength. Having accomplished all he needed to in East Lansing, the 2011 First Team All-American is poised to become a high draft pick in April.

DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina
Taylor was always a terrific all-around athlete, but there wasn’t a consensus that his athleticism would translate to stardom at the college level. Long and lean when he arrived in Columbia, South Carolina helped transform the wiry kid into a 6-7, 260-pound menace coming off the edge. The two-time All-SEC pick has collected 27 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks and a couple of pick-sixes since entering the rotation as a redshirt freshman. Next season will be used to anchor the Gamecocks defense, while auditioning one final time for pro scouts.

Honorable Mention: Chandler Jones (Syracuse), Rob Lohr (Vanderbilt), Dontari Poe (Memphis), Jacquies Smith (Missouri), Walter Stewart (Cincinnati), Frank Trotter (Memphis)

LB Sammy Brown, Houston
From humble beginnings, Brown has come a long way in his athletic career. Since he never took the ACT in high school, he wound up traveling the JUCO route, doing a two-year apprenticeship at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. And since he’s a white-knuckler as an airline passenger, he took just a single recruiting visit—to Houston— two years ago. Proving that the Cougars were more than just the Case Keenum-led passing game, Brown was a terror as a pass rusher, making 93 stops, an FBS-leading 30 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks as a senior in 2011.

LB Lavonte David, Nebraska
One of the more remarkable chapters of 2008’s trend-buckers, David exceeded all expectations in Lincoln. While teammates Jacory Harris, Sean Spence and Marcus Forston were staying in Miami to begin careers as Hurricanes, David had signed with Middle Tennessee State before changing course, and spending two years at Fort Scott (Kans.) Community College. Built more like a safety than a linebacker upon joining the Huskers, he terrorized opponents in the Big 12 and the Big Ten with his closing speed, tenacity and instincts. Named first team all-conference in two different leagues, David amassed 285 tackles and 11.5 sacks in just two years in Lincoln.

LB Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
About a year after getting to Lexington, it had become clear that Trevathan never should have gotten out of Florida without an offer from one of the state’s major schools. He did, and Kentucky enjoyed his tenacious exploits ever since. The two-time All-SEC first-teamer was to the Wildcats defense what Randall Cobb was to the offense. Tough, physical and very quick to the ball, he tallied 144 tackles in 2010 and 143 a year ago. Next up for the oft-snubbed linebacker is a full-time job in some fortunate NFL organization.

Honorable Mention: Brady Amack (Air Force), Dwayne Beckford (Purdue), Adrien Cole (Louisiana Tech), Steve Erzinger (Army), Steve Greer (Virginia), Demetrius Hartsfield (Maryland), Marcus McGraw (Houston), Trent Mackey (Tulane), Sio Moore (Connecticut), JK Schaffer (Cincinnati), Gary Tinsley (Minnesota), Bobby Wagner (Utah State), Brian Wagner (Akron), Tahir Whitehead (Temple)

CB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt
Upon receiving no offers from one of the major programs in his home state of Georgia, Hayward had a pick between Vanderbilt and Troy. Fans of the Commodores will tell you that he chose wisely. An instant contributor in Nashville, he was a mainstay in the defensive backfield since the beginning of his sophomore season. Much more than just a big fish in a small pond, he earned his stripes with 15 career interceptions to go along with back-to-back appearances on the All-SEC Second Team.

S George Iloka, Boise State
Unlike so many of his peers, Iloka had an uneventful recruiting process coming out of Houston’s Kempner High School. He could have gone to Boise State or he could have paid his own way somewhere else. One offer was all the 6-3, 213-pounder needed to distinguish himself as one of the country’s underrated safeties. The three-year starter was the playmaker of the secondary, using explosive athleticism to make his presence felt all over the field. A versatile defender, Iloka earned a spot on the All-WAC First Team and All-Mountain West First Team in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

S Trenton Robinson, Michigan State
As he prepared for his final year of high school, Robinson was receiving most of his attention from MAC schools, with Michigan State and Indiana being a pair of exceptions. He was never short on speed, but size was a concern for many coaches in the Midwest. Despite remaining an undersized safety, Robinson bloomed into a top-notch defender for the Spartans. He was hawking the ball as a starter since the middle of his sophomore season, capping an unexpected career by earning All-Big Ten honors in 2010 and 2011.

CB Shaun Prater, Iowa
A terrific athlete out of Omaha, Prater always figured he’d be continuing his athletic career in Lincoln. However, them-Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan favored longer and bigger cornerbacks than the recruit from Central High School. Prater has been making Callahan appear shortsighted ever since, emerging as one of the premier cover corners in the Big Ten, if not the entire country. The two-time all-conference pick finely crafted his pass defending skill in Iowa City, which will next be on display in one of 32 NFL cities.

Honorable Mention: Brodrick Brown (Oklahoma State), Omar Brown (Marshall), Antonio Fenelus (Wisconsin), Terrence Frederick (Texas A&M), Isaiah Frey (Nevada), Tashaun Gipson (Wyoming), Kenji Jackson (Missouri), Tramain Thomas (Arkansas), Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Connecticut)

- 2008 All-Star Two-Star Offense

The 2008 5-Star Prospects. Were They Worth It?
- 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50
- 2007 Class | 2006 Class | 2005 Class | 2004 Class

CFN Top Prospects for 2012
- No. 1 to 50 | No. 51 to 100 | No. 101 to 150
- No. 151 to 200No. 201 to 250 | No. 251 to 300
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers
- Tight Ends | Off. Tackles | Guards & Centers 
- Def. Ends | Def. Tackles | Linebackers | Corners | Safeties