- 2002 Offense Recruiting
Booms and Busts
suggest that the recruitment of an 18-year high school phenom is an
inexact science wrought with uncertainty is hardly going out on a limb.
Yet, that won’t stop a ravenous nation of college football fans from
saturating themselves with drool as National Letter of Intent signing
day fast approaches.
Injuries, academic hurdles and plain old poor scouting are just three of
the many reasons a kid fails to make the leap from big man in high
school to big man on campus. For every Patrick Willis, who blossoms
unexpectedly into an All-American, there’s at least one Jim Presley, who
can’t break into the starting lineup. For every Demetris Summers, a
The next few days leading up to the Feb. 7 signing day are a time of
celebration and optimism. 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 four or five years. However, a quick
review of how the crème de la crème of the Class of 2003 have panned out
should temper your enthusiasm. That blue chip you’re currently fawning
over may very well wind up being a buffalo chip. And that two-star
prospect getting minimal pub just might be the face of your program in a
couple of years.
*Scout.com position rankings as of Feb. 2003 are listed in parentheses
for each player
*NR indicates the player was not ranked at his particular position
Boom: RB Laurence Maroney, Minnesota (NR) – Maroney has defied
the experts since leaving Normandy High School in Missouri as a
slightly-below-the-radar back. After three straight 1,000-yard seasons
with the Gophers, he looked every bit the first-round back last year
with the New England Patriots.
Bust: RB Demetris
Summers, South Carolina (#1) – The saga of Summers is a stark
reminder to Gamecock fans that five stars means nothing if a kid has a
ten-cent head. Despite a couple of chances from Lou Holtz, Summers
self-destructed after a solid debut, eventually succumbing in 2005 to a
second failed drug test.
Boom: WR Eric Weddle, Utah (NR) – In Alto Loma (Calif.), he was
an undersized kid without a set position or any offers from a BCS
school. With the Utes, he was the most versatile player of his era, who
could create big plays as defensive back, taking direct snaps on offense
or as a special teams performer.
Bust: WR Whitney Lewis, USC (#1) – One of the most monumental
busts of 2003, Lewis has battled weight problems and academic issues
throughout his USC career. Despite being the top-rated wide receiver of
his class, he’s caught just three passes since becoming a Trojan.
Boom: QB Kevin Kolb, Houston (#55) – A four-year starter for Art
Briles’ Cougars, Kolb took Houston to three bowl games, accounting for
106 touchdowns and more than 14,000 total yards during his college
Bust: QB Justin Midgett, Florida (#7) – Midgett has thrown more
passes for the AFL’s Florida Firecats than the SEC’s Florida Gators.
Boom: RB Yvenson Bernard, Oregon State (NR) – A versatile weapon
the last two years for the Beaver offense, Bernard is already third
all-time in rushing at Oregon State with one season of eligibility still
left in Corvallis.
Bust: RB Barrington Edwards, LSU (#5) – One of a number of busts
in Nick Saban’s class of 2003, Edwards played as a true freshman, but
escaped the logjam in the LSU backfield by transferring to North
Carolina, where’s he’s been a backup the last two years.
Boom: OL Steve Justice, Wake Forest (NR) – An unusually gifted
athlete for an offensive lineman, Justice earned All-ACC accolades after
his junior year and was one of the unsung heroes of Wake’s improbable
Orange Bowl run last season.
Bust: OL Ofa Mohetau, BYU (#2) – Mohetau had a cup of coffee in
Provo, spent a season with a junior college and now is trying to
re-energize his career at Texas Tech. The mammoth guard still has
upside, but didn’t help his cause by getting suspended before last
year’s Insight Bowl.
Boom: RB Tommy Blake, TCU (NR) – As running backs go, Blake has
made one heck of a defensive end. Since arriving in Fort Worth, he’s
bulked up, switched sides of the ball and developed into the Mountain
West’s nastiest pass rusher, two years running.
Bust: RB Erik Hardeman, Texas (#8) – At 6-1 and 215 pounds,
Hardeman passed the eye test, but not the drug test, losing his
scholarship in 2004 when he was charged with possession of a controlled
substance and possession of marijuana.
Boom: QB Paul Smith, Tulsa (NR) – Tulsa’s surge in recent years
has largely been due to the play of Smith, a heady leader that doesn’t
make mistakes, is elusive outside the pocket and would look pretty good
in Sooner red and white these days.
Bust: QB Tommy Grady, Oklahoma (#5) – Sensing he’d spend the rest
of his Sooner career behind Rhett Bomar, Grady left OU for Utah, a
miscalculation after Bomar was dismissed from the school last August.
With one year of eligibility left, he’ll have to beat out Brian Johnson
this year in order to finally be called a starter.
Boom: WR Keenan Burton, Kentucky (NR) – Burton will begin the
2007 season as one of the most decorated returning receivers after
hauling in 77 of Andre Woodson’s passes last fall for 1,036 yards and 12
touchdowns. He’s also a special teams threat, finishing second in the
SEC in kickoff returns.
Bust: WR Sean Bailey, Georgia (#4) – Just when it appeared he was
going to have his breakout season, Bailey tore his ACL before the 2005
bowl game, shelving him for the entire 2006 campaign. He’ll be back
next year, looking to improve on his 36 career receptions.
Boom: WR Harry Douglas, Louisville (#139) – The hiring of Bobby
Petrino prompted Douglas to select Louisville, a decision that’s worked
for both sides ever since. In 2006, he caught 70 passes for 1,265 yards
and six touchdowns, displacing Mario Urrutia as Brian Brohm’s favorite
Bust: WR Amp Hill, LSU (#10) – At 6-3 and blazing fast, Hill
looked as if he’d be the next great receiver at LSU, but a knee injury
and a lack of playing time sent him to South Florida, where he caught 19
passes for the Bulls in 2006.
Boom: OL Steve Rissler, Florida (#123) – Rissler made a
successful switch from guard to center this year, becoming the glue of a
young Gator line and an unexpected selection by league coaches to the
All-SEC first team.
Bust: OL Zeb McKinzey, Georgia (#13) – Recurring shoulder
injuries have prevented McKinzey from ever reaching his potential or
getting significant playing time for the Dawgs.
Boom: QB Alex Brink, Washington State (#74) – Now entering his
fourth season as the Wazzu starting quarterback, Brink is the versatile
catalyst of the Cougar offense and on his way to becoming one of the
most prolific passers to ever play in Pullman.
Bust: QB Bill Foran, Purdue (#11) – Foran spent one year as a
redshirt freshman with the Boilermakers before transferring to
Princeton, where he’s still waiting for his turn to lead the Tiger
Boom: OL Corey Hilliard, Oklahoma State (#98) – A hulking
presence at tackle for the Cowboys, Hilliard has been a starter since
his true freshman season, earning All-Big 12 honors following each of
the last two years.
Bust: OL Jerry Sevin, LSU (#16) – One of the nation’s
highest-rated centers, Sevin wound up being better on paper than on
campus, leaving the program just a year after he arrived.
Boom: OL Andrew Crummey, Maryland (#100) – An emerging star on
the Terrapin offensive line, Crummey is fresh off an All-ACC junior
season and is on the verge of becoming a fourth-year starter at right
Bust: OL Joel Holler, Penn State (#18) – Holler routinely
struggled to maintain his conditioning, falling out of favor with the
Penn State brass and precipitating a transfer to the University of
Boom: RB Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech (#58) – A transfer from
Oklahoma, Choice has been a revelation for the Tech running game,
leading the ACC in rushing as a junior and topping 100 yards in nine of
his last ten games.
Bust: RB Rashaun Grant, Georgia Tech (#10) – Instead of
developing into Tech’s back of the future, as was projected when he left
high school, Grant has yet to start a game for the Yellow Jackets,
scoring just a single rushing touchdown.
Boom: QB Matt Ryan, Boston College (#44) – After battling painful
foot and ankle injuries throughout his junior year, a healthy Ryan
returns to the Heights as the most experienced and decorated of the ACC
Bust: QB Clayton Richard, Michigan (#13) – Maybe sensing he’d
never surpass Chad Henne on the depth chart, Richard gave up football
for baseball, and is doing his throwing in the Chicago White Sox farm
Boom: OL Ryan Kalil, USC (#59) – A three-year starter for the
Trojans and a fixture on the All-Pac 10 team, Kalil was one the nation’s
most dependable centers, far exceeding expectations when he arrived four
Bust: OL Drew Radovich, USC (#12) – A career backup at both guard
and tackle for the Trojans, Radovich has one season of eligibility left
to approach the expectations that made him one of the most sought after
offensive lineman of 2003.
Boom: TE Martin Rucker, Missouri (#46) – Already the most
prolific pass-catching tight end in Mizzou history, the 6-6, 255-pound
Rucker is one more solid season from being one of the first tight ends
selected in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Bust: TE Louis Irizarry, Michigan (#4) – Irizarry played
immediately as a true freshman, but highly-publicized off-field issues
sent him packing to Youngstown State, where he actually played pretty
well for the Penguins in 2006.