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Offensive Recruiting Booms & Busts - 2003

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 30, 2007


Recruiting is an inexact science, to say the least. Often, sure-thing recruits stink and do nothing, while passed over prospects, like former Minnesota star Laurence Maroney, turn into superstars. Richard Cirminiello takes a look back on the recruiting class of four years ago to see which offensive players boomed and which busted.

By Richard Cirminiello
- 2002 Offense Recruiting Booms and Busts

To 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 Laurence Maroney.   

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 career.

Bust: QB Justin Midgett, Florida (#7) – Midgett has thrown more passes for the AFL’s Florida Firecats than the SEC’s Florida Gators.  ‘Nuff said.    

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 target.

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 offense.

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 guard.

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 Delaware.   

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 signal callers.       

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 system.

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 years ago.

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.