ESPN’s 2007 class was a disaster, so how did they do in 2008?
1. Da’Quan Bowers – Clemson (6-4, 265) DE; Bamberg, South Carolina: Bowers is an incredible athlete that played Defensive End and Running Back in high school running for over 1,200 yards as a senior. The coolest high school stat for Bowers was his 40 yards average which is phenomenal for a guy his size and clearly demonstrated his enormous physical talents. Bowers started about half of Clemson’s games in 2008 as a true freshman. As a sophomore, Bowers missed 3 games due to injury but started and played well in the others. His junior year at Clemson, Bowers earned Consensus All-American honors. Part of the reason Bowers was All American was his 15.5 Quarterback sacks and 26 tackles for loss. Bowers was taken in the 2nd round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
2. Julio Jones – Alabama (6-4, 215) WR; Foley, Alabama: ESPN definitely got this one right. Jones was a top player at Alabama catching 58 passes as a true freshman. 43 receptions as a sophomore and 78 more as a junior and left the Crimson Tide for the big paychecks. Jones is now a star with the
Atlanta Falcons and a Pro Bowler. Jones dropped the occasional pass in college, but is one of the most dangerous Wide Receivers in the NFL.
3. Will Hill – Florida (6-3, 203) Safety; West Orange, New Jersey: I’ve been singing the praises of Jersey players from day one on this blog and Will Hill was big time immediately for the Florida Gators. Hill was 6th on the team in tackles as a true freshman and had 2 picks. He was a key member of the 2009 Florida national title team. After his junior season, Hill declared for the NFL, but surprisingly, he was not even drafted. He was signed by the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. The New York Giants signed him from there and he was with them for 2 years before going back to the Rattlers. The Baltimore Ravens signed him and he was a hero for them against the New Orleans Saints when he picked off a Drew Brees pass and ran it back for a score which could have been the difference in a 34-27 win for the Ravens. Hill has had more than his share of legal troubles as well.
4. Terrelle Pryor – Ohio State (6-6, 227) QB; Jeannette, Pennsylvania: Everybody wanted this guy and he wound up signing with Ohio State. The Buckeyes brought Pryor along slowly with him splitting time with Todd Boeckman. Pryor took over the job as a sophomore and he threw for over 2,000 yards and ran for nearly 800 yards. As a junior, Pryor’s numbers improved even more. The NCAA came down on Pryor and 4 of his teammates for selling memorabilia. But, there was way much more to it than that and Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel resigned. Pryor entered the NFL in the supplemental draft and was taken by the Oakland Raiders. At the supplemental combine, Pryor measured 6-4 1/2, 240 and ran an incredible 4.38 40 yard dash. He hasn’t lived up to enormous potential in NFL and bounced from Oakland to Seattle and then is now with Kansas City.
5. A.J. Greene – Georgia (6-4, 184) WR; Ridgeville, South Carolina: Great player in high school, in college and in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. He caught 56 passes as a true freshman at Georgia, then 53 as a sophomore. As a junior, Greene caught 57 passes and then he declared for the NFL Draft. Greene was the 4th pick in the Draft and has never looked back. One of the top players in the NFL and a multi-year Pro Bowler.
6. Arthur Brown – Miami (6-1, 210) OLB; Wichita, Kansas: Brown played 2 seasons at Miami, but was not very productive. He was one of the Hurricane players named in some recruiting violations and he transferred to Kansas State. For the Wildcats, Brown was an instant star leading the team in tackles in 2011 after sitting out the 2010 season. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder tends to get the best out of players, and Brown was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and once again led the team in tackles. Brown was a 2nd round pick by the Baltimore Ravens where he currently plays. His younger brother Brice was a 5 star recruit the following season in 2009 and now plays for the Buffalo Bills.
7. Jermie Calhoun – Oklahoma (6-0, 210) RB; Van, Texas: He redshirted his freshman season at Oklahoma, and then was 3rd team the following season. The Sooners DeMarco Murray kept Calhoun on the sidelines, but then he injured his knee severely and he transferred to Angelo State University where he finished out his football days. Calhoun was never very fast, but the knee injury slowed him down immensely.
8. Patrick Peterson – LSU (6-1, 193) CB; Pembroke Pines, Florida: Peterson is the best Cornerback in the NFL, after being recognized by some as the best Defensive Back in college football. He was an instant starter for the LSU Tigers and played 3 years there with some classic match ups against above listed Julio Jones and A.J. Greene. Leaving LSU a year early, Peterson was drafted by the Arizona
Cardinals where he stars today. At the NFL Combine, Peterson ran a 4.34 40 yard dash. Clearly a hit by ESPN recruiting experts.
9. Darrell Scott – Colorado (6-0, 204) RB; Moorpark, California: Scott ran for a little over 300 yards as a true freshman and a whopping 95 yards as a sophomore. He declared he was transferring to UCLA , but they didn’t want him because they had 5 Running Backs already, so he wound up at South Florida. He sat out the 2010 season and then ran for over 800 yards. Of course, he declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season. He’s not good enough to play for the Colorado Buffaloes, but he thought he was good enough for the NFL? Puzzling decision and naturally he went undrafted as expected. The Dallas Cowboys signed him to a free agent contract, but he did not last and is out of football. I surely hope he got a degree at least.
10. Dee Finley – Florida (6-3, 210) Safety; Auburn, Alabama: The Florida Gators moved Finley to Linebacker and he just never worked out there. He finally transferred to Tuskegee College and is out of football now.
11. R.J. Washington – Oklahoma (6-3, 245) DE; Keller, Texas: He redshirted as a freshman and was a backup for most of his career. Washington came on strong as a senior and started 6 games. He has to be considered a huge disappointment because of the hype surrounding him coming out of high school. He signed a Free Agent contract with the St Louis Rams, but is out of football now.
12. Jamie Harper – Clemson (6-0, 220) RB; Jacksonville, Florida: Played a little in 2008 behind James Davis and C.J. Spiller. He backed up Spiller again in 2009 and rushed for 418 yards. However, the Tigers also brought in exciting Andre Ellington, who cut into his playing time. Harper did lead the team in rushing as a junior with 761 yards. After his junior season, Harper elected to skip his senior season for the NFL. He was a 4th round pick of the Tennessee Titans and he played there for 2sea sons before bing cut and he is out of football after rushing for a grand total of 74 yards.
13. Josh Jarboe – Oklahoma (6-2, 200) WR; Decatur, Georgia: Jarboe grew up in a rough neighborhood and got in trouble while still in high school. Oklahoma stood by him but put him on a short leash which he messed up. After being booted from Oklahoma, Jarboe wound up at Troy. He also got in some trouble there and was kicked out. He went to Northeast Mississippi Community College. In junior college, Jarboe supposedly turned his life around. From there, brand new college coach Hugh Freeze offered him another shot at Arkansas State. Freeze was only at Arkansas State for one season, but Josh Jarboe stuck it out and caught 104 passes in 2 seasons. He has had tryouts with several NFL teams, but I believe he is currently playing Arena Football.
14. Chancy Aghayere – LSU (6-4, 244) DE; Garland, Texas: He redshirted as a freshman and then played as a reserve in 2009. In 2010, Aghayere had 21 tackles from his Defensive End position. He played very little in 2011 and in 2012. He signed with a CFL team but was cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
15. Brice Butler – USC (6-2, 178) WR; Norcross, Georgia: After redshirting as a true freshman, Butler played 3 seasons at USC catching 41 passes. He graduated and then transferred to San Diego State and caught 24 passes. The Oakland Raiders drafted him in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft and he currently plays for them. Butler has 30 receptions in the NFL so far.
16. D.J. Grant – Texas (6-3, 200) WR; Austin, Texas: Grant was a late bloomer and decided to stay home and attend Texas. Grant had a lot of ability and grew into the Tight End position. He redshirted as a freshman and battled injuries throughout his career. As a junior in 2011 as a 238 pound Tight End he caught 16 passes and then he caught 14 as a senior.
17. Dan Buckner – Texas (6-4, 209) WR; Allen, Texas: Buckner caught 5 passes as a true freshman and then exploded as a sophomore with 45 catches. Buckner got in some trouble and was booted out of Texas. He wound up at Arizona where he had to sit out the 2010 season. In 2011, Buckner caught 42 passes and in 2012 he had 61 catches. He currently plays for the Calgary Stampeders of the
Canadian Football League.
18. Etienne Sabino – Ohio State (6-3, 228) LB; Miami, Florida: Sabino was James Laurinaitis back up as a true freshman. Laurinaitis was a Consensus All-American and the son of a professional wrestler. Sabino played a little in 2009, and then redshirted in 2010. In 2011, he was one of the team’s leading tacklers. He finished at Ohio State as a starter in 2012, and then signed with the New York Giants. He is currently on the St Louis Rams roster.
19. Burton Scott – Alabama (5-11, 194) Ath; Prichard, Alabama: He was moved to Cornerback after arriving a Alabama and redshirting before playing very little. He finally transferred to South Alabama where he started for his final 2 seasons.
20. Blake Ayles – USC (6-4, 240) TE; Orange, California: Ayles caught 6 passes as a true freshman for former Trojan coach Pete Carroll. Then, he had 7 catches as a sophomore in 2009. Lane Kiffin took over as coach of the Trojans in 2010 and Ayles had only 1 catch. He transferred to Miami where he received a concussion in 2011 and gave up football.
21. Sean Spence – Miami (6-0, 190) OLB; Miami, Florida: Staying home with Miami, he started his final 8 games as a true freshman and was ACC defensive freshman of the year. Spence was slightly undersized for a Linebacker and he stayed 4 seasons. He was Miami’s second leading tackler in 2010 and was the team leader in 2011. In the 2012 NFL Draft he was picked in the 3rd round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He injured his knee in the preseason of his rookie year and did not play in 2012 and 2013, but he did play for the Steelers in 2014 and is currently on their roster.
22. Dayne Crist – Notre Dame (6-5, 228) QB; Canoga Park, California: Crist did not play at all as a true freshman. He backed up Jimmy Clausen as a sophomore and he tore his ACL. In spite of his injury, Crist was the starter for the 2010 season. He was replaced by Tommy Rees early in the 2011 season and he decided to transfer to transfer to Kansas and play for former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weiss. At Kansas, Crist had the worst Quarterback rating in the entire NCAA during the 2012 season. Crist signed with the Baltimore Ravens and was with them briefly.
23. DeAndre Brown – Southern Mississippi (6-6, 208) WR; Ocean Springs, Mississippi: This guy is puzzling. As a freshman at Southern Miss, he caught 67 passes to lead the team. For his sophomore season, Brown caught 47 passes. His junior season was not very productive with only 19 catches. He declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season, naturally. At the combine, he measured at 6-7, 239 and he ran a 4.45 40 yard dash. After those impressive numbers, surprisingly he went undrafted. But, he signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. From there he made his way to the Arena Football League. 6-7, 240 and a 4.45 guy should be an NFL player.
24. T.J. Bryant – USC (6-0, 180) CB; Tallahassee, Florida: Was a backup at USC and I am somewhat certain he was shown the door. He wound up at Troy and played Cornerback for them for his senior season in 2012.
25. Jonathan Baldwin – Pittsburgh (6-6, 220) WR; Aliquippa, Pennsylvania: Baldwin is a big, tall and fast Wide Receiver that contributed immediately at Pittsburgh. He led the Panthers in receiving in 2009 and 2010 and then declared for the NFL. Combined tape measure said he was 6-4 1/2 and 228, but he did run a 4.49 40 and was picked in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here are some other ranked players of interest:
38. Blaine Gabbert – Missouri (6-4, 226) QB; Baldwin, Missouri: Gabbert was a 1st round pick by Jacksonville, but he was pretty bad in the NFL after a great career at Missouri.
51. E.J. Manuel – Florida State (6-5, 210) QB; Virginia Beach, Virginia: Manuel was a 1st round pick by Buffalo,
55. Jeff Demps – Florida (5-9, 175) RB; Groveland, Florida: Burner that won a Silver Medal at the 2012 Olympics relay team. Plays for Indianapolis now.
58. Michael Mauti – Penn State (6-1, 228) LB; Mandeville, Louisiana: Typical star Penn State Linebacker that plays for the Minnesota Vikings now.
61. Andrew Luck – Stanford (6-3, 205) QB; Houston, Texas: Best young Quarterback in the NFL and the very first pick in the draft.
105. Kyle Rudolph – Notre Dame (6-6, 229) TE; Cincinnati, Ohio: Talented Tight End for the Vikings.
108. Kyle Ingram – Alabama (5-10, 190) RB; Flint, Michigan: Heisman Trophy winner.
122. Landry Jones – Oklahoma (6-4, 224) QB; Artesia, New Mexico: Talent can come from anywhere and Jones was solid for Oklahoma.