2009 ESPN Recruiting top 25

1. Matt Barkley – USC (6-3, 222) QB; Santa Ana, California: Barkley was a 4 year starter for the Trojans but he really never lived up to the hype because USC didn’t do very well while he was there. He threw for over 12,000 yards and 116 Touchdowns. Barkley had a sensational junior season, but dropped off dramatically as a senior when the Trojans finished 7-6. Barkley is a back up for the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Manti Te’o – Notre Dame (6-2, 230) OLB; Honolulu, Hawaii: Almost as famous for his imaginary girlfriend as he was as an outstanding Linebacker for the Fighting Irish. 4 year starter at Notre Dame who led the team in tackles for his last 3 seasons. After his senior season Te’o won the Butkus award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award, and just about every other award possible. He was truly one of the better defensive players in the last few years. Te’o currently plays for the San Diego Chargers.

3. Russell Shepard – LSU (6-1, 183) Ath; Houston, Texas: Played Quarterback as a freshman, but very sparingly. He moved to Wide Receiver as a sophomore but never did that much at LSU. He stayed 4 years and caught 58 total passes. He was considered one of the top high school Quarterbacks in the natino and a rival with Garrett Gilbert for the best in Texas. In spite of disappointing in college, Shepard was signed to a free agent contract by Philadelphia and after being cut was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he plays currently.

4. Dre Kirkpatrick – Alabama (6-2, 180) CB; Gadsden, Alabama: Kirkpatrick played some as a true freshman and moved into a starter’s role as a sophomore. Kirkpatrick was pretty much a shut down corner for the Crimson Tide as a junior. After his junior season, Kirkpatrick declared for the NFL Draft and he was picked with the 17th pick of the 2012 Draft. Presently starts for Bengals.

5. Jacobbi McDaniel – Florida State (6-0, 267) DT; Greenville, Florida: Undersized Tackle might not should have been ranked so highly. McDaniel was a steady player for the Seminoles. Luckily for him, he was forced to miss the 2012 season which allowed him to take a redshirt and play on the 2013 National championship team. McDaniel was also a baseball player and was drafted in the 33rd round by the Milwaukee Brewers, but chose college and played for Seminoles baseball team. Currently on practice squad for the Cleveland Browns.

6. Trent Richardson – Alabama (5-11, 219) RB; Pensacola, Florida: Richardson rushed for 749 yards and 8 Touchdowns behind Heisman Trophy winning Running Back Mark Ingram. Playing behind Ingram again as a sophomore, Richardson ran for 700 yards. Richardson took over as the

starter as a junior and ran for an impressive 1,679 yards and 21 Touchdowns. Of course, he declared early, but he left Alabama with 3,130 yards rushing and 730 receiving yards. In the 2012 NFL Draft, Richardson was the 3rd player chosen in the entire draft. Richardson has run for over 2,000 yards in the NFL so far.

7. Craig Loston – LSU (6-2, 193) Safety; Aldine, Texas: Russell Shepard listed above and Craig Loston are first cousins. Loston was widely regarded as the best safety in this class and a can’t miss prospect. He had clearing house issues early on which delayed his arrival in Bayou country, and then fought through injury problems his entire career at LSU. Loston kept plugging away despite his issues and was a good player for the Tigers his junior and senior seasons. Loston did not get drafted but he is currently a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

8. Bryce Brown – Tennessee (6-0, 215) RB; Wichita, Kansas: Younger brother of Arthur Brown from the 2008 class. These 2 brothers were involved in a very controversial situation with a ‘handler’. I’m not going to elaborate much on this but Brown committed to Miami where his brother was and they finally got fed up with the shenanigans surrounding this situation so he finally wound up at Tennessee. For the Volunteers he ran for 460 yards as a true freshman. Brown decided he wanted out of Knoxville for whatever reason and then head coach Derek Dooley refused to release him of his scholarship. This story is too strange for fiction with Brown sitting out a season because of transfer rules. Then, he rushed for a whopping 16 yards in the 2011 season. Why a guy with 16 rushing yards would think an NFL team would want him just baffles my mind. But, wanted he was because the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him in the 7th round. Then, teams like these wonder why they don’t win anything. The Eagles traded him to the Buffalo Bills where he currently plays.

9. Jelani Jenkins – Florida (6-1, 210) OLB; Wheaton, Maryland: This swift Linebacker was considered the top Linebacker recruit in the country for 2009. Jenkins played enough to make 2 tackles in 2009, but was redshirted. Jenkins had a big year in 2010 and was second on the team in tackles. The following season, Jenkins was also one of the team’s leading tacklers. Jenkins had a poor junior season in 2012, but that didn’t keep him from leaving school early and entering the NFL Draft. Jenkins was drafted in the 4th round by the Miami Dolphins and became a starter.

10. Rueben Randle – LSU (6-3, 195) WR; Bastrop, Louisiana: Randle played some Quarterback as a senior in high school and did really well. Randle is big time, but the Tigers had Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver, so he caught only 11 passes as a true freshman. Randle moved up in the pecking order in 2010 and caught 33 passes. Randle led the Tigers in receiving his junior year with 53

catches. After the 2012 season, Randle entered the draft and was picked in the   2nd round of the NFL Draft by the New York  Football Giants. He has been more than a solid player for the Giants.

11. Garrett Gilbert – Texas (6-4, 195) QB; Austin, Texas: Gilbert was forced into the national championship game as a true freshmen when Colt McCoy was injured early and he never seemed to recover from that. He apparently grew tired of being booed and transferred to SMU where he actually had a decent couple of seasons. Is currently a back up for Super Bowl Champion New England. Texas has still not recovered from this Quarterback miss.

12. DJ Fluker – Alabama (6-7, 325) OT; Foley, Alabama: Danny Lee Jesus Fluker was the real deal and he was a member of a family that got displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Fluker redshirted as a true freshman. As a redshirt freshman, he started at Right Tackle for Alabama, but he missed a few games due to injury. Over his sophomore and junior seasons, Fluker started and dominated every game at Right Tackle. In the meantime, Jesus Fluker was allegedly involved in a pay for play scandal at Alabama. In spite of controversy, Fluker did get his college degree.

Fluker was considered the top Offensive Tackle prospect in his class after he declared for the NFL Draft. The San Diego Chargers drafted him with the 11th pick of the first round

13. Aaron Murray – Georgia (6-1, 198) QB; Tampa, Florida: Murray redshirted as a true freshman, but took over the next season as Georgia’s starting Quarterback. He was pretty much sensational from day one throwing for 3,049 yards and 24 Touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. Murray got better every season and over a 4 year period threw for 13,166 yards and 121 Touchdown passes. Unfortunately for Murray, the Georgia Bulldogs were decimated by injuries during his senior season and Murray was

also injured late and missed the last 2 games of his college career. Murray never had the prototypical size expected for NFL Quarterbacks, but he was drafted in the 5th round by the Kansas City Chiefs.

14. Devon Kennard – USC (6-3, 257) DE; Phoenix, Arizona: Devon Kennard is the son of Derek Kennard a former NFL star and he played a lot as a true freshman as a Defensive End and a Strongside Linebacker. For his sophomore season, Kennard moved to Middle Linebacker and was one of the team’s top tacklers. He was moved back to Defensive End for his junior year and he played in every game. What should have been his senior season was lost for Devon Kennard with a serious chest injury. He was redshirted and returned for one last year in 2013 and he made the best of it. As an  Outside Linebacker, Kennard had a monster year with 60 total tackles and 13 tackles for loss with 9 Quarterback sacks and 10 more Quarterback hurries. Devon Kennard was a 5th round draft pick by the New York Giants in the 2014 NFL Draft and has been productive for them so far. Kennard got his degree from USC in 2012.

15. Greg Reid – Florida State (5-9, 175) CB; Valdosta, Georgia: Mostly by default, Reid started as a true freshman for the Seminoles. He picked off 2 passes returning 1 for a Touchdown. Reid had a big sophomore season and was one of the team’s leading tacklers. He finished with 3 Interceptions. Reid was also a top return man returning 1 punt for a Touchdown and averaging right at 24 yards per Kick off return. Reid dropped off dramatically on defense as a junior, but still excelled as a return man. Before the 2012 season Reid was booted from the Florida State football team and he finished his college career at Valdosta State. Reid signed a free agent contract with the St Louis Rams, but was cut and signed with Jacksonville Sharks in Arena Football.

16. Vontaze Burfict – Arizona State (6-2, 244) ILB; Corona, California: The highest rated prospect ever signed by Arizona State from what I have seen. Burfict had committed to USC, but switched to Arizona State. He started as a true freshman and was second on the team in tackles. Burfict led the team in tackles as a sophomore and made All American. He had a huge drop off as a junior and instead of returning to school and try to improve, he declared for the NFL. After a poor performance at the NFL Combine and off field issues Burfict slipped from a potential 1st round pick to being

ignored. He wound up signing with the Cincinnati Bengals and actually becoming one of the top Linebackers in the NFL.

17. Andre Debose – Florida (6-0, 180) WR; Sanford, Florida: Talented return man but mostly wasted at Florida. His best season as a receiver was 2011 when he caught 16 passes. The Oakland Raiders drafted Debose in the 7th round in the most recent NFL draft. He fell through the cracks in Gainesville, but he did impress as a return man and he has a shot at making the Raiders squad for 2015.

18. Stephon Gilmore – South Carolina (6-1, 190) S; Rock Hill, South Carolina: Started at Cornerback from day one for the Gamecocks and was one of the team’s best players on defense. It was more of the same during his sophomore and junior seasons and then he left for the NFL. The Buffalo Bills took him with the 10th pick of the 1st round and Gilmore is still with the Bills.

19. Devonte Holloman – South Carolina (6-2, 213) S; Rock Hill, South Carolina: Like Gilmore, Holloman played immediately at South Carolina, too. During their sophomore season of 2010 Gilmore led the team in tackles while Holloman was second. After his junior season, the Gamecocks moved Holloman to Linebacker and he played his last 2 seasons at South Carolina there. Holloman was drafted in the 6th round by the Dallas Cowboys but is currently out of football.

20. Nico Johnson – Alabama (6-2, 220) ILB; Andalusia, Alabama: Johnson played some as a true freshman on Alabama’s national championship team. He started the following season and was a rarity in today’s game staying all 4 seasons. Johnson was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, but he currently plays for the Cincinnati Bengals. He played on 3 championship teams in college.

21. Ray Ray Armstrong – Miami (6-4, 215) S; Sanford, Florida: Armstrong played a little bit as a true freshman and took over as a starting Linebacker in 2010. He was second team All ACC as a sophomore. His production dipped as a junior and then he was booted off of the team in 2012. But,

Armstrong was picked up by the St Louis Rams as a free agent in 2013. Presently, Armstrong is with the Oakland Raiders.

22. Jaamal Berry – Ohio State (5-11, 185) RB; Miami, Florida: Redshirting as a true freshman, Berry ran for 266 yards in 2010. Then, he did very little in 2011. He was arrested for assault and disorderly conduct and then he transferred to Murray State to finish up his college career. He ran for about 1,300 yards for Murray State. Berry still has NFL aspirations.

23. Gary Brown – Florida (6-3, 275) DT; Quincy, Florida: Brown struggled early at Florida and then was suspended in 2010 after getting into some trouble. Total bust.

24. Marlon Brown – Georgia (6-5, 205) WR; Memphis, Tennessee: Long, tall Wide Receiver got off to a slow start at Georgia with 2 catches in 2009. His stats got a little better each season but never really what had been expected. His best season was his senior season in 2012 with 27 catches. He singed a  free agent with the Baltimore Ravens and is still with them.

25. Darius Winston – Arkansas (6-0, 180) CB; Helena, Arkansas: Winston was never much more than a part time player for the Hogs, but he signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Some other players of note:

35. Christine Michael – Texas A%M (5-11, 202) RB; Beaumont, Texas: Star for the Aggies and currently with the Seahawks.

36. AJ McCarron – Alabama (6-4, 190) QB; Mobile, Alabama: Long term starter for the Crimson Tide who played in many big games.

58. Tajh Boyd – Clemson (6-1, 208) QB; Hampton, Virginia: Great 4 year starter for Clemson and an exciting player to watch.

59. Jarvis Jones – USC (6-3, 220) LB; Columbus, Georgia: Signed with USC originally, but injured his neck and transferred back home to Georgia and was a 2 time All American before being taken in the 1st round by the Steelers.

72. Chris Whaley – Texas (6-3, 220) RB; Madisonville, Texas: Whaley was overrated as a Running Back, but turned into a really good Defensive Tackle who starred for the Chicago Bears before becoming a Dallas Cowboy.

101. Denard Robinson – Michigan (6-0, 179) Ath; Deerfield Beach, Florida: Very exciting Quarterback for the Wolverines for several seasons before moving to Wide Receiver. Plays Wide Receiver/Running Back for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fun player to watch.

103. Logan Thomas – Virginia Tech (6-6, 233) Ath; Lynchburg, Virginia: Huge Quarterback that was a 4th round pick and a current NFL back up at Arizona.

109. Zach Martin – Notre Dame (6-5, 260) OT; Indianapolis, Indiana: 1st round pick and current starter of the Dallas Cowboys.

123. Zach Mettenberger – Georgia (6-5, 229) QB; Watkinsville, Georgia: Came in to Georgia with above listed Aaron Murray. Mettenberger got in trouble and transferred to LSU where he was a huge star. Currently a back up at Tennessee but his future may be in doubt with the Marcus Mariota pick.

143. Eddie Lacy – Alabama (5-11, 200) RB; Geismar, Louisiana: Came in with Trent Richardson and is currently a star with the Green Bay Packers.

148. Taylor Lewan – Michigan (6-6, 270) OT; Scottsdale, Arizona: Troubled young man, but tremendously athletic and was the 11th pick in the draft and currently plays for the Titans.

149. Alex Okafor – Texas (6-4, 225) DE; Pflugerville, Texas: Big star at Defensive End at Texas and was picked by the Arizona Cardinals where he is currently a star.

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