1. Joe McKnight – USC (6-0, 190) RB, River Ridge, Louisiana: McKnight was an incredible prospect coming out of Louisiana with supposedly 4.3 speed. He spurned home area LSU for the USC Trojans. McKnight was explosive and showed it immediately at USC. He did lead the Trojans in rushing as a junior with 1,014 yards rushing but never really lived up to the huge hype that went along with his career. McKnight declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season and was picked in the 4th round by the New York Jets. His NFL career has been much like his college career in that he hasn’t been as good as advertised.
2. Chris Galippo – USC (6-2, 240) ILB, Anaheim, California: Chris Galippo came to USC when they were absolutely loaded at Linebacker. In 2008, the Trojans had Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Kaluka Maiava which may have been the best set of Linebackers ever on a single college team. In 2009, Galippo moved into a starting position and was 3rd on the team in tackles. He peaked in 2009 and never got any better from there. Galippo signed with the Indianapolis Colts out of USC, but never made the team.
3. Marc Tyler – USC (6-1, 210) RB, Westlake Village, California: Coming in the same season as McKnight, Tyler was almost equally hyped as well as his Westlake Village teammates. Tyler’s best season came in 2010 when he ran for 913 yards to lead the Trojans in rushing. Marc Tyler is the son of former UCLA Running Back Wendell Tyler. Hard to call him anything other than a bust being ranked 3rd in the entire country.
4. Eric Berry – Tennessee (5-11, 195) CB, Fairburn, Georgia: Far from a bust, Eric Berry was a great player for the Tennessee Volunteers and then was the 5th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. This is what a 4th rated player in the country should do and Berry is a highly regarded NFL safety. Other than maybe Cam Newton or Rob Gronkowski, Berry could be the best player in this class.
5. Martez Wilson – Illinois (6-4, 230) DE, Chicago, Illinois: Wilson got off to a slow start at Illinois, but came on strong and was one of the best players in the Big 10 in 2010. He ran a 4.49 40 yard dash for NFL scouts and was picked in the 3rd round by the New Orleans Saints. Wilson played for the Saints before being waived in 2013 and then he signed with the Raiders and then the Cowboys. He is currently a free agent.
6. Noel Devine – West Virginia (5-8, 180) RB, North Fort Myers, Florida: Devine was one of the more exciting players in all of college football at West Virginia. He finished with 4,315 yards rushing and 29 Touchdowns and nearly 100 receptions. As great as he was in college, Devine was a tad small for NFL tastes and was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles after signing as a free agent. He bounced around from the United Football League to the Canadian Football league.
7. Terrance Tolliver – LSU (6-4, 190) WR, Hempstead, Texas: Tolliver was a highly touted tall receiver that played some as a true freshman and as a sophomore. He became a starter in the 2009 season and caught 53 passes and was also the Tigers leading receiver in 2010. Tolliver was undrafted in the 2011 season and signed with the Houston Texans. Tolliver has bounced around in the NFL with several teams which is surprising due to his 6-5, 220 frame and abilities.
8. Michael McNeil – Auburn (6-2, 200) Safety, Mobile, Alabama: He was a special teams star as a true freshman at Auburn and then was a starter as a sophomore at Safety. McNeil missed 2009 because of injury and now is in prison for home invasion.
9. Jimmy Clausen – Notre Dame (6-3, 218) QB, Westlake Village, California: One of the most hyped players in the history of recruiting. Westlake Village in California had 4 guys in the top 25 which is amazing and would have been more so if they had all panned out. He is the younger brother of Casey and Rick Clausen, both former Tennessee Volunteer Quarterbacks. His teams never lost a game in high school finishing 42-0. Clausen struggled as a true freshman at Notre Dame, but
rebounded as a sophomore and junior to become a pretty good Quarterback for the Irish and finished with about 8,000 career passing yards. Clausen declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season and was picked in the 2nd round by the Carolina Panthers. Clausen is now with the Chicago Bears.
10. Marvin Austin – North Carolina (6-2, 290) DT, Washington, DC: Austin was a good player for the Tar Heels, but involved in controversy for accepting improper benefits and was booted from the team after his junior season. He was projected as a 1st round pick but his stock dropped because scouts questioned his character and he was taken in the 2nd round by the New York Giants. Austin didn’t last long in New York before signing with Miami. He bounced to the Cowboys and then the Broncos.
11. Golden Tate – Notre Dame (5-11, 180) WR, Hendersonville, Tennessee: Tate won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver in 2009 and was a consensus All-American before declaring for the NFL Draft. Tate was a second round pick by the Seattle Seahawks where he was a star before signing a huge contract with the Detroit Lions. Tate caught 99 passes for the Lions in 2014 and made the Pro Bowl.
12. Ryan Mallett – Michigan (6-6, 230) QB, Texarkana, Texas: After signing with Michigan and playing as a true freshman, the Wolverines brought in Rich Rodriguez who runs an offense not suited for Mallett. He transferred to Arkansas where he had to sit out a season and then he starred for the Razorbacks. Mallett threw for over 8,000 yards and 69 Touchdowns for the Hogs. Mallett was picked in the 3rd round by the New England Patriots. Mallett was not going to replace Tom Brady and signed with the Houston Texans where he has a shot at starting.
13. Gary Gray – Notre Dame (5-11, 170) CB, Columbia, South Carolina: Gray missed his freshman season due to injury, but quickly recovered during his sophomore season before leaving the team for personal reasons. He came back and started his final two seasons and was one of the top players for the Irish in 2011.
14. Brian Maddox – South Carolina (6-2, 215) RB, Anderson, South Carolina: Maddox never lived up to expectations with his best season coming during his senior year of 2010 when he managed 391 yards. He might have done better if not for the arrival of super freshman Marcus Lattimore.
15. Carlos Dunlap – Florida (6-6, 250) DE, North Charleston, South Carolina: Great player for the Gators finishing with 19.5 career sacks and 3 blocked punts. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Dunlap signed a huge contract with the Bengals in 2013. Huge success story.
16. Tyrod Taylor – Virginia Tech (6-1, 185) QB, Hampton, Virginia: Taylor played some as a true freshman and then took over the starting job as a sophomore and was a 3 year starter for the Hokies. He finished with over 7,000 yards passing and 44 Touchdowns with nearly 2,000 career rushing
yards. Taylor was a good player and a leader for the Hokies and then was drafted in the 6th round by the Baltimore Ravens where he backed up Joe Flacco. Taylor currently plays for the Buffalo Bills.
17. Arrelious Benn – Illinois (6-1, 210) WR, Washington, DC: Ron Zook was one of the better recruiters in college football and while the head coach at Illinois he signed Benn and Martez Wilson. Illinois should never have fired Zook, in my opinion. Benn was a really good Wide Receiver for the Fighting Illini and he was drafted in the 2nd round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. After tearing his ACL, he had a few problems but has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 2015 season.
18. Marshall Jones – USC (6-0, 190) Safety, Westlake Village, California: Jones played some for the Trojans at Safety and Cornerback. He never lived up to his recruiting rankings and finished with 58 career tackles and 1 Interception.
19. Junior Hemingway – Michigan (6-3, 205) WR, Conway, South Carolina: Hemingway was a solid, big body Receiver for the Wolverines, but probably never the level that was expected of him. However, he was the MVP of the 2012 Sugar Bowl. Hemingway was a 7th round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs, but has not done much in the NFL as of yet.
20. Allen Bailey – Miami (6-3, 252) DE, Darien, Georgia: After a mildly successful college career at Miami, naturally Bailey left college early and was a 3rd round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs where he currentlyplays .
21. Tray Allen – Texas (6-4, 300) OT, Grand Prairie, Texas: Things just never really worked out for Allen at Texas. Currently plays arena football.
22. Greg Little – North Carolina (6-3, 225) WR, Durham, North Carolina: Little was a good player for the Tar Heels, but like teammate Marvin Austin he was involved in controversy and scandal.
Little was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Browns and he played there for three seasons before being released. He signed with the Raiders and then with the Bengals before being released.
23. Antwain Easterling – Southern Mississippi (5-11, 195) RB, Miami, Florida: Easterling went to Southern Miss because he was involved in a school sex scandal and other schools had backed off. He rushed for 85 yards before leaving school. Biggest bust on this list.
24. Christian Scott – Texas (6-0, 188) Safety, Dallas, Texas: Scott started a little bit for Texas but was charged with assault and booted from the team. He could have been and should have been a star.
25. John Brantley – Florida (6-3, 205) QB, Ocala, Florida: He backed up Tim Tebow for a couple of seasons after redshirting. Then, he started as a junior and a senior throwing for 2,061 as a junior with 9 Touchdowns and 10 Interceptions. As a senior in 2011, Brantley threw for 2,044 yards with 11 Touchdowns and 7 Interceptions. After a somewhat disappointing college career, Brantley was signed as a free agent by the Baltimore Ravens but cut pretty quickly. He runs a football camp now days.
Only a few of these guys lived up to their high rankings. So many of them were busts, or convicted of a crime.
Here are some more on the list that either did make it big or they are famous for some reason or another. Bad recruiting year overall.
29. Dez Bryant – Oklahoma State (6-1, 195) WR, Lufkin, Texas: One of the top Wide Receivers in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys.
39. Austin Box – Oklahoma (6-2, 205) Safety, Enid, Oklahoma: Box grew in size and was moved to Linebacker and we will never know if he deserved his lofty rankings because he tragically died of a drug overdose.
49. Aaron Hernandez – Florida (6-4, 235) TE, Bristol, Connecticut: One of the more famous
football players right now in the media with his murder conviction ending a promising NFL career with the New England Patriots.
58. Cam Newton – Florida (6-5, 225) QB, Atlanta, Georgia: Newton was 3rd string at Florida behind Tebow and #25 John Brantley. Obviously, he turned out way better than either, won the Heisman in 2010 and was #1 pick of the Carolina Panthers where he currently starts.
116. Rob Gronkowski – Arizona (6-6, 231) TE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: One of the NFL’s best players.