...Four Years Later - From collegefootballnews.com: The Blue Chips From the moment they first picked up a ball of any shape, they were the best on their block. The first to be chosen. A cut above their classmates. High school followed, and the accolades multiplied. No longer a neighborhood secret, their exploits drew statewide attention and headlines. Major universities from across the nation came calling with the promise of celebrity in the left hand, and a four-year scholie in the right. They adorned lists like Lemming’s Top this and USA Today’s Top that. All were blue chip recruits. Not one disappointed. And for those who aren’t already there, the NFL beckons much the way those eager programs did four years ago. These heads of the Class of 2001 had something much tougher than a hard-charging linebacker or a silky smooth receiver to overcome. In a fish bowl that continues to shrink, they had to exceed sky-high expectations before their 21st birthday. 1. QB Matt Leinart, USC – Now that he’s returning for his senior season, Leinart has an opportunity to be cited as the most decorated quarterback in college football history. His achievements in two years have been staggering: A 25-1 record as the Trojan starter. 71 touchdown passes to just 15 interceptions. Two national championships. And one Heisman Trophy. He’ll enter the 2005 season as the most recognized name—and face—at the collegiate level. 2. DE David Pollack, Georgia – Pollack started four games as a freshman, and went on to terrorize SEC quarterbacks for the next three seasons. He became the standard for pass-rushers, collecting a career-high 14 sacks as a sophomore before attracting double teams most of his junior and senior years. A three-time All-American, he started 45 straight games, and capped a brilliant career by winning the Lombardi, Hendricks and Bednarik Awards last December. (Poster note: his motor never stops running) 3. LB Derrick Johnson, Texas – Johnson’s rare athleticism and penchant for forcing turnovers has drawn lofty comparisons to Lawrence Taylor. From the moment he was named Freshman All-American in 2001, the accolades flowed annually for the product of Waco. The two-time All-American and Butkus Award recipient led the ‘Horn defense in 2004 with 130 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and a phenomenal nine forced fumbles. 4. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh – Fitzgerald played just two seasons in Pittsburgh, but that’s all it took for him to establish himself as the most complete pass-catcher in America. In 2003, he won the Biletnikoff Award and a spate of other honors after catching 92 passes and setting an NCAA record with a touchdown reception in 18 consecutive games. The No. 3 overall pick in April’s draft had 58 catches for 780 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie year with the Arizona Cardinals. 5. DT Tommie Harris, Oklahoma – For three years, Harris was the heart of one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, eating up opposing blockers, and making plenty of tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He was a two-time All-American in Norman, and the 2003 winner of the Lombardi Award, given to the country’s top interior lineman. The first-round pick in last year’s NFL Draft started all 16 games for a Chicago Bear team that considers him to be one of the organization’s defensive building blocks. 6. RB Cedric Benson, Texas – Benson arrived in Austin idolizing former Longhorn Ricky Williams, and leaves with a legacy that approaches the 1998 Heisman winner. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons, capped in 2004 by more than 1,800 yards, 20 touchdowns and the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back. Williams is just one of four backs in NCAA history to run for more yards in a career than Benson. 7. TE Kellen Winslow, Miami – The premier tight end in the country for two seasons, Winslow was a two-time Mackey Award finalist, winning the trophy in 2003. For a player of his size, he was uncommonly athletic at Miami, which prompted the Cleveland Browns to select him with the sixth overall selection in last April’s draft. Winslow’s rookie season ended prematurely when he broke his leg in week two. 8. OT Shawn Andrews, Arkansas – A Herculean tackle, who became the definition of a road grader during his three years as the head Hog. His devastating blocking in the running game paved the way for back-to-back All-American seasons and a spot as a finalist for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award in 2003. Andrews was taken in the first round of last year’s draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, and earned a starting job before breaking his leg in the opener. 9. CB Marlin Jackson, Michigan – Jackson wasted no time rewarding Lloyd Carr for his recruiting efforts, starting seven games his rookie season, and finishing fourth on the team in tackles. He went on to become one of the nation’s most outstanding corners, establishing squatter’s rights on the All-Big Ten first team and earning All-America honors twice. Jackson projects as a mid to late first-round pick in April’s draft. 10. CB Antrel Rolle, Miami – Once stars like Sean Taylor, Ed Reed and Phillip Buchanon made their way to the NFL, it was Rolle’s turn to take center stage in the ‘Cane secondary. The three-year starter responded by finishing second to Carlos Rogers in the Thorpe Award voting last month, while being cited as a consensus All-American. He’s the model of an ideal pro corner, which should project him high into this April’s draft. 11. RB Steven Jackson, Oregon State – For two seasons, Jackson did the unthinkable in Corvallis, making Beaver fans forget about all-time leading rusher, Ken Simonton. In two seasons as the starter, he piled up huge numbers on the ground and in the passing game, despite getting questionable support from his offensive line. The first selection of the St. Louis Rams in last year’s draft really came on late as Marshall Faulk’s understudy. 12. C Ben Wilkerson, LSU – Over the past two seasons, Wilkerson has been college football’s premier center, copping All-American honors twice and a share of the Rimington Trophy earlier this month. He’s an extremely athletic and agile lineman, who’ll be taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft if the knee injury he suffered last October doesn’t scare off too many teams. 13. RB Kevin Jones, Virginia Tech – The near-consensus top high school prospect of 2000 played up to his towering potential, even if he had to share the spotlight with Lee Suggs early in his career. When he finally flew solo in 2003, Jones soared to the Hokie single-season rushing record and a spot in the first round of the NFL Draft. Jones joined Barry Sanders and Billy Sims last year, becoming just the third Detroit Lion rookie to rush for more than 1,000 yards. 14. DT Shaun Cody, USC – Some Notre Dame fans still stew over the loss of Cody to USC four years ago. Whether he was inside or at end, he was a dominant lineman with the quickness to get after the quarterback and the strength to support in run defense. Cody rebounded from torn ligaments in his right knee two years ago to become one of the most feared tackles in the game, and a first-team All-American in 2004. 15. WR Michael Clayton, LSU – One of the many studs that made up Nick Saban’s impeccable recruiting class from four years ago. Clayton’s a dynamic all-around athlete, who ranks among the school’s all-time elite in most receiving categories, yet still made contributions on special teams and occasionally chipped in on defense. He repaid the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for choosing him No. 15 overall by setting club rookie records in 2004 for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. 16. DE Marcus Spears, LSU – The country’s consensus No. 1 prep tight end wound up being a pretty good defensive end as well. Spears made the full-time switch to defense midway through his freshman year, and quickly grew into one of college football’s most intimidating pass-rushers. He led the Tigers in 2004 with 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks, en route to a spot on the All-SEC first team for the second consecutive season. 17. WR Reggie Williams, Washington – For three years, Williams went over and past defenders, justifying his status as the most sought after wideout from his graduating class. He was named All-American in 2002, and set numerous school records before departing with one season of eligibility remaining. Williams was selected ninth overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in last April’s draft, but routinely struggled in his rookie season. 18. RB Carnell Williams, Auburn – A fractured fibula in 2002 and the presence of Ronnie Brown kept Cadillac from ever stockpiling a ton of individual awards, but he was a two-time 1,000-yard rusher and one the nation’s most dangerous runners whenever he lined up in the backfield. Williams has positioned himself to be one of the first backs chosen in the upcoming NFL Draft. 19. S Ernest Shazor, Michigan – All of the hype that surrounded Shazor’s decision to attend Michigan wound up being warranted. He’s a rare combination of corner quickness and linebacker toughness—wrapped up in a talented strong safety. Shazor elevated his game to All-American status this past year, prompting him to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. The Thorpe Award finalist won’t have to wait very long to hear his name called in April. 20. DT Anttaj Hawthorne, Wisconsin – A three-year starter, Hawthorne has been bedrock for the Badgers since landing a starting spot toward the end of his freshman season. Despite consistently drawing double teams the past two years, the All-Big Ten fixture has lived in opponents’ backfield. Hawthorne will attract plenty of interest from NFL GMs looking for a run-stuffer quick enough to also get after the quarterback. 21. OT Jonathan Scott, Texas – While still a shade raw, Scott has improved each year in Austin, and will be a lock for most preseason All-American teams after earning second-team honors this past season. He’s a tall, nimble tackle, who has helped pave the way for the resurgence of the Longhorn running attack the last two years. 22. QB Kyle Orton, Purdue – Orton closed out a schizophrenic career by throwing for 31 touchdowns and 3,090 yards, but might be better remembered for a cataclysmic fumble in the Wisconsin game that started a Boiler freefall. At the time, he was the trendy favorite to give Purdue its first Heisman winner. Orton started a bowl game in each of his four seasons, and rarely made mistakes, however, his career was not quite emblematic of the No. 2 rated quarterback of 2001. 23. DE Marquise Hill, LSU – The physically imposing end was bigger than most college tackles, yet nimble enough to create pressure as a pass-rusher. As a consensus Top 25 prospect, his Tiger career fell a little short of expectations, however, that didn’t dissuade the New England Patriots from making him the 31st pick in April’s draft. After spending most of 2004 on the inactive list, Hill might have been wise to remain in Baton Rouge for his senior season. 24. CB Ahmad Carroll, Arkansas – A phenomenal athlete with blazing speed, Carroll manned the Hog secondary for three years and was a superb gunner on special teams. The All-SEC corner left Fayetteville a year early, landing in the first round of the NFL Draft as a member of the Green Bay Packers. However, in year one as a pro, he was regularly exposed by veteran receivers and left many questioning his selection. 25. DT Lorenzo Alexander, Cal – Playing for a program known more for its high-octane offense, Alexander never quite got the pub befitting his talent and production. Since opting to remain in his hometown of Berkeley as one of the nation’s top-ranked tackles, he’s quietly anchored the Bear line in the shadows of more publicized Pac-10 linemen from USC and UCLA. The Late Bloomers February is the domain of the can’t-miss prospect, whose signing day decision can alter the mood of an entire region of the country. Conversely, the bulk of each year’s recruits are relatively anonymous cogs in a given recruiting class. A handful, however, always seem to defy the experts, authoring feel-good stories of perseverance, humble beginnings and unexpected success—the non-blue chip prospect that blew past expectations. Whether you call them late bloomers, hidden gems or sleepers, they’re the best examples that you never can tell what an 18-year old athlete will look like when he turns 22. He might wind up even spiffier than that prep All-American, who was going to rewrite the record books. 1. LB Lofa Tatupu, USC – In more ways than just miles, it’s a long, long way from the A-10 to the Pac-10, but that’s the improbable cross-country path Tatupu has taken to achieve stardom. The one-time Maine Black Bear transferred to father Mosi’s alma mater after the 2001 season, setting off an unlikely success story. Considered undersized by most I-A programs, the instinctive Tatupu has led the Trojans in tackles the last two years, and has positioned himself nicely for the NFL Draft. 2. WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan – Lloyd Carr’s Class of 2001 overflowed with Top 100 prospects. Hard to believe, but Edwards wasn’t one of them. He was an unfinished product coming out of Detroit, and very much an afterthought until after David Terrell and Marquise Walker had graduated. Edwards just kept honing his game every fall, culminating in last year’s Biletnikoff Award and All-American recognition. His unexpected rise offset the implosion of top get, running back Kelly Baraka 3. TE Heath Miller, Virginia – As quarterbacks from tiny high schools go, Miller has developed into quite a tight end. The nation’s best tight end, in fact. Looking for a way to better utilize his skills, Virginia coaches moved him out from under center his freshman year, a switch that’ll make him very wealthy in three months. In short time, Miller transformed into a prolific pass-catcher and terrific blocker, setting numerous ACC records and winning the Mackey Award last season. 4. LB Chad Greenway, Iowa – Greenway knows a little something about coming out of nowhere, having played nine-man football in South Dakota, and suffering a severe knee injury just a year before his breakout season of 2003. He’s got terrific size and sideline-to-sideline quickness to go along with All-Big Ten honors in each of the last two seasons. Greenway is Case No. 47 why few coaches are developing talent these days better than Kirk Ferentz and his staff. 5. LB LeRoy Hill, Clemson – Few have come so far, so fast than Hill has these past four years. From the tail end of a great Clemson class, he’s ascended to the role of flag-bearer following two sensational seasons that conjured up memories of former Tiger standout, Keith Adams. Hill has an insatiable desire for the ball carrier, as evidenced by his 251 tackles and 46 tackles for loss since becoming a starter in 2003. 6. S Sean Taylor, Miami – While not exactly a rags-to-riches story—the ‘Canes don’t recruit paupers—no one could have figured the prolific high school back would develop into the prototypical NFL safety. Taylor still had plenty of chances to show off his running ability at Miami, however, courtesy of his 14 picks over two seasons. The consensus All-American attracted the attention of the Washington Redskins, who scooped him up with the No. 5 overall pick in last year’s draft, and have been thrilled with their selection. 7. CB Corey Webster, LSU – Webster was a quarterback in high school, a wide receiver his first season in Baton Rouge, and one of the nation’s best lockdown corners shortly thereafter. When a kid possesses that ideal confluence of size, speed and athleticism, there’s no limit to what he can do. He made the All-SEC first team three straight years, and repeated as a first-team All-American in 2004. Webster picked off 16 passes for LSU, and with limited experience in the secondary, figures only to get better at the next level. 8. DE Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College – As a high school senior, Kiwanuka was 6-foot-7, 195 pounds, and in the hunt for a basketball scholarship. Today, he’s a sturdy 260 pounds, and considered one of the best defensive ends returning to school in 2005. In between, he and the Eagles caught a huge break when he got noticed as BC coaches were scouting Cathedral High teammate, Jeremy Trueblood. In the last three years, he’s bagged 28 sacks and a slew of postseason honors. 9. OG Chris Kemoeatu, Utah – A good defensive tackle prospect in high school, Kemoeatu has blossomed into a great right guard since arriving in Salt Lake City. He’s a fiery, at times out of control, lineman, who simply destroys opponents with his brute strength and massive upper body. Kemoeatu was a three-year starter, a three-time All-conference selection, and an All-American during the 2004 season. 10. OG Elton Brown, Virginia – In a recruiting class dotted with big names, Brown was hardly the headliner. He was a developmental prospect with a checkered past and just two games of playing time his senior year. Cav coaches thought he’d be pretty good, but not this good. Not at-the-top-of-his-craft good. Brown, who was an All-American and a Lombardi Award finalist in 2004, is a mauler with uncommon agility for a 6-foot-6, 335-pound lineman. 11. S Thomas Davis, Georgia – Until the incoming Georgia staff finally succumbed to his incredible versatility, Davis looked like he might be headed to I-AA Grambling, one of the only schools to make him an offer. After lying in the weeds his first two years, he exploded on the national scene in 2003, leading the Dawgs in tackles, and generally creating havoc with his size and burst toward the ball. Davis was a beast again last fall, fueling speculation that he’ll be the first safety chosen in April’s NFL Draft. 12. LB Will Derting, Washington State – Derting is Exhibit A that good things do come in small inseams, and from small towns. The kid from tiny Okanogan, Wash., who was considered too short and too slow other to make it in the Pac-10, has been a non-stop force for the Cougars since earning the start his freshman year. The epitome of a tough, old school player, Derting will be looking to land on his third straight all-league team in 2005. 13. S James Butler, Georgia Tech – Playing at Bainbridge (Ga.) High, Butler made local headlines, but never created a national buzz like an Ahmad Carroll or Marlin Jackson. He was a nice prospect, who wouldn’t have caused a furor in Atlanta had he not become a star. However, after two pedestrian seasons as a backup, he began approaching stardom with a breakout year in 2003, and proved it was no fluke with another great season in 2004. Butler ended both years by being named to the All-ACC first team. 14. DE Manase Hopoi, Washington – The son of Tongan immigrants, Hopoi came to Washington as a partial qualifier, failing to reach the necessary SAT score and forced to sit out his freshman season. Pac-10 schools are allowed to sign one such student-athlete each year, and the Huskies hit paydirt here in 2001. Hopoi has excelled in the classroom, and tallied a whopping 50 tackles for loss since becoming a starter in 2002. He’s got a non-stop motor, and has proved he can play equally well inside or at end. 15. WR Mike Hass, Oregon State – Walk-ons earn scholarships every year, but it’s a happening when one rises to the heights Hass has since becoming a starter in 2003. He’s not the biggest, the fastest or the most heralded receiver in most games he plays, but doggone it, he is a handful to cover. Hass has terrific hands and runs crisp routes, skills he’s used to grate on the nerves of opposing secondaries and churn out back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. 16. LB Barrett Ruud, Nebraska – A super productive player throughout his career, Ruud had interest from Notre Dame and Michigan, but was considered no better than a Top 50 linebacker when he graduated from high school. He leaves Lincoln as one of the Top 5 ‘backers from his class after racking up more than 140 tackles in each of the last two seasons, and breaking the Husker mark for stops in a career. 17. QB Bruce Gradkowski, Toledo – So unappealing was Gradkowski to I-A programs four years ago that not one offered him a scholarship until Toledo finally took a leap of faith. Boy, has it paid off. Over the past two seasons, he’s piloted the explosive Rocket offense with incredible poise and precision, while establishing himself as yet another pro-caliber MAC quarterback. In just 25 starts, he’s accounted for 66 touchdowns, more than 7,500 yards and just 15 picks. 18. LB Odell Thurman, Georgia – It was a long and circuitous route getting Thurman to Athens, but he proved worth the wait. After redshirting in 2001, he was dismissed from the team, and forced to spend a year at Georgia Military College. Thurman returned to the Dawgs in 2003 with a lot to prove, and a couple of fences to mend. He responded with a breakthrough sophomore season and back-to-back appearances on the All-SEC defense. As a true hardship case, he’s off to the NFL with a year of eligibility still on the table. 19. WR Terrence Murphy, Texas A&M – A lightly regarded quarterback, Murphy was relocated to wide receiver his first year in College Station, and promptly broke the Aggie freshman mark for receptions. It was a sign of things to come for the kid who’d eventually own the school career mark for both receptions and receiving yard. Murphy’s been the lone offensive constant the past four years, and had he been playing in a more stable offense, might have challenged for All-American votes. 20. S Josh Bullocks, Nebraska – Primarily a running back at Hixson High School, Bullocks has far exceeded expectations since having his monster season two years ago. In 2003, he demanded to be noticed after picking off ten passes, and becoming just the second Husker sophomore in school history to be named first-team All-American. After a less spectacular junior year, Bullocks has opted to enter the NFL Draft, where he expects to be chosen on the first day. 21. CB Darrent Williams, Oklahoma State – Williams’ diminutive frame kept plenty of major programs from making him an offer, but it hasn’t stopped him from developing into a playmaking corner and punt returner. He’s got tremendous quickness and speed, which makes him tough to beat in the passing game, and even tougher to catch when the ball is in his hands. A broken forearm last October derailed Williams’ quest for a spot on the All-Big XII first team in consecutive seasons. 22. LB Rian Wallace, Temple – While a few ACC and Big East programs kicked Wallace’s tires, no one other than Bobby Wallace and Temple really took him seriously or made him an offer. The linebacker has been repaying the Owls ever since. On a team low on stars, Wallace has been the face of the program since Dan Klecko’s departure, collecting tackles in bunches and representing the school on post-season honors rolls. The early entry in this year’s draft figures to be a first day selection. 23. QB Josh Cribbs, Kent State – Not big enough. Can’t throw the deep ball. Cribbs heard all the critics when he was in high school, but rarely listened. Few schools showed interest, especially when he made it clear he was remaining behind center. As a four-year starter, Cribbs got the last laugh, rewriting the Kent record books, and becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to pass and run for 1,000 yards in the same season. A shifty dual-threat, he’ll look to find his niche in the NFL much the way Antwan Randle-El did three years ago. 24. OT Travis Leffew, Louisville – Leffew had visits to higher-profile programs, but narrowed his choice to in-state rivals, Kentucky and Louisville. If nothing else, he displayed impeccable judgment with that decision. The Cards’ iron man has started 38 consecutive games, polishing his skills each fall along with the rest of the offense. Leffew was named to the AP All-American third team last season, which could be a springboard for even bigger achievements in 2005. 25. C Jason Brown, North Carolina – It says something about Brown’s notoriety that he was better known for throwing the discus in high school than for playing football. He was a good lineman at Northern Vance, but he was a two-time state champion in track and field. Since making the switch from tackle his sophomore year, Brown has gradually become one of the best centers in the nation. This past year, he earned All-ACC honors, and should be the first at his position drafted this April. The Busts Remember Armon Dorrough? How about Justin Tomerlin? Wasn’t Cecil “The Diesel’ going to truck on up to Syracuse, and finally give the Orange someone to fear under center? Each year, countless former high school stars confirm that the recruitment of teenage athletes is very much an inexact science. Yet, that won’t stop an optimistic horde of college football fans from saturating themselves with drool as National Letter of Intent signing day fast approaches. Injuries, academic struggles and poor scouting are just a few of the many reasons a kid fails to make the leap from big man in prep school to big man on campus. For every Larry Fitzgerald, who breaks records, there’s at least one Carlos Campbell, who can’t break into the starting lineup. For every Derrick Johnson, a Derron Johnson. The next few weeks leading up to the Feb. 2 signing day are a time of celebration and anticipation. 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 few years. However, a quick review of how some of the crème de la crème of the Class of 2001 have panned out might temper your enthusiasm. Don’t be floored if that cant-miss you’re currently fawning over can’t cut it at the next level. Hey, didn’t you used to be Kevin Noel? 1. RB Kelly Baraka, Michigan – Baraka was touted as the next great Wolverine back, but wound up being one of the school’s most publicized and embarrassing recruiting busts. The prep All-American was arrested twice in 2001 for marijuana possession, and was dismissed from the team the following spring. Baraka bounced around the junior-college circuit without ever playing a down in Ann Arbor. 2. DE Mark Anderson, Stanford – One of the prized catches of Ty Willingham’s first-rate recruiting class never had a chance to make his mark on the Farm. A spate of knee injuries essentially ended Anderson’s college career before it began, and he decided to transfer to Montana State to be closer to home. He had it all—speed, size, strength and smarts—so it was no surprise he received more than 30 scholarships from major programs. 3. WR Roscoe Crosby, Clemson – An enormously gifted athlete, Crosby turned out to be a colossal tease to Tiger fans. After breaking the school record for receptions and receiving yards by a true freshman, the two-sport star sat out 2002 with a serious elbow injury and 2003 for personal reasons. Crosby hoped to play one more year of college football this fall, but doing so would nullify his claim to $400,000, which he believes is owed to him by the Kansas City Royals. 4. CB Dominic Robinson, Florida State – Robinson earned four letters in Tallahassee, but that’s chump change for a player that was widely touted as the top cornerback prospect in the nation in 2000. He never did make it in the Seminole secondary, switching to wide receiver early in his career, and getting reps as a punt returner. Robinson had the occasional moment at receiver, but never caught more than 17 passes in a season, and will be remembered as a disappointment. 5. OL Blake Larsen, Iowa – Larsen was one of the most heavily recruited players to come out of western Iowa in quite some time, but never lived up to all of the attention or scholarship offers he received. His injuries have out numbered his snaps the past four years, fueling Larsen’s decision last month to leave the university with a degree in Health and Sports Studies and one year of unused eligibility. 6. QB D.J. Shockley, Georgia – This will change this year. Shockley has a unique one-year window of opportunity to make noise in Athens and validate those scouts who projected him as a Top 10 prospect. Now that David Greene has graduated, the offense is his, a reality that unsettles some Dawg fans. He never could unseat Greene, and worse, has rarely been consistent in relief. To get the most out of Shockley, Mark Richt plans to dust off the playbook he used when he coached Charlie Ward at Florida State. 7. ATH Quan Cosby, Texas – The ‘Horns had visions of using the combustible Cosby much the way Miami utilizes Devin Hester and USC features Reggie Bush. He was nearly that versatile and explosive. However, the Anaheim Angels offered some quan of their own, canceling The Cosby Show in Austin. He’s recently hinted that after four years toiling in the minor leagues, he may be ready to return to the gridiron to play for either Texas, Oklahoma or Baylor. 8. QB Cecil Howard, Syracuse – The man who’d finally give Syracuse a viable successor to Donovan McNabb never played a down for the Orangemen. A depressed Howard shocked the upstate New York community when he bolted after just one year, transferring to Youngstown State, and later Northeastern, in a frenetic one-week span. 9. QB Joe Mauer, Florida State – Had Mauer not chosen Major League Baseball over college football, the ‘Noles would have had a viable option for Chris Rix the past two seasons. He was selected first overall in 2001 by the hometown Minnesota Twins, and made his debut in the bigs last year. 10. QB Adrian McPherson, Florida State – ‘Nole coaches knew Joe Mauer was a risk to give up pitching footballs for catching baseballs, and McPherson represented a terrific Plan B. However, one year after arriving on campus, he was exiled for gambling allegations and his role in a check cashing scam. He was last seen piling up big numbers for the Indiana Firebirds of the Arena Football League, and has hired uber-agent Leigh Steinberg to represent him in April’s NFL Draft. 11. QB Brent Rawls, Oklahoma – A sobering example of the ten-cent head sabotaging the million-dollar arm. Physically, Rawls was a prototypical drop-back passer, but upstairs, he lacked maturity and good sense. In Norman, he struggled in the classroom, became a regular in Bob Stoops’ doghouse, and ultimately transferred to Louisiana Tech in 2003. With a second chance in Ruston, he never qualified academically, and opted to sign a deal last November with the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings of the Arena Football League. 12. WR Angelo Chattams, Ohio State – Regarded by some as the next coming of Joey Galloway, Chattams became better known for getting charged with the theft of a set of golf clubs in 2002. After catching just two balls as a Buckeye, an upper spine injury ended his football career a year later. 13. QB Kyle Matter, Stanford – Filling in for Chris Lewis as a freshman, Matter showed flashes of the potential that made him a Prep All-American and one of the top-rated passers of his class. It was all downhill after 2002, however. He slid to No. 3 on the depth chart the following season, and didn’t throw a single pass this past year. With underclassmen still ahead of him at the position, Matter is destined to finish his Cardinal career as a high-profile holder on field goals and extra points. 14. CB Gerard Ross, Florida State – Over the past four years, Ross has been unable to recapture the form that made him one of the highest-ranked defensive backs coming out of high school. He’s been a liability in pass coverage, and has routinely been surpassed on the depth chart by younger teammates. Ross, who has been an asset on special teams, has one more year of eligibility left with the ‘Noles. 15. DE Marquis Elmore, Georgia – Early academic issues and a slow-to-heal back set Elmore back his first two years in Athens. In 2001, he attended Hargrave Military Academy to work on his grades, and the following year, surgery for a herniated disc forced him to be redshirted. The past two seasons have been largely spent on the sidelines, watching his teammates make plays. The coaches still believe Elmore can be an effective pass-rusher, and he has two years left to prove them right. 16. DE Redgie Arden, Ohio State – Since arriving in Columbus, Arden has made all of his headlines away from the ‘Shoe getting arrested twice for drunk driving, had his nose broken outside a West Virginia bar and sat out the entire 2004 season with an injury. Arden has played linebacker and tight end, but will be at defensive end when he tries to salvage his career this spring. 17. DL Jared Helming, Nebraska – One of the gems of Frank Solich’s fourth recruiting class has never developed into the kind of lineman Husker fans envisioned when he was named the Missouri Player of the Year. Helming sat out 2002 with a torn ACL in his left knee, and has bounced between the offensive and defensive lines, never establishing a foothold on either unit. His next start in 2005 will be the first of his Nebraska career. 18. WR Jerome Janet, Kansas State – The former All-American with track star speed sprinted out of Manhattan just days into his first summer camp. Janet returned home to Tulsa to play for the Golden Hurricane, but lasted just one pedestrian season before getting booted for academic and conduct issues. 19. CB Derron Johnson, Memphis – Memphis beat out a bunch of much bigger schools to get Johnson’s signature, but it never paid off for the program. The corner with the huge frame and great speed was moved to wide receiver as a freshman, academically ineligible as a sophomore and no longer affiliated with the Tigers before even completing his junior season. 20. C Zachary Giles, Notre Dame – The former All-American and player of the year in Massachusetts has yet to work his way to the top of the depth chart in four seasons in South Bend. Save for a start at Michigan State in 2003, Giles’ primarily role has been to add depth to the Irish offensive line. 21. RB Ty Eriks, Washington – Eriks’ career in Seattle has not been a complete washout, but it certainly hasn’t approached expectations when he was one of the best big backs in the nation in 2000. He’s bounced around the depth chart, playing tailback, fullback, safety and linebacker before finally finding a home at defensive end. Eriks had nine tackles last year, and has one more season to become an impact pass-rusher on the Dawg D. 22. ATH Carlos Campbell, Notre Dame – Campbell had the gamebreaking speed that the Irish so dearly covet these days, but that never translated into stardom in South Bend. For four seasons, he languished as a little-used backup, two at wide receiver and two at cornerback. Campbell’s biggest contributions came as a gunner on the punt team, site of the only touchdown of his four-year career. 23. OL Ron Lunford, Florida State – The behemoth guard is still blessed with potential, but has yet to come close to the level that made him one of the most sought after linemen in the country four years ago. Lunford’s limited starts have been the result of other’s injuries, and he’s struggled to keep his weight under control. He’ll be counted on to step in 2005, and have a salary run type season. 24. RB J.R. Lemon, Stanford – While it’s still a little strong to label J.R., well, a lemon, his perfect blend of size and speed hasn’t exactly led to the kind of production many expected when he was one of the most heralded backs in America. Whether it’s been injuries or poor line play, Lemon has struggled to locate consistency, and has never rushed for more than 500 yards in a season. He has one year in Walt Harris’ offense to show NFL scouts he’s worthy of a draft choice. 25. QB Brodie Croyle, Alabama – If not for some bad luck, Croyle would have no business in this discussion. When healthy, he’s shown glimpses of the form that made him the most coveted prep quarterback in the country. Problem is, he’s missed 11 games the last two years due to shoulder and knee injuries, and had nearly as many career interceptions as touchdowns before this year’s three-game season. How Croyle’s college career is ultimately judged will depend heavily on how he performs in 2005.