Hits and misses from 2007 class
Evaluating and ranking recruits is far from an exact science, especially when you consider we are trying to determine how good they will be three to four years down the line. Here is a look at some examples of prospects we completely missed on and some who turned out as good as we predicted. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Aaron Corp, QB, USC
Coming out of high school, Corp was the fifth-rated quarterback in the country on the heels of an outstanding high school career and even won the Glenn Davis Award for the best player in Southern California. However, after redshirting in 2007 and being buried on USC's depth chart in 2008, Corp was named the starter in 2009 before breaking his leg and giving way to Matt Barkley. Corp transferred to Richmond and was the starter in 2010.
Antwain Easterling, RB, Southern Mississippi
Easterling rushed for more than 2,800 yards and scored 33 touchdowns as a senior for Miami Northwestern. He was ranked No. 23 overall and as the fifth best running back in the country, but played in only two games for the Golden Eagles before being suspended indefinitely in 2008 for violating team rules and never returning to the program.
Jerimy Finch, S, Florida
Finch, an all-state player his junior and senior seasons of high school, ended his junior season with 98 tackles, 10 interceptions and five forced fumbles. At Florida, he appeared in three games at linebacker before suffering a broken leg, which ended his freshman season. He was released by the Gators and enrolled at Indiana in 2008. He played in five games in 2008 and seven in 2009. He left the program in May 2010.
Chris Forcier, QB, UCLA
As a senior at Saint Augustine in Carlsbad, Calif., Forcier threw for 2,347 yards and 23 touchdowns, completing 158 of 291 passes. He also ran for 631 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a freshman at UCLA, he didn't see action and as a sophomore came off the bench in seven games. He transferred to Furman the following year, played in seven games in 2009 and had his 2010 season cut short after suffering a broken bone in his shoulder.
Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan
Hemingway was the No. 19 overall player in the 2007 class after catching 83 balls for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. At Michigan, he played in 10 games as a freshman and redshirted in 2008 due to mononucleosis. Hemingway was the Wolverine's fourth-leading receiver in 2009 and third-leading receiver in 2010. He has started 18 contests at wideout in his career.
Willy Korn, QB, Clemson
Korn was the 12th ranked quarterback in the country after completing 795 of 1181 passes for 10,716 yards and 125 touchdowns in his career. In 2007, he appeared in two games for Clemson. In 2008, he appeared in six games and made his first start in Week 7, but suffered a shoulder injury, which required surgery. In 2009, he played in nine games, despite losing the starting job to Kyle Parker. He transferred to Marshall, in hopes of competing for a starting QB job, but was moved to safety. Korn transferred again to Division II North Greenville.
D.J. Stafford, DT, Kentucky
Stafford was ranked as the second best defensive tackle in the 2007 class after finishing his senior season with 72 tackles, 18 for loss and four sacks. Stafford originally signed with Kentucky in 2007, but failed to qualify academically. Then he enrolled at Harmony Prep in Cincinnati, Ohio, in hopes of enrolling in 2008, but never did.
Sam Acho, DE, Texas
Acho was the No. 14-ranked defensive end in the country and appeared in 11 games as a true freshman for Texas. He appeared in all 13 games at defensive end and on special teams as a sophomore. In 2009, he started 14 games at defensive end and earned honorable mention All-Big 12. As a senior, he won the William V. Campbell Trophy, the Wuerffel Trophy and was named first-team All-Big 12 after recording 59 tackles, 17 for loss, nine sacks, five forced fumbles (No. 1 in the nation) and five fumble recoveries. Acho is expected to be drafted in the middle rounds of the 2011 NFL draft.
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Berry lived up to the expectations as the No. 4 overall player in the 2007 class. The former Vol earned SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year and was named a team captain as a sophomore. Berry was a dominant safety in college, finishing with 14 career interceptions and the second most interception return yards ever, 494. He also won the Jim Thorpe Award as a junior and was drafted No. 5 overall in 2010 by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
The all-state selection as a senior at Lufkin High School in Texas finished his final season with 53 receptions for 1,207 yards and 21 touchdowns. As a freshman at OSU, was second on the team in receiving. Broke the school record for receiving touchdowns with 19 as a sophomore, led the Big 12 in receiving yards per game and was a first-team All-American. Bryant was ruled ineligible for the 2009 season for violating an NCAA bylaw and decided to enter the 2010 NFL draft. The Dallas Cowboys made him the 24th pick overall.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
Devine was the No. 6 overall player in the 2007 class and finished his high school career with 92 touchdowns and averaged 11.5 yards per carry as a senior. He made a big splash as a freshman rushing for 8.6 yards per carry and eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing as a sophomore (1,289) and junior (1,465). After deciding to come back for one more year, Devine averaged 4.4 yards per carry and totaled 886 yards rushing. He is expected to be drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft.
Ryan Pugh, C, Auburn
The No. 1 ranked center in the 2007 class appeared in seven games with six starts at left tackle in 2007 on his way to making the second-team Freshman All-America team. Since then, Pugh has started every game of his college career. He is considered to be a late-round draft choice in the 2011 NFL draft, or he could become an undrafted free agent.
Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
Tate was the No. 11 overall player in the 2007 class and was considered one of the best overall athletes in the class. He rushed 140 times for 1,413 yards and 23 touchdowns and caught another 28 receptions for 510 yards and six touchdowns as senior. He was even drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 42nd round of the 2007 MLB draft. At Notre Dame, he started all 12 games as a freshman, led the Irish in all-purpose yards as a sophomore and broke Notre Dame's single-season records for receptions and receiving yards as a junior. He also won the Biletnikoff Award and was named as a first-team All-American in 2009. He was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
The No. 3-ranked QB in the class led his high school team to a 34-4 record as a three-year starter and accumulated 7,690 yards of offense and scored 100 total touchdowns in his high school career. At Virginia Tech, after sharing time with junior Sean Glennon through his freshman and sophomore seasons, Taylor led his team to a Chick-fil-A Bowl victory as a junior. He was named ACC Player of the Year as a senior after throwing 25 touchdowns to only four interceptions and adding another five rushing.
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
To say he exceeded expectations is an understatement. Amukamara was ranked as the 31st best running back in the country. As a freshman for the Cornhuskers, he served in a reserve role in the secondary and as a sophomore he played 13 games, including three starts. As a junior, he contributed 64 tackles and five interceptions on his way to making the first-team All-Big 12. As a senior, he was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and is expected to be drafted in the top five overall of the 2011 NFL draft.
Jahvid Best, RB, California
Best rushed for 3,325 yards and found the end zone 48 times as a senior and was the No. 22-ranked running back in the country. His speed was never questioned, as he was considered the fastest back in California, but his ability to carry the load was a concern. As a freshman at Cal, he burst onto the scene as a special teams standout and earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors for his efforts. As a sophomore, he led the Pac-10 and ranked third in the country in rushing, averaging 131.67 yards per game. He earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors and missed the final four games of the season due to injury. He was drafted No. 30 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2010 draft.
Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Fairley played on the offensive line and as a tight end in high school and was considered the No. 32-ranked offensive tackle in the class. Fairley attended junior college out of high school, redshirted in 2007 and switched to the defensive side where he had 63 tackles, including nine for loss and seven sacks in seven games in 2008. He transferred to Auburn and had 28 tackles and one sack in 2009. This season he had 56 tackles, 12 sacks and is expected to be drafted among the top five overall in the 2011 NFL draft.
Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama
Even though he wasn't part of the ESPNU 150, he was the No. 5-ranked inside linebacker in the country after tallying 106 tackles and 13 for loss as a senior. At Alabama, he earned first-team freshman All-SEC honors after playing in 13 games, including eight starts. In 2008, he earned first-team All-SEC honors after recording 95 tackles and three sacks. As a junior, he won the Lambert Award and Butkus Award for the best collegiate linebacker before being drafted in the 2010 NFL draft No. 8 overall by the Oakland Raiders.
Cameron Newton, QB, Florida
Newton was ranked No. 58 overall and drew comparisons to JaMarcus Russell, though much faster, after throwing for 1,400 yards and running for another 1,000 yards. At Florida, he earned a backup QB role in 2007 behind Tim Tebow and redshirted due to an ankle injury in 2008. Then Newton transferred to Blinn College in 2009 and led it to a NJCAA National Football Championship. He enrolled with Auburn in 2010 and led the Tigers to a national championship, while winning the Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien Award, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award. He is expected to be drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft.
Von Miller, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Miller was considered the 37th best defensive end in the 2007 class after making 76 tackles, including six sacks and 14 tackles for loss. He was named to the freshman All-Big 12 team and saw action in 12 games as a sophomore, including four starts at outside linebacker. He earned first-team All-America honors in 2009 and 2010, led the nation in sacks with 17 in 2009 and earned the Butkus Award in 2010. He is expected to be drafted top 10 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.
Earl Thomas, S, Texas
Thomas played defensive back, receiver and running back in high school, helping his team to a 24-2 record over his final two seasons. At Texas, he started all 13 games at safety as a redshirt freshman and earned freshman All-America honors. In 2009, he was a first-team All-American and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (awarded to the nation's top defensive back). He was drafted No. 14 overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2010 NFL draft.
ESPN Recruiting's Tom Luginbill, Craig Haubert and Billy Tucker contributed to this piece.
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