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NCAA Football

College Football Recruiting: How the Top 5 Players From ’09 Have Lived Up to Hype

Previously, we have looked at how the top 5 players in College Football Recruiting from 2011 and 2010 have been living up to the extraordinary hype attached to their names since high school. Now, let’s take a look at the 2009 class.

As usual, I’ll use the top five players according to Rivals.com. While the top five has its share of notable names, there are some huge names that were left out of the fold.  The ’09 class was stellar, with huge names coming out and huge names now going forward in the NFL. Trent Richardson (RB, Browns), Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Bengals) and current senior All-Americans Manti Te’o (ILB, Notre Dame) and T.J. McDonald (S, Southern Cal) are just some of the names left out of the top five.

1. Bryce Brown- Tennessee- Running Back- Brown has been an epic failure in terms of living up to the hype. I’m not sure anyone could have accurately predicted what a strange post-high school career Brown has had. Brown had a whirlwind recruitment, where there were rumors of him skipping college to play in the CFL, then investigations by the NCAA over eligibility, flip flopping commitments, etc.

Many thought he would join his brother and fellow mega recruit Arthur Brown at Miami. He waited a month after signing day, then instead joined newly minted Lane Kiffin at Tennessee. After rushing for 460 yards in his freshman campaign, he transferred back home to local Kansas State, where Arthur had also just transferred. Bryce never made an impact for the Wildcats, but was brought up in some claims by former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro.

Before Brown could ever make an impact in Manhattan, he declared early for the draft, getting taken in the last round by the Eagles. I think it’s safe to say that Brown has absolutely not lived up to the hype. Granted, he made the 53 man roster for Philly, but let’s be clear, Trent Richardson (third overall) has lived up to the hype and Brown (229th overall) hasn’t.

2. Reuben Randle- LSU-Wide Receiver-  Randle was being compared to A.J. Green and Julio Jones immediately after high school and with good reason. First, no one knew Green and Jones would be as freakishly good as they have been. Second, Randle was a do-it-all athlete at a very good high school program, with fantastic size (6’3,’’ 210).

But put up fantastic numbers he did not. Randle stayed in Baton Rouge for three years, getting a ton of playing time, and never cracked the 1000 yard receiving mark in a season. His junior year was his best with 53 receptions for 917 yards and a respectable eight touchdowns, all while earning various All-SEC accolades. Randle has not lived up to the hype, but he could be a very good pro. Randle was taken by the Giants in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft.

3. D.J. Fluker- Alabama- Tackle-  Fluker–who played high school ball with Julio Jones–struggled at first when he got to Tuscaloosa, both with keeping his weight down and with learning the Tide playbook. He eventually got both under control and has really blossomed. Fluker, at 6’6’’ 330lbs, is a mauler in the running game and effectively uses his long arms in pass protection. Now a senior, Fluker is a leader along the premier offensive line for the best team in the country and will certainly be drafted next April. Yes, Fluker has lived up the hype.

4. Sheldon Richardson- Missouri- Defensive Tackle- Richardson has had an up and down career since high school. Richardson went to junior college for two years before ever going to Columbia, Mo., and missed one of those years with a wrist injury. When he finally made his much anticipated arrival for the Tigers in 2011, he played pretty well, finishing with three sacks and garnering honorable mention All-Big 12.

But in terms of hype for number four overall? Honorable mention All-Big 12 would be an impressive thing to list on nearly any resume, but when you’re a top five player in the country, anything less than All-American is disappointing. I think Richardson will have a solid year this season, and playing in the SEC will help him get ready for the League next year, but he has definitely not lived up to the hype so far.

5. Matt Barkley- Southern Cal- Quarterback- Why don’t I let you readers decide if Barkley has lived up to the hype? Let’s see: as a junior last year he completed almost 70 percent of his passes for 3528 yards and 39 touchdown passes, while only throwing seven interceptions. He is going to break most of the school records for passing this year–I seem to remember Southern Cal having some good quarterbacks over the years–and is a Heisman frontrunner on the number two ranked team in the nation. He’s going to be the number one overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. So, has Barkley lived up to the hype?