College Football Recruiting: How The Top 5 Players From ’08 Lived Up To Hype

As part of a continuing series examining how the top players live up to the hype, we’ll look at the class of ’08.  Previously we have looked at’09, ’10 and ’11, and if you click on the year, you can re-examine the top 5 from that particular year.

The ’08 class was a very good class, as evidenced by the most recent NFL Draft, when a lot of the ’08 guys were taken.  The top 5 is an interesting bunch, but at the time the list came out (courtesy of Rivals.com), it’s easy to see how the list was assembled.  It’s very even, quarterback, defensive end, left tackle, wide receiver and cornerback, all the highest paid positions of the game.

But it was outside of the top 5 from high school that made the most impact, especially in the 2011 and 2012 NFL Draft.  A.J. Green (4th overall by Bengals in ’11), Matt Kalil (4th overall by Vikings in ’12), Blaine Gabbert (10th overall by Jaguars in ’11), Tyron Smith (9th overall by Cowboys in ’11) and Michael Floyd (13th overall by Cardinals in ’12) are just some of the high picks that come from outside of the top 5 list that was assembled years ago.

1. Terrelle Pryor- Ohio State- Quarterback- Pryor was one of the most high profile recruits of all time.  Not only one of the most exciting football players, he was also one of the best basketball players in the country.  At 6’6’’ 230lbs with legit 4.4 speed, it’s easy to become enamored with his physical skill set.  Pryor was pretty good at OSU, leading the Buckeyes to a lot of victories and setting numerous school records along the way.  But he was never named beyond Honorable Mention All Big Ten, surprisingly, and was beat out by Denard Robinson for Big Ten Player of the Year in 2010.

Pryor was then involved with that absurd tattoo ‘scandal’, in which he and numerous other Buckeyes traded game memorabilia for tattoos.  This led to NCAA sanctions, suspensions, forfeiture of wins, and Jim Tressel resigning.  Pryor decided to enter the supplemental draft and was taken in the 3rd round by the Raiders, where he is currently a backup.

Overall, Pryor was a monumental failure.  A player with his skill set, on a team as talented as the Buckeyes?  No national championships, no Heisman, and leaving school in disgrace while getting his head coach run out of town?  Safe to say he didn’t live up to the hype.

2. Da’Quan Bowers- Clemson- Defensive End- Bowers was on the path to major bust status after his sophomore campaign.  But then he absolutely erupted his junior season, leading the country in sacks (15.5) while earning All ACC, ACC DPOY, All American, and won the Nagurski and Hendricks awards.  After his junior year he declared for the draft, and early on some thought he could go number one overall.

But recurring knee injuries led him to drop all the way down to the 2nd round, where the Buccaneers picked him up.  Injuries have been his biggest problem since high school, and it’s an ongoing problem for him.  As of now he is on the PUP list until at least week 6.  Bowers lived up to the hype for a single season, and that’s it.

3. Mike Adams- Ohio State- Tackle- Adams was the other monster pickup for the Buckeyes in this class.  Adams was a 3 year starter for the OSU, and was named to various All Big Ten teams throughout his very solid career.  Unfortunately for him, he was also involved with the tattoo ‘scandal’, and was suspended for some time his senior year.

Adams followed up his involvement with the tattoos by failing his drug test at the combine (It always boggles my mind people actually fail this.  It’s fact: you will be drug tested at the combine, and it’s no secret).  Adams was taken by the Steelers in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft, but has not ever lived up to the immense hype.

4. Julio Jones- Alabama- Wide Receiver- Jones battled injuries his first two years on campus, although when he did play, he showed he was the real deal.  In his final junior season, he had 78 grabs for 1133 yards and 7 touchdowns, finally living up to the hype.  Jones was taken 6th overall by the Falcons in the ’11 draft, and battled injuries again his rookie year.  But Jones looks like the real deal in the NFL.  Overall, it’s tough to say he did or didn’t live up to his hype in college due to injuries, but he is certainly living up to the hype in ‘The League’.

5. Patrick Peterson (formerly Johnson)-LSU- Cornerback- Peterson had one heck of a career with the Tigers.  Peterson was a three year starter, had 7 interceptions, returned 2 punts back for touchdowns, and made various All SEC and All American teams.  And he did this while going against the aforementioned Julio Jones and A.J. Green, effectively shutting them down when he played against them in league play.  Peterson was taken 5th overall in the ’11 draft by the Cardinals, where he promptly tied an NFL record for punt return touchdowns for a season with 4.  Yep, he lived up to the hype.

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