Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Simone Edges Markle for "Must Have" of 2008

The poll closed several days ago, but we thought it would be a good idea to acknowledge it - Gino Simone has won out in the "must have" category for this year's class. Simone received 66 votes, compared to 64 for Darren Markle. Good timing too, with Simone's re-affirming his pledge to go Crimson over the weekend. But Markle, the top-25 middle linebacker/strongman from Idaho, made it pretty close.

Speaking of recruiting, I thought it was interesting to see how ESPN.com ranks some of the WSU commits for this upcoming class:

2009 Player Commitments
NAME POS STATE GRADE STATUS NOTES
Sebastian Valenzuela OG CA 76 Verbal
Darren Markle ILB ID 76 Verbal
Nolan Washington ATH WA 76 Verbal
William Prescott OT CA 75 Verbal
Anthony Carpenter ATH CA 75 Verbal
Chris Mastin DE WA 75 Verbal
Gino Simone WR WA 74 Verbal
Jeff Tuel QB CA 72 Verbal
Arthur Burns RB CA 72 Verbal
Casey Locker S WA 72 Verbal
Andre Barrington OLB WA 68 Verbal
Jamal Atofau S WA 40 Verbal
Quayshawn Buckley DT CA 40 Verbal
Justin Clayton DE CA 40 Verbal
Travis Long DE WA 40 Verbal
Jordan Pu'u-Robinson DE HI 40 Verbal

(note that a grade of 40 for ESPN's ratings basically means that they haven't been fully evaluated yet). But what I thought was interesting is that Scout.com labels Simone the top player in the state of Washington this year, yet only earns a 74 in the ESPN scale, actually lower compared to other Washington preps like Nolan Washington and Chris Mastin.

But whatever. I know it's splitting hairs at this point, and really, what are these so-called grades all about? We all know the road is littered with players who were highly rated coming in, yet never panned out. In fact, Athlon's goes out of their way every year in their preview issue to point out who matched the hype, and who missed the mark by a wide margin. It's a real eye-opener.

In 2003, here's the top 10 recruits for the entire country:

1) Kyle Wright - QB - Miami
2) Ernie Sims - LB - Florida State
3) Reggie Bush - RB - USC
4) Tony Hills JR - TE - Texas
5) JaMarcus Russell - QB - LSU
6) Whitney Lewis - WR - USC
7) Prescott Burgess - DB - Michigan
8) Nate Robinson - DL - Miami
9) Lamarr Woodley - LB - Michigan
10) Antonio Cromartie - DB - Florida State

Hit and miss, to say the least. Half the list has panned out and made it to the NFL (Bush, Sims, Russell and Cromartie were all first-round picks, while Woodley was a second-rounder). But that is only half of the top ten. What about the others?

#1 QB Kyle Wright was OK. He went 18-11 as a starter, but just 4-4 his senior year as the 'Canes missed a bowl with a 5-7 record in 2007. He finished #7 on Miami's all-time passing yardage list. But he only earned all-ACC honors once, and that was just honorable mention as a sophomore in 2005. Not bad overall. But clearly everyone expected more from the NUMBER ONE player in the country??

#4 Tony Hills Jr was derailed by a knee injury his senior year in high school that zapped him of his explosiveness. He was switched to the offensive line but didn't start until his junior year. He did pan out there, getting first-team All Big 12 his senior year, but to be the #4 player in the country coming in, he has to rank as mildly disappointing.


#6 Whitney Lewis has to be one of the most disappointing of the list, if not the entire 2003 class. The number six player in the country, and the number one WR in the country, he NEVER CAUGHT A PASS in two years at USC.

He did letter in his true frosh year of 2003, but then had grade issues and missed 2004. He was a deep reserve in 2005 and then transferred to Northern Iowa, where he had 578 yards of total offense in two seasons.

Finally, Robinson never enrolled at Miami, instead heading to Rutgers after failing to meet entrance requirements. He had a rocky time there, kicked off the team for a violation of team rules. He landed at Akron and finished as a part-time starter, recording just two sacks his senior year. Burgess had a solid career at Michigan, but never earned first or second team All-Big 10 honors. He was moved to linebacker and started for his last two years, racking up 171 career tackles. But as a top-10 player, you would have liked to see a lot more than that.

Our own WSU class from that same 2003 is littered with lower-rated players having an impact, while higher-rated players never panning out.

For example, Jason Hill, arguably the greatest WR in school history and one of the top TD catchers in PAC-10 history was just a two-star safety prospect out of the bay area in 2003. And Alex Brink, the guy who threw for over 10K and owns several WSU passing records? He was a two-star QB coming out, just the #74-rated QB in the country. The same Alex Brink who beat UW three times in his career, the only WSU QB to do so.

Bobby Byrd started on the offensive line for 40+ games in his career, playing every position but center. But in that 2003 class, he was a virtual unknown, a 2-star special who didn't even get a true evaluation.

In that same 2003 class, the top-rated WSU commits were RB Chris Bruhn, OL Patrick Afif and OL Keola Loo. All three guys JC transfers of the 4-star variety, yet what can be said about any of them? Bruhn was a serviceable backup running back, but never made the impact you would expect from a rating like that. Afif played in 17 games as a JC transfer and was pretty decent, but not an impact player in any way. And Loo never panned out, leaving the team after one season in 2004.

So while it's exciting and newsworthy in the off-season, well, you just never know how a kid is going to pan out.

That's it for today. ENJOY YOUR TUESDAY, and as always, GO COUGS!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great story. Levitiy is what it is all about folks. Keep things in proper perspective and you will see the light. Dont get blinded by superstars. Look at the boys Wulff is reeling in and look at the quality. Leaders and winners on and off the field are what makes programs great. This is how programs are built (see bennett, Tony/Dick).

And KYLE WRIGHT SUCKED!

Atlantacoug said...

That picture of Simone looks like a young Kaddy starring at MVHS.

kaddy said...

That's what I was thinking...similar in athletic ability, I presume.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting read with good insight. I think it's also important to mention that back in the 'good ol days' WSU was known for developing the 2-3 star players into studs. IMO this was the greatest asset WSU employed back in the Price era, along with the ability to spot underrated talent.

Seemingly, Riley and his staff at Oregon State have adopted this model and it has continually paid dividends for the program. Hopefully Wulff and Co. can get some semblence of this system in our program, certainly we'll need it if we are ever going to compete in the upper echelon of the PAC again.

SLC COUG '05