Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Following on from our more detailed examination of UCLA's historically disappointing class of 2002, we've taken a closer look at the '02 class for the entire conference. We can't be bothered with looking at how every recruit panned out (as we did for the Bruins), but we though it would still be interesting to compare the five most heralded recruits in each class with the five most valuable recruits over their careers. It's all subjective, of course, and it works like this (taking Arizona's truly awful 2002 class as an example):

Arizona 2002
Ryan O'Hara **** (backup QB, left school in 2004)
Javier Martinez **** (arrested, left school in 2002)
Matt Lamatsch **** (backup, left program)
Carl Tuitavuki **** (ordinary starter at DT)
Michael Jefferson **** (transferred to NAU)

These were the five hottest recruits signed to an LOI by John Mackovic in February of 2002. They didn't exactly pan out, which helps explain the recent state of Wildcat football. Now here's a list of the best five recruits from that class judged over their entire career in Tucson, with their original Scout.com star ranking:

Top 5 contributors
Spencer Larsen * (all-conference LB - best at UA since Lance Briggs)
Nick Folk * (probably the best punter in school history)
Marcus Smith * (Pac-10 HM DE in his soph year)
Danny Baugher * (another good punter in this class - strange)
Tuitavuki ****

Not a distinguished group, but far better than the dropouts in the first list. Note that four of the five best players got exactly one star from Scout. So let's move on through the rest of the classes of 2002 and 2003:

Arizona State 2002
Aaron Austin ***** (never panned out at TE, moved to defense)
Terry Richardson **** (great kick returner, OK receiver)
Tim Faaita **** (two-year starter at OG)
Robert James **** (pretty good linebacker)
Ishmael Thrower **** (starter along the D-line)
Top 5 contributors
Derek Hagan * (one of the top receivers in school history)
Richardson ****
Andrew Carnahan *** (all-conference OL)
Jamar Williams * (HM All Pac 10 at LB)
Faaita ****

California 2002
Monte Parson **** (started as a senior, all-academic pick)
Kevin Johnson **** (left school)
Marcus O'Keith *** (reserve back and kick returner)
David Gray *** (never delivered on promise)
Randy Bundy ** (switched to defense, dime back)
Top 5 contributors
Donnie McCleskey * (all-conference as a junior)
Erik Robertson * (2-year starter at guard)
Tim Mixon * (starter at DB)
O'Keith ***
Eric Beegun * (backup TE)

Oregon 2002
Haloti Ngata ***** (greatest DL in school history)
Chris Solomona ***** (good player, starter)
Kellen Taylor ***** (backup receiver)
Albert Toeaina **** (went to JC, eventually transferred to Tennessee)
Marques Binns **** (transferred to Grambling)
Top 5 contributors
Ngata *****
Enoka Lucas * (all-conference center)
Aaron Gipson * (all-conference DB)
Anthony Trucks * (two time 2nd team LB)
JD Nelson * (2nd team DB in 05)

Oregon State 2002
Brandon Lockheart ***** (dismissed from the team in 2002)
Lawrence Turner **** (starter, good player)
Deondre Alexander **** (left school for Palomar juco)
Joe Newton **** (oft-injured starter, good player)
JC Ronnfeldt *** (reserve, left the program in 2005 under a cloud)
Top 5 contributors
Adam Koets * (2nd team all-conference OL)
Brandon Browner ** (2nd team all-conference DB)
Newton ****
Ben Siegert * (HM tight end)
Turner ****

Stanford 2002
Trent Edwards ***** (oft-injured QB never allowed to do much)
Julian Jenkins ***** (honorable mention all-conference; hardly a 5 star)
Matt Traverso **** (OK contributor at TE)
Josiah Vinson *** (mediocre starter on OL)
Marcus McCutcheon *** (bounced around, never started)
Top 5 contributors

TJ Rushing * (starting corner, all-conference return man)
Jenkins ***
Trevor Hooper ** (honorable mention All-Pac 10 DB)
Edwards *****
Jeff Edwards *** (started 40+ games for Stanford on the OL)

UCLA 2002
Marcedes Lewis ***** (Terrific tight end)
Ryan Boschetti ***** (OK DL starter)
Jarrad Page **** (excellent safety now in the NFL)
Eric McNeal **** (career backup)
CJ Niusulu **** (kicked off the team)
Top 5 contributors

Lewis *****
Drew Olson **** (very good QB)
Justin Medlock **** (all-conference kicker)
Page ****
Justin London **** (very good LB)

USC 2002

Manuel Wright ***** (better prospect than player)
Winston Justice ***** (had great senior year)
Darnell Bing ***** (terrific DB)
Dominique Byrd **** (excellent college TE)
Hershel Dennis **** (started as a sophomore, then perpetually injured)
Top 5 contributors

Mike Williams *** (All-America WR)
Bing *****
Byrd ****
Dallas Sartz **** (all-conference LB)
Justice *****

Washington 2002

Donny Mateaki ***** (starter, not particularly good)
Stanley Daniels **** (rather ordinary starter after switch to OL)
Kenny James **** (starter, decent player)
Brandon Ala **** (injured, reserve for most of his time at UW)
Nathan Rhodes **** (never played due to a congenital back problem)
Top 5 contributors
Scott White *** (defensive team MVP)
Clay Walker *** (honorable mention OL)
Isaiah Stanback *** (dangerous QB)
James ****
Dashon Goldson *** (HM in '05 at DB)

Washington State 2002

Jermaine Green ***** (JC transfer became a solid back for the Cougs)
Sammy Moore ***** (solid starter at receiver)
Jonathan Smith ***** (solid player in the backfield)
Kevin Sperry ***** (another juco starter)
Carl Bonnell ***** (DNP, eventually signed with UW)
Top 5 contributors

MKristo Bruce zero stars (All-America)
Eric Frampton ** (all-conference DB)
Nick Millhauser * (2nd team all-conference OL)
Moore *****
Scott Davis * (honorable mention LB)

The moral of the story? The guys at the top of your board are important; if most of them are busts for a couple of years (Arizona's 03 class was just as bad) you're probably going to be in trouble. Secondly, you need to pay attention to the entire class. In eight out of ten of these cases, the most valuable recruit wasn't among the five most decorated prospects. It's amazing in retrospect that guys like MKristo Bruce, Mike Williams, Enoka Lucas, Spencer Larsen, Donnie McCleskey and Derek Hagan were relative afterthoughts in their respective recruiting classes.


At 8:34 PM, Blogger nick said...

Jeez, nice analysis. Must've taken awhile.

Its best to have the most total stars for your recruiting class, since there is probably a correlation between total stars for a class and its success. You should add that in there.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Tightwad said...

I'm not sure that's the case, actually. If you have a huge class of 3 star guys, you're taking scholarships away from subsequent classes. That was certainly the case with UCLA in '02 and in several other classes. That's one of the reasons Dorrell has 12 or 13 scholarships to play with in a year where he finally beat SC.

At 12:02 AM, Anonymous longhorn_22 said...

Michael Jefferson transferred to Montana State, not NAU.

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