Paraphrasing Brian during what he called our "heated" discussion on SEC recruiting practices: what does happen to the guys in an SEC recruiting class (or by extension, any college football recruit pool) who sign a letter of intent but don't complete their full term of eligibility? "They're probably not going to Harvard," was Brian's quote.
A transfer to Bethune-Cookman may not be Harvard...but their band whips the Crimson's ass.
Well, if they're not joining the melange of cash-bleeding legacies, genuine braniacs, and token Hollywood admissions on famous scholarships at dear old Harvard, where do football recruits who sign letters of intent end up if not at Senior Day holding mom's hand in front of eighty thousand witnesses?
We looked at Florida's '02 and '03 classes to outline the eccentric, unpredictable, and as often equally mundane fates of [NAME REDACTED]'s prize recruiting classes. Real life and a modicum of research will always upset your assumptions, and this was no exception to that rule.
Class of 2002: 21 signees.
Not a jumbo-sized class by any stretch of the imagination for Florida. (Tennessee signed 87 recruits this year in comparison. Look it up--it's in the Bible.) We'll begin by counting the players who actually finished their eligibility, a different concept than "graduated," mind you, but for simplicity's sake we'll leave it there for now.
Remember: this is more about how many scholarship athletes will actually get their four years of commitment honored, and not about graduation rates since we're trying to get a quick-slice look at how scrupulous or unscrupulous a university is being by offering large numbers of scholarships to academically sketchy kids. (And there are a few in here, by the way.)
Guys who actually finished eligibility:
Nick Brooks: Finished eligibility. Never really made an impact of any sort.
Jemalle Cornelius: outstanding slot wideout on national champs.
Brian Crum: Half-time starter as linebacker. Bit underwhelming, but certainly looked like a football player:
Steven Harris: finished as role player on defensive line. Entering NFL draft, and should: skills also include fathering children by multiple women at the same time.
Reggie Lewis: CB on national champ team, though almost transferred in Meyer/[NAME REDACTED] lurch.
Jermaine McCollum: finished.
Tremaine McCollum: finished.
Ray McDonald: oft-injured, but still saw significant playing time in career.
Kenneth Tookes. Known for his holding skills, mired on the bench as an nth-string wideout. Also discharged Dee Webb's AR-15 in an apartment complex.
Deshawn Wynn: our national championship running back. Problem with carbs.
Patrick Dosh: Became a pirate at ECU. Yarr for him.
McKenzie Pierre: Robbed Florida fans of an exceptional name by transferring after '04.
Jimtavis Walker: Became a cabbie-mugging Beaver before flunking out completely.
Left for NFL:
Channing Crowder: starting LB for the Miami Dolphins.
Ciatrick Faison: RB, Minnesota Vikings. Top-shelf running back for mid-rank Gator teams.
Randy Hand: OL, Buffalo Bills.
Guys who left the team due to "excessive personality."
Taurean Charles: displayed lack of understanding at the concept of a "win-win" situation by knocking someone off a deck at a party and then trying to crush said someone's head with a half-full beer keg. Booted and finished career at Bethune-Cookman. Will likely be drafted.
Warranty expired (medical hardship):
Terrance Holmes: likely starter at safety out with shoulder injury. Unclear on status.
Guys who fell off the face of the earth.
Todd Bunce. D-lineman who fell into Federlineville.
Gavin Dickey: Fleet qb who opted to play British women's sport instead of football.
Ryan Carter, OL: Running guns in Cote d'Ivoire, for all we know.
Summary: The breakdown:
--12 players who finished full term or took flyers to the NFL, both examples of "things that are supposed to happen to college scholarship offerees."
--1 "O! Cruel fate!" injury case.
--1 gone due to extracurriculars.
--3 who met undetermined fate due to dropout, washout, or exciting opportunity in telemarketing industry.
If we're pursuing the comparison that Delany rolled out in his letter, we'd square this with Ohio State's 2002 team. Yet in academic profile, the closest parallel would not be Ohio State, but rather Michigan. (Save the comments: Michigan's a better overall school academically. But we're talking approximates, here.) Line the two up using Mike Desimone's handy Michigan database, and we're talking surprisingly similar numbers--and that's using one of [NAME REDACTED'S] classes, which weren't pulling the best fish from the net academically.
Florida: 21 signed. 9 finished. 3 to NFL. Remainder transferred, injured, or unable to contain joie de vivre.
Michigan: 20 signed. 12 finished eligibility. No early departures, but two NFL draft picks after graduation. (Interesting difference there.) 8 transferred, injured, or unable to understand the "private" in private parts.
A rapid comparison, yes; but for two comparable programs in the Big Ten and the SEC, the recruiting classes of 2002 worked out in very similar fashion. We'll quick cut a few more as the week goes on at the risk of straining our research ligaments, admittedly tight after months of atrophy.