Friday, May 2, 2008

Looking Back at Class of 2003...Tight Ends

Five Star TE's

1. Tony Hills Jr, Texas - Reconstructive surgery on his left knee forced him to redshirt and then move to offensive tackle. He was a key reserve on the Longhorns' 2005 BCS National Championship team and a starter in 2006 and 2007. A fractured left fibula vs Texas Tech in 2007 kept him out of the team's final two games. His talent and consistency as a tackle was enough for the Pittsburgh Steelers to draft him in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

2. Greg Olsen, Miami (FL) - Having originally signed with Notre Dame, Olsen transferred to Miami his freshman year. A shoulder injury forced him to redshirt in 2003 but he took over the starting TE position after Kevin Everett headed off to the NFL. In three seasons at the U, Olsen racked up 1215 receiving yards and 6 TD's. His outstanding collegiate career paid dividends in the 2007 NFL Draft as the Chicago Bears drafted him with the 31st overall selection. He was named to the Professional Football Writers' All-Rookie Team for 2007.

Four Star TE's

3. Louis Irizarry, Ohio State - Saw time on special teams as a true freshman for the Buckeyes. In the spring of 2004, Irizarry was found guilty of felony robbery and sentenced to 3 years in prison. However...he was released after serving 6 months and transferred to Youngstown St. He sat out in 2004 and redshirted in 2005. Louis was the backup tight end and posted respectable stats the past 2 years. The Cincinatti Bengals invited him to their minicamp this weekend but have yet to tender an offer.

4. Vernon Davis, Maryland - Davis played mostly on special teams as a true freshman. He started to emerge as a viable receiving threat in 2004. He had a breakout season in 2005 and was named a consensus All-American and All-ACC player. Davis is also known for being a gym rat and he set every school strength record for a TE. Running a 4.38 40 at the 2006 NFL Combine sent him all the way to the 6th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers. Injuries have hampered his NFL career but he's expected to be the starting TE in 2008.

5. Chris Barrett, Southern Cal - Barrett fell far short of expectations during his time at USC. He switched between tight end, defensive end, and defensive tackle but never made it to the top of the depth chart. When he wasn't switching positions, he evidently wasn't attending class all that often either as he was declared academically ineligble in the spring of 2007. He hoped to catch on with a CFL team but nothing ever materialized.

6. Jonathan Stupar, Virginia - Lettered 4 years (2004-2007) and started 17 games in his last two seasons. One interesting story, a broken foot in 2005 resulted in 2 surgeries. Before the 2nd surgery, doctors discovered that Stupar had been living for 20 years with a life threatening heart condition that had never been diagnosed.

7. Will Paul, Michigan - Though he's in the TE list, Paul was recruited to Ann Arbor as a defensive lineman. However, he switched to fullback before the 2005 season to serve as a blocking specialist. It's possible that he logged a few carries or maybe even a TD or two but the stats pages I found do not reflect any offensive statistics for him.

8. Garret Bushong, Purdue - Bushong played as a reserve his freshman year. During the season, HC Joe Tiller switched his number from 3 to 93, "to get his focus off wearing a single-digit number." He didn't play in 04 and saw very limited action in 2005. As he continued to drop on the depth chart...things fired up off the field. First Bushong was arrested for DUI. Then he decides to write a letter to the school newspaper complaining about his DUI being a "big story" and the bad press that athletes were getting for their various transgressions. Finally, his career unceremoniously came to a close in 2006 when he left the team due to a series of injuries that he was unable to overcome. Boilermaker Banter has all of the details on their site. It's an interesting read to say the least.

9. Josh Barbo, Missouri - Barbo never made an impact for the Missouri Tigers. After not really seeing any PT as a tight end, he switched to the defensive line in the Spring of 2005. Even so, he never got higher than 3rd on the depth chart as a DT or a DE (he played both at various times). He eventually left the program after the 2006 season with 1 year of eligibility remaining.

10. Josh Mueller, Nebraska - Mueller was a staple in the TE rotation for the Huskers. He played in 44 games over 4 years and made 5 starts. Mueller was mainly called upon in blocking situations as he only logged 6 career receptions. He was also a contributor on special teams. His most noteable acheivement was being named to the Big 12 Academic Honor Roll 7 different semesters.

Other TE's of Note

28. Martin Rucker, Missouri - Unlike #9 TE Josh Barbo, Rucker made a big impact for the Tigers. A 2nd team Freshman All-American in 2004, Rucker followed that up with a solid 2005 campaign. His stock soared even higher the next 2 years as he had 137 catches for 1,345 yards and 13 TD's while earning All-Big 12 and All-American during his time in Columbia. His exceptional size (6'5" 255 lbs) earned him the title of 4th round pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2008 NFL Draft.

44. Brad Cottam, Tennessee - An injury plagued career with the Vols would leave many thinking that he's go undrafted in the NFL. However, he was healthy for the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine and did enough there to convince the Kansas City Chiefs to take the 6'8" 270 lb TE with their 3rd round pick.

52. Craig Stevens, Cal - A steady performer for the Cal Bears, Stevens appeared in 37 games (20 starts) during his tenure at Berkeley. Playing in an offense that doesn't feature the TE, he consistently produced 15 or so catches per season for 3 years. Most experts pegged him as a late round pick but the Tennessee Titans took a leap and grabbed him in the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

The Tech Factor

37. David Weems, Texas Tech - I've searched and searched but can't too much info on him. The only tidbit out there is a fall practice report from August 2003 where Don Williams doesn't think that Weems will redshirt. He doesn't appear on the 2004 roster so redshirt or not...he didn't hang around on the team for too long. Somebody feel free to fill me in on this one.

1 comment:

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