Class in Session: 2003

It's easy to look at today's recruits and see nothing but national championships and Hall of Fame inductions in the future, but not every recruit works out. Let's take a look at the top 10 recruits out of the Rivals 100 for the year 2003.

10. Greg Olsen, TE, Wayne Hills, N.J.

The first of two tight ends to be profiled in this list, Olsen was a coach's son, but his talent carried him further than any parent could (unless we're counting the genes his father passed down). He was a USA Today First-Team All-American and a finalist for the Gatorade Player of the Year award his senior season. He racked up almost 1,500 yards and scored 27 touchdowns across his entire high school career, all while playing basketball on the varsity level as well.

Though he committed to Notre Dame, Olsen transferred to Miami (FL) before taking a single class, following his brother Chris, who transferred from Notre Dame to Virginia. After medically redshirting his first year, Olsen went on to become one of the best tight ends in college football and was rewarded when selected as the 31st pick in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.

With the Bears, Olsen developed a reputation for having reliable hands, and had developed a rapport with Bears QB Jay Cutler before being traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2011 for a third-round draft pick. The past two seasons have been Olsen’s best, having started all thirty-two games and receiving for over 1,600 yards and 11 touchdowns. Now, with the Panthers being low on wide receiving talent, expect Olsen to break through as one of Cam Newton’s most trusted receivers.

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9. Paul Oliver, CB, Kennesaw, GA

Paul Oliver’s career could not have started better, which makes the way it ended all the more tragic. A first-team Parade All-American and a second-team USA Today All-USA selection his senior season, timed unofficially with a 4.32-second 40-yard dash, he was the number one recruit at cornerback in the nation. After being a key reserve for the Georgia Bulldogs during his first two seasons, Oliver was named a third-team All-SEC selection prior to his junior season.

His academic record at Georgia would haunt him, however, as he would be ruled ineligible for the 2007 season. After declaring for the supplemental draft that year, his pre-draft measurables were a far cry from where they had been. He now ran a 4.59-second 40 yard dash, and where he had once been unofficially measured at 37 inches on his vertical jump, that number had shrunk to 33.5.

Still, the San Diego Chargers drafted Oliver after bidding their 2008 fourth round draft pick, but it came with little return. Over four seasons with San Diego, Oliver started in 12 games, accruing 113 tackles, four interceptions, and three fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown. 

On September 24th, 2013, Oliver died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, determined to be a suicide. He was just 29.

 

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8. Jorrie Adams, OL, Jasper, TX

It’s not a good sign when the first thing to pop up when you Google “Jorrie Adams” is a list of the five biggest busts in Texas A&M history. It’s even worse considering Adams is number one on that list. Adams was a stud of an offensive lineman, standing 6-foot-7 and weighing 280 pounds while running a 4.8 40-time. Oddly, though, he was moved to defensive end at TAMU and did fairly well, showing a degree of promise. 

After his sophomore season, however, Adams got himself into more hot water than the university was willing to deal with. Yes, Adams was caught with marijuana, but what got him kicked out of school was the fact that he was also dealing the stuff as well. After TAMU, Adams played on the offensive line for Angelo State in San Angelo, TX, but trouble would follow. The last heard from Adams, he was serving five years in prison for burglarizing a home.

7. Tony Hills, TE, Alief, TX

An all-state tight end in high school and the No. 1 tight end prospect in the nation, Hills’ career almost ended before it began. He was forced to medically redshirt his freshman season after he had surgery to repair nerve damage in his knee. When he returned, Hills was moved from tight end to offensive tackle, and was part of the offensive line that helped Vince Young lead Texas to a national championship. During his senior year, Hills was named first-team All-Big 12 and a Walter Camp All-American.

After being drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round, Hills has bounced around the league, having been on the roster of six teams over six years. However, he can put himself in a rare class, having won both a national championship and a Super Bowl, the latter coming during his tenure in Pittsburgh.

6. Prescott Burgess, DB, Warren, OH

It’s almost surprising how quietly things went from “promising” to “mediocre” for Burgess. The No. 1 defensive back recruit in the nation, Burgess committed to the University of Michigan, where he started 20 games of the 43 he played in. Twice an All-Big Ten honorable mention, Burgess was drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Burgess went from the Ravens to the Patriots then back to the Ravens, earning time as a special teams player and accruing 38 tackles across his career. 

He is currently a free agent.

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5. Kyle Wright, QB, Danville, CA

As opposed to Burgess, Kyle Wright's descent into bust infamy was quick and ugly. Wright was a hot recruit, earning awards such as the Gatorade National Player of the Year and SuperPrep National Player of the Year in his final season. Recruited by Florida State, Tennessee, Southern California, and Miami (FL), Wright decided to join the Hurricanes after graduating a semester early.

Wright was named the starter for the 2005 season, and performed relatively well. He threw for the most touchdowns in the ACC, though twelve of his eighteen touchdowns came against opponents with a losing record. Despite not quite being able to step it up against Miami's tougher competition, Wright looked like he was on the right path for development and could blossom into just the man Miami needed to continue their success in the new millennium. It was not to be.

Prior to the 2006 season, Wright was named the quarterback on the All-ACC team, listed on the Maxwell Award watch-list, and even entered the discussion for Heisman Trophy candidates. By November, Wright would enter, play, and leave home games in a hail of boos from Miami students. Wright would play just nine games that season before injuring his thumb.

The start to the 2007 season would be much different than the start of 2006 for Wright. As in, it started on the bench. Kirby Freeman was named the starter for the season opener, but after Freeman failed to pass for a even a hundred yards, Wright was awarded the starting job once again, passing for 1,747 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions for the season. 

After his college career ended, Wright went undrafted. He now reportedly works for a medical company that sells spinal implants.

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4. Andre Caldwell, WR, Tampa, FL

Caldwell was a standout wide receiver in high school despite moving to starting quarterback for his final season, whereupon he racked up magnificent numbers, including 38 cumulative passing and rushing touchdowns. He was named a Parade magazine, SuperPrep and USA Today high school All-American following his senior season, and chose to play for the University of Florida, citing his brother Reche also being a former Gator receiver as a factor in his decision.

At Florida, Caldwell got to play as a true freshman, though he only had 19 receptions. His production increased from season to season, however, and he caught a touchdown in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, which Florida won. Though he returned for his senior season, Caldwell was still not the top receiver for Florida, with Percy Harvin becoming the favorite weapon for new starting quarterback Tim Tebow. Harvin was more suited for the unorthodox style of play coach Urban Meyer installed, and Caldwell found himself as the second-leading receiver on the team.

Despite not standing out his final season, Caldwell was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round, after dazzling with his 4.35 40-time at the NFL combine. Caldwell never became an all-pro caliber wideout, but has become a quality receiver, and was just resigned by the Denver Broncos to a two-year deal.

3. Whitney Lewis, ATH, Ventura, CA

Let's start with the positive: Lewis was the first player in California high school football history to both rush and receive for 1,000 yards. That's incredibly impressive. What's less impressive is Lewis' college stats: 37 receiving yards, 11 rushing yards. That's it. That's all. I mean, I could count his stats from his senior year, which was played at Northern Iowa, but I could only find the box scores from a couple of games, and they were both awful, too. 

Rumor has it that Lewis actually wanted to go play for Florida State, but that his parents refused to sign his letter of intent, virtually "forcing" him to go to USC. USC was a loaded program at the time, headed by Pete Carroll and Norm Chow, so Lewis' time was limited. Compounded by the fact that the coaching staff really didn't know where to use this jack-of-all-trades, he bounced from position to position and didn't get the best chance as a true freshman. That's not surprising though, he was just a freshman on an incredibly loaded team.

Then came the academically-ineligible redshirt for his sophomore season. Okay, that happens. Lots of kids have a hard time keeping up with the pace of college. When he returned for the next season, he only played in nine games, and didn't catch a single ball as a full-time wide receiver. Not one. No catches at all. So he decided to transfer to Northern Iowa, and that's that.

Seriously, I don't have any info on where he ended up. If you know, I guess you can pass that info on. I'm mildly curious.

Lucy Nicholson Photography

2. Reggie Bush, RB, San Diego, CA

What, like I really gotta tell you? Alright, fine.

Okay, so, y'know how I told you about Whitney Young being a jack-of-all-trades, but not panning out at any one position at Southern Cal? Bush panned out at ALL OF THEM. In fact, he more than panned out, he excelled. In his final, Heisman Trophy-winning season, he averaged 8.7 rushing yards per attempt and amassed 19 total touchdowns, (16 rushing, two receiving, one punt return). Over the course of his three years at USC, Bush amassed 6,890 all-purpose yards and 41 total touchdowns. He was simply awesome.

Bush was universally regarded as the number one pick in the NFL Draft, but the Houston Texans went with defensive end Mario Williams, which considering Williams' three pro bowls to Bush's zero, was not the worst choice in the world. Bush burst onto the NFL scene, racking up sponsorships from PepsiGeneral MotorsAdidasPizza Hut and Subway. As for his actual stats, he proved himself to be a very valuable member of the Saints offense, accruing 565 yards rushing, 742 yards receiving, and eight total touchdowns. His numbers would slide season-to-season, however, marred by injuries and scandal surrounding the vacating of his Heisman Trophy win.

Bush got a fresh start, though, when he was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2011, rushing for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Last season, playing for the Detroit Lions, Bush arguably had the best season of his career, rushing for over 1,000 yards, receiving for over 500 yards and scoring seven total touchdowns. Best of all, he's still under 30. Bush is back, baby!

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1. Ernie Sims, LB, Tallahassee, FL

Sims actually began his high school football career in the eighth grade after lettering as a varsity player. He was an impressive two-way player, playing as an inside linebacker and running back, tallying 133 tackles and six forced fumbles alongside rushing for over a thousand yards and scoring 23 touchdowns. Sims remains the only linebacker in history to be ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the nation.

On signing day, Sims chose to play for Florida State, where he played as a true freshman. Sims' college career was unspectacular given his hype, and his final season was marred by an arrest that summer for battery and resisting an officer, after he was said to have been beating his girlfriend in a residence hall parking lot. Sims was still able to play in all 13 games of his junior year, though, proving once again the justice system works if you're good at football.

Despite an unspectacular college career, Sims was drafted ninth overall by the Detroit Lions and was signed to a five-year, $15.7 million contract, with $12.1 million guaranteed. Turns out that money doesn't make a player any better on the field, and Sims has bounced from the Lions, to the Eagles, to the Colts, to the Cowboys, and to the Cardinals, where he was cut just two months after being signed in June. He is currently a free agent.

Noteworthy Recruits
-#14 Lamar Woodley
-#20 Robert Meachem
-#27 Donte Whitner
-#40 Antonio Cromartie
-#48 Vernon Davis
-#79 JaMarcus Russell
-#87 LaRon Landry