I was just talking the other day about the best college football game that meant anything that I have ever seen. I know its been a few years now, but doesn’t that 2005-2006 National Title Game between college football’s USC Trojans and the Texas Longhorns on January 4, 2006 seem like yesterday?
By the end of that wonderful game in which Texas had comeback from 12 points down with 6:42 left in the game, Vince Young had become a part of college football folklore, Matt Leinart capped what was one of the best quarterbacking careers ever at the college football level, and Reggie Bush outstanding Heisman Trophy campaign had come to an official end.
Those three guys were heroes, not because of that game along, but for everything they had done for college football up until that point. The fact that they all had been in the national spotlight for multiple years, faced all kinds of pressure, and delivered performances the way they did made them instant college football legends. And at the very point when everyone knew their college football careers had come to an end, it seemed inevitable that each of them would become NFL superstars early on in their NFL careers.
But at this point in their career, Reggie Bush, Vince Young nor Matt Leinart has achieved stardom. Hell, only of them has achieved “start’em,” as both Leinart and Bush have been bench players for essentially their entire NFL careers to this point.
If you were anything like me, you had to feel that this class would be the best class ever. Everyone was laughing when the Houston Texans took Mario Williams, a freakish defensive end, out of North Carolina State University. Maybe the Houston Texans saw something that no one else in football could see. They obviously got the best player of any on the board in this draft.
So what happened to these three guys? Are they disappointments? Are they busts? Or is there still some slither of hope that they will come through in the end and make us remember why we put them on a pedestal for all those years in college?
As it stands now, the prosecution may have just closed it’s case on Vince Young. He had a major resurgence at the end of the 2009 NFL season, when he led the Titans to an 8-2 record after the team had gone 0-6 with Kerry Collins as the starter. Now Young is set to be traded or released as he and head Coach Jeff Fisher have gone on bad terms and Fisher vowed to walk if Young returns as a player on next years roster.
Reggie Bush still has question marks—including whether or not he is a bust? However, some of the questions seemed to have been answered. The answer to the question of whether Bush can be a feature back has been answered. At this point in his NFL career, Bush is averaging just 4.0 yards per carry and has 17 fumbles on just 488 carries. That’s not the stuff feature running backs are made of, and quite frankly, you don’t draft a non-feature back #2 overall in the NFL Draft. Especially one that is supposed to be the next Gail Sayers.
In my eyes, Matt Leinart is a bust until proven otherwise. Leinart’s best season was in his rookie year, when he threw for 2,547 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while leading the Cardinals to a 4-7 record. Leinart would get hurt in his second year, and would lose his starting job for good in his third year to eventual Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. Now Leinart is a third string quarterback with the Houston Texans and appears headed destined for a career as a journeyman quarterback.
Although I do mention these guys because they were the centerpieces of the 2006 NFL Draft, there are some success stories as well. Guys like D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Davis, and Santonio Holmes have been the shining points while guys like Bobby Carpenter, Laurence Maroney, and Sinorice Moss have faltered.
Even though the draft didn’t live up to the hype from the usual suspects if you take a look at the 2006 NFL Draft list you can see that the draft still holds its own, it’s just not going to be as legendary as we once predicted.
Stay Breezy ~ I’m Out.