April 15, 2012

Class of 1998 filled with hits and misses

When taking a look back at the Class of 1998 in recruiting for the state of Texas, it's clearly a case of good news and bad news.

Let's start with the positives. Thirteen of the 42 players (30.1%) ranked in my second year of doing rankings for the state of Texas went on to play in the NFL.

The bad news is that almost none of those players came from the top of the players ranked at the top of the list. In fact, of the two players from the top ten that enjoyed brief careers in the NFL, one was a college drop out, while the other was remembered for having a mostly disappointing NFL career.

At the top of the list in 1998 was former Texas wide receiver Montrell Flowers. Although there's no question that Flowers had the speed to emerge as a top-flight college game-breaker, but he was never able to put it all together before an injury cut his career short as a senior.

As it turns out, Flowers' inability to thrive in the college game was par for the course when reviewing the players at the top of the list. In fact, only three players from the top ten went on to become starters for the schools that they signed with. Of that group, only Texas' Antwan Kirk-Hughes earned all-conference honors during his collegiate career.

Still, while the top of the class was shaky at best, it was a group that came out strong in the end in overall numbers, as the next 32 players on the list proved to pick up the slack. Leading the charge is former Texas All-American Mike Williams (No.18 on the list), who was actually the only first round draft pick from the class and one of only three players who earned All-America honors.

Joining him as All-America selections were former Stanford offensive lineman Eric Heitman (No.35) and Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury (No.41). In fact, if you're looking for the best find of the group, it was probably my inclusion of Kingsbury, who was a little-known prospect, but went on to enjoy one of the best college careers in the history of college football.

Overall the breakdown of numbers looks like this:

1 - First-round draft picks in the NFL
3 - No. of players that signed pro baseball contracts
3 - No. of players that earned All-America honors
4 - No. of players drafted on the first day of the NFL Draft
7 - No. of All-conference players
9 - Complete busts
10 - No. of players that were drafted by an NFL team
13 - No. of players that have played at least one season in the NFL
13 - No. of players that played at least one season in the NFL
21 - No. of players that were starters during their career

Click here for a full link to the full Top 100 list from 1997.

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