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November 9, 2009

The Mack Brown Curse: Best of the Best

"The Mack Brown Curse." It's a phrase that has gained more and more traction with the Longhorn fan base in recent years, referring to recruits that have spurned the UT program for what the prospect thought was greener pastures. In some cases, it's a player that switched his commitment. In others, it's a player that showed questionable ethics or badmouthed Texas after committing to another school.

The talk of "The Curse" started as a joke more than five years ago, but it's gained acceptance among Longhorn fans as more and more former targets have run into on-field misfortune or off-field issues. Reserved for the country's top prospects, we take a look back at the top players that have fallen victim to "The Mack Brown Curse."

There's some pretty stiff competition at the quarterback position, but a lot of fans would tell you the Mack Brown Curse started after Bomar spurned Texas to head north of the Red River to play for the Horns' most-hated rival. Not only did Bomar leave Texas high and dry by choosing the Sooners, he and his father, a high school coach in the state, no less, decided to take a couple shots at UT and Brown after he signed with OU.

Bomar was labeled by some to be a can't miss prospect and he was regarded as a player that would have a chance to start for four years before moving on to stardum in the NFL. He was the No. 1-rated quarterback in the country coming out of Grand Prairie High School, but his career at Oklahoma was short-lived and full of road blocks. He was cited twice within six months for being a minor in possession of alcohol and he was pretty bad in his only year as OU's starting quarterback (10 touchdowns, 10 interceptions). Oh yeah, he was also dismissed from the team after an NCAA investigation found Bomar guilty of taking extra payments from an auto dealership for work he didn't perform. His statline in his one start against Texas - 12 for 33 passing for 94 yards, 1 interception, 0 touchdowns and being on the wrong end of a highlight reel hit from UT defensive end Brian Robison. Bomar eventually landed at Sam Houston State and he's actually a rookie on the New York Giants practice squad, but his career has gone nothing like most expected. He set the precedent and started the trend.

HONORABLE MENTION

Ryan Perrilloux - LSU, Class of 2005 - The Reserve (La.) East St. John product was the nation's top-ranked dual-threat QB and he committed to Texas in July and maintained publicly that he was sticking with Texas despite constant rumors of his pending switch to LSU. In fact, he was also insistent on telling the UT coaches he was coming to Texas. On signing day, he surprised few by choosing the Tigers and began to talk of winning multiple Heisman Trophies. Off-field troubles followed Perrilloux and he struggled on the field at LSU before being dismisssed from the program. He then transferred to Jacksonville State, where he was again suspended but has since regained his starting job and has played well.

Mitch Mustain - Arkansas, Class of 2006 - The nation's second-ranked quarterback prospect (behind Matt Stafford), Mustain chose Arkansas late in the process (many say he gave in to in-state pressure) after favoring Texas early. Mustain started his true freshman year with an 8-0 record but was then replaced by Casey Dicks and never saw much action after that. His high school coach, Guz Malzahn, who had been hired as the Razorbacks' offensive coordinator, left for Tulsa after one year at Arkansas and Mustain decided to transfer. He landed at USC but has played only sparingly in two seasons. He's currently backing up Matt Barkley.

Xavier Lee - Florida State, Class of 2004 - Lee chose the in-state school, but his career never really panned out. He could never beat out Drew Weatherford and eventually passed on his senior year to try out for the NFL. He wasn't invited to the combine but was given a chance at tight end by the Baltimore Ravens as an unrestricted free agent. He was cut about a month later and now plays for the Arkansas Twisters in the newly-formed Arena Football 1 league.

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Few players have spurned Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns the way Scott did. It wasn't that the five-star runner committed to Colorado, it was the way he went about the decision. The nation's top-ranked running back prospect flirted with Texas for months during his recruitment before eventually giving the UT coaches a silent commitment. Scott eventually went silent just days before national signing day and then committed to the Buffs on national television.

The real dagger for Texas was a betrayal of trust by Scott and his mom when they allowed a New York Times reporter to listen in to what UT assistant coach Bobby Kennedy thought was a private conversation. Scott's comments about his decision also took shots at then first-year UT running backs coach Major Applewhite's experience and there were several other rumors that surrounded his decision to make the late switch.

Scott entered Colorado as one of the Buffs' most high-profile recruits in the history of the program, but his career didn't come close to living up to the expectations. As a true freshman, he showed up out of shape and was buried on the depth chart, beaten out by fellow freshman Rodney Stewart. Scott rushed for just 343 yards and 1 touchdown in his first year, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. After his freshman season, Scott's uncle, Josh Smith, a Colorado receiver that was instrumental in getting Scott to CU, decided to transfer to UCLA.

Scott's ongoing sophomore year has been even worse. Scott has battled injuries and he's third on the team in both number of carries and rushing yards (23 for 95 yards and no scores) through eight games.

On Tuesday, Colorado confirmed that Scott has left the team and has decided to transfer. There was speculation that he'd wind up at UCLA, again with his uncle, but insiders have said UCLA will not accept his transfer. The sudden departure drew some interesting comments from the CU coaches.

HONORABLE MENTION

Lennon Creer - Tennessee, Class of 2007 - Creer logged a total of 109 carries in his first two years as a Vol and actually did fairly well with his limited touches. Last spring, he was projected as the 2009 starter by some but Creer decided to move on for reasons unknown. Tennessee recruited Bryce Brown and people close to the program said Creer didn't want to compete with the other talent on the roster, so he moved on to Louisiana Tech, where's he's sitting due to NCAA transfer rules.

Emmanuel Moody - USC, Class of 2006 - The Rivals100 tailback committed to Texas very early but there were rumors about his status for months. He eventually made a surprise visit to USC without even telling the Texas coaches and things went south after that. Moody would ultimately switch his pledge to USC despite a stockpile of running backs on the Trojan roster. He played pretty well as a freshman and was actually named Pac 10 Freshman of the Year in 2006, but in 2007, because of the running back depth, he decided to transfer to Florida. As a Gator, he's been a role player. He's third on the depth chart and has rushed for a combined 712 yards in 2008 and 2009. It's looking like Moody may not top 500 yards in a season in his collegiate career.

R.J. Jackson - LSU, Class of 2005 - Jackson no-showed on a mid-week official visit with Texas the week before signing day, and a few days before signing his letter of intent he decided to commit to LSU. He hasn't really been heard of since. Now a back-up wide receiver and a special teams player, Jackson has recorded eight career receptions for the Tigers.

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Rouse was ranked as the country's No. 6-ranked prospect overall coming out of high school, but his career has gone steadily downhill after leaving high school. Rouse boasted that he was talented enough to go straight from high school to the NFL, but his college career might as well be a case of lost and never found, unless of course you're referring to his wide receiver glove with his number on it that was discovered at the scene after a break-in of a teammate's apartment.

Rouse caught 6 passes as a freshman in 2005 but was kicked off the team in January 2006 for "conduct detrimental to the welfare of the football team." Rouse and teammate A.J. Nicholson, another player that Texas flirted with, were charged with stealing electronic equipment worth approximately $1,700 from the home of Seminole running back Lorenzo Booker. Rouse was charged with felony burglary, grand theft and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (ecstasy).

From there, he landed at UTEP under the always-forgiving Mike Price, but Rouse played only one year in El Paso before he was dismissed from the Miner program. He's currently on the roster of the mighty Concordia-Selma (Ala.) Hornets.

The wildest twist to this story … there was a rumor going around shortly after Rouse signed with Florida State that he actually wanted to commit to Texas after national signing day if Texas would wait, but he was essentially told that the UT coaches had other priorities.

HONORABLE MENTION

Whitney Lewis - USC, Class of 2003 - What is it about these out-of-state commitments that leads them to be overvalued by the recruiting rankings and for that matter, the Longhorn fan base? Tough to say, but history would seem to indcate that they rarely pan out. Lewis, rated No. 3 overall on the 2003 Rivals100, was another cant-miss prospect, but his career fizzled once he made his way to college. Lewis caught all of three passes for USC as a freshman and he never touched the field again for the Trojans. He transferred to Northern Iowa after his sophomore season where he played some running back and wide receiver, but he never did much of anything at either position (216 total yards as a senior)

Another UT recruit out of Springdale (Ark.), Pianalto committed to Texas very early after the Horns did a great job of evaluating him before a lot of other teams. But at the time, Texas was deep at the tight end spot and behind the scenes, Pianalto kept his options open.

He kept it quiet, but the Pianalto took a trip to North Carolina just two weeks before he was set to enroll at UT in January 2007, and he immediately switched his pledge to the Tar Heels. Pianalto, who had said previously that "I won't ever decommit," enrolled at Carolina shortly after his decommitment.

The sting of his change of heart was lessened by the commitments of Blaine Irby and Ahmard Howard, but Pianalto's late and sudden switch was still a bitter pill to swallow for Texas.

Throughout his career at North Carolina, Pianalto has battled injuries, including a knee and a foot injury on the only two plays of his college career that have seen him find the end zone. Earlier this year, he suffered a dislocated foot after jumping in the air to celebrate a touchdown against UConn in mid-September.

HONORABLE MENTION

Dajleon Farr - Miami, Class of 2005 - Talk about a non-factor. Farr, the nation's No. 3-ranked tight end, totaled 10 receptions in his career at Miami and his most notable claim to fame was for being suspended in the infamous brawl between Miami and Florida International after which 31 players were given suspensions.

This one may be the most interesting of all.

Mohetau, going back to his days as a highly sought-after recruit, was impossible to figure out. As a 17-year-old, he handled the recruiting process in one of two ways. He'd either (1) answer the phone (his voice was easily distinguishable) and tell the person on the other line that Ofa was not home, or (2) have some fun and lie through his teeth about his recruiting intentions.

After his official visit to Texas, Mohetau claimed that he was dropped off by a UT host at the wrong hotel and after all the dust (games?) had settled on his recruitment, he wound up committing to BYU. The eventual decision surprised nobody, largely due to Mohetau's Mormon faith.

After an injury during his sophomore year at BYU, Mohetau transferred to College of the Sequoias in California. From there, Mohetau made the move to Texas Tech where he was a bit player at best.

The former five-star lineman and the nation's top-rated guard prospect was most recently seen winning the MMA Native American Heavyweight Championship at the Gladiator Challenge.

HONORABLE MENTION

Reggie Youngblood - Miami, Class of 2005 - Ranked as the country's ninth-best prospect overall, Youngblood appeared to have all the tools to be a collegiate star at Miami after giving the 'Canes a December commitment. His college career was marred by injuries and inconsistencies and Youngblood was never able to reach anywhere near the kind of success that people expected.

Jorrie Adams - Texas A&M, Class of 2003 - A five-star prospect and the nation's top lineman, covering Adams' recruitment was a difficult chore, and covering his career at Texas A&M had to be fun for the Aggie beat writers. As a recruit, Adams rarely answered the phone, and when he did he'd often-times pretend he was someone else. He wound up committing to Texas A&M and one published report called him "The very definition of a bust" after Adams' was switched to defense and then kicked off the team for a drug arrest.

A Rivals100 member, Dotson pretty much came down to Texas and Oklahoma, and he chose the Sooners late in the recruiting process, less than one month before signing day. His case of "The Curse" isn't nearly as dramatic as some others in that he always handled himself with class and didn't take shots at Brown or the UT program, and his biggest issue at Oklahoma was a lack of productivity more than it was bad decisions.

Dotson finished his career with the Sooners in 2007, and though he was called a potential early impact recruit, he never really made his mark on the OU defense. After sitting out his sophomore season due to academics, Dotson got on the field sporadically as a junior and senior, but he was able to manage a two-year total of just 29 tackles and 4 sacks.

Dotson had the bloodlines (he's the nephew of former Green Bay Packer Santana Dotson and the grandson of former Oakland Raider Alphonse Dotson), but he was never able to become an impact performer past the high school level.

Upon his commitment, Dotson told Rivals.com that "(OU) was just right for me. Especially if I want to play in the NFL someday. Oklahoma will help me get to where I want to get to." Unfortunately for Dotson, by all accounts a solid young man, those dreams were never realized.

Like Dotson, Lawson-Kennedy was chosen as one of "10 impact recruits in the Big 12" following the 2003 National Signing Day, but he was never able to make his mark at the collegiate level.

XLK, a Rivals100 member, was ranked as the country's fourth-best defensive tackle prospect, but injuries and poor conditioning doomed him at Oklahoma State. His highest tackle total came during his junior year, when he 12 stops and a half of a sack. He was never part of another sack for OSU and in four years, and he was able to record only 9 as a senior total tackles as a senior (6 solo, 3 assists).

Lawson-Kennedy's most memorable collegiate moment came during a close loss to at home to OU. You've gotta love the internet age where everything is chronicled for eternity.

After his OSU career, Lawson-Kennedy's weight ballooned up to more than 360 pounds before he eventually worked his weight back down to a manageable number. He tried out at the New York Jets' Rookie Camp in 2007 where it was reported he "moved like a glacier."

The country's No. 2-ranked linebacker prospect, Katoa was an interesting story to cover going back to his days at Salt Lake City Cottonwood.

The Rivals100 member was often-times difficult for both coaches and reporters to contact, and Katoa would change his story by the hour. He almost seemed disinterested in the recruiting process, and depending on who he was talking to, his favorites or visit plans would change dramatically.

Katoa wound up choosing Colorado two months before signing day, and his star began to lose its shine shortly after he became a spring enrollee at CU. Shortly after stepping foot on campus, Katoa was charged with second degree felony assault for hitting a man in the head with a rock at an off-campus party in Boulder. He was suspended from spring practice, did not have the required number of credit hours to participate in the fall and was suspended by the CU Office of Judicial Affairs, forcing him to redshirt in 2008.

Katoa eventually pled guilty to a menacing charge and for a brief period, was expected to participate for CU in the 2009 spring season. But things again went south for him as Katoa didn't keep up with his academic work, and Colorado announced his dismissal from the program in March of this year.

In September, an arrest warrant was issued for Katoa after he failed to appear in court for a hearing. According to Buffzone.com, Katoa was scheduled for a hearing after he allegedly violated the terms of a three-year deferred sentence that was handed down following the incident in Boulder. Prosecutors also claimed that Katoa had failed to keep up with substance abuse treatment that was set as a condition of his sentence.

HONORABLE MENTION

Derrick Stephens - Houston Cy Falls, Class of 2007 - Stephens redshirted the 2007 season at Texas A&M, but in the spring of 2008 he saw his days on the football field cut short before he got the chance to play a down in Kyle Field. As one of the headliners of Dennis Franchione's 2007 recruiting class, expectations were high for Stephens. However  multiple concussions forced him off the playing field and into retirement. Texas A&M did honor its scholarship to Stephens following his retirement.

Along with high school teammate Demario Pleasant, Cade chose the Sooners over the Longhorns relatively early in the recruiting process, so he was almost a forgotten man by most Texas fans by the time signing day rolled around.

A Rivasl100 member and Army All-American, Cade never was able to make an impact on the Sooner defense, and he decided to transfer to City College of San Francisco prior to the 2005 season, his sophomore campaign. Cade's name was rarely mentioned while on the Sooner roster (five tackles in his redshirt freshman year playing on special teams), other than some unconfirmed internet speculation that he once threatened an OU coach.

Cade finished his college career at UNLV, where he earned a starting spot and actually played fairly well as a senior, when he recorded 56 tackles (though he recorded no tackles for loss, no interceptions and only two PBUs).



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