September 12, 2013

Rankings of Yore: Production vs. Big Picture

MORE: Mind of Mike

Each week, national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell will take a look at what we got right -- and what we got wrong -- in our past player evaluations. We call it Rankings of Yore.

Production vs. Big Picture

Saying that the playing career of Terrelle Pryor has been a roller coaster ride to this point is being modest. Despite a loss at Indianapolis on Sunday, that roller coaster reached another peak as he broke the Raiders' quarterback rushing record with 112 yards on 13 carries in his first start with Oakland. He will return at quarterback this coming weekend as he tries to prove to everyone that he should be a regular starter in the NFL.

Pryor was drafted by the Raiders in the 2011 supplemental draft, but up until his performance against the Colts on Sunday, his professional career has been extremely uneventful. He showed flashes of his potential in the season finale last year when he was named the starter against San Diego after Carson Palmer was injured. Pryor made the most of this opportunity and finished with two touchdown passes and ran for a third.

Unlike in the NFL, Pryor quickly acclimated himself at Ohio State to the college game. During the 2008 season, Pryor started his first game in late September and threw four touchdown passes, which set a Buckeye freshman record. He led the Buckeyes to an 8-1 record as a starter and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, while being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. During his sophomore year, when he finished second in the conference MVP voting, Pryor led the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship and a victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl. However, everything took a turn for the worse in December 2010 when the NCAA ruled that Pryor and four of his teammates would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia. After a further NCAA investigation at Ohio State, Pryor announced in June 2011 that he had left Ohio State and soon after declared himself for the NFL supplemental draft.

As a standout at Jeannette High School in Pennsylvania, Pryor helped his team to its first state championship in 20 years during his senior season. He finished his high school career by becoming the first player in Pennsylvania history to pass and rush for 4,000 yards, which helped him become a two-time state player of the year. Not surprisingly, Pryor's recruiting process was a chaotic one. He actually began as a basketball commitment to Pittsburgh, but later re-opened his process and trimmed his list down to Ohio State, Oregon, Michigan and Penn State. However, after originally planning to make his final decision on National Signing Day, Pryor decided that he needed more time. Finally on March 19, after leading Jeannette to a basketball state championship, Pryor committed to the Buckeyes over the Wolverines.

Terrelle Pryor was the No. 1 recruit nationally in the 2008 class. When it comes to college production, it would be difficult to argue against his ranking; however if you look at the big picture, including the NFL, he would have plenty of competition for the top spot. Also in the top 10 that year were Julio Jones, Patrick Johnson (now Patrick Peterson) and A.J. Green, who have already made huge statements in the NFL. It is also interesting to look at the dual-threat quarterback rankings that year, with E.J. Manuel at No. 2 and Robert Griffin at No. 4, making that one of the more explosive groups in recent years.

[ Watch: Looking back: Terrelle Pryor prospect video ]

Quinn's ranking an oversight

During his time with the St. Louis Rams, defensive end Robert Quinn has flashed signs of brilliance. If the season-opening victory against Arizona on Sunday is a sign of things to come, then that brilliance may have officially arrived. Quinn finished with three sacks and two forced fumbles during the 27-24 victory over the Cardinals.

Even after he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA and sat out his junior season at North Carolina. Quinn was drafted with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Rams. After not playing for a year, Quinn still showed Rams fans his potential during the 2011 season after he finished with five sacks and three blocked punts. During the 2012 season Quinn really began to come into his own and finished with 10.5 sacks.

At North Carolina, Quinn made an immediate impact during his freshman season in 2008 with 34 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. During his sophomore season in 2009, he moved his game to the next level and finished with 52 tackles, 11 sacks, six forced fumbles and an ACC-leading 19 tackles for a loss. His play helped him finish second in the ACC Defensive Player of the Year voting. However, as already mentioned, Quinn then missed his junior season after the NCAA ruled him ineligible for lying to investigators about receiving travel accommodations and jewelry.

Quinn played his high school football at Fort Dorchester High School in South Carolina, but saw his senior season cut short because of a benign tumor in his brain which required surgery. Amazingly, before his surgery he still managed to finish his senior season with 54 tackles and five sacks. This was preceded by a junior season that saw him finish with 80 tackles and nine sacks. At the beginning of his recruitment, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland and Auburn were the first schools to stand out. However, as he began to take numerous visits during the summer before his senior season, additional schools came into the picture and began to shine. By the end of that year, Quinn had a top seven of North Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Florida State, Rutgers and Maryland, with UNC, Alabama and Auburn standing out the most. He visited all three schools before committing to North Carolina, which came as a surprise to many.

In the 2008 class, Quinn was not ranked nationally, but was the No. 18 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 10 player in South Carolina and a four-star prospect. Obviously, the lack of a national ranking was an oversight that may become a progressively bigger one if Quinn continues to improve his level of play. In South Carolina that year, A.J. Green and DaQuan Bowers held down the top two spots, while at strongside defensive end, both Bowers and Quinton Coples, his future teammate at North Carolina, are names that stand out. Despite many hurdles both on and off the field, Quinn has thrived.

[ Watch: Looking back: Robert Quinn prospect video ]

Gallon measuring up

Since arriving in Ann Arbor during the summer of 2009, wide receiver Jeremy Gallon has shown spurts of excellence, but has not been able to maintain it. Heading into the 2012 season expectations were once again high, and on Saturday night in a victory against Notre Dame, Gallon met all of them. Teaming up with Devin Gardner, Gallon finished with 184 yards receiving and three touchdowns on eight receptions in the 41-30 victory.

After redshirting during the 2009 season, Gallon saw very limited action in 2010, mainly seeing time as a return man. In 2011, Gallon began to see his role on the Wolverines expand and he finished the season with 30 receptions for 450 yards and three touchdowns while still being a valuable return man. Last season Gallon once again raised his level of play, as he led the team with 49 receptions for 829 yards and four touchdowns.

Gallon played his high school football at Apopka, Fla. where he did a little bit of everything for his team. Seeing time at quarterback, running back and safety, he finished his time in Apopka with 5,905 yards of total offense and 68 total touchdowns. By the end of his junior season, Gallon was regarded as one of the more explosive all-around players in Florida. The Wolverines were one of the first schools to notice Gallon's ability, as they joined Auburn, Iowa State, UCF, UAB and FIU as his first offers. Michigan made an immediate impression on him, and after letting the recruiting process play out a little longer, he decided to commit to the Wolverines in June of 2008.

Gallon was a four-star athlete in the class of 2009, and ranked as the No. 151 player nationally, No. 11 athlete nationally and the No. 31 recruit in Florida. At the athlete position, a number of interesting names were ranked below Gallon, such as Jordan Hall at No. 27 and Kyle Van Noy at No. 24. Maybe the most interesting comparison is with Denard Robinson, who would star as Michigan's quarterback, at No. 14. In Florida there are a number of players ranked in front of Gallon who disappointed, but also several who have excelled, such as Lamar Miller, Jon Bostic, Aaron Murray and Trent Richardson.

[ Watch: Looking back: Jeremy Gallon prospect video ]

What can Brown do for you?

After missing the 2012 season because of an ACL injury in preseason practice, nobody at Maryland was really sure what to expect from quarterback C.J. Brown this fall. However, if the first two games of the season are a sign of things to come, Terrapin fans may have something to be excited about.

Brown completed 20-of-23 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in an opening-game romp over Florida International. On Saturday, he followed that up with another electrifying performance against Old Dominion with 275 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Brown reshirted his first season at Maryland and saw his 2010 season end prematurely when he broke his collarbone during his first game against Morgan State. After watching Danny O'Brien take control of the position and then seeing coach Ralph Friedgen get fired, Brown entered the 2011 season unsure of his status on the team. O'Brien ended up winning the starting job, but after a few lackluster performances, Brown was back in charge for the Clemson game. Despite a loss against the Tigers, he rushed for 162 yards, which set Maryland quarterback single-game record.

During his time at Cranberry (Pa.) Seneca Valley, Brown grew into his own during his junior season when he passed for 1,567 yards and 11 touchdowns, while rushing for 443 yards and five touchdowns. He continued his maturation process during his senior season, when he finished with 2,154 yards passing and 14 touchdowns, plus 680 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. His play at Seneca Valley set school records for both career passing yards and touchdowns. Brown's recruiting process was just beginning to take off when he gave his commitment to Maryland in April of 2008, less than a month after receiving his offer. Interest seemed to be mounting from schools like Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Michigan State, but after Brown took visits to College Park for a junior day and spring practice, it was more than enough for him to seal the deal.

In the 2009 class, Brown was the No. 17-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 14-ranked player in Pennsylvania. The class of 2009 dual-threat quarterback group turned out to be an interesting one, but only a few players have actually developed at the position. Eugene Smith obviously enjoyed a successful career at West Virginia, while TCU's Casey Pachall and Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase have both had their ups and downs. Other players like Russell Shepard and Jordan Reed moved to other positions. In Pennsylvania, it has turned out to be a rather disappointing group that was ranked in front of Brown. Jordan Hall and Tyrone Ezell have actually seen the most success to this point, but it may still be too early to tell about Brown. The meat of the 2013 schedule still lies in front of the Terps, and Brown will be back for 2014 after gaining another year of eligibility from the NCAA, so he has more than enough time to truly prove his abilities.

[ Watch: Looking back: C.J. Brown prospect video ]

Mike Farrell is the national football recruiting analyst for click here to follow him on Twitter.

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