August 20, 2005

Not making the grade

It happens at every college football program. Well, maybe not in the Ivy League, but just about everywhere else.

With rosters often surpassing well over 100 players there are always guys who can't maintain the needed grades to stay eligible, and recruits who can't reach the necessary test scores and GPA to enroll at the school they signed with.

Some who fall into those categories this fall will prove to be very costly. The loss of key starters or highly ranked signees has screwed up depth charts and created sudden weaknesses at schools all over the nation. We selected the most devastating for Rivals.com's academic casualties.

Note: All of the following players are ineligible for the upcoming season due to academic problems.

PLAYERS

Emanuel Franklin - Arizona State

The Sun Devils lost one of their biggest playmakers in Franklin, a safety who had been granted a sixth year of eligibility. Franklin, who recovered from brain surgery three years ago, started every game last season, leading the team with four interceptions and seven passes defended and also made 49 tackles.

The loss is even more costly considering three-time All Pac-10 safety Riccardo Stewart exhausted his eligibility. That leaves the Sun Devils with little experience in the back of their defense - a problem for any Pac-10 program. Sophomore safety Josh Barrett, who is healthy after sitting out the spring with a shoulder injury, has started three games and junior college transfer Zach Catanese and Michigan State transfer Derron Ware will be asked to make instant impacts.

Mike Williams - Texas

Longhorns fans are giving up hope on this highly recruited defensive end. After sitting out the 2004 season due to academic problems he was expected to return for his junior year and compete for a starting job. He could have provided one of the nation's most talented defenses a pass-rush specialist to go along with proven defensive tackles Rodrique Wright and Larry Dibble.

Williams plans on staying in school but by 2006 he will not have played a single game in three years. He showed plenty of promise in his only season of eligibility, racking up six sacks and three forced fumbles despite starting just one game as a freshman.

Walter Thomas - Oklahoma State

There is no way to replace the size of this mammoth nose guard. At 6-feet-6, 350 pounds, the sophomore was expected to help the Cowboys clog running lanes and play a big role in short-yardage situations after playing in 11 games as a true freshman in 2004.

The Cowboys do return a group of experienced defensive tackles, including starter Darnell Smith (6-0, 260) and key reserve Xavier Lawson-Kennedy (6-1, 315) and junior college transfers Ryan McBean (6-5, 290) and Josh Pinaire (6-5, 280). But, none will be confused with Thomas or demand constant double teams.

Philip Brown - Virginia

The Cavaliers lost one of the ACC's most promising young cornerbacks, and one of the big pieces of their highly touted 2003 recruiting class in Brown. After redshirting his first season, the 5-foot-11, 188-pound prep star started three games on an experienced defense in 2004.

Brown's absence won't be a big blow this fall. Starting cornerbacks Tony Franklin and Marcus Hamilton return, but a year away from the gridiron puts some doubt into the future of Brown, who was ranked the top prospect in Virginia according to Rivals.com two years ago.

RECRUITS:

Mike Ford - Alabama

The Crimson Tide have big depth problems at running back, which is why true freshman Roy Upchurch is expected to receive carries right away. Ford, a four-star running back from Florida, would have fallen into that same category and possibly handled Upchurch's role. At 6-2, 205 pounds he has the size to play in the SEC right now.

Instead, he will spend a year at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., while Upchurch gains a big edge over him in experience and on the depth chart.

Maurice Greer - Colorado

Gary Barnett and his staff missed out on a handful of their top recruiting targets from the class of 2005, but those losses were salvaged somewhat by landing Greer, the top-ranked recruit in the state. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound running back from Denver was expected to immediately help the Buffaloes' young running game.

Greer is reportedly heading to junior college and may never show up in Boulder. Meanwhile, inexperienced sophomores Hugh Charles and Byron Ellis - who each lack the explosion of Greer - are fighting for the starting tailback job that could have been his.

Callahan Bright, Clifton Dickson, Justin Mincey and Matt Hardrick - Florida State

The Seminoles lost three big-time prospects from their No. 2-ranked 2005 recruiting class. Bright, Mincey and Hardrick were all ranked among the nation's top 100 prospects, and probably whould have played a little right away, especially Bright, a 6-foot-2, 315-pounder from Bryn Mawr, Pa., who was ranked the No. 2 defensive tackle.

That's due in large part to the loss of Dickson (6-4, 308), a junior whom Bobby Bowden called his "most improved defensive player from last year." Senior Brodrick Bunkley (6-3, 284) and Dickson are the only Seminole defensive tackles with starting experience and there is little depth behind them.

The news could get much better for the 'Noles by the end of the season. Dickson, who is working on an associate's degree at Tallahassee Community College, and Bright, Mincey and Hardrick, who have each enrolled at Hargrave, are expected to be taking classes at FSU by the spring semester.

Jamar Bryant, Jamar Chaney, Darius Dewberry, Corey Moon, Brandon Sesay - Georgia

Nobody lost a bigger percentage of its recruiting class than Georgia, whose academic requirements for incoming students are far greater than the vast majority of Division I-A schools. Mark Richt and his staff took a gamble on a handful of their 17 signees and were burned on four - Chaney, Dewberry, Moon and Sesay.

But the one that hurt most was a part of the Dawgs' 2004 class. Bryant (6-3, 198), who spent the past year at Hargrave, had the size and ability to add some instant depth to a thin and inexperienced receiving corps.

Bryant is trying to enroll at East Carolina, and Chaney was able to get in at Mississippi State. Dewberry, who is at Hargrave, Moon and Sesay are expected to eventually land in Athens.

Jonathan Lewis, Willie Williams - Kansas State

The Wildcats lost arguably their top two recruits from the 2005 class in Lewis, a four-star defensive end, and Williams, a four-star junior college defensive tackle.

The Wildcats do return an experienced defensive line but nobody on it may have the ability or as much potential as Lewis, who plans to grayshirt and enroll at the Big 12 school next year, or Williams.

Melvin Alaeze, Chris Clinton, Morgan Green - Maryland

Few incoming freshmen had a chance to make a bigger impact than Alaeze (6-2, 280), who was ranked the top defensive end in the nation. He would have helped make up for the loss of first-round draft pick Shawn Merriman right away. Instead, little-used sophomores Jack Griffin (6-7, 276) and Omarr Savage (6-5, 262) will be given the dubious task of replacing the star player.

Alaeze and Green, a four-star running back, are both attending Hargrave and should officially be Terps in 2006.

Selwyn Lymon - Purdue

Incoming receivers with Lymon's size and ability have a solid chance to play immediately anywhere. At a school like Purdue that runs a spread offense they have to put up some big numbers immediately.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder was ranked the top prospect in Indiana and the No. 7 receiver in the nation. Boilermakers head coach Joe Tiller called him "the most talented kid we ever recruited." He will attend classes at Purdue this year and wait to make his debut on the gridiron in 2006.



 

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