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November 9, 2012
Rankings of Yore: Yay for Bray
Each week, Rivals.com's national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell will take at what we got right -- and what we got wrong -- in our past player evaluations. We call it Rankings of Yore.
Nay or Bray?
Being a four-star recruit and the No. 7 overall pro-style quarterback in the 2010 class, Tyler Bray arrived at Tennessee with a great deal of fanfare. After enrolling early, Bray started the last five games of his freshman season and has been the starter since then.
Showing off NFL potential throughout his time in Knoxville, Bray put it all together on Saturday against Troy when he passed for 530 yards during a shootout victory. This yardage total broke a Tennessee record and was only 14 yards short of the all-time SEC record set by Eric Zeier of Georgia 19 years ago.
As a recruit, Bray first caught everyone's attention with a big junior season that saw him pass for 2,624 yards and 26 touchdowns. During the summer before his senior season, Bray committed to San Diego State, but the Vols quickly offered after they missed out on Jesse Scroggins, who committed to USC.
Tennessee began to press the issue and after taking a visit to Knoxville in early September of his senior season, Bray de-committed from the Aztecs and gave his pledge to then-Vols coach Lane Kiffin.
Bray was ranked ahead of other signal-callers such as Tommy Rees and Sean Mannion, and behind other players such as Blake Bell, Phillip Sims and Jake Heaps, none of whom made the impact he did in what was considered a very poor quarterback class.
Scroggins ended up flaming out at USC and has since transferred. There was a consensus that Bray would have committed to the Trojans had he been offered. However, things have worked out much better for Bray in regards to playing time than they would have at USC with Matt Barkley in charge.
To our credit, we had Bray ranked much higher than any other recruiting website out there, despite offers from only the Vols, San Diego State and Fresno State.
[ Watch: Looking back: Tyler Bray prospect video ]
Class of 2008 running back Kenjon Barner of Riverside (Calif.) Notre Dame had hoped that one of the local, what was then-Pac-10 schools, either USC or UCLA, would take notice. However, despite rushing for 3,124 yards and 46 touchdowns during his senior season, neither offer ever came. The No. 86 player in California and No. 38 overall running back in the country found his home at Oregon over offers from Arizona State and UTEP.
Since that time, Barner has made a name for himself at the college level, and last Saturday he took it to another level upon his return to Los Angeles for the Ducks game against USC.
Barner finished the game with 38 carries for 321 yards and five touchdowns during another important victory for Oregon, as the Ducks look to make their way to the National Championship game. Barner, who is now a Heisman candidate, reportedly yelled "this is my city" to the USC fans after a few of his scores in the huge win.
Despite his No. 38 ranking in 2008, Barner may actually prove himself to be the most successful back in that entire class. Other running backs who have already moved on to the NFL include Mikel LaShoure (No. 28 see below), Isaiah Pead (No. 26) and Ryan Williams (No. 3) in what obviously turned out to be a disappointing group led by guys such as Darrell Scott, Jermie Calhoun, Jonas Gray and others.
[ Watch: Looking back: Barner prospect video ]
After being drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 2011 draft, everything had not gone as planned for Mikel Leshoure. The running back out of Illinois missed his rookie season due to a torn Achilles and had just one career touchdown before the Lions took the field at Tennessee this past weekend.
However, everything clicked for Leshoure on Sunday as he rushed for three first-half touchdowns to lead the Lions to the victory.
Not even Barry Sanders had accomplished that for the Lions.
Being a three-star prospect out of Champaign (Ill.) Centennial, Leshoure decided to stay at home to play his college ball despite having several offers, including from Wisconsin, Boston College, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas.
At that time, Leshoure, who was an early January enrollee, committed to coach Ron Zook and coach Mike Locksley and was thought to be a potential replacement for Rashard Mendenhall. During his time at Illinois he did not disappoint, as he finished his Illini career with 2,557 yards and 23 touchdowns, including 1,697 yards in 2010, which broke the school's season record previously held by Mendenhall.
Being the No. 28 overall running back recruit in the country in 2008 and in the same class as Barner, Pead and Williams, Leshoure has positioned himself as one of the more successful backs in the group. But the jury is still out in regards to his NFL success and the 2008 running back group was disappointing at best.
Worth the wait
Cornerback Allen Chapman of Kansas State may have taken a detour before becoming a Wildcat, but last Saturday's performance against Oklahoma State was just another example that he was well worth the wait. After finishing the game with three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown and a second in the end zone that prevented a possible Cowboys touchdown, Chapman received national attention.
Chapman played his high school football at San Jose (Calif.) Oak Grove, and was unranked after picking up offers from San Diego State, UNLV, Weber State and Sacramento State. However, his next two years were spent at City College of San Francisco, where he developed into a three-star prospect.
Chapman reeled in offers from the Wildcats, as well as New Mexico, New Mexico State and Tulsa, so he was still quite under-recruited. After originally committing to Kansas State after an official visit, he debated taking a late official visit to Fresno State but decided that Manhattan was where he wanted play his college ball.
Chapman got Kansas State's attention while enjoying a very impressive sophomore season in San Francisco where he finished with 50 tackles and six interceptions (two of which he returned for touchdowns). The Wildcats have had a great deal of success with JUCO's in the past and you can definitely add Chapman to this list.
[ Watch: Looking back: More Chapman prospect video ]