Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review of 2007 Recruiting: Running Backs

Imagine Jahvid Best wearing slightly different shades 


Mike Hart, Sr.
Kevin Grady, Jr.
Carlos Brown, So.
Brandon Minor, So.

Vince Helmuth
High school: Saline (MI) Saline
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #9 FB
College: Michigan
Other notable offers: None
Scoop: Helmuth enrolled early at Michigan in January 2007, giving him a chance to play as a true freshman. He was a backup fullback and special teamer that season, and he was limited to special teams as a sophomore in 2008, when he bulked up and made a mid-season switch to defensive tackle after hitting 291 lbs. He transferred to Miami (OH) prior to the 2009 season but never played for the Redhawks.

Avery Horn
High school: Hanford (CA) Hanford
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #13 all-purpose back
College: Michigan
Other notable offers: Nebraska, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington
Scoop: Horn was a small-ish, speedy running back. He redshirted during the 2007 season and seemed like he would benefit from the conversion to the zone read option offense, being quick and shifty. However, he never played a down of offensive football for Michigan. As a redshirt freshman in 2008, he returned 5 kickoffs for 104 yards. He transferred to Reedley College where he played running back in 2009 and had 814 yards and 7 touchdowns. He then transferred to Delta State, where he ran the ball 39 times for 137 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with catching 8 passes for 87 yards and 1 touchdown. Then as a senior in 2012, he ran 14 times for 63 yards and 2 touchdowns. At a pro day prior to the 2013 NFL Draft, he ran a 4.54 forty and measured in at 5'9", 197 lbs. He went undrafted and did not sign with an NFL team.

Omar Bolden
High school:
 Ontario (CA) Colony
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #7 all-purpose back
College: Arizona State
Other notable offers: Nebraska, USC, Washington
Scoop: Bolden never played a down of running back in college, instead becoming an instant starter for the Sun Devils. As a freshman in 2007, he had 33 tackles, 1 interception (returned for a touchdown), and 6 pass breakups. He followed that up with 49 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 7 pass breakups as a sophomore. As a junior in 2009, he made 4 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 pass breakup before an injury sidelined him for the final eight games of the year, allowing him to take a medical redshirt. When he returned for his redshirt junior season in 2010, he became First Team All-Pac 10 with 52 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 7 pass breakups. He tore his ACL prior to the 2011 season and missed his final year of eligibility, but he was still voted a captain by his teammates. He was picked in the 4th round (#101 overall) by the Denver Broncos in the 2012 NFL Draft. In two seasons with the Broncos, he has 27 total tackles and 1 pass breakup while playing strong safety.

Jahvid Best
High school:
 Richmond (CA) Salesian
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #9 RB, #94 overall
College: Cal
Other notable offers: Notre Dame, Oregon, USC, Washington
Scoop: As a freshman backup to Justin Forsett, Best had 29 carries for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 174 yards and 1 touchdown. He became a starter as a sophomore in 2008 and had 194 rushing attempts for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns. In an injury-shortened 2009 season, he carried the ball 141 times for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns. He declared for the 2010 NFL Draft and ran a 4.35 forty at the Combine, which helped to get him picked in the 1st round (#30 overall) by the Detroit Lions. In two seasons with the Lions, Best had 255 carries for 945 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 85 catches for 774 yards and 3 touchdowns. Unfortunately, his NFL career ended after a string of concussions. He is now an assistant running backs coach for his former college program, the Cal Golden Bears.

Jonathan Dwyer
High school: Marietta (GA) Kell
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #10 RB
College: Georgia Tech
Other notable offers: Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia
Scoop: Playing for triple option coach Paul Johnson, Dwyer was an All-ACC Freshman player after carrying 82 times for 436 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2007. He then had 200 carries for 1,395 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2008, which earned him ACC Player of the Year honors. As a junior in 2013, Dwyer ran 235 times for 1,395 yards and 14 scores. He left college early after his junior year and was picked in the 6th round (#188 overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft. Dwyer was an occasional starter for the Steelers through 2013, totaling 230 carries for 971 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was signed by the Arizona Cardinals in March 2014.

Robert Hughes
High school:
 Chicago (IL) Hubbard
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #7 RB, #77 overall
College: Notre Dame
Other notable offers: Miami, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
Scoop: Hughes was a backup running back as a freshman in 2007 when he had 53 carries for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2008, he ran 112 times for 382 yards and 4 touchdowns. He became a part-time fullback in 2009, running 88 times for 416 yards and 5 touchdowns, also catching 19 passes for 193 yards. He added another 68 carries for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns as a senior in 2010. Hughes went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft but has bounced around the league from Chicago to Tampa Bay to Washington to Indianapolis to Arizona. He has a total of 1 rush for 5 yards and 1 reception for 6 yards during his pro career.

Daniel "Boom" Herron
High school:
 Warren (OH) Harding
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #18 RB
College: Ohio State
Other notable offers: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota
Scoop: Herron redshirted in 2007 and was a backup in 2008 and 2009. His redshirt freshman season saw him rush 89 times for 439 yards and 6 touchdowns, and he followed that up with 153 carries for 633 yards and 7 touchdowns. His breakout season was as a redshirt junior in 2010 when he ran 216 times for 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, he was one of the Buckeyes caught in the "Tatgate" scandal that saw him suspended for the first several games of 2011, and he returned to start and total 135 carries for 678 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was drafted in the 6th round (#191 overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, who cut him but re-signed him in the middle of the 2012 season, and he played with the Indianapolis Colts in 2013. So far he has 9 carries for 38 yards and 1 reception for 57 yards in his pro career.

Brandon Saine
High school:
 Piqua (OH) Piqua
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #5 RB, #50 overall
College: Ohio State
Other notable offers: Miami, Notre Dame
Scoop: Saine was a backup to Chris "Beanie" Wells to start his career at Ohio State, where Saine had 60 carries for 267 yards and 2 touchdowns as a freshman. His sophomore year saw those numbers drop to 26 carries, 65 yards, and 1 touchdown. He shared time with Herron as a junior in 2010 when Saine ran 145 times for 739 yards and 4 touchdowns. His final college season included 70 carries for 337 yards and 2 touchdowns. Saine went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft but was signed by the Green Bay Packers, for whom he had 18 carries for 69 yards in 2012 but has not played an NFL game since then.

Marc Tyler
High school:
 Westlake Village (CA) Oaks Christian
Ratings: Rivals 5-star, #2 RB, #17 overall
College: USC
Other notable offers: Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA
Scoop: Tyler, the son of former NFL All-Pro running back Wendell Tyler and a high school teammate of Jimmy Clausen, redshirted in 2007 following a broken leg he suffered in high school. He had 36 carries for 198 yards and 1 touchdown as a redshirt freshman backup in 2008. Again a backup in 2009, he carried the ball 5 times for 72 yards and 1 touchdown. He finally earned the starting job in 2010 and responded with 171 carries for 913 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 17 catches for 127 yards and 1 score. As a redshirt junior in 2011, Tyler had 122 carries for 568 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 108 yards; that came on the heels of a suspension for joking to the media that USC players got paid more in college than in the pros. He went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft and was signed by the Green Bay Packers but never played a down for them before getting cut.

Curtis Shaw
High school:
 Stockton (CA) Lincoln
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #23 RB
College: Washington
Other notable offers: Cal, Nebraska, Oregon
Scoop: Shaw had 7 carries for 12 yards as a freshman tailback, and he also played some wide receiver, where he caught 5 passes for 47 yards. He took a redshirt for 2008 while he attended to some family issues, but he returned to play tailback in 2009. As a redshirt sophomore that year, he had 8 carries for 32 yards. It was announced that he would transfer prior to the 2010 season, but I can find no record of him landing anywhere else. His football career is presumably over.

Michigan actually did a very good job of evaluating talent in the 2007 class, but they took a gamble by going after so many West Coast prospects (five of nine offers to tailbacks were from California) and happened to nab two of the least talented prospects in the lot. That was an interesting result, too, because Michigan had produced solid running backs and any player would have had to sit behind incumbent starter Mike Hart for just one season. Of course, the Wolverines also had some other talented backs (Carlos Brown, Kevin Grady, Brandon Minor) in the stable, so perhaps that scared away some prospects.

Biggest miss: Best. Best was a big-play machine at Cal and would have been electrifying in a Michigan uniform. He could have returned kicks and been a change of pace for the slow-but-steady Hart. Furthermore, Best could have been Rich Rodriguez's bell cow in 2008 and 2009, giving him the running back that he never had during his Michigan tenure. The combination of Best and Rodriguez could have potentially been very exciting.

Biggest bust: Hughes. Hughes was part tailback, part fullback. He never had the speed to be a true tailback, and he lacked the size to be a bulldozer. He had an okay college career (15 rushing touchdowns in a Notre Dame uniform is a pretty good life accomplishment), but his performance didn't quite live up to the billing of the #77 player in the country.

Best in class: Ryan Mathews. This is a tough choice because nobody from the 2007 class has become a superstar (Noel Devine? Chris Rainey? Shane Vereen? John Clay? Kendall Hunter?). Mathews had an excellent college career at Fresno State, scored 41 touchdowns in three seasons, led college football in rushing as a junior in 2009 (276 carries, 1808 yards, 19 touchdowns), and became a 1st round pick (#12 overall) by the San Diego Chargers in the 2010 NFL Draft. He's been solid but unspectacular in the NFL (3,731 yards, 4.4 yards/carry, 20 touchdowns), but he looks like the best product from that 2007 class.

You can also take a look back at the review of 2007's quarterback targets.


  1. That post was -- indirectly -- a reminder of how crappy the '07 recruiting class was. Of the players who stayed, I count two (Hemingway, Molk) who played in the NFL:

    1. Yeah, that's true. I don't know that I look at it that way, though. I mean, a lot of those guys were recruited by one guy for one system and ended up playing for another guy who ran another system. There are guys like Toney Clemons and Ryan Mallett, the latter of which is still a valued commodity in the NFL. It's not really the fault of the guys who were recruiting the class of 2007 that everything went down the way it did.

      I know you're not really laying blame. I just want to point out that there were extenuating circumstances.

  2. How about Doug Martin for "Best in class" for 2007?