Top prospects flame out all the time in recruiting.
Either the spotlight is too bright, or the idea of being an athlete and student is too difficult to grasp, Or the environment is too much to handle.
Then there is Tray Allen. The studious, hard-working, dedicated offensive lineman was the jewel of Texas’ 2007 recruiting class. He was a Parade All-American who had been a starter on both side of the line in high school. Allen was the top player at his position in high school, according to ESPNU and a top 25 player overall.
Tray Allen was never in trouble, was an exemplary student, a team leader and started all of six games at Texas. Those came in his fifth year. He was replaced by a true freshman.
So goes the inexact science of recruiting: Sometimes when the character is right the talent is not. And sometimes when the talent is right the character is not.
For example the 2007 class had 24 signees. Almost half the class, 11 players, did not complete their eligibility at Texas, be it due to transfers, arrests or injuries. (Not counted in that number is Earl Thomas because he elected to leave for the NFL.)
But the class did provide Texas with 13 players who contributed, some of which became starters and stars.
Most underrated: Sam Acho
The 2007 class of defensive ends was top heavy. And Acho was not listed in the single digits. He was considered a better athlete than most he went up against while at St. Mark’s. While that can be good for some, many were not convinced his superior athleticism would hold up in the college game.
Looking back there is no doubt about it.
Acho started his last 26 games at Texas. The first 14 were at defensive end where he had 14 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2009. The next season he was moved around on the line and played at defensive tackle, but once again was productive, rolling up 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks. In those final two years Acho recovered nine fumbles. The five in 2010 set a Texas record and led the nation.
Acho was drafted with the sixth pick in the fourth round (103rd overall) by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Biggest Get: Curtis Brown
Two players came out of Gilmer High (Gilmer, Texas) in 2007 and you might be hard pressed to remember the other. OK, it was G.J. Kinne and unless you’re a big Tulsa fan you might not know what he did in college. But those who follow Texas certainly understand what Brown did for the Longhorns.
Behind Tray Allen, the cornerback was the highest rated recruit in 2007. He started to pay dividends immediately, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman that year. In all, Brown played in all of his 52 games while at Texas and started 28. His biggest contributions came as a starter on the 2009 team. He had 53 tackles that season. In a pivotal game against Oklahoma he had four tackles, three pass break ups and a forced fumble.
Brown was drafted with the 31st pick in the third round (95th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Biggest Bust: Andre Jones
Just days before 2007 fall camp was to start, and on his 18th birthday, Jones was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon stemming from a home invasion. He never played a down for Texas. Instead Parade All-American defensive tackle from Andress (El Paso, Texas) transferred to UTEP. He never played down for the Miners either. Jones was struck by a car, tearing knee ligaments in September of 2008 and failed to make UTEP’s roster in 2009.