Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Look Back to 2006

Following up last week's retrospective on the 2005 signing class, here is an early retrospective on the 2006 class. Obviously, there isn't as much information available about the 2006 recruiting class as there is about the 2005 class, because these guys have played one fewer year. However, I think there's enough information to make the task worthwhile. Of course, all grades are tentative as there is still time for players to break out (or fail to break out).

QB: None
Analysis: Not getting a QB in this class has certainly put us in a bit of a bind. We have Ryan Perrilloux as a junior and no scholarship sophomore or senior QBs other than Hatch, the Harvard transfer. A good QB in this class could have really helped out.

RB: Keiland Williams - *****, Richard Murphy - ****, Charles Scott - ****
Grade: A
Analysis: These guys are now the key runners on the team, and should be one of the team's strengths no matter what happens with the QB situation.

OL: Matt Allen - ****, Steve Singleton - ***, Mark Snyder - ***, Zhamal Thomas - ****
Grade: D-
Analysis: Pewww! Three of these four are no longer on the team, and the fourth appears to not be in the two-deep and to have been passed by younger players on the depth chart. Zhamal Thomas was allegedly involved in a burglary and was dismissed. Singleton left for reasons unknown. Snyder's career ended due to injury problems. You can't blame Snyder for that one, as he endured two catastrophic knee injuries. Matt Allen had a lot of good press at this time next year, but he seems to have gotten lost on the practice field.

WR: Jared Mitchell - ****, Chris Mitchell - ****, Ricky Dixon - ****
Grade: C-
Analysis: This group has a combined 22 catches for their careers, none of them have been particularly memorable, and none of them came in the last 6 games of the season last year. Actually, Jared Mitchell looked like he was getting somewhere early last year. He made 13 catches in the first 7 games, several of them in SEC play. Then he stopped getting the ball once Doucet returned from injury. Of all these players, Jared seems the closest to becoming a productive player, but he's not there yet. For the Mitchells, it's now or never. I think if they don't do something this year, they will get passed on the depth chart by multiple freshmen this year.

TE: Richard Dickson - ****, J.D. Lott - ***
Grade: A
Analysis: One guy who looks to be an All-America candidate next year, and another guy who left the team. That's an A-grade in my opinion. Dickson had a huge breakout year as a receiver last year, and is a 2-year starter at tight end. If we're lucky, he'll stay for his senior year.

DL: Al Woods - *****, Pep Levingston - ***
Grade: B
Analysis: Woods has been a mild disappointment, but he's a solid contributor. He just doesn't dominate like we'd expected. Pe Levingston looks like a solid depth player, but it's not certain he'll ever get starters' time. All-in-all, something of a light defensive line class, made lighter because Charles Deas never made it to campus.

LB: Derrick Odom - ****, Perry Riley - ***, Jacob Cutrera - ***, Kelvin Sheppard - ***
Grade: B
Analysis: The highest rated guy on the board never played a down, while the three-stars have gotten significant playing time as reserves. Riley looks like a stud to me, and Sheppard looks like a solid player. Both have excelled at special teams and it's now their turns to really have a shot at starting. There are probably no All-Americans in this group, but Riley could be an All-SEC type guy.

DB: Jai Eugene - ****, Danny McCray - ***, Troy Giddens - ***
Grade: Incomplete
Analysis: I'm just not prepared to give a grade to Jai Eugene yet. Danny McCray has become a key player as the nickel back, though he sometimes struggles in coverage. Giddens is off the team for the same reason as Zhamal Thomas. The key here is Eugene. He's played well on special teams, but he has struggled when he's gotten into the game at corner, after being one of the most sought-after defensive backs of his class. Fact is, he didn't play defense for the last year-and-a-half he was in high school, and is learning the position from scratch as a Tiger.

You look at this class and you have to think there are some disappointing aspects to it, though it could end up being stronger than it looks right now. Perhaps the coaches would have liked to have redshirted the Mitchells, but didn't have the receiver depth to do it. Perhaps if Thomas and Snyder hadn't had their problems, the offensive line class would look a lot better. Perhaps if Deas had made it to campus the defensive line would look better.

Still, there are also things to like about this class. The running backs and linebackers appear to be strengths, and Richard Dickson might end up being the best player from this class, and maybe our best tight end ever.

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