Overhyped college football players come and go. There’s a buzz of excitement in the air, and suddenly, one day, everyone’s asking about what ever happened to that player. What looked like a sure thing coming from the college field turns into a sure dud in the NFL. How it happens is debatable, but for those interested in the tales of five of the arguably most overhyped college football players of all time, look no further. The less-than-celebrated list goes something like this.
Coming from LSU, Jamarcus Russell had the attention of virtually every NFL team going into the draft. After all, he finished up with a very winning record there in addition to accolades such as MVP of the 2007 Sugar Bowl. In the NFL, things went a bit differently for Russell.
After several years of torturous play, Russell was released in 2010 by the team which had originally drafted him, the Oakland Raiders. His record at the end of the road here was a rough 7-18 as a starter. In conclusion, Russell cost the Raiders $39-million and a prized, first-round pick for just seven total wins.
The year was 1998. The debate at the time was with regard to who was the most prized catch coming from college: Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. Eventually, we would all come to find that Manning was meant for football while Leaf was clearly not.
After being drafted as the second pick in the NFL draft, Leaf found himself traded around among several teams for a total of four, very unimpressive seasons. Bad behavior off the field led Leaf to jail time and eventually recovery from a tough substance abuse issue. Today, Leaf works with other recovering addicts and does occasional side-work for ESPN and the NFL.
In 1989, the football world was blessed with a number of eventual legends stemming from the year’s top draft picks. Tony Mandarich, our overhyped college player, was in the midst of fellow upperclassmen draftees Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, and others. Mandarich himself was a highly anticipated addition to the Green Bay Packers along the offensive line. Unfortunately though, “The Beast” became known more for his drug issues and less-than-inspiring, on-the-field contributions. Today, it’s reported that Mandarich works in the photography profession.
The Detroit Lions experienced their own disappointment in overhyped college football star Charles Rogers. Rogers attended Michigan State University where he was the recipient of several prestigious honors. It was here that Rogers also became believed by many to be the best college receiver available.
Subsequently, Rogers was drafted at number two overall. Unfortunately though, three years were all he saw professionally as off-the-field antics, on-field performance, and injuries swept all promise away. Professionally, he would only make 36 total catches.
Going all the way back to the 1982 draft, Art Schlichter was a certainty when drafted by the then Baltimore Colts. As an Ohio State Buckeye, Schlichter built a workhorse reputation, leading all-time offense for the institution. In the NFL however, Schlichter would reverse his fortune and legacy by performing poorly and becoming entrenched in gambling issues. 13 games of play in a poorly-performed backup role were enough for NFL franchises as Schlichter simultaneously became subject of criminal prosecution.
For scouts, it must surely be maddening when a complete certainty is signed only to completely bomb out as a pro. This was the unfortunate plight of these five, once-promising draftees. To this day, their legacies go largely uncontested and unsought in the list of the most overhyped college football players of all time.