Derek Dooley-led renewed investment in football recruiting at Louisiana Tech has begun to manifest itself in recent years. The 2008 and 2009 classes were both ranked in the top third of the Western Athletic Conference and a number of underclassmen from Dooley's classes (2007- ) have played substantial roles in the football team's recent success.
But how have Louisiana Tech's recruiting efforts panned out, historically? Have Dooley's recruits performed better than the players signed by previous head coach Jack Bicknell?
We will individually evaluate the members of each class and quantify their contribution to the Louisiana Tech football team using a 3-tiered scale. Players that signed and made absolutely no contribution will be awarded 0 points. Those that served as quality backups and/or started ten or fewer games will be awarded 1 point. Finally, those that started at least 11 games at Louisiana Tech will be awarded 2 points. In the event that a player fell into a gray area, I will judge the player at my discretion and provide relevant commentary. After a given year's signing class has been fully evaluated in this manner, the totals will be added and that year's CPP (Class Participation Percentage) will be calculated. Based on this information, I will then draw particular conclusions and provide commentary for each year's haul.
Today we take a look at the 2004 class.
[Note: "TOS" refers to "The Other Site"]
OVERALL CLASS RANKINGS
Scout - #108 Nationally, #5 WAC, #3 in Louisiana TOS - #87 Nationally, #2 WAC, #3 in Louisiana
David Accardo | OL | Katy, TX
A quality backup and spot starter throughout his Louisiana Tech career, Accardo moved around between a number of positions on the offensive line and contributed to the success of the 2008 team. Though never a regular starter, Accardo certainly proved to be worthy of his scholarship and helped the Louisiana Tech football team win.
Thomas Augusta | WR | Edgard, LA
Augusta, a wideout from West St. John high (which also produced running back Patrick Jackson) was expected to be a speedy, explosive playmaker for Louisiana Tech. However, the 6'1, 160 pound wideout didn't stick around Ruston for even a single full football season and failed to contribute while there. A bust.
Michael Bennett | DL | Alief, TX
Bennett is an interesting case to evaluate. The talented defensive end, and brother of Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus, signed with Louisiana Tech but never showed up to campus. Instead, he sat out a year and enrolled at Texas A&M alongside his brother in 2005. A 3 year starter for the Aggies, Bennett possessed obvious talent. However, it was never displayed in Ruston and Bennett, for all intents and purposes, was never a member of the Louisiana Tech football program.
Matt Butler | DB | Friendswood, TX
A lot of Louisiana Tech fans were very excited by the signing of Butler, thinking that the 6'3, 215 pound specimen could make the transition to linebacker and be a big time player in the WAC. However, that never materialized as Butler just didn't possess the foot speed to make plays at the Division 1 level. The player that Tech fans thought they were getting in Butler, they ended up getting in another oversized safety from this class. Butler never made an impact. A 0 point player.
Sammie Collins | DL | Anguillia, MS
Tell me if you've heard this one before: the former Louisiana Tech coaching staff signs a junior college defensive end from Mississippi, and that player ends up making no impact as a member of the football team. As is the case with the vast majority of JC signings during this era, Collins was a marginal player and failed to contribute. If you're keeping track, we're five players into this review, and only 1 performance point out of a possible 15 has been awarded.
Tavoris Cox | DB | Renova, MS
Another player from Mississippi Delta Community College...and another player that contributed nothing to the Louisiana Tech football team. 0 points.
Andre Daniels | QB | Miami, OK
Andre Daniels, a 3 star dual-threat quarterback from NEO (Northeastern Oklahoma JC), was supposed to be the Next Big Thing at Louisiana Tech. A highly regarded recruit, Daniels was thought to be somewhat of a cure-all for the QB position after the graduation of Luke McCown. However, Daniels's game never translated to the D1 level and he failed to see the field at Louisiana Tech. Daniels was a huge disappointment.
Wes Day | DE | Shreveport, LA
Wes Day was a starter in 2007, and a long-time contributer at defensive end for the Bulldogs. The former Captain Shreve Gator was solid, if unspectacular, and proved worthy of his scholarship. Day left the team with a year of eligibility remaining to enroll in medical school.
Mark Dillard | RB | Baton Rouge, LA
Mark Dillard was a physical freak that played a key roll on the Louisiana Tech football team from the moment he stepped on campus. Originally a running back, Dillard was a part of the running back rotation as a true freshman and made some memorable plays. Seeing that his future lied on the other side of the ball, the coaching staff moved Dillard to safety the following year and he started or otherwise contributed at that position for the remainder of his career. After graduation, Dillard joined the New England Patriots practice squad.
Freddie Franklin | RB | New Orleans, LA
Franklin arrived in Ruston from Carver High in New Orleans and, like Dillard, immediately carved out a niche in the running back rotation. Though small for a running back (he played in the 175-pound range), Franklin made some plays and had some memorable moments, most notably a very solid game against Auburn in his debut. However, trouble seemed to follow Franklin wherever he went and he ended up leaving the team. Franklin's true potential was never exploited in a Bulldog uniform.
Torrence Hampton | CB | Starkville, MS
Yet another product of the Mississippi junior college system, Hampton was a 2-year player for Louisiana Tech that, while never a superstar and rarely a starter, played a role and, if nothing else, contributed on special teams. A borderline 0/1 point player, I award Hampton the point based on consistency. This is our first point awarded to a junior college player.
Ben Harris | OL | Baton Rouge, LA
Ben Harris was a great signing by Jack Bicknell. The former University Lab standout has contributed to the team at left guard every year since he arrived, and should enter 2009 as a 2-year starter at that position. A definite 2 point contributer, Harris is a key component on an offensive line unit that should be the strength of next year's team.
Quin Harris | LB | Visalia, CA
Harris failed to contrib...just kidding. The best player to come out of this signing class, Harris redshirted upon arriving in Ruston and, after that, made plays all over the field and vocally led the Bulldog defense for 4 years. A definite all-decade candidate (and, I'd argue, selection) at his OLB position, Harris was probably the face of the 2008 Independence Bowl champion squad, even though he spent much of the year sitting out due to an arm injury. A true coach on the field (and I hate sports cliches), Harris left a definite mark during his time as a Bulldog.
Quincy Hicks | LB | Moss Point, MS
Mississippi junior college. No impact. You know the drill.
Danny Horwedel | K | Oak Ridge, TN
After the Zach Myatt fiasco, Bicknell needed to hit it big with a kicker/punter and, though Horwedel wasn't exactly an All American, he started for the team as a redshirt senior and made some big kicks. Well, at home anyway.
Bill Jones | OL | Alief, TX
Probably the prototype for the "quality backup" described in the definition for a single performance point, Jones provided some depth and served his pupose as a member of the Louisiana Tech football program.
Glen Mason | OG | Goodman, MS
The good news: this is not a defensive player from a Mississippi junior college that failed to do anything as a Louisiana Tech Bulldog. The bad news: this is an offensive player from a Mississippi junior college that failed to do anything as a Louisiana Tech Bulldog.
Brett Naquin | S | Hahnville, LA
Thus far we've had Matt Butler, Quin Harris, and now Brett Naquin show up on this list as oversized safeties that Louisiana Tech fans figured would move to linebacker and make plays all over the field. Well, we're now batting .333, which isn't terrible I guess. Like Butler, Naquin couldn't make that transition and, as such, failed to carve out a place on the football team. A disappointment.
Jacob Peeler | OG | Goodman, MS
Call the law: we have a Mississippi JUCO player that not only contributed, but started at Louisiana Tech. Peeler served as a key member of Tech's offensive line during his time in Ruston and this was certainly a good signing. What's next, a defensive standout from a junior college?
Barry Robertson | LB | Hattiesburg, MS
Hey, look! A defensive standout from a junior college! Barry Robertson was a TREMENDOUS player during his 2 years as Louisiana Tech's starting middle linebacker was is easily (in my opinion) the first-team All Decade selection for Louisiana Tech at that position. Robertson made more plays that I could ever possibly remember and his interception to seal the 2004 win over Fresno State remains one of my favorite plays in Tech football history. Robertson was an amazing football player.
Tim Reddick | LB | New Orleans, LA
Reddick, from Belle Chase High in New Orleans, came to Louisiana Tech with all of the physical ability one could ask for in a linebacker (6'3, 225, 4.6 40). That never materialized on the field, however, and Reddick's contribution to the football team was minimal. This was a large disappointment for Louisiana Tech fans.
Tracy Russell | S | Bossier City, LA
Airline High School's Tracy Russell was a late commitment for Lousiana Tech (though I suppose all of these guys were, really) after making quite a name for himself on the Shreveport/Bossier high school circuit. However, this is yet another safety that never contributed significantly to the team.
Jerrylee Scott | S | Maringouin, LA
I'll be brutally honest: I don't even know who this is. So, yeah, 0 points.
Ryan Snell | OL | Alief, TX
The third signee from Alief, TX in this recruiting class, Snell was a quality backup during his time on Louisiana Tech's offensive line. There's nothing wrong with that -- this is the kind of player that every team needs.
Tate Stewart | TE | Katy, TX
I have no recollection of Tate Stewart ever playing tight end for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
Eddie White | DE | Fulton, MS
Out of a hoard of defensive linemen from the Mississippi JUCO ranks in this class, White is the only one that did much of anything in Ruston. A good player that saw a lot of time, White proved worthy of his 'ship. That's a lot more than you could say for the vast majority of these junior college signees.
Shane Womack | WR | Greensburg, LA
#19 was probably Louisiana Tech's best run blocking wideout for a number of years (a case could be made for Earl Griffin) and, though he didn't make a ton of plays catching the ball, this blocking ability helped him carve out a place on the Bulldog offense. A borderline 1/2 point signee, I went ahead and gave Womack the full 2 points as a consistant contributer that helped the team win a bunch of games.
Total Possible Participation Points: 54
Participation Points Awarded: 21
The second dismal collection of signees in a row (recall that the 2003 class came in with a 37.4% CPP), the 2004 squad again relied heavily on junior college players from Mississippi and, by and large, these signees once again failed to deliver. Its hard to argue the #5 WAC ranking that Scout gave this group, though with players like Barry Robertson and Quin Harris, it may have performed better than its #108 national ranking. The bottom-dwelling ranking should have been expected, however, as a reaction to the curiously robust acclaim given to the previous year's class. Again, there are probably dubious circumstances at work here, as the Louisiana Tech-related member of the Scout staff left after 2003, but that could never be confirmed.
All of that being said, Robertson and both Harrises (Quin and Ben) WERE great players at Tech, so not all was lost here. Some of these guys played key roles on the team throughout their college careers, and it wouldn't be fair to paint this class with one large broad stroke of "terrible". But by and large, this was very poor. The JUCO signees especially failed to deliver in an exceptionally bad way. If one were to claim that the over-reliance on these type players directly led to the firing of Jack Bicknell as head football coach, I wouldn't argue.
Do things get better in 2005? Stay tuned.