The stars will be our guides

As long as there have been sports, we have been captivated by the stars. No, I'm not waxing philosophical here, I am talking about sports stars. Watching them burn brightly and then burn out is a national pastime. Predicting where the next constellation of stars will come from, well…that's damn difficult stuff.

Fortunately, for the soothsayers, the public has pretty short memories. Hey – could you be a sane Ohio State football fan without a short memory? Most of the recruiting gurus get by on their bluster and the fact that it is hard to argue about the rankings of athletes who might not even begin their careers for another 2-3 years. Lemming and Allen Wallace basically are list compilers who try to make a politically astute dispersion of talent according to geography and (eventual) collegiate affiliations.

Very few "gurus" actually see the kids play and then go out on a limb with analysis. John McAllister and other college scouting services (as examples of the genre), stake their collective business models on being correct in evaluating high school talent for college recruiters. That's how they make their money. Others take a safer road (like a Bill Kurelic) and follow the consensually popular stars, then report on their decision-making process.

And then there is Duane Long and Ohio's Future Stars.

Duane is way out on a long limb, predicting which of Ohio's football stars will become the top college stars. And then, just to dazzle us with an elevated degree-of-difficulty, Duane starts his prediction process when some of these kids are just freshmen in high school. That's right – fourteen years old and a "career" consisting of wowing the eighth grade fans.

If that whole scenario isn't tough enough, then Duane has to deal with guys like me. Yes, Mr. Bucknuts saves his past issues. So now we can become snipers and look back at OFS's past and present analysis to determine who's who and what's what.

For the sake of partial disclosure, I must admit that I only can go back three years or so with Ohio's Future Stars. Chris Roberts and Chris Carr were doing the tabulations and star-making machinery from 1999 on back. But let's look at the 2000-2001 edition of Ohio's Future Stars and see how well some of those Big Touts turned out.

The first thing I noticed when I looked at this older edition was that it has no pictures and far fewer athletes. But the opinions are still expressed and the athletes are still ranked. So here we go…

Ohio's "future stars" for the 2000-2001 edition were juniors in high school during March when that issue came out. That means that the same group of guys are currently entering their second year of college ball (or college eligibility to be more precise).

Who were Duane Long's Top Ten seniors-to-be in the March 2000 issue of OFS?

  1. DE Simon Fraser
  2. DE Pat Massey
  3. OL/DT Brandon McKinney
  4. WR Angelo Chattams
  5. LB Redgie Arden
  6. DE Pierre Woods
  7. LB Chad Anderson
  8. DT Mark Conley
  9. DB Dustin Fox
  10. RB Tim Murphy

Well, where are they now?

  1. Simon is at OSU and has "All-American" written all over him.
  2. Pat defected to UM and Duane downgraded him later (although he really likes his younger brother…).
  3. Brandon tried to go to OSU but didn't qualify and ended up enrolling at the MSU Community College (as The Rock would say it…).
  4. Angelo Chattams is at OSU and is still waiting for his star to ascend behind a passel of other stars.
  5. Redgie looks like a bona fide star. Only the position at which he establishes himself is still in question.
  6. Pierre, unfortunately, also looks like a star on the horizon. It's unfortunate because he chose to be a Meatchicken.
  7. Chad plateau-ed according to most and matriculated at Kentucky with his cousin Antonio Hall and a dirty football program.
  8. Conley's grades became an issue and he eventually signed with Akron.
  9. Dustin is in the highest galaxy of potential at OSU.
  10. Tim ended up at Pitt.

Not too bad, when you consider the OFS cognoscenti still had another year to evaluate this group. Other stars of note included Maurice Hall at #13, Adam Olds at #18, Andre Tyree at #24, Jeff Backes (the running back in waiting at Northwestern) at #28, and Mike Nugent at #74. Interestingly, that class was not loaded with stars and it seemed like slim pickings. At least, in retrospect.

Now let's expand the horizon but use a telescope of higher magnification…The Top 30 sophomores that year included:

  1. Maurice Clarett  - USA Offensive Player of the Year and hunkering for PT at OSU.
  2. Brian Andrews – Grades kept him from being an early OSU commit; resides now at Wake Forest.
  3. Deshaun Wynn – Not pursued after Clarett signed on. Going to Florida.
  4. Quinn Pitcock – At OSU and soon to be a "wow" kind of guy…
  5. Roy Hall – Also in OSU's clutches
  6. Tyler Everett – Reduced in ranking later but swept up by tOSU.
  7. George Cooper – Couldn't decide where he wanted to go or which position he wanted to play; decided to be a Rambling Wreck.
  8. Justin Zwick – You know the end (?) to that story.
  9. Bobby Carpenter – And that one.
  10. Drushaun Humphrey – RIP

Other names of note included AJ Hawk at #12, Doug Datish at #13, and Mike D'Andrea at #15. Given the luxury now of looking backwards, that class presented an awesome performance for Duane (and staff) realizing that the "stars" were only sophomores.

And just for fun? The freshman class that year was ranked as: 

  1. Dareus Hiley
  2. John Ferguson
  3. Todd Boeckman
  4. Louis Irizarry
  5. Eric Thatcher
  6. Shawn Crable
  7. Greg Moore
  8. Mike DeLuca
  9. Doug Penno
  10. Terrence Graves

Pretty uncanny, in retrospect. These guys had played just one year as 14-15 year-olds and 4 of the ten could (arguably) still be in the Top Ten: Hiley, Boeckman, Irizarry and Crable. Thatcher and Graves became big-time players while Ferguson and DeLuca diminished only slightly. Penno might be the best all-around athlete of the bunch. Only Greg Moore' star has dimmed slightly (ranked #84).

Ohio's Future Stars just came out with its latest and greatest edition. Since three years ago, Duane has a larger/better network of scouts, coaches and players on whom he relies. He gets more tape to watch, sees more games and has more "marginal" schools stay in touch to dig out those diamonds in the rough. Thus, his view of the universe has broadened yet his look at individual stars has sharpened.

When I see those stars, what do I predict? I see that OFS's analysis is better than ever. If you want to see who the stars will be tomorrow, you need to look at Duane Long's OFS magazine today.

Plus, how else can you intelligently scoff at Tom Lemming? That's important too, you know!

Look it up. The stars are right in front of you…

Ohio's Future Stars.

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