Recruiting Reflections: The Class of 2000

With the debate about recruiting rankings swirling through the college football world at this time of year, we felt it was time to take a retrospective look at Penn State's efforts to see just how well they translated into on-field performance.

Although recruiting is an essential part of college football, it is an aspect of the game that can be vague and abstract on many levels. As we have seen previously, recruiting rankings can have flaws and lack consistency due to the fact that they are subjective. The best indicator of success with a recruiting class is what the individual prospects and class as a whole actually accomplish during their time within a program.

This in itself is a long process and one that lacks the excitement of ranking the potential of a class prior to its collective college career. It is a retrospective look at college football recruiting that is rarely seen, but one we think provides a connection between recruiting and results.

It can be downright impossible to compare a running back from Pennsylvania with a running back from Texas. The competition they face is different, the schemes they run are different and the talent around them is different. So how on earth then do you compare that running back from Pennsylvania with an offensive guard from Idaho? The best way we have found to evaluate the recruiting efforts and talent Penn State brings in is to actually review the impact the prospects made during their time in Happy Valley. So we have taken a closer look at the recruiting class that just wrapped up its collective career at Penn State in order to get a better idea of how it panned out and to see if its ranking out of high school was appropriate.

The class that enrolled in 2000 could provide a major key in determining what has caused the downfall of Penn State football over the past few years. This class was considered by most recruiting services as a top-10 group nationally, with Bill Hodge ranking it at No. 6 overall. The class had 29 members, many of whom were highly ranked out of high school. However, 15 of those players, or 52 percent of the class, left the program prematurely due to injury, transfer or other reasons. This was a major impact on the program and essentially diluted the contribution of the class dramatically.

Here is a player-by-player breakdown of the class. We focus heavily on statistics generated during the players' respective junior seasons in high school because they likely would have been the numbers that prompted PSU to enter the recruiting process at full force:

Dan Acri, DL, Harrisburg (Bishop McDevitt), Pa.

Then: Acri was said to be a 6-4, 230-pounder (4.60/40) when he signed. He was recruited by Penn State to play defense. A Big 33 selection, Acri was a Westra Construction Lineman of the Year Finalist. He was also an honorable mention on USA Today's All-USA team. He had roughly 15 offers, including Virginia, Purdue, Michigan State, Boston College, North Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, West Virginia, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

Chris Pool of Pigskin Recruiting Journal called him "one of the finest players that I have seen on film this year." As a junior he had 56 solo tackles, eight sacks and one interception for a touchdown.

The Lowdown: Acri's time at Penn State was limited. After his freshman season he requested and was granted release so he could transfer to Millersville University.

J.D. Benson, LB, Lebanon (Lebanon), Pa.

Then: Said to 6-4, 205 (4.5/40), the linebacker had 56 unassisted tackles, 43 assisted tackles, seven sacks and caused two fumbles during his junior season of high school. Although he primarily played middle linebacker in high school, the Lions reportedly were interested in moving him to the outside.

He committed to PSU at the 1999 Blue-White game over offers from Notre Dame, Boston College, Purdue, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

The Lowdown: Benson also had very limited time on the team and departed Penn State after his freshman year for reasons unknown.

John Bronson, DL, Kent (Kent-Meridian), Wash.

Then: Bronson was listed as a 6-3, 230-pound defensive lineman out of high school. He was a four-year letterman in football. As a senior, he was selected first-team All-Conference at both tight end and defensive end and was a member of the Seattle Times Elite Eleven team.

Bronson was also named to the South County All-Area Team and was a Preseason All-State selection. During his high school career he played defensive end, tight end, wide receiver and outside linebacker, and caught 48 balls for 472 yards and two touchdowns. He made 80 tackles with 10 sacks and one interception on defense as a senior. Over his career he had 198 tackles, 23 sacks and one interception.

Bronson also excelled in track, leading his team to four undefeated dual meet seasons. He finished seventh in the state in the shot put and helped the 4x100 relay team place sixth in the state meet.

Bronson ended up selecting Penn State over Arizona State, Nebraska, Syracuse and Washington.

The Lowdown: After redshirting as a freshman, Bronson saw action as a defensive end the following year and eventually earned a starting role at the position. He saw 1,189 snaps the position and ended up with 76 career tackles. As a fifth-year senior, Bronson made the transition to tight end. He was always a team player. He talked about his move last summer, saying, "I was a little surprised to make such a dramatic move as a senior, but I am happy to contribute wherever they need me." Bronson pulled in his first collegiate touchdown vs. Central Florida in 2004, which was also his first collegiate reception. But he had only four catches for 16 yards on the year.

Thurgood "T.C." Cosby, LB, Owings Mills (McDonough), Md.

Then: Cosby was said to be 6-2, 220 (4.70/40) at the time he signed. A four-year starter in the prep ranks, as a junior he had 153 tackles and four interceptions. As a senior, he recorded 118 tackles (85 solo) and four interceptions. Cosby picked PSU over Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College.

The Lowdown: Cosby managed to get into the rotation at linebacker, seeing action in nearly every game in 2002 and 2003, and ending 2002 with 15 tackles and 2003 with 19 stops. Cosby was allegedly involved in a fraternity fight in July 2001. Though eventually acquitted of the charges, they seemed to have an adverse effect on his playing time and role on the team. He did not return to the team in 2004, which would have been his fifth season of eligibility.

Scott Davis, LB/DL/RB, Parkersburg, W.Va.

Then: A two-way starter in high school, Davis excelled on both sides of the ball. Although he rushed for 1,008 yards and scored 15 times as a senior fullback, the Lions recruited him with a focus on playing linebacker, defensive end or defensive tackle. At a reported 6-3, 270 pounds, Scott allegedly ran a 4.8-second 40-yard dash and could bench-press 370-pound.

A Hodge 150 Prospect, Davis also considered Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan State and Georgia.

The Lowdown: After redshirting as a freshman, Davis became a mainstay on the offensive line. He saw action in five games at guard as a redshirt freshman. During the 2003 season he worked his way up to a starter and 372 snaps in that role. Midway through the season he suffered a dislocated ankle in practice, which sidelined him. Davis was plagued by injuries for the remainder of his career. But his leadership from the sideline was an asset for the struggling offensive line.

Jeremiah Davis, DL, Annandale, Va.

Then: Considered by many as one of the Virginia's top high school players, Davis played defensive end, defensive tackle and tight end. He was an All-District, All-Region and All-State selection as a junior.

Listed at 6-5, 250 pounds, Davis was one of the first commitments of the class.

The Lowdown: Davis saw a good bit of action in 2002, picking up 17 tackles on the defensive line that season. Unfortunately, he left team after 2003 season due to multiple concussions he sustained. He ended up graduating in December of that year.

B.J. Evangelista, LB/RB, Murrysville (Franklin Regional), Pa.

Then: A Hodge Super Prospect, Evangelista was said to be 6-3, 250 out of high school. He played both sides of the ball, but was recruited to play defense for Penn State. As a junior inside linebacker he pulled down 58 tackles and picked off one pass from his inside linebacker spot. He also plays fullback for Franklin Regional. He reportedly chose Penn State since he wanted to play at a school close to his home in Murrysville.

The Lowdown: Evangelista was declared academically ineligible after his freshman year at Penn State. He never regained his eligibility at the school.

Mike Gasparato, RB, Irmo (Dutch Fork), S.C.

Then: Called a 6-0, 205-pound (4.44/40) running back, Gasparato rushed for 1,652 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior and rushed for 1,100 yards as a senior. A Hodge Super Prospect, he selected Penn State over home-state schools Clemson and South Carolina, along with Michigan State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Kansas State.

He could reportedly bench press 370 pounds. His dad Nick marched the Penn State sidelines as offensive line coach during the 1986 national championship season.

Gasparato rolled up over 7,000 yards of total offense in his three years at Dutch Fork, including an impressive 92 career touchdowns. During his sophomore season, he set the South Carolina season reception record with 99 grabs.

The Lowdown: Plagued by injuries, Gasparato decided to hang up his cleats in September of 2004. He had seven carries for 38 yards and one touchdown last season. He gained 158 yards on 32 attempts during the 2002 season, scoring on a 3-yard run at Indiana. He also gained a career-high 56 yards on eight carries against Northwestern and tallied 53 yards on nine carries against Michigan State in 2002. He graduated in December 2004.

Pete Gilmore, RB/DB, West Lawn (Wilson), Pa.

Then: Pete, the brother of then-Penn State tight end John Gilmore, rushed for over 1,000 yards as a junior, averaging over seven yards per carry and scoring 15 touchdowns. Listed at 5-11, 210 pounds (4.5/40), the younger Gilmore was considered one of the top players in Pennsylvania. He said that playing with his older brother was a big factor in his decision to commit to the Lions.

He chose Penn State over North Carolina State, North Carolina and Maryland.

The Lowdown: Pete Gilmore decided to leave the team in 2003 and transferred to Hofstra. He later returned to Penn State to complete his degree.

Paul Jefferson, RB/LB, Wilkes-Barre (GAR Memorial), Pa.

Then: Reported at 6-1, 240-pounds, Jefferson had 135 tackles and rushed for more than 500 yards on 82 carries as a junior. He did this despite missing the better part of three games with an ankle injury.

Jefferson was an outstanding student, with a 3.97 GPA. He was also impressive in the weight room, bench pressing 365 pounds and squatting 420.

Many considered Jefferson Pennsylvania's top fullback prospect. He was offered a scholarship after Penn State's Nike camp, where he ran two sub-4.5-second 40-yard dashes and recorded the camp's second-highest standing broad jump ever.

The Lowdown: Seeing action as a freshman, Jefferson started his career as a short-yardage ball-carrier and eventually saw action on 447 plays his first three years. He was instrumental in paving the way for Larry Johnson to roll up more 2,000 yards rushing in 2002. He took a redshirt in 2003 before returning for his fifth and final year of eligibility last fall. Primarily a blocking back, Jefferson also showed he could serve as a target in the flat, pulling in 13 passes for 82 yards in 2004. Will more than likely get a shot in someone's NFL camp this summer.

Tony Johnson, RB/WR, State College (State College) Pa.

Then: Named a Hodge 150 and Super Prospect, Johnson rushed for 1,915 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior. As a junior he had 1,620 yards on 195 carries.

Johnson was listed at 6-1, 195 and reportedly ran a 4.41 40 out of high school. He selected Penn State over Michigan, North Carolina and Kentucky.

The Lowdown: A complementary receiver during his first three seasons, he became the go-to guy as a senior in 2003. He started the first seven games of that season, but struggled with dropped balls. He ended up leading the team with 32 receptions with 445 yards and four touchdowns in 2003. He tried to hook on with the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers last summer, but did not make either team. He recently signed a free-agent deal with the New York Giants.

Tim Johnson, LB, Morristown (Delbarton), N.J.

Then: Another Hodge 150 and Super Prospect out of high school. At a reported 6-4, 235 (4.70/40), he could bench press 350 pounds and squat 495. He had offers from Notre Dame, West Virginia, Nebraska, Ohio State, UCLA, Boston College and Virginia.

As a junior he had 69 tackles and 15 sacks. His dad, Pete Johnson, also played at Penn State. Tim was a consensus All-American and named Morris County's Defensive Player of the Year as a senior with 94 tackles, 14.5 sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles.

The Lowdown: Hampered by one minor injury after another, Johnson saw very limited time on the field, earning action in six games and picking up four tackles in 2003. He opted not use final year of eligibility for the 2004 season.

David Kimball, K, State College (State College), Pa.

Then: Considered by many (including Parade Magazine) to be the No. 1 kicker in the country, Kimball booted a 52-yard field goal as a senior. Out of high school, he was listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, and ran a 4.90 40-yard dash.

The Lowdown: Kimball had a major impact during his last two seasons (2002-03) at PSU while serving as the kickoff specialist. He drilled most into the end zone. In limited duty as a place-kicker, he just missed on a 60-yard attempt as a senior against Ohio State. Kimball was drafted up by the Indianapolis Colts but was cut during the preseason of the 2004 season.

Nick Marmo, OL, New Castle (New Castle), Pa.

Then: Considered one of the top line prospects in the nation, Marmo was recruited by the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee and Pitt. He could bench 330 pounds.

He was also considered the No. 1 college prospect in western Pennsylvania, was a member of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's "Fab 22" team and the All-State second team.

A varsity starter since his freshman year of high school, he played center as a freshman and sophomore. He moved to guard as a junior. He also played on the defensive line on a WPIAL AAAA championship team.

The Lowdown: Marmo never lived up to expectations at Penn State. Touted as one of the top offensive lineman prospects out of high school, he saw limited action early on but eventually earned a starting role for the Temple and Boston College games in 2003. But he faded from the picture after those appearances. Following the 2003 season, Joe Paterno advised Marmo to get on with his life. But Marmo convinced the coach to give him one last shot. "He's in the best shape he's ever been in," Paterno said. It did not help. Marmo rarely played in 2004.

Sean McHugh, TE/RB/DL, Chargrin Falls (Chargrin Falls), Ohio

Then: With offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue, McHugh was an outstanding prospect out of high school. He started as a freshman at both fullback and defensive end. As a sophomore he rushed for 1,320 yards and then 1,607 yards as a junior.

As a junior he broke the school's single season rushing record, the career rushing record and the career touchdown record with 45. He also played middle linebacker and had 108 tackles.

An Ohio All-State selection for three years, McHugh was listed at 6-6, 245 and could reportedly run a 4.70 40

The Lowdown: McHugh started 19 of 41 games at PSU as a tight end and fullback, catching 44 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown while adding 322 yards and six scores on 82 carries. He also recorded 12 tackles (six solos) on special teams. Having never redshirted at Penn State, he was drafted (as a tight end) by the Tennessee Titans last April. He was cut last summer but quickly picked up by the Green Bay Packers. He played in only one game for the Packers last season and did not have a catch.

Chris McKelvy, OL/DL, Lansdale (North Penn), Pa.

Then: McKelvy was listed at 6-4, 305 (5.1/40) out of high school. Selected as both a Hodge 150 and a Super Prospect, he was pursued by Nebraska, Florida State, Ohio State and Michigan and had over 30 offers.

He was considered by many as one of the top offensive line products in the country. He was the Westra Construction Lineman of the Year and a Big 33 selection.

The Lowdown: McKelvy saw significant action on the offensive line at guard, playing in nearly every game during the 2003 season. He graduated in 2003 and was picked up by the New Orleans Saints as a free agent. He did not make the team's final roster for 2004.

Zack Mills, QB, Ijamsville (Urbana), Md.

Then: Mills was considered the top-rated quarterback in Maryland and led his team to the Class AA state title as a senior. A Hodge Super Prospect, he was considered a top-25 quarterback nationally.

Checking in at 6-3, 205 (4.80/40), he had a slew of honors, including All-League, All-Area and Offensive Player of the Year. He was also an All-State selection and All-Gazette selection.

He chose Penn State over Maryland, Michigan, Arizona State, South Carolina, and Duke.

The Lowdown: After redshirting as a freshman, Mills opened the college football world's eyes. He led the Lions to comeback wins over Northwestern, Ohio State and Michigan State as a redshirt freshman, earning The Sporting News Big Ten All-Freshman team honors.

The lone sophomore candidate among the 2002 Davey O'Brien Award semifinalists, he easily set the school sophomore passing record as his 2,417 yards ranked third all-time for a season and his 188 completions were second. He threw for 17 touchdowns, completing 188 of 333 attempts (56.5 percent). As a junior, Mills became the school's career leader in total offense.

In 2004, he led the Lions through their most challenging period ever. He battled shoulder, elbow, knee and head injuries over the course of his career. Yet Mills was always a class act. He never used injuries as excused and always took responsibility for the struggles of the program.

Jimi Mitchell, DB/RB/LB, Reading (Exeter), Pa.

Then: As a junior, Mitchell rushed for 1,020 yards. At defensive back, he had 11 pass breakups and two interceptions returned for touchdowns. He was listed at 6-2, 205 out of high school and was considered a virtual unknown until Penn State's Nike camp, where he ran a 4.4 40-yard dash.

He received scholarship offers from Wisconsin, UConn, Rutgers, Maryland, Buffalo and Richmond.

The Lowdown: He graduated from PSU in August 2004. He is attending graduate school at Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he spent his final season of eligibility on the field last fall. He was the team's third-leading tackler (52 stops) and had an interception which he returned 56 yards. Jimi trasfered last year to Tennessee - Chattanooga to finish his college career.

Ellery Moore, DL, Massillion (Washington), Ohio

Then: Recruited as a defensive end, Moore was said to be 6-3, 255 (4.9/40). He had 32 solo tackles, 26 assists, eight sacks and 19 quarterback pressures as a junior in high school.

Moore was a starter on the defensive line since his sophomore season in high school. One of the earlier commitments of the class, he was offered by Ohio State and Pitt, but was being pursued by North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia.

The Lowdown: Moore did not qualify academically and attended Kiski Prep after high school. He later signed with Kentucky, where he became a four-year starter at defensive end. He had 139 career tackles and 9.5 sacks, and hopes to be taken in April's NFL draft.

Jesse Neumyer, LB/RB, Mechanicsburg (Cumberland Valley), Pa.

Then: Listed at 6-2, 215 (4.5/40) Neumyer was considered one of the state's top overall prospects. In high school he was a starting running back, linebacker and kicker.

As a junior he was named to the Preseason All-State team at linebacker. An early season knee injury (ACL tear) sidelined him for his senior year. He was recruited as a linebacker and received offers from Virginia, Ohio State, Pitt and Boston College.

The Lowdown: Left team after the 2002 season due to chronic knee injuries and will graduate with his MBA from Penn State in May.

Erik Noll, OL/DL, Gaithersburg (Watkins Mill), Md.

Then: Noll started on both sides of the ball during all four years of high school. He was All-County at offensive tackle and defensive tackle, All-Met at offensive tackle, and All-League at offensive tackle. He was also an All-State selection.

He had offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida State, Ohio State, Pitt, Maryland and Georgia Tech, among others.

At a reported 6-6, 318 pounds, Noll was a consensus All-American and considered Maryland's top-rated high school prospect. He supposedly could run the 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds. He had 34 solo tackles, 71 assists and seven sacks as a junior.

The Lowdown: Noll was declared academically ineligible after his freshman year and never played at Penn State.

Jason Robinson, DL/OL, Kingsway (Regional), N.J.

Then: Robinson was recruited as a defensive tackle or end for Penn State. He caught 15 passes at tight end as a junior and was named All-South Jersey honorable mention as a defensive lineman. A Hodge Super Prospect, he was listed at 6-5, 260 out of high school.

The Lowdown: After redshirting his freshman year, Robinson played in every game the following season. He saw action on 99 snaps during the next two campaigns. He was moved from defensive line to tight end during the 2004 season and did not register a catch.

Sam Ruhe, DL/LB, Stow (Walsh Jesuit), Ohio

Then: Touted as one of the top recruits in the Midwest, Ruhe had eight sacks and 88 tackles (11 for losses) as a junior, which earned him All-State honors.

With offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, Louisville and Northwestern, many programs were pursuing him as a defensive end, including the Nittany Lions. Ruhe was also impressive in the classroom with a 1260 on his SAT and a 3.5 GPA.

The Lowdown: After playing defensive end for his first two season, Ruhe saw action at linebacker in 2003, starting against Ohio State and Northwestern. He then graduated and opted not to use his final year of eligibility for the 2004 season.

Scott Sanden, DB, Fairfax (Robinson), Va.

Then: Listed at 5-11, 190, Sanden played three positions for Robinson High — defensive back, running back and kick returner. He averaged 22 yards per punt return and 35.9 yards on kick returns as a senior, while rushing for 800 yards and making over 60 tackles. He was a Hodge Super Prospect.

The Lowdown: Sanden left the team after the 2001 season. The exact reason was not clear.

Ryan Scott, WR/DB, Renton (Kentwood), Wash.

Then: Listed at 6-3, 185 (4.50.40), this three-sport standout (football, track and basketball) was recruited as a wide receiver despite the fact that prior to his senior season he had not played on offense. Scott was the starting free safety on his team as a junior and recorded 62 tackles and five interceptions.

He was recruited by Washington, Washington State and Oregon, and opened the eyes of the PSU staff at Penn State's football camp.

The Lowdown: Scott had a tough career at Penn State. After a redshirt year as a freshman, he saw 23 plays during the next two seasons. He suffered a broken clavicle in spring practice of 2003. He saw 32 plays that season. Paterno thought Scott should wrap up his career before his fifth season of eligibility in 2004, but eventually agreed to let him play. Scott finished with two catches for 26 yards and a touchdown in 2004.

Gerald Smith, DB/RB, Ellicott City (Howard), Md.

Then: A top-100 prospect nationally, Smith was said to be 5-11, 175, with a 40-yard dash time of 4.4 seconds. Penn State offered him a scholarship after his sophomore season in high school. As a junior, he had five interceptions and 42 tackles from the cornerback position. During the same season, he rushed for 1,167 yards and 18 touchdowns at running back.

As a sophomore, he ran for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns. Penn State initially recruited him as a cornerback. Smith made the Maryland All-State second team as a junior. He chose PSU over Virginia, Syracuse, Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa and Stanford.

The Lowdown: Smith started his collegiate career as a defensive back, seeing action on 15 plays as a true freshman. He injured his shoulder in the Toledo clash and was granted a medical redshirt. The next year he moved to wideout and saw 35 snaps. The next season he was ranked fifth on the team with receptions, pulling in 11 catches for 129 yards. He saw 298 snaps overall that year. In 2003 he moved back to the secondary, but eventually shifted back to receiver. He ended up starting in five contests that year and played on 322 snaps. In 2004, Smith had 20 catches for 254 yards despite being limited to eight games by a hamstring injury.

Adam Taliaferro, RB/DB, Voorhees (Eastern), N.J.

Then: Listed at 5-11, 180 (4.45/40), Taliaferro was a considered one of the top prospects in New Jersey, rushing for 1,272 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior, averaging 8.8 yards per carry.

He also caught two touchdown passes and returned an opening kickoff 90 yards for a score. His total touchdowns led all of South Jersey. On defense, he intercepted four passes and was named first-team All-South Jersey and third-team All-State.

The Lowdown: Taliaferro's career ended before it really began. Late in a blowout loss at Ohio State in 2000, a headfirst tackle left him paralyzed. Told he may never walk again, he set out to prove he could. With the help of a devoted family, numerous doctors, physical therapists, trainers and rehabilitative nurses, as well as the support of the entire Nittany Nation and college football fans everywhere, he did just that. On Sept.1, 2001, he led Penn State on to the Beaver Stadium turf for its season-opener against Miami.

Though the neck injury ended his football career, Taliaferro became one of the most popular Nittany Lions, his determination to get well and willingness to help other paralyzed athletes setting a tremendous example for teammates and fans.

While Penn State suffered through four losing seasons during the five years this class has been on campus, Taliaferro has always been there to lend a quiet element of perspective.

Derek Wake, DL, Hyattsville (DeMatha Catholic), Md.

Then: Wake was listed 6-3, 235 (4.55/40) out of high school. With offers from Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia Tech, he was considered among the best defensive prospects in the Mid-Atlantic region. As a junior he had 17 sacks. Penn State and most other schools recruited him as a linebacker. A few viewed him as a defensive end.

The Lowdown: Wake was called upon as a freshman to help fill some massive shoes left behind by Brandon Short and LaVar Arrington. He picked up 10 tackles, eight of which were unassisted. As a sophomore starter, he sustained a knee injury in season-opener against Miami and was granted a medical redshirt.

He battled back and earned a starting role in 11 games in 2002, including the Capital One Bowl. He ended 2002 with 51 tackles. The next season he was put on the Butkus Award Watch List and led the team with eight tackles for losses and four sacks. His 71 tackles (44 of which were solo) were tied for fourth on the team and he added the sixth blocked kick of his career.

During the 2004 campaign he was shifted to defensive end early on, but was quickly moved to OLB to add experience to an otherwise young group. He again finished fourth on the team in tackle (58).

Though his on-field performance rarely matched his the expectations generated by his enormous physical skills, Wake figures to get a shot in the NFL — either as a draftee or free agent — this summer.

Zac Wasserman, Westlake Village (Westlake), Calif.

Then: Listed at 6-3, 205 (4.8/40) out of high school, Wasserman was rated as one of the nation's top-five quarterback prospects. He was one of the first to verbally commit to Penn State in this class in March of 1999.

Considered the top overall prospect in California by some, he threw for 2,441 yards and 22 touchdowns with only seven interceptions as a junior. As a sophomore, he threw for 2,913 yards and 31 touchdowns. He chose Penn State over Arizona State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Miami, Notre Dame, USC, Washington, Texas and Ohio State.

The Lowdown: Wasserman left Penn State before his redshirt freshman season, reportedly spending time at Cal and Arkansas State before giving up the sport to focus on his academic career. He is back at Cal now, taking classes.


All in all, the Class of 2000 was an underachiever, especially relative to the high hopes and rankings bestowed on it. With less than half of the class seeing meaningful time and not a single high-round NFL draft pick, this served as a major blow to the depth of talent Penn State had to pull from over the last five years and presumably was a major factor in the program's struggles during that timeframe.

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