A look back at the Class of 2004: The O-Line

Throughout this look at the Texas high school recruits from the Class of 2004, there have been several players that have failed to meet expectations. But in a look at the offensive linemen, there is one big prospect whose production in college is almost as impressive as his size.

How They Looked at the Beginning:
After two straight classes in 2002 and 2003 that produced several highly rated offensive linemen, the Class of 2004 was not so highly rated when the final prospect rankings were handed out by Scout.com that year.

Only one player, Denton High's Herman Johnson, received a four star rating. Johnson had tremendous size at 6-6.5 and 360 pounds and was rated as the 13th best offensive lineman in the nation. Johnson and Lakeview Centennial's Cedric Dockery (No. 46) overall, were thought to be the state's two best line prospects as they signed with LSU and Texas, respectively.

The class had a lot of upside as players like Fort Bend Hightower's Tyrone Byrd (6-5, 260) Round Rock Westwood's Greg Dolan (6-6.5, 265), and Southlake Carroll's Adam Ulatoski (6-5.5, 278) were players with big frames that many expected with fill out with lean muscle in a college weight program. All three players were three star prospects and ranked among the top 60 nationally, as was Coppell's Cameron Schacht (No. 57 overall), who signed with Oklahoma. Byrd signed with Miami while Texas added to their offensive line haul by inking both Dolan and Ulatoski.

Rounding out the three star prospects were Waco University's Ryan Young (No. 64 overall), Garland's J.D. Quinn (No. 67), Spring Westfield's Jeray Chatham (No. 95), and Leander's Randy McAdams (No. 97). Houston Jones' Doug Smith, Jr. found his was onto several state top 100 lists, as did Mansfield's Thomas Nyaoga and San Antonio Jay's Aaron Saunders.

How They Look at the End:
This group had a lot of project players so it was really a crapshoot to guess how good this group would be in four or five years.

However, Johnson was one of the few prospects in the entire class that lived up to his four star billing. The LSU coaching staff tapped into his potential and turned him into a likely first day NFL draft choice and a 2008 preseason all-American. Johnson anchored LSU's offensive line as a junior earning first team all-SEC honors and helping lead the Tigers to a victory over Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game.

Dockery has been somewhat inconsistent throughout his career, but most of that has to do with injuries. He earned all-Big 12 honors as a junior and like Johnson has also been a part of a national championship during his time at Texas. He was having a solid year in 2006 before a knee injury at midseason cost him the remainder of his sophomore campaign. He has not been dominant during his career, but Dockery is expected to be at full strength and will likely start at guard for the Longhorns as a senior.

Time has seen most of the aforementioned players not pan out and only Johnson has been dominant in the trenches at the Division I level.

Ulatoski is entering his third year as a starter for the Longhorns and along will be a key cog along the offensive line at right tackle after earning all-Big 12 honors as a junior. Chatham signed with Oklahoma State and moved to the defensive side of the ball where he has been a contributor at nose guard and is now a key piece of the Cowboys defensive front.

Byrd did not develop into a top flight tackle as injuries and the play of fellow Texan Jason Fox have limited Byrd's playing time with the Hurricanes. He is expected to be in the mix for a starting spot on the line as a senior.

Dolan rarely saw the field at Texas and was never able to get into the rotation, much less start as he transferred to Tarleton State following the end of the 2006 regular season. Like Dolan, McAdams left Oklahoma and transferred to Texas State while Quinn, who was involved in a scandal at Oklahoma that also led to the dismissal of Rhett Bomar, was forced to leave the Sooners program.

Young had no impact whatsoever at Arkansas and the same can be said for Nyaoga at North Carolina while Saunders transferred from Missouri to Sam Houston State. Smith did not sign with a Division I school out of high school.

Head of the Class:
As mentioned, Johnson came out of high school with the highest grade and has preformed at the highest level during his college career.

Biggest Disappointment:
Dolan was considered by some to be a top 20 prospect in the class and his production at Texas hardly indicated such mention. He saw action in eight games in two full seasons (he redshirted in 2004) and left the program without making much of an impact.

Overall Assessment:
None of these players were expected to make an immediate impact in college, and most often offensive linemen are given time to develop. However hardly any of these prospects did develop, with the exception of Johnson, as this class is once again a group that had a lot of misses and very few hits.


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