A look back at the Class of 2004: The LB's

Compared to previous years and in years since, the linebacker group of 2004 in the state of Texas looked weak when they inked letters of intent that February. There have however been some nice surprizes from this group.

How They Looked at the Beginning:
Like it has been documented with a look back at the quarterbacks and receivers in the class, with the spread offense coming more into play in the state the talent at linebacker took a nosedive in 2004.

In 2002 and 2003 the Lone Star State had 16 total linebackers that ranked among the top 40 nationally at the position by Scout.com and 11 total players that earned a four star ranking. Compare that nugget with the fact that there were no four stars in the class of 2004 and the highest rated linebacker in Texas was ranked No. 44 nationally.

The aforementioned 44th ranked player was Spring's Ronnie Palmer, who signed with Arizona. Galveston Ball's Roderick Johnson had similar size and ability to Palmer and both players were ranked right next to each other on most statewide recruiting lists.

Had he had Palmer or Johnson's size, LaMarque's Rashad Bobino would have likely been rated higher that his two star, No. 96 national position ranking which he received. Bobino's talent was undeniable as he earned Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year honors for the Cougars before signing with Texas.

Other linebackers that found their way onto Texas Top 100 lists were Lake Highlands' Jeremy Campbell, Mount Pleasant's Mark Young, Euless Trinity's Desmond Williams, Pflugerville's Luke Tiemann, Garland Naaman Forrest's Bradley Bullitt, Lufkin's Aaron Darks, and LaMarque's James Francis.

How The Look at the End:
When one considers that this group was not highly thought of coming out of high school, then the group has to be considered a success.

Palmer has developed into one of the top linebackers in the Pac 10 after recording 83 tackles as a junior. As a senior he is primed for a big year as the Wildcats look to continue building their program under head coach Mike Stoops.

Bobino thrived under Longhorn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik as he started as a redshirt freshman during Texas' march to the national championship. He enters his senior season having to battle for his job at linebacker and is four tackles shy of 200 for his career.

Of the other linebackers named only Johnson and Williams have been contributors for Oklahoma State and Arkansas, respectively. Tiemann is competing for the starting fullback job at Texas this fall.

Campbell seemed to be in-line to be a big time linebacker at Texas after a strong spring in 2006, but by February of 2007 he was out of school and off of the team. Francis and Bullitt both signed with Baylor but left Waco with Francis heading to Houston while Bullitt went to West Texas A&M. Young and Darks never made impacts at Texas A&M, where Young signed, or Kansas State, Darks' school of choice.

Head of the Class:
The fact that Bobino played such a huge role in helping his school win a national championship makes him a solid pick over Palmer, even though Palmer could have the bigger senior season of the two this fall.

Biggest Disappointment:
Conroe Oak Ridge's Marcus Smith was the state's third highest rated linebacker by Scout.com in 2004 and even though he signed with Texas Tech, he never made it to Lubbock due to grades.

Overall Assessment:
Solid would be the appropriate tag to stick on this class as the production of Palmer and Bobino are enough to validate a group that was not considered to be at all that strong when they signed four plus years ago.

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