A consensus all-American from Penn State by the name of Curtis Enis.
He held out for most of training camp and ended up missing the final seven games of the regular season with a torn left ACL. Not even reaching 500 yards rushing.
He started 12 games in 1999 and lead the Bears in rushing (916) but averaged just 3.2 ypc and long of 19 yards. Hardly what a struggling Bears team needed.
Enis lost his starting running back job early into the 2000 season to James Allen. Enis moved to fullback, where he saw more action on special teams then offense.
The Bears had no interest in Enis when his contract expired and he ended up signing with the Cleveland Browns. Only to retire from the leauge at the ripe age of 24.
In this past April's draft, Mark Hatley selected another Big Ten running back.
But this time he got it right.
In the second round the Bears selected running back Anthony Thomas from Michigan.
Many fans questioned this pick comparing Thomas to Enis. People thought his accomplishments where more of a credit to his offensive line at Michigan then his own skills. People wondered if he had break away speed, but with several runs of 20 yards or more the "A-Train" is proving his doubters wrong. Thomas got into camp on time and rebounded from a early season injury to crack the starting lineup in the fifth game of the season against Cincinnati in which he produced 188 yards a single game Bear rookie record.
"Once we saw Anthony, we thought he was really something," said Bears head coach Dick Jauron. "Once we got him into camp in the spring, we thought he was really something -- faster than people thought, better hands than people thought, a better player." He shattered the Bears rookie rushing record with 1,183 yards and 7 touchdowns. He averages 4.3 ypc and has shown the ability to break the long runs. Not to mention catching 22 balls out of the backfield. Thomas has provided the speed and power the Bears have sought since Neal Anderson left.
As it turns out Thomas was everything Enis wasn't and everything the Bears needed. "He doesn't say a hole lot, he just goes to work," Jauron said of Thomas. "He's an outstanding player. I'm just glad he was there in the second round (of the draft) when we had a chance to take him."