More than half of Rivals.com’s top 20 college football signees of 2005 have run into off-the-field problems that have sidetracked or ruined their careers. Staff writer David Paschall provides the following update on each member of the top 20:
PLAYER HOMETOWN COLLEGE
1. WR Derrick Williams Greenbelt, Md. Penn State
Productive in multiple roles, as evidenced by a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown last season against Notre Dame, Williams has been solid his first three years but not dominant. He led the Nittany Lions with 55 receptions for 529 yards last season, an average of 9.6 yards per catch.
2. WR Patrick Turner Nashville Southern Cal
Tennessee fans cringed when Turner bolted a long way from Goodpasture Christian School, but this is another receiver who has been good but not great to this point. Turner had 48 receptions for 569 yards and three touchdowns last season for the Rose Bowl champs.
3. OT Eugene Monroe Plainfield, N.J. Virginia
Hampered by injuries and a slower-than-expected transition to the college game, Monroe struggled early in Charlottesville and had little hope of matching the ability of former UVA tackle standout D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Monroe emerged last year by starting 11 games and going the entire regular season without allowing a sack, and he’s on the watch list for this year’s Outland Trophy.
4. DE Melvin Alaeze Randallstown, Md. Maryland
After failing to meet academic requirements to play for the Terrapins, Alaeze was arrested in February 2006 on five marijuana-related offenses. He wound up with Ron Zook at Illinois later that year but was quickly suspended for missing classes and left for what he cited as personal reasons. He was arrested that December in Randallstown for his involvement in a robbery and shooting and was sentenced this past November to eight years in prison.
5. LB Rey Maualuga Eureka, Calif. Southern Cal
Maualuga was arrested in November 2005 for allegedly striking a man at an off-campus party, but no criminal charges were filed. He was suspended for the first half of USC’s 51-21 win over Stanford. Maualuga led the Trojans last season with 79 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks, and the two-time All-Pac-10 selection will be one of the favorites for this year’s Butkus Award.
6. WR Fred Rouse Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State
Rouse capped a productive freshman season by earning a start in the 2006 Orange Bowl against Penn State, but he was kicked off the team a few days later for “conduct unbecoming to the team.” He was charged in May 2006 with stealing electronic equipment from a former teammate. Rouse transferred to UTEP and had 25 catches for 379 yards and two touchdowns last season, but he was dismissed from that program in March. There is a possibility he could wind up this season with Ryan Perrilloux at Jacksonville State.
7. QB Mark Sanchez Mission Viejo, Cal. Southern Cal
In April 2006, Sanchez was arrested for sexual assault of a female student. Two months later, prosecutors decided not to file charges. Sanchez is entering this season as the starter after turning back Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain this spring. Primarily John David Booty’s backup last season, Sanchez did make three starts, completing 69 of 114 passes (60.5 percent) for seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
8. TE Martellus Bennett Alief, Texas Texas A&M
Bennett was solid during his time with the Aggies, collecting 49 receptions for 587 yards and four touchdowns last season. He skipped his senior season and was drafted last month by the Dallas Cowboys late in the second round.
9. OT Reggie Youngblood Houston Miami
Miami offensive line coach Jim Stoutland admits Youngblood took some plays off last season but expects the 6-foot-5, 312-pounder to have a solid senior season, which will be his third straight as a starter.
10. RB Jonathan Stewart Lacey, Wash. Oregon
Stewart soon should be the wealthiest member of this collection, as he was recently drafted 13th overall by the Carolina Panthers. He rushed 280 times for 1,722 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns last season for the Ducks.
11. DE DeMarcus Granger Dallas Oklahoma
Granger was a Big 12 second-team selection last season but missed the Fiesta Bowl after getting arrested for shoplifting in Tempe four days before the game. Sooners coach Bob Stoops expects Granger back on the field in 2008 provided he meets his disciplinary responsibilities and stays straight this summer.
12. S Kenny Phillips Miami Miami
Despite a mediocre junior season on a disappointing Hurricanes team that finished 5-7, Phillips had the size and athleticism to warrant a first-round NFL selection. He was the last pick of the opening round, going to the New York Giants, and continued Miami’s string of 14 straight years with a first-rounder.
13. RB Marlon Lucky N. Hollywood, Cal. Nebraska
There wasn’t much joy in Huskerland last season with a 5-7 debacle, but Lucky wasn’t to blame. He rushed for 1,019 yards — more yards than his first two seasons combined — and nine touchdowns.
14. DT Callahan Bright Bryn Mawr, Pa. Florida State
Bright would have been rated much higher had it not been for academic concerns, and those concerns were substantiated when he failed to qualify and briefly attended Hargrave Military. He also failed at the junior college route, and he was arrested last summer for possession of marijuana. The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder has yet to play a down of college football and has worked on the back of a garbage truck, but he is scheduled to play this fall for Division II Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.
15. RB Jason Gwaltney Long Island, N.Y. West Virginia
Steve Slaton was that “other” tailback West Virginia signed in 2005, but he quickly became the superior one when Gwaltney suffered a knee sprain midway through his freshman season and failed to perform academically. He transferred to Nassau Community College in Garden City, N.Y., but left there without any transferable academic credits. He was arrested for speeding and underage drinking in Morgantown in 2007 but is trying to regain eligibility so he can play with the Mountaineers as a walk-on.
16. QB Ryan Perrilloux Reserve, La. LSU
Perrilloux was suspended three times by Tigers coach Les Miles from May 2007 to February 2008 before being dismissed from the program earlier this month and signing with Jacksonville State. He was arrested last spring after trying to gain entry to a riverboat casino by using his older bother’s identification and had a role in a bar-room brawl near campus last October. After LSU won the national championship this past season, Perrilloux was late for the first team meeting for ’08 and had a rash of missed classes. His peak moment at LSU was leading the Tigers over Tennessee last December in the SEC title game and being named game MVP.
17. LB Tray Blackmon LaGrange, Ga. Auburn
After redshirting in 2005, Blackmon was suspended for the first six games of the ’06 season for an underage-drinking arrest. He made his debut against Florida, collecting a huge fumble recovery that enabled the Tigers to defeat the eventual national champions, but was suspended for the 2007 Cotton Bowl for violating team rules. Blackmon missed four early games last season because of an ankle injury but had a second straight solid showing against Alabama and is coming off a productive spring.
18. WR DeSean Jackson Long Beach, Cal. California
The MVP of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in 2005 went on to score 29 touchdowns in 36 games with Cal and finished his three-year career with 162 catches for 2,423 yards (15.0 yards per catch). He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles last month in the second round.
19. DB Justin King Pittsburgh Penn State
King enrolled early in 2005 and was a Freshman All-America selection after making five starts at receiver and getting reserve duty at cornerback. He became a permanent cornerback in 2006 and was a two-year starter, collecting 21 pass deflections and three interceptions. King was arrested before the start of last season for allegedly barging into an off-campus party and starting a fight, but charges were dropped. He was recently drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round.
20. OT Alex Boone Lakewood, Ohio Ohio State
This massive 6-8, 313-pound left tackle was a Big Ten second-team selection last year and has his sights on the Outland Trophy after electing to return for his senior season. His brief stumble occurred in April 2006, when he was arrested and charged with drunken driving.