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A Look Back - Defense
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Hits Â¿ Lamarr Woodley (Michigan), David Patterson (Ohio State), Marcus Thomas (Florida), Sedrick Ellis (USC), Trevor Laws (Notre Dame)
Pending Â¿ Turk McBride (Tennessee), Xavier Lawson-Kennedy (Oklahoma State), Chris Barrett (USC), Joe Cohen (Florida), Justin Ostrowski (Wisconsin)
Misses Â¿ Nate Robinson (Miami), Lawrence Dampeer (Oklahoma), Carnell Stewart (LSU), Brandon Maupin (Ohio State), Ryan Watson (USC)
Let's start with the defensive linemen, because there is more to this group than Super Mario. The No. 2 rated defensive prospect in the nation was Woodley, who signed with Michigan. He played linebacker in high school, but Scout.com projected him at defensive end. Woodley played end for the first part of his career for the maize and blue, and he can play on the inside as well. Woodley will certainly be a high draft pick come next April. So will Thomas at Florida. He is now considered one of the top defensive lineman in the nation. With a big senior year he could certainly be a first-round pick in April's draft.
As good as Woodley, Thomas and the others turned out, there also were some disappointments. The top dog at d-tackle was Nate Robinson from New Jersey. He signed with Miami, but he couldn't get in school. Robinson went on to sign with Rutgers and played as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Akron. The No. 2 rated tackle was Lawrence Dampeer, who only lasted two seasons at Oklahoma before leaving Norman before the start of last season.
Hits Â¿ *Mario Williams (N.C. State), Lawrence Jackson (USC), Jarvis Moss (Florida), Tim Crowder (Texas), Bryan Pata (Miami), Victor Abiamiri (Notre Dame), Kyle Caldwell (Arizona State)
Pending - Tim Washington (LSU)
Misses Â¿ Kirston Pittman (LSU)
(* already in the NFL)
Hits Â¿ *Ernie Sims (FSU), Earl Everett (Florida), Prescott Burgess (Michigan), Robert Killebrew (Texas), Quinton Culberson (Mississippi State), Justin Warren (Texas A&M)
Pending Â¿ Wesley Jefferson (Maryland)
Misses Â¿ Daniel Brooks (Tennessee), Fred Sparkman (North Carolina) (* already in NFL)
There are at least five potential first-day draft picks among the Class of 2003, in Everett, Burgess, Killebrew, Warren and Culberson. Everett lacks great size at the Â¿backer position but he has incredible closing speed. Both Burgess and Culberson came in as safeties to Michigan and Mississippi State, respectively, but grew into LBs and they both have a bright future at the next level. Killebrew and Warren are two very good linebackers from the Big 12.
Daniel Brooks ran into off-field encounters in Knoxville and was dismissed from the team. He transferred from Tennessee to Jackson State. Fred Sparkman left UNC after the 2004 season.
Hits Â¿ *Donte Whitner (Ohio State), Reggie Nelson (Florida), Tommy Zbikowski (Notre Dame)
Pending - Ryan Mundy (Michigan), Tony Cade (Oklahoma)
Misses Â¿ Brandon Owens (Minnesota), Daryl Johnson (LSU), Freddie Parish (Notre Dame)
(* already in NFL)
Notre Dame's Zbikowski is one of the nation's top players on defense and is also a terrific punt returner. The bottom line is that he just makes plays. The same can be said with Florida's Nelson, who may be the best player on the Gators' talented defense. Owens was an athletic and hard-hitting safety from South Florida. He did play in eight games as a true freshman at Minnesota before leaving for academic reasons. Cade redshirted as a freshman in Norman and then played in 11 games the following year before transferring to San Francisco Community College. Cade is now with UNLV. Johnson, the No. 3 rated safety, did not qualify for LSU. Parish left Notre Dame last year.
Hits Â¿ *Antonio Cromartie (FSU), *Dee Webb (Florida), Tarrel Brown (Texas), Leon Hall (Michigan)
Pending Â¿ Paul Oliver (Georgia)
Misses Â¿ Dareus Hiley (Ohio State)
(* already in NFL)
Brown was one of the top cornerbacks in the Big 12 and a starter on the Longhorns' National Championship team. He was recently suspended from the Texas team for an off-field incident. Brown was the nation's No. 2 cornerback prospect n '03. Keep an eye on Paul Oliver, who is coming on strong at Georgia.