Class of 2003 Offense
Chris Leak
Chris Leak
National Recruiting Analyst
Posted Oct 3, 2006

In this four-part series of stories from this month's issue of the Yearbook, we take a look at the Class of 2003 and where they are now. Obviously not everyone can turn into Heisman Trophy candidates, be on the Outland watch list or become first-round draft picks. So now let’s take a closer look at the offensive prospects of the National Top 100 for the Class of 2003.

2003 National Hot 100

Hits – Brady Quinn (Notre Dame), Chris Leak (Florida), JaMarcus Russell (LSU)
PendingKyle Wright (Miami), T.C. Ostrander (Stanford), Dennis Dixon (Oregon), Syvelle Newton (South Carolina)
MissesTommy Grady (Oklahoma), Robert Lane (Ole Miss), Justin Midgett (Florida), Bill Foran (Purdue)

The quarterback position among the Class of 2003 appeared strong at first with Kyle Wright, Leak, and Russell coming in at No. 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Wright had to sit tight in Coral Gables, and the jury is still out on what kind of future he has. He has the physical ability but can he put it together? Leak has been through three offensive coordinators in four years and finally seems comfortable in Urban Meyer’s system, despite not being the prototype quarterback for that scheme. He is your classic drop-back passer, and looks like he will have some kind of future in the league. Russell is a guy who in all likelihood has more NFL upside than both Wright and Leak. He is big, strong and mobile.

Robert Lane played a little quarterback at Ole Miss and is now a tight end for the Rebels. Justin Midgett is now thought to be playing Arena ball. He left Florida a few seasons ago. Tommy Grady left Oklahoma in 2004 and transferred to Utah. He is the Utes No. 2 quarterback and has played in all three games for Utah this season.

The top player at this position from this class will be Brady Quinn at Notre Dame. Quinn transformed into one of the nation's top quarterbacks last season when Charlie Weis took over the Fighting Irish. He was the Heisman front runner coming into this year and could be the top pick in April's NFL draft.

A side note to this quarterback contingency is John David Booty (USC). In the spring following National Signing Day for the Class of 2003, Booty committed to USC and decided to skip his senior year of high school. He enrolled at USC in the fall so placed him with the quarterbacks of ’03 and at the No. 1 slot ahead of Wright and Leak. In fact, he would have been a member of this top 100 and the top prospect in the country over Ernie Sims.

Running Back Hits – *Reggie Bush (USC), *Maurice Drew (UCLA), Michael Bush (Louisville), Tyrone Moss (Miami), LeRon McClain (Alabama) PendingKregg Lumpkin (Georgia), Barrington Edwards (North Carolina), Will Paul (Michigan), Chauncey Washington (USC) Misses – Demetris Summers (South Carolina), Erik Hardeman (Texas) (* already in NFL)

The running back position is where things get a little interesting when looking back at this group of prospects. As stated above, Bush was the third-rated back in the nation behind Summers and

Demetris Summers
Demetrius Summers still made it to the NFL briefly with the Cowboys before being cut
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr. /Getty Images)
Lumpkin. Summers was a big hit his freshman season at South Carolina and was living up to the hype. Then off-field problems caught up with him, and he was dismissed from the squad. Lumpkin went to Georgia with very high expectations only to blow out his knee his freshman year. Now a junior, many people in Athens feel he is the team’s top back. The problem is that UGa is utilizing “running back by committee,” so Lumpkin is not getting many carries. But if he can stay healthy, he certainly will have a future in the NFL.

Arguably the top athlete in the Class of 2003 was Michael Bush. Bush was a dominant wide receiver as a junior in high school. He was so good that he once told me that the position was boring to him. His senior year he moved to quarterback and lit up the scoreboard. He signed with Louisville, where he became a star at running back. He recently broke his leg and will miss the rest of his final season for the Cardinals. Despite the injury, Bush has an incredibly bright future in the NFL, because he is a big, athletic back who is versatile and has a nose for the end zone. Incredibly, he was voted all-state at seven different positions his senior season in high school.

Tyrone Moss (Miami) and fullback LeRon McClain (Alabama) were members of the top 100, and they certainly will have a great opportunity to play on Sundays.

Erik Hardeman, the nation’s No. 8 rated back, had a promising career ahead of him at Texas, but he had some off-field issues and academic problems and is no longer with the team.

Rookie Premiere Photoshoot in LA 5/20/2006
New England drafted Chad Jackson
Wide Receiver Hits – *Chad Jackson (Florida), Dwayne Bowe (LSU), Steve Smith (USC), Mark Bradford (Stanford), Andre Caldwell (Florida), Robert Meachem (Tennessee), Jayson Swain (Tennessee), Tony Gonzalez (Ohio State) Pending – Amp Hill (South Florida), Noah Whiteside (South Carolina), Omar Conner (Mississippi State), Darrell Blackman (N.C. State), Sean Bailey (Georgia) MissesWhitney Lewis (Northern Iowa), Emmanual Harrell (Kentucky) (* already in NFL)

Things didn’t go so well for our top wide receiver for the Class of 2003, Whitney Lewis. He was a “can’t miss” guy who did nothing while he was at USC, as he just didn’t pan out in a Trojan uniform. Lewis showed up out of shape, was moved back and forth from running back to receiver, and had injury problems and academic issues. He fell out of favor with the USC coaches and eventually transferred to Northern Iowa last summer.

The No. 2 rated receiver that year was Andre Caldwell, who signed with the Gators. Caldwell has shown flashes of what he can do during his four years at Florida. Last season he broke his leg, and he is still trying to find his form. They say he is faster than ever and is quietly coming on, and he should have a great shot in the NFL, because he will be one of the fastest receivers in next year’s draft.

Another highly touted receiver from the state of California who signed with USC is Steve Smith. He has not disappointed anyone for the Trojans as he has had a very good career and will move on to play on Sundays. Gonzalez, who was recruited to Columbus to play defensive back, is a wide receiver. He plays opposite Ted Ginn, Jr. and has had a good career for the Buckeyes and is a key member of their offense.

Robert Meachum
Tennessee shocked the recruiting world by beating the Sooners for Oklahoma standout Robert Meachem. Like Caldwell, he has shown flashes in his career in Knoxville, and he really started with a bang this season. He is big, fast and athletic and certainly has a big future. The same can be said for his teammate at Tennessee, Jayson Swain. He is big and physical.

LSU pulled a surprise out of South Florida when they landed Dwayne Bowe from Miami. He came to Baton Rouge raw, with a ton of upside. Since the day he set foot on LSU’s campus he has been one of the best receivers in the SEC. He has all the tools to do the same for someone in the NFL. Speaking of LSU, the Tigers signed Amp Hill out of Jacksonville. He blew out his knee early in Baton Rouge and has since transferred to South Florida.

Another player from the Hot 100 who should have a good chance in the NFL is Mark Bradford from Stanford.

Tight End Hits – *Vernon Davis (Maryland), Greg Olsen (Miami)
Misses – Louis Irizarry (Ohio State) (* already in NFL)

Olsen was the nation’s top tight end. He signed with Notre Dame but quickly transferred to tight end “U”, the University of Miami. Olsen quickly established himself and will be another great tight end in the NFL from Miami.

Irizarry played in eight games for the Buckeyes as a true freshman before getting in trouble off the field. He transferred to Youngstown State and then was ordered to serve a three-year jail sentence for robbery.

Ryan Harris started eight games as a freshman and every game since then
Offensive Line HitsJoe Thomas (Wisconsin), Ryan Harris (Notre Dame), Jake Long (Michigan), Sam Baker (USC), Tony Hills (Texas), John Sullivan (Notre Dame)
PendingOfa Mohetau (Texas Tech), Jordy Lipsey (Virginia), Eric Young (Tennessee), Mike Jones (Iowa), Ian Yates-Cunningham (Virginia), Andrew Bain (Miami), Akim Millington (Illinois), Drew Radovich (USC)
MissesJorrie Adams (A&M), Zeb McKinzey (Georgia)

The offensive line group from this list is impressive as well. Leading the way are Thomas, Long, Harris, Baker, and Hills. All but Hills were linemen in high school. Hills was the No. 3 rated tight end in the nation.

Millington transferred from Oklahoma to Illinois, while McKinzey has had terrible shoulder problems at Georgia. Adams is no longer with the Aggies.

Part I: Taking A Look Back

2003 National Hot 100

Related Stories
Taking A Look Back
 -by  Oct 2, 2006
Leak has had his way against Dawgs
 -by  Oct 26, 2006
Know Where Reggie Is
 -by  Sep 9, 2006

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