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October 25, 2012

Rankings of Yore: 'Bama beatdown


MORE: Mind of Mike | Around the Southwest

Each week, Rivals.com's national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell will take at what we got right -- and what we got wrong -- in our past player evaluations. We call it Rankings of Yore.

'Bama bond

Ho hum, Alabama beat down another opponent, smashing a talented but not-ready-for-prime-time Tennessee team 44-13 behind the efforts of two of the top players in the country from the 2009 recruiting class. Quarterback AJ McCarron and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker have been a huge part of Alabama's dominance this season and the two shared a special bond as early as the U.S. Army Bowl back in 2009.

McCarron, out of Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul's in 2009, was ranked as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country and No. 128 overall and chose the Tide over offers from Miami, Georgia, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and others after a junior season in which he threw for 2,532 yards and 26 touchdowns against only three interceptions.

He finished his senior year passing for more than 1,900 yards with 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The consensus was McCarron was a tall, skinny quarterback with adequate arm strength, great decision-making ability and the smarts to manage a football game. Sound familiar?

That's similar to the same scouting report on McCarron now. The junior has done everything asked of him for Alabama and doesn't get the credit he deserves for the Tide's success, completing 69 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and no picks. Matt Barkley, Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd were all rated ahead of him that year and all have been successful, but others such as Garrett Gilbert and Richard Brehaut have been washouts.

As for Fluker, he was ranked as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country in 2009 and as the No. 3 overall player and was one of the most physically impressive players we have ever seen at 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds, with no bad weight.

At the time we projected that Fluker would be protecting the blind side of McCarron but he has made his living at right tackle while 2011's No. 1 offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio has emerged as the left tackle. Fluker is projected as a first round draft choice by many and if that happens that will be considered a very accurate evaluation.

Doege City

Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege is having a special season for the Red Raiders. He has 28 touchdown passes in leading his team to a 6-1 record and a top-15 standing in the BCS.

In high school, he wasn't so fortunate. A 2008 signee with Texas Tech, Doege's only other offers were from New Mexico and Purdue and its unlikely either of those schools would have stuck with him.

However, it could be said he would have had upward of 20 offers had his luck been better. Doege missed his junior and his senior season with ACL tears on different knees.

After a sophomore season in which he threw for 2,439 yards and 27 touchdowns against only four picks, things fell apart due to injuries. But Mike Leach stood by his offer and commitment. We had Doege rated as No. 18 pro-style quarterback in the 2008 class and as a high three-star prospect, which is pretty amazing considering the two injuries. He was clearly a four-star talent without the setbacks.

[ Watch: Looking back: Texas Tech QB Seth Doege ]

Makeup move

After a poor 2011 and miserable start to 2012, running back Chris Johnson finally had a big weekend for his fantasy football owners with 195 yards and two touchdowns.

After bursting on the scene in 2008 and rushing for more than 2,000 yards in 2009, he has been considered one of the bigger busts despite rushing for more than 1,000 yards each year of his career.

Johnson was a running back out of Orlando (Fla.) Olympia in 2004 and was largely overlooked because of a big injury during his senior season.

Slight at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, Johnson was certainly fast, there was never any question about that. He was a track star with a 10.50 100-meter time and rushed for a little over 1,000 yards as a junior.

However, during his senior season he broke his leg and many schools backed off when he missed seven games. He did return in time to rush for 400 yards in his last three games, but by that time his size, poor academics and the injury had most schools back off.

East Carolina, where he would go on to become a star, Connecticut and Eastern Kentucky offered him while USF and a few others flirted but never pulled the trigger.

Johnson ended up with a two-star ranking out of high school and ECU looked like geniuses for staying on him, but no one at that time could have predicted his monster senior season much less his 4.24-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the main reason he became a first-round draft choice.

King world

Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King's big game might have saved the Bulldogs' season and certainly saved them from an embarrassing loss to Kentucky that could have put Mark Richt back on the hot seat.

King had nine catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-24 win over the Wildcats and he is starting to round into form as a senior. He could be one of the top 20 or so wide receivers on many draft boards for 2013. While King has never truly lived up to his lofty No. 88 overall ranking in 2008 out of Mount Airy (Ga.) Habersham Central for Dawg fans, he was supposed to break out this year and is now more important than ever with Michael Bennett out for the year.

King committed to Georgia very early in the process over offers from Florida, Clemson and Georgia Tech and had a monster senior year with 99 catches for 1,632 yards and 17 scores.

King was the leading receiver on the team last year and is the go-to guy now. He was in arguably the best wide receiver recruiting class ever at Rivals.com, a group that included five stars Julio Jones, A.J. Green (who overshadowed King his first few years in Athens), DeVier Posey, DeAndre Brown, Jonathan Baldwin and Michael Floyd, most of whom are collecting NFL checks.

King had adequate height and good speed coming out of high school but was thin and there were questions on how he'd fill out. However, he was expected to be a prolific receiver at the college level and has fallen a bit short of expectations.

[ Watch: Tavarres King - high school highlight film ]

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Mike Farrell is the national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to follow him on Twitter.



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