by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on Twitter)
Every year, millions of dollars and man hours are spent trying to acquire talent by college football programs across this great country. Attempting to rank these players has become as big a part of the college football machine as tailgating on Saturdays. Each cycle, recruiting experts evaluate the best our nation's prep ranks have to offer, and every year, the rankings offer future stars as well as total busts.
In the 2011 College Football preview magazine, Athlon Sports looked back on how the Top 40 propects from the Class of 2006 fared on the college gridiron:
31. Ricky Sapp, DE, Bamberg, SC, Clemson
Sapp continued the recent trend of stellar defensive ends at Clemson. The three-year starter played in 50 games, starting 36. He finished his Tiger career with 160 tackles, 41 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks. Sapp was selected in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
32. Akeem Hebron, LB, Gaithersburg, MD, Georgia
After spending one season redshirting and another at junior college, Hebron finally hit the field in a Georgia uniform in 2008. He appeared in only 16 games over his three seasons in Athens. His tenure was marred by a severe ankle injury suffered near the end of the 2008 season. He made 10 total tackles in his Bulldog career.
33. Brandon Spikes, LB, Shelby, NC, Florida
Spikes lettered as a true freshman on the 2006 national championship team, then stepped into a starting role as a sophomore and quickly established himself as the heart and soul of the Gator defense. The 2009 first-team All-American finished his career with 39 starts (in 47 games), 307 total tackles, 31.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. He was a Butkus Award finalist, won two national championships and was a two-time All-SEC performer. An eye-gouging incident against Georgia running back Washaun Ealey generated questions about his character and likely cost the star linebacker a chance at being a first-round pick. The New England Patriots selected Spikes with the 62nd overall pick in the 2010 draft.
34. James Aldridge, RB, St. Louis, MO, Notre Dame
After dealing with a knee injury that limited him to only seven games his freshman season, Aldridge became the first Irish running back to top the 100-yard mark in his first career start since Tony Fisher in 1999 when he gained 104 yards against Michigan State in 2007. It was one of only two 100-yard games in his career. Aldridge led Notre Dame in rushing as a sophomore but never lived up to the lofty recruiting status. He finished his career with only 979 yards and three scores.
35. Antonio Logan-El, OL, Forestville, MD, Penn State
In one of the more disrespectful signing announcements, Logan-El, a one-time Maryland commitment, tossed several hats to the ground at a crowded restaurant before picking Penn State. He lasted only one season, however. He transferred to Towson but spent only one year with the Tigers. He quit football for good in August 2008.
36. Dorin Dickerson, ATH, Imperial, PA, Pittsburgh
Dickerson began his career as a wide receiver, playing in eight games as a freshman. As a sophomore, he was moved to strong-side linebacker and played in all 12 games. In his junior season, his first as a tight end, he started two games. Dickerson then exploded onto the scene as a senior, earning All-America honors after catching 49 passes for 529 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dickerson was selected by the Houston Texans in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
37. DeMarco Murray, RB, Las Vegas, NV, Oklahoma
After redshirting in 2006, Murray took little time making his presence felt, scoring five touchdowns against North Texas in his first game as a Sooner. The dynamic triple-threat performer dealt with multiple injuries during his time in Norman, but that did not keep him from becoming OU’s career all-purpose yards record-holder with 6,498. Murray also owns the Sooner school mark for career touchdowns (64) and career receiving yards by a running back (1,512 on 157 receptions). He finished with 3,685 rushing yards in 50 career games.
38. Deantwan Whitehead, DE, Birmingham, AL, Louisville
Nicknamed “Peanut,” the defensive end played in all 13 games as a freshman and the first nine games of his sophomore season. But shortly after sustaining an injury against West Virginia in November 2007, Whitehead was diagnosed with congenital cervical spinal stenosis, permanently ending his football career.
39. Carl Johnson, OL, Durham, NC, Florida
Johnson redshirted during the Gators’ national championship run in 2006. By 2008, he was entrenched as the starting left guard as the Gators won the national title. He finished his career with 33 starts in 50 career games. “Big Carl” was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease during his freshman year, which has led in part to his weight troubles. At 361 pounds, Johnson was the heaviest player at the 2011 Combine.
40. Konrad Reuland, TE, Mission Viejo, CA, Notre Dame
Reuland played in only 10 games at Notre Dame before transferring to Saddleback (Calif.) College in September of his sophomore season. He then enrolled at Stanford, where he caught 27 passes for 351 yards in two-plus seasons.