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:
11. Matthew Stafford, QB, Dallas, TX, Georgia
Stafford enrolled early at Georgia and became the first true freshman to start for the Bulldogs at quarterback since 1991 (Eric Zeier). The burly passer finished with 7,731 passing yards and 51 touchdowns in his three seasons. Stafford led the SEC in total offense in his final year in Athens while setting the single-season school record for passing touchdowns (25). His 3,459 passing yards that year were second-best in Georgia history. Stafford declared early for the NFL Draft and was taken with the first overall pick by the Detroit Lions in 2009.
12. Al Woods, DT, Elton, LA, LSU
Woods played in six games as a freshman and was considered by many as the top backup defensive tackle in the SEC as a sophomore. After a disappointing junior season, Woods started all 13 games as a senior. He finished his career with 73 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.
13. Stafon Johnson, RB, Bellflower, CA, USC
Johnson contributed 673 yards and five scores as a sophomore. He battled injuries but returned to lead the Trojans in rushing as a junior in 2008. In September 2009, Johnson suffered a scary weight room injury when a 275-pound bar fell on his throat. This past January, Johnson sued USC for negligence. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans following the 2010 NFL Draft.
14. Brandon Graham, LB, Detroit, MI, Michigan
The two-time All-Big Ten defensive end finished second in school history in sacks (29.5) and tackles for a loss (56). A second-team All-American as a senior, Graham was selected with the 13th pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
15. Keiland Williams, RB, Lafayette, LA, LSU
A solid contributor who never truly reached his potential, Williams started only three games in his career. But he played in 47, rushing for 1,699 yards and 17 TDs. Williams was signed by the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent following the 2010 NFL Draft.
16. C.J. Spiller, RB, Lake Butler, FL, Clemson
Spiller was 2009 ACC Player of the Year and only the third unanimous first-team All-American in school history. He finished as the ACC’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 7,588 — second-best in Division I history. He owns the NCAA record for career kickoff return touchdowns (seven) and is tied for the most total return touchdowns (eight). He was selected ninth overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 2010 NFL Draft.
17. Jai Eugene, CB, St. Rose, LA, LSU
Eugene, a contributor on the 2007 Tigers’ BCS National Championship team, finished with 51 games played and 12 starts. He played three seasons at corner before moving to safety and finished with 93 tackles and one interception.
18. Michael Goodson, RB, Klein, TX, Texas A&M
Goodson was Big 12 Freshman of the Year, rushing for 847 yards at a league-high 6.7-yard clip. His rushing totals dropped every year, from 847 to 711 to 406. Goodson declared early for the NFL Draft and was selected in the fourth round in 2009 by the Carolina Panthers.
19. Stephen Schilling, OL, Bellevue, WA, Michigan
A model of consistency, Schilling started 49 — good for second-best in school history by an offensive lineman — of a possible 50 career games. He spent his first two seasons starting at right tackle before holding down the left guard spot for his final two years. The 2007 Freshman All-American earned three straight Hugh R. Rader Memorial Awards, given to the team’s top offensive lineman.
20. Eddie Jones, DE, Kilgore, TX, Texas
Jones played in 50 games in his four seasons in Austin, starting eight times. He finished his career with 111 tackles, 24 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks. As a senior, Jones earned UT’s Community Service Award.