4th down and 5 yards to go in the 2006 National Championship Game (coincidentally, also the Rose Bowl that season)- Texas phenom QB Vince Young bursts into the end zone for a game winning touchdown (41-38) against a then Pete Carroll lead USC. Some analysts say that 2006 Rose Bowl featured the most elite college football talent ever to play in a National Championship Game- Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and Michael Huff to name a few…all of which were top ten NFL draft picks that year. Enjoy the clip below to revive your memory of that special night.
It feels like forever ago that the Tennessee Titans took Young at No.3 in the 2006 NFL draft. Young went on to win rookie of the year that season, but the Titans cut him before the end of the 2011 season. Its been a straight downward spiral for the former Rose Bowl stud who even made a brief pit stop in Philadelphia- a team known for (re)building quarterbacks. Fail. Fast forward to a recent summer stint with the Buffalo Bills which resulted in Young being cut a couple of days ago. His career could potentially be finished…already. Very sad.
When the Bills cut Young, I immediately visited that legendary game in 2006 which featured three Heisman finalists and an immense amount of talent. I wondered what happened to all of those gifted athletes? Take a look for yourself.
The ’06 USC Trojans
Pete Carroll: He put USC back on the map during the 2000s era with back to back national championships and producing a multitude of Heisman candidates and winners. Then in 2010, he got caught in the middle of an NCAA investigation into USC and bolted for the NFL in a clear effort to escape the mess. He’s been with Seattle for two 7-9 seasons and has yet to prove anything. I’m not insinuating he’s a bad coach per se, but I need to see more than one playoff win with that kind of record before I anoint him a “good” NFL coach. He’s got former Badger star Russell Wilson starting under center now, so we’ll see whats in store for the Seahawks in 2012.
Reggie Bush: He’s had the most “success” among the 2006 Heisman finalists, but it took him five seasons in the NFL to rush for a thousand yards as he did last year with his second team- Miami Dolphins. Its never to late to turn things around, but he was unarguably a “bust” in his first couple seasons with the New Orleans Saints. Yes, he won a super bowl but I would argue he had nothing but
a mediocre season that year and didn’t even break 400 yards rushing. He has yet to play a full season since his 2006 rookie campaign and he’s had his 2005 Heisman trophy taken away because of improper benefits he received during his time at USC.
Dwayne Jarret: Remember him? Jarret was Matt Leinart’s favorite target at USC. The Carolina Panthers drafted him in 2006, but he never realized his potential as a huge, dominant, and versatile reciever in the NFL. Nothing reflects that more than his best season (2009) in which he hauled in 17 receptions for 196 yards and a touchdown. Yup. Throw in several DUIs and his NFL career was over rather quickly. Jarret didn’t even make it in the CFL this past year. Epic fail.
Matt Leinart. Ahh, Matt Leinart. The 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft who went to Arizona to play alongside the legendary Kurt Warner. Did you really think he was going to replace Kurt Warner? He has been a total mess, having tried to play as a backup in Houston last year and now is Carson Palmer’s backup in Oakland. Coincidentally, they both won the Heisman at USC. How cute.
Lendale White: Need I say more? He joined Vince Young on the Tennessee Titans after that 2006 draft and actually rushed past the century mark in 2007. All looked glorious until a guy out of East Carolina named Chris Johnson came along. In 2010, Pete Carroll brought White over in a trade to the Seattle Seahawks in hopes the USC reunion would translate into success, but White failed a drug test one month later, ending his career.
Steve Smith: Just like he was for Matt Leinart at USC, Smith has been above and beyond a “serviceable” receiver in the NFL. He was one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets with the NY Giants until Hakeem Nicks came along. He even made it to the 2009 pro bowl, having caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards. He became a free agent, signed with Philadelphia last season, and after an injury riddled year has now caught on with the St. Louis Rams, arguably as their No.1 receiver.
Rey Maualuga: My initial memories from this guy are from the Cincinnati Bengals Hard Knocks episodes, where he was a straight up beast, just like his dominant days as a USC Trojan. He’s had an average career at best thus far and certainly underperformed Marvin Lewis’ expectations in Cinci. Hopefully he can change that, since he’s only 25.
The ’06 Texas Longhorns
Limas Sweed: Lets talk about Vince Young’s favorite 6’5″, 220 lb target at Texas that year, shall we? The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Sweed in the second round of the ’08 draft, but he’s been stuck at the bottom of the depth chart ever since. The highlight of his career (or lack there of) was a 50-yard dropped touchdown pass in the 2009 AFC Championship game. Personal issues and injuries forced Sweed out of the NFL thereafter.
Michael Griffin: One of the few players who looks like an all-star on this list, having found translated his success with the Texas Longhorns into the NFL. He’s been with the Tennessee Titans ever since the 2007 draft and has 17
career interceptions to go along with almost 300 tackles.
Jamaal Charles: As a sophomore, he was the lead running back for the Longhorns in 2006. Charles was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 and has done nothing but reward them with pro bowl caliber play every season, including a 2010 season where he ran for 1,467 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He tore his ACL last season, but has looked super sharp this preseason. Needless to say, he’s the clear stand out guy on this list.
Michael Huff: He was the anchor for that Texas Longhorns defense in 2006 and that lead to him being drafted by the Oakland Raiders as a top ten pick. He’s enjoyed a mediocre career there ever since, including an injury riddled 2011 where he played only 11 games. He’s still got time to prove himself further.
Aaron Ross: The NY Giants drafted the Longhorns cornerback in the first round of the 2007 draft. Ross started all but one game last season, had four interceptions, and helped the Giants win another Super Bowl. He has since left NY and will continue his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Yeah, I don’t know why either).
Mack Brown: He’s still alive even after a tumultuous 2010, having gone 5-7 and a sub-par 2011 where Texas boasted an paltry 7-5 regular season record. Oh and he got a huge contract extension this past February. Yup, that made sense.