The good old days--January, 2006

In the Greatest game of all time (that week), the Greatest team in college football history (USC) went up against the Greatest player in college football history (Vince Young) and the Greatest player won in dramatic fashion.

I'm a firm believer that without Vince, that would have been a terribly humiliating loss for Texas (pre-supposing that Texas would ever have arrived at the game without Vince, which I find silly to consider). But I did a bit of a look at where the players in that game are now, and perhaps you'll be as surprised as I to note the NFL talent on both sides.

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We'll begin with the Texas defense, that "held" USC to 38 points and 574 yards of offense.

Starting DT Rod Wright may start for the Dolphins Sunday. They lost Holliday, so Rod got into his first regular season game last week.

Starting DT Frank Okam will likely play in the NFL next year. Backup DT's Derek Lokey and Roy Miller may join him there soon.

Starting DE Tim Crowder apparently started against Indy this weekend.

Starting DE Brian Robison has played in 4 NFL games for the Vikings this year, including 1 start, and had a monster game against Green Bay--5 tackles and a sack (his 3rd sack of the season, a stat only 25 NFL players can match at this point--one of them also a horn).

Backup DE's Aaron Lewis and Brian Orakpo may both end up in the NFL when they get a wee bit older.

Starting SLB Robert Killebrew is still in school. NFL future? Unlikely.
Starting MLB Aaron Harris never sniffed an NFL training camp
Starting WLB Rashad Bobino is still in school. NFL future? No.

I said DD Lewis and Selvin Young would never sniff the NFL, and they (along with Marcus Wilkins) proved me a poor prognosticator of NFL potential, so perhaps Robert and Rashad will prove me incorrect again. Nah.

Starting RCB Cedric Griffin is a starting CB for the Vikings, with 27 tackles through 4 games.

Starting FS Michael Griffin is a special teams star and a backup DB for the Titans.

Starting SS Michael Huff has started 20 straight games for the Raiders as a SS.

Starting LCB Tarell Brown has played in 3 games so far this season as a CB for the 49ers.

Backup LCB Aaron Ross got his first start as a Giant last weekend against the Eagles, and made 5 tackles and defended 2 passes as the Giants shut down the Eagle O.

Big-time NFL talent front and back--with an interesting dearth in the middle. Interesting to note that our DC at the time coached LB's.

Now a look at the Texas offense--the RB's had 16 carries to Vince's 19; 116 yards to Vince's 200.

WR's Quan Cosby, Limas Sweed, and Billy Pittman are still in school. Quan's already played pro ball, albeit it smaller and rounder ball, and Limas seems likely to be well-paid in the NFL. Quan may make a roster, but the explosive quicks I recall from his 2A clips don't show themselves often in his current frame/role. He's mature and dependable and greatly appreciated in college. Billy hasn't regained his 2005 form, but neither will Bobby Wade regain his 2006 NFL form. Vince makes a difference.

TB Ramonce Taylor's in jail (I assume), Jamaal's still in school, and our 3rd-stringer Selvin Young is averaging 9.2 yards per carry and 11 yards per catch as a Bronco. He may start this weekend if Travis Henry isn't available.

TE David Thomas got into his first game of the season last week for the Patriots, picking up 1 catch for 9 yards.

RT Justin Blalock got his first win as a Falcon last week, in his 4th straight career start.

RG Will Allen left training camp after 4 days when he realized that he had a college degree and didn't need to keep bashing his head into other people's heads to earn a good living.

C Lyle Sendlein now has two starts as a rookie for the Cardinals, but didn't play last week against Pittsburgh.

LG Kasey Studdard played in his first game as a Texan last week.

LT Jonathan Scott has played in the past 3 games for Detroit, but no starts so far this year after 4 last season.

FB Ahmard Hall has played in all 3 Titans game this season after playing in 14 in 2006.

QB Vince Young is the reason I watch the NFL and has started 16 straight games for the Titans.

NFL talent at every position save WR, and by next year I expect that "save WR" will be removed.

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Now, we'll check out the USC squad.

Offense:

WR Dwayne Jarrett played in his first game as a Panther last week.

LT Sam Baker's still in school but is a top draft prospect, I believe.

LG Taitusi "Deuce" Lutui has started all 4 Cardinals games this year, and 9 last season.

C Ryan Kalil started the first two games at guard for the Panthers but sat out the last two.

RG Fred Matua left school a year early and spent time on the Lions, Titans, and Browns rosters last year, but isn't on a roster now.

RT Winston Justice got destroyed in his first start as an Eagle on Sunday night, but he'll recover.

TE Dominique Byrd played in 5 games for the Rams last year, and has played in 3 games for the Rams so far this season.

WR Steve Smith played in the first two Giants games this season.

QB Matt Leinart started 11 games last year, and the first 4 so far this year for the Cardinals.

FB David Kirtman was a 5th-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2006, but spent last year and this (so far) on the Practice Squad.

TB Reggie Bush started 8 games last year and the past two this season for the Saints.

Backup RB Lendale White started all 3 games this season after playing in 13 last year for the Titans.

NFL talent ran deep on that offense. We'll see quite a few backups hit the NFL over the next two years.

Defense:

DE Lawrence Jackson is still in school.
DT Sedrick Ellis is still in school.
I don't pay enough attention to know if either is a future NFL pick, but I'd expect so.

DT LaJuan Ramseynow an Eagle, got into his first NFL game of the season last week. He played in six last year.

DE Frostee Rucker played in his first game of the season on MNF for the Bengals.

SLB Thomas Williams is still in school (no idea if he's an NFL prospect)

MLB Oscar Lua got hurt in the Patriot's final preseason game and hasn't played yet in 2007.

WLB Keith Rivers is still in school (top NFL prospect)

CB Justin Wyatt was on the Cardinal's practice squad in 2006, and was released in Sept 2007.

FS Scott Ware signed with the Eagles but was cut before the 2006 season started; then signed with the Colts and was cut before the 2007 season started.

SS Darnell Bing was drafted by the Raiders in 2006, but was placed on IR with a neck injury and released in July 2007. The 49ers signed him and then released him before the 2007 season.

CB Josh Pinkard is still in school (no idea on NFL).

I'm surprised by how few NFL players they had in the secondary. In retrospect, no one from that defense jumps out at me as a high-impact NFL player (yet). Interesting.

It's also interesting to look at coaching staff changes since that time. USC lost OC Lane Kiffin to the Raiders, where he's now head coach. Texas lost DC Gene Chizik to Iowa State, where he's now head coach. Did USC lose any other coaches since that game?

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