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Virginia Tech offensive lineman Tripp Carroll recently announced that he had decided to give up football, citing that his heart was no longer in the sport. Carroll suffered through numerous injuries during his short Tech career, which never panned out like he, the coaches or the fans had hoped.
Carroll was one of the most highly-touted recruits to ever sign with Virginia Tech. A member of the 2003 recruiting class, he boasted as many as 80 scholarship offers coming out of Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, FL. Carroll was so highly thought of that he could have signed with any program in the country, but he never really considered any other school, saying Virginia Tech was his dream school.
Carroll was rated the #13 offensive lineman in the country by Super Prep and the #1 offensive lineman in the Atlantic region by PrepStar. He was a high school All-American by virtually every recruiting service. Yet his career at Virginia Tech never panned out, partly because of suffering Compartment Syndrome in both legs and also a concussion.
But Carroll isn’t the only highly-touted recruit who signed with Virginia Tech but did not go on to a productive college career. In 1996 the Hokies signed Robert Adams, who was ranked as the #4 recruit in the state of Virginia by the Roanoke Times. Adams chose Virginia Tech over schools such as Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. But Adams never even lettered for the Hokies. He spent time at offensive line and tight end, but never found his niche in Blacksburg, finally quitting the team just before the start of his senior season in 1999. (Editor's note: Adams was listed in the media guide for 1999, but not in the Hokie Huddler preseason outlook, nor in the Huddler's season-ending depth chart, showing the number of snaps each player played.)
Tyrone Robertson was rated the #3 recruit in Virginia for the class of 1997. He signed with the Hokies over offers from UVA, Tennessee and Georgia, among others. But unlike the other players mentioned here, Robertson never even enrolled at Virginia Tech. He intentionally failed 12th grade to get out of his Letter of Intent, and went to prep school before signing with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Robertson spent one year in Athens but then transferred to a community college, where he also spent one season before declaring for the NFL Draft. He went to the Buffalo Bills where he started several games as a rookie and looked to have a bright future. Robertson has since had numerous run-ins with the law and is no longer in the NFL.
Fast forward to the class of 1999, when the Hokies signed Andrae Harrison, a wide receiver and #4 prospect in the state of Virginia by the Roanoke Times. Harrison went to Warrick High School, where he was Michael Vick’s favorite target during his sophomore and junior seasons. He was rated as one of the top 10 wide receiver prospects in the nation and chose the Hokies over UVA, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Florida.
But after he redshirted in 1999, Harrison left Virginia Tech and transferred to Norfolk State. He later ended up at Florida A&M, where he caught 26 passes for 507 yards in 2002.
The 2000 recruiting class featured two highly-touted players who never panned out. In fact, both players topped the Hokie Huddler’s player rankings for the 2000 recruiting class. The first was Richard Johnson, who chose Tech over Syracuse, Michigan and Purdue. He was rated the #2 player in the mid-Atlantic by SuperPrep and the #4 wide receiver in the Atlantic region by PrepStar. It’s unfair to label Johnson a bust, because he started a lot of games for the Hokies throughout his career, but his production never matched his lofty ratings coming out of high school.
Chad Cooper was the other highly-touted recruit in the class of 2000. He was rated as the #5 players in the state of Virginia and the #1 defensive back in the Atlantic region by PrepStar. But Cooper’s career never panned out, and many of the reasons why were out of his control. In December of 2001 he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious disorder of the nervous system. Cooper made a full recovery, but never got back to his ideal playing weight or strength and spent most of the rest of his career as a special teams player. As a redshirt senior backup mike linebacker in 2004, when he recorded 17 tackles and a sack, Cooper only weighed 189 pounds.
The class of 2001 featured Fred Lee, a highly touted wide receiver prospect from the state of Pennsylvania. Lee went to prep school following his senior year of high school, and eventually enrolled at Virginia Tech in 2002. He never played a down for the Hokies, and eventually transferred to Pasadena City Junior College in California, and then signed with Temple in 2005. Lee, who was once compared by some to FSU great Peter Warrick, is not listed on Temple’s 2005 team roster.
In 2002, the Hokies needed defensive tackles that could play early. They found one in Jimmy Williams, one of the top Junior College players in America. But when Williams first got to Blacksburg, he quickly injured his ankle. He played sparingly in 2002, although his playing time did pick up towards the end of the season. Williams left the team after the season and has gone down as one of Virginia Tech’s most disappointing recruits on record.
These players will not be the last highly-regarded recruits to sign with Virginia Tech and not produce as much as originally expected. There are several players on the current roster that are in danger of falling into this category very soon, but they still have time to get their careers on the right track.
Next week, we'll take a look at some lightly-regarded recruits who went on to have stellar careers at Virginia Tech and even, in some cases, in the NFL.
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