Summer Lovin’ Now Autumn Bummin’

November 5, 2002
Summer Lovin’ Now Autumn Bummin’
by Keith Weiland

Maybe it was the heat. Yeah, blame it on the heat.

The summer began with so much promise. Talk of possibly the most impressive crop of top college quarterbacks to enter the NFL draft since 1983 was subsided only by the notion that this might be the best crop of top wide receivers to ever enter the draft. Sprinkle in a few out-of-nowhere surprises from smaller programs, and next April’s draft would be one to tell your grandchildren.

Now I guess it’s back to feigning senility instead.

For an expansion team that figures to pick early in the first round of the 2003 draft, it appeared then that the Texans could do no wrong by selecting one of the many impressive receivers available to them. With questionable depth on the roster at the position, a prototype wideout to line up alongside Corey Bradford and Jabar Gaffney might make the Texans’ passing game the envy of the league.

Then the 2002 college football season actually began, and now, like someone watching the closing credits roll on The Anna Nicole Show, I have to ask, What the hell just happened here? And why do I feel like I need a shower after watching Bobby Trendy?

Maybe if we retrace our steps…

The summer opened with serious injury to just one marquee name, WR Lee Evans of Wisconsin, and the prognosis then was that maybe he only misses a handful of early season games. Following word last week that Evans is done for the season, we’re left to wonder what might have been. Evans still has hopes to enter the 2003 draft, especially if he posts good speed for scouts this winter, but he’s already been tagged as an injury risk. Drafters beware.

Evans is not alone with such a tag, far from it in fact. Fresno State’s Bernard Berrian plans to apply for a medical redshirt and return for another year of college. His sprained knee should not have long-term medical concerns, but the pressure is on for him to stay healthy for an entire season. Regardless, he won’t be on a Texans draft board this spring.

That same stay-healthy pressure was heaved upon Texas’ Roy Williams entering this season. The freakishly talented receiver never seemed to be at full speed for more than a game or two at a time. The hamstring injury he suffered in September has done nothing to assuage those concerns. Despite a 13-catch performance against Nebraska on Saturday, there will be whispers in Williams’ ear that he should consider returning to Austin next fall. Even if he does declare for the 2003 draft, it is risky for the Texans to bank a top-five pick on a player who hasn’t proved capable of playing at a game-breaking level for a full season.

Tennessee’s Kelley Washington has much worse things to worry about than Williams does these days. In a loss to Georgia on October 12, Washington experienced a whiplash-type concussion injury that, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, is potentially career-threatening. Yikes. He also suffered a partially torn knee ligament earlier in the season, and as if that isn’t already bad enough, he is also fighting a nagging tendinitis in his heel. Despite all the physical ability he possesses, let’s hope the Texans won’t touch Washington with a ten-foot pole.

Maybe the biggest enigma is that of Michigan State’s Charles Rogers. Nothing is wrong with Rogers physically, but something just doesn’t seem right with him. He started the 2002 season with a bang, continuing his success as a sophomore into his junior season to set the NCAA record for consecutive games scored with a touchdown.

Ever since, Rogers hasn’t been the same. His team has lost six of its past seven games, and his quarterback, Jeff Smoker, is serving a mysterious, indefinite suspension for substance abuse. Rogers has not scored in three of his past four games, and he has not broken the 100-yard receiving plateau once in his past five games. His two TDs in the only game he did score in the past month came in garbage time after being a non-factor up to that point. It may be logical to pin Rogers’ lack of production on the loss of Smoker, but his concentration and attitude have officially been called into question.

Wide receivers rarely get drafted in the top five overall picks for a reason. If the Texans choose to burn one on a wideout in 2003, they may end up with a big enough bust to make even Anna Nicole blush.

Tune in, drop out… Well, hell. No more Charles Rogers in this space until further notice. There are still plenty of games to scout this Saturday, including flipping back and forth between these two doozies:

William Joseph   Joseph  

Miami @ Tennessee, 2:30pm, CBS – Watch just about anyone on the Hurricanes defensive line, including William Joseph, Jerome McDougle, Vince Wilfork, and Andrew Williams. Joseph, who last week was named a Lombardi semifinalist alongside McDougle, is the big name to scout. Though I think he may be slipping on the big board behind Penn State’s Jimmy Kennedy, watch and judge for yourself to see if Joseph is the right guy to play on the Texans three-man line.

Oklahoma @ Texas A&M, 2:30pm, ABC – Watch anyone in the Sooner defensive backfield, including corners Derrick Strait and Andre Woolfolk and safety Brandon Everage. Strait and Woolfolk are loaded with talent and both may be good enough to be first round picks next April.

Keith Weiland swears he’s never seen The Anna Nicole Show, and even if he did, it was probably TiVo’s fault.