As another avenue to NFL dreams closes off for Tim Tebow, it seems prudent to look at some of the biggest collegiate stars that never quite cut it in their respective professional leagues in the last ten years. These guys aren’t draft busts-often times professional GM’s have been shrewd enough to recognize that these athletes peaked in college. Often times, these guys have still made it into the first round based off their name recognition alone. For whatever reason, they weren’t the same type of transcendent talent as professional athlete as they were as an amateur.
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
One of the toughest players college basketball has ever seen, Hansbrough was as good as any power forward in the history of college basketball during his time as a Tar Heel. A National Player of the Year Award was followed by a National Championship, and he is UNC’s all time leading scorer. Sports Illustrated covers and ESPN Interviews made him a national icon. Still, when it came to the NBA, Hansbrough was two picks away from falling out of the lottery due to concerns about how his lack of athleticism would translate to the NBA game.Turns out those concerns were valid. If Hansbrough were a second round pick out of Northeastern Oklahoma Tech, he would have been considered to have carved out a nice little career for himself. But as one of the best college basketball players of all time, his career has been a disappointment. His scoring average has declined every year in the league since his second season,(his career average stands at a paltry 7.2 per game, at it stood at just 3.6 last year) and he will turn 30 this fall. Hansbrough is still in the league, and can be considered a success in that regard, but his days as the face of a sport are long gone.
Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Everybody misses Jimmer Range. That is, pulling up from anywhere inside half-court and having it be a quality shot.
Before the 2009 NBA draft, there were concerns about the skinny point guard from Davidson who had hit up March Madness with his sweet shooting. NBA teams were concerned that he wasn’t quick enough to get past NBA defenders, not strong enough to guard big point guards, and not savvy enough to become a good enough passer to become a true point guard.
Well, today Stephen Curry’s life is about as good as it gets, coming off an MVP Award and an NBA Championship. The Timberwolves are probably sorry they drafted Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn over him.
Clearly, Steph has proven the doubters wrong. But what if they had been correct in thinking he was too slow, too weak, and not athletic enough for the NBA?
Well, Steph’s detractors were basically worried that he would become what Jimmer Fredette is. That is, a point guard with oodles of three point range and…not much else.
Jimmer gave us one of the most exciting years of college basketball in recent memory and has a National College Player of the Year Award to show for it. Since then, zilch. Jimmer’s main problem is that even with all that range defenses have to respect, he’s not quick enough to beat most NBA power forwards off the dribble, let alone the world class athletes that are NBA point guards. Perhaps Gregg Popovich can turn his career around-he certainly has an excellent track record in that regard-but Fredette, like Hansbrough, has gone from national sensation to NBA afterthought.
Tim Tebow, Florida
We have arrived at our destination. Everybody either loves or hates Tebow-though I can’t understand why anyone would hate him. He seems to be a great guy-though perhaps not a great quarterback.
Tebow has what many believe to be an hitch in his throwing motion that would be impossible to correct. Twenty four teams were wise enough to pass on him during the 2010 NFL Draft, but the Denver Broncos just couldn’t resist the thought of Mile High Tebow Time and snagged him with the 25th overall pick.
Tebow has the typical song and dance for this type of player. Heisman, National Championship, yada, yada. But Tebow was seen as a great athlete who played quarterback-not a great quarterback who was athletic.
But what about that playoff game? Tebow won a playoff game! His playoff winning percentage is better than Peyton Manning’s! Tebow’s clutch! He wins games!
It’s true, Tebow Time during the 2011 NFL season was a lot of fun. And yes, he did play the best game of his life in a playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the throw that won the game wasn’t exactly tightest window a QB has ever had to throw through. Tebow played out the play action fake, stepped up, and chucked it as far as he could to one of the best and fastest receivers in the league. Certainly a good throw. But one 30 other quarterbacks in the NFL can make, and more consistently at that.
As for the next game, the one everyone forgets-oh yeah, Tebow didn’t win the Super Bowl-9 for 26 for 136 yards, no touchdowns. That’s a completion percentage of 35. Yikes. Maybe that’s why he didn’t make it.
Tebow’s saga was far from over. Stints with the Jets, Patriots, and most recently the Eagles have all ended unsuccessfully for Tebow. If Bill Belichick, the league’s best talent evaluator, and Chip Kelly, whose offense has made Nick Foles look elite and every other QB at least above average, can’t find a place for you on their team, it’s probably time to hang them up.
A tough running style, an insane work ethic, and a plethora of success in college wasn’t enough for Tebow in the NFL. It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last, that a highly successful mobile QB in college isn’t NFL material. Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor, Johnny Manziel (may be too early to label him a bust), Dennis Dixon, Nick Marshall…the list goes on and on. Stand up guy. Below average QB. He’s got a nice gig working SEC TV though, so don’t feel too bad for him.
Even those of us whose peaks are higher than most can fall prey to peaking in college. Historically, Herschel Walker, Christian Laettner, and Jason White stand out as players who were all that in college and nothing much in the pros