Combine Invitations Highlight Player Development
Nebraska had three players invited to the NFL combine. They were receiver Quincy Enunwa, cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste and offensive lineman Spencer Long. If you rewind to the 2009/2010 time period when these players were recruited, none of them were highly rated prospects coming out of high school.
Long was of course a walk-on but by his junior season was an all-conference offensive lineman. If not for injuries, he was projected to become an All-American on the offensive line. His brother also walked-on and rose to the top of the depth chart at tight end as a senior.
Enunwa was offered a scholarship by Washington State, but did not have the top programs in the country beating down his door. He was rated a two to three-star prospect coming out fo high school but finished in the top ten all-time at Nebraska in receptions and receiving yards and in the top five for touchdown catches. His high school combine number for the 40 yard dash was 4.65. At the NFL combine, he reduced that to 4.45 despite having added 28 pounds. It was good weight as he was a standout lifter in Indianapolis.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste was sort of an off-the-radar recruit coming out of school. He got a look from programs like Colorado and Clemson but needed to spend a year at prep school and another in junior college before choosing Nebraska in June 2010 (well after national letter of intent signing day). By his senior season he'd been a second-team all-conference player and earned a Senior Bowl invitation in addition to the NFL combine. He scored the top vertical leap and a standout broad jump among cornerbacks in attendance. With his big frame, he's drawn comparisons to Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
For those who want to wring their hands over recruiting, note that none of these three names would have excited Nebraska fans in 2009 or 2010. Now they've emerged from a pack of seniors at NU (that included four-star prospects like Andrew Rodriguez, Jason Ankrah, Jeremiah Sirles, and Cody Green).
It's just another reminder to take recruiting rankings with a huge grain of salt. Years from now we could easily be touting a two-star or walk-on player over a top-rated recruit.