Penn State Football: 5 Big Ten Era NFL Draft Busts
Earlier this week, we took a look at some of the best players to ever play in the NFL following their college career at Penn State (read it here). Today, we flip things around and take a look at a few of the biggest disappointments in the NFL to come out of Penn State.
To limit how far we went in to the archives for this, we limited our time frame to players in the Big Ten era at Penn State, which goes back to 1993. Feel free to add on your own suggestions in the comments below to add to the discussion.
Some of these players were a mere victim of powers beyond their control, while others just never enjoyed the kind of success they did in the college game.
This one hurts because (takes off journalistic hat for a moment) Ki-Jana Carter was always one of my favorite players at Penn State (puts hat back on).
Carter was the explosive and dynamic running back that was a key part of Penn State's 1994 undefeated season, rushing for 1,539 yards and 23 touchdowns in a year when he played a limited role in much of the second half of games due to wide margins of victory. A consensus All-American and Rose Bowl MVP in the 1994 season, Carter was later drafted with the first-overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, who traded up in exchange with the expansion Carolina Panthers (who ended up using the fifth-overall pick to draft Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins).
Carter's professional career got off to a bad start when he tore a ligament in his first preseason game on his third rushing attempt. The injury immediately threw Carter's pro career down the drain for the most part, as he never fully recovered.
Despite not being physically capable of achieving his once full potential, Carter found a way to stick in the NFL for almost a decade, with his first official season being played in 1996, and a year away from the game in 2000 before being picked up by the Washington Redskins for a season. After one more year away from the sport, the New Orleans Saints gave Carter one last opportunity, and he stayed on the team for two seasons, playing 10 games in two years.
Carter ended his pro career with 1,144 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (21 total touchdowns). To this day, he is still regarded as one of the biggest NFL draft busts of all time.
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In three seasons at Penn State Curtis Enis put together 3,256 yards and 36 touchdowns. A consensus All-American in 1997, Enis lost his final year of eligibility following an NCAA violation in which he accepted a gift. He turned to the NFL, where he was drafted with the fifth-overall pick by the Chicago Bears in the 1998 NFL draft.
Enis played just three seasons in the league, rushing for 1,497 yards and four touchdowns in 36 games. He also had two touchdown receptions, but his professional career was cut short due to a degenerative condition in his left knee. He retired at the age of 24 in 2001 after playing 12 games in 2000 and rushed for 84 yards on 36 attempts.
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Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin cashed in on a stellar 2008 season and made the decision to leave one year early for the NFL with his NFL draft stock soaring following a season he was named a consensus All-American and First Team All-Big Ten.
Maybin recorded a Big Ten-leading 12 sacks in 2008, good for 12th in the nation, and forced a Big Ten-high three fumbles. His 20 tackles for a loss were fifth most in the nation.
Maybin was drafted with the 11th-overall pick by the Buffalo Bills, but started just one game for the Bills in two seasons. He recorded 14 tackles and nine assists in his brief stint in Buffalo.
Maybin was waived prior to the 2011 season, just two years through a five-year contract. The New York Jets picked up Maybin on a one-year contract for the league minimum last August, and he was waived and signed by the Jets a month later.
Maybin recorded four forced fumbles, 10 tackles and two assists last season. There may be time for Maybin to turn his career around, but for now, it is fair to label it a disappointment.
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Jimmy Kennedy was one of the many great defensive tackles to play at Penn State. He was a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention and a First-Team All-Big Ten in 2002 in addition to being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and earning First Team All-American status.
After starting all four years at Penn State with 213 tackles and 14 sacks, Kennedy moved on to the NFL as one of the most accomplished defensive tackles in Penn State program history.
Kennedy was drafted with the 12th-overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams, where he did not start in his rookie season two years after the Rams picked up a couple defensive linemen in 2001. Kennedy made just one tackle that season. He started five games the following year with 16 tackles, and he started two postseason games for the Rams.
Kennedy finally earned significant playing time in 2005, recording 33 tackles, three sacks and forcing one fumble. After starting every game in 2006, Kennedy was traded to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round draft pick in the 2008 NFL draft, and Denver later released Kennedy.
From there, Kennedy bounced from team to team, starting with the Chicago Bears to the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Minnesota Vikings.
Last season, Kennedy was a part of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, though he was added more for depth than anything else. He served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Kennedy was inactive due to coach's decision for the Super Bowl.
Few Penn State players failed to live up to expectations the way Courtney Brown did. Brown had a monster 1999 season and was highly decorated that season. Brown was a consensus All-American and First Team All-Big Ten. He was also named Big Ten Lineman of the Year and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and that came from playing on the same defense as linebacker LaVar Arrington. Those two would go 1-2 in the NFL draft in 2000, and it was thought they were heading to greatness in the NFL.
Unfortunately, Brown lasted just six seasons in the NFL, with five years in Cleveland and one last year in Denver. After finishing his rookie season with 69 tackles (61 solo, ight assists) and starting every game of the season, Brown's career took a quick downward turn. Injury cut short his second season in the NFL to just five games and nagging injuries would hinder Brown for the next few years. He played in two games in 2004.
In his final season in the NFL, with the Denver Broncos, Brown started 13 games in 2005 and recorded a total of 24 tackles, and added a pair of fumble recoveries.