Champs Sports Bowl: Noel Devine and 10 Underachievers Playing in Bowl Games

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2010

Champs Sports Bowl: Noel Devine and 10 Underachievers Playing in Bowl Games

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    The Champs Sports Bowl pits the West Virginia Mountaineers against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, with West Virginia featuring Noel Devine, who seemingly has fallen off the face of the earth.

    Call it a sophomore slump, a junior jinx or a senior skid, call it whatever you want, but a lot of players who were headlining for their team a season ago and are now on a downswing.

    Noel Devine is one of the leaders of this class; after two seasons of rushing for more than 1,200 yards, he failed to top 900 this season.

    He is hardly the only player, as many have taken a dip in production, and their teams have felt the effects of their downturn.

    So, here we have the 10 players still playing football who haven't quite lived up to what they were expected to do this season.

10. Graham Zug, Penn State

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    Penn State's walk-on wide receiver Graham Zug gained a cult following for his crunch-time catches and his hard-working attitude, but this season his success has not been replicated.

    After catching 46 passes for 600 yards and a team-high seven touchdown passes a season ago, Zug is down to only 16 receptions for 179 yards and a single touchdown.

    He has dipped to 11.2 yards per catch and has been held without a catch in four games this season and ended up with only one catch in four other games.

    His season high for receptions is five—compared to a season ago, when he had five games of five or more catches, that is a less than impressive number.

    His team did not live up to expectations this year, and his drop in production definitely did not help his team out much.

9. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State

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    After a Rose Bowl game a season ago in which he passed for 266 yards for two touchdowns and ran for another 72 yards, Terrelle Pryor was given a top-three Heisman favorite tag.

    He has not been bad by all means, leading his team to an 11-1 record with a cool head on his shoulders and a smart football mind.

    His 2,551 yards and 25 touchdowns are good, but they are not Heisman numbers. His rushing stats are down to 639 yards and four touchdowns, but he did run the ball less this season.

    He has a career-high QB rating (157.98) but still has not lived up to the immense hype that has been built up around him, however unfair it may have been.

    Perhaps he should have spent less time looking for buyers for his "gold pants."

8. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh Panthers

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    Nobody expected Dion Lewis to take another season on his back of 300-plus rushes and nearly 1,800 yards, but he was expected to be the cornerstone of a transitioning offense.

    Pitt had a brand new quarterback in Tino Sunseri and Lewis was expected to be the man to keep the offense afloat when called on.

    Lewis, after a slow start, was forced to share carries with Ray Graham and they split carries the whole season.

    He went from 1,799 yards on 5.5 yards per carry to 956 on 4.9 yards per carry, and had only three games of more than 100 yards rushing.

    Because of that, Pitt lost three of their fist six games and ended up losing the conference with a loss to UConn late in the season.

7. Mark Ingram, Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Thanks to an injury that kept him out of the first two games of the season, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner ended up being supplanted by the exciting young Trent Richardson.

    Richardson was quick and exciting in the first two games and from then on they were a tag team, rather than Ingram as the premier back and Richardson coming in to give Ingram a breather and change the offensive pace.

    Ingram ended up with 816 yards on 5.6 yards per carry after averaging 6.1 yards per carry a season ago and gaining 1,658 yards.

    The tandem for Alabama was excellent, but it ended up as a down season for Ingram, who wasn't quite as explosive as he was last season.

6. Gerald Jones, Tennessee Volunteers

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    Gerald Jones was looking to break out as a top wide receiver prospect in the nation, and effectively give his draft stock a big bump up in the process.

    He led his team in receptions, receiving yards and yards per catch a season ago, with 46 receptions, 480 yards and 14.8 yards per catch.

    This season he dropped to 507 yards, 11 yards per catch and one fewer touchdown on the same number of receptions.

5. Keola Antolin, Arizona Wildcats

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    Another guy who had a good season last year and was looking to really establish himself this year, Keola Antolin was underwhelming this season.

    He was good as a sophomore, running for 637 yards on 114 rushes, but he was looking for a breakout season.

    Antolin was a bit hobbled at the beginning of the season, giving Nic Grigsby an opening to get some runs as the season went along. Antolin's downturn also led to fewer runs for him.

    He ended up with only 30 more yards this season on 28 more rushes, bringing his yards per rush down almost a full yard to 4.7.

4. Uzoma Nwachukwu, Texas A&M Aggies

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    Uzoma Nwachukwu had an excellent season for the Aggies a season ago, gaining 708 yards on 40 receptions and six touchdowns in the process.

    This season, the Big 12 South looked wide open, with Texas and Oklahoma struggling, and Nwachukwu's receiving could have put the Aggies over the top—unfortunately, his play got worse instead of better.

    He still caught a good number of passes, at 32, but he only had 369 yards on 11.5 yards per carry and went down to two touchdowns. He went from first on the team in receiving yards to third, with only a slight downturn in targets.

3. Jeffery Demps, Florida Gators

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    Tim Tebow left, and Florida needed a guy to help bridge the gap from the Mile High Jesus to John Brantley—Jeff Demps was supposed to be the guy.

    Unfortunately, his yards per carry went from 7.5 to only six, and his yards went from 745 to 531 along with only three touchdowns, down from seven.

    He only had one game over 100 yards, a 139-yard gem against South Florida, but other than that, injuries hobbled him throughout the year, and he never quite recovered to his production level from a season ago.

2. Noel Devine, West Virginia Moutaineers

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    Noel Devine was a diamond in a coal mine for the past two seasons, so of course everyone assumed the quick little senior would have another impressive season.

    Well, he went from 1,465 yards down to 886 on only 40 fewer carries, dragging his yards per carry down to 4.4 from 6.1.

    He had only six touchdowns after scoring 13 times last year, and his longest run of the season was only 50 yards, after having an 88-yarder last season.

    He had a depressing showing in his senior season, and being only 5'8", it really hurt his draft stock quite a bit.

    But there is always a bowl game to help redeem a forgettable season.

1. Jacory Harris, Miami Hurricanes

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    I know, Jacory was on the receiving end of a brutal hit against Virginia, effectively ending his season, but he wasn't having a gem of a season up to that point.

    Last season, he had 3,352 yards with a 59.6 completion percentage, 8.26 yards per completion and 24 touchdown passes against 17 interceptions.

    This year, his numbers were down to 1,756 yards with a 54.8 completion percentage, 6.68 yards per completion and 14 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

    He was on pace for a lower number in every category before his season-ending hit in Virginia, and Miami was looking at a down season all around.

    The most telling number is his QB rating, which went from 140.09 down to 119.28.

    This was definitely a year to forget for this 'Cane.