2012 NFL Draft: Former Elite Recruit Bryce Brown Could Be 2012 First-Rounder

Eric GalkoFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2011

I'll be honest: I'm not a college football recruiting fan. To me, there are far too many prospects to wrap my head around coming out of so many states, systems, schemes, situations and so forth. However, every year, I try and get my hands on at least a few top prospects coming out of the college ranks.

While many big name recruits stay big name players early in their college career, guys such as Matt Barkley, Marcus Lattimore, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, etc., some flame out in a year or two and prove the inaccuracies of the nearly impossible scouting system that is high school recruiting.

However, one player that I saw out of high school has yet to prove one or the other. And he happens to be one of the best running back prospects I've seen out of the running back ranks, next to Adrian Peterson and Reggie Bush, based on his high school tape.

(Check it out here.)

Called by some as the best running back prospect of the past five years (since Adrian Peterson), Bryce Brown was a running back from Kansas who committed to the University of Tennessee to play for then-coach Lane Kiffin.

He was expected to start, but instead played behind future third-round draft pick Montario Hardesty, and finished his freshman year with 406 yards and three touchdowns.

He transferred after his freshman year, likely because of the coaching switch and because he wanted to play with his brother at Kansas State, Arthur Brown, a former Miami Hurricane highly rated inside linebacker recruit.

Now at Kansas State and after sitting out a season, Bryce Brown is poised to be the top rusher for a team that just lost Daniel Thomas at running back, who was an eventual second-round pick to the Miami Dolphins.

Brown, a redshirt sophomore, has yet to start a game at the college level. Still, with his size at 6'0", 220 roughly, he can thrive in a rushing offense that last year was 22nd in the nation and returns three seniors on the offense line and a fullback.

As of now, there are no great senior running backs. Only Montell Harris of Boston College and Cyrus Gray of Texas A&M are top-three round guys as of now.

LaMichael James (Oregon), Trent Richardson (Alabama) and Knile Davis (Arkansas) all have talent, but are all underclassmen and still have question marks.

Also in Brown's favor is the success of other highly rated running back recruits. Thanks to Rivals.com, between 2003 and 2007 (which would have been the most recent NFL draft prospects), there have been five first-round running backs among the top two running back prospects ranked.

Only one year was the top overall running back not a first round pick, and that was Joe McKnight of USC. The ones that were? Reggie Bush (2003), Adrian Peterson (2004), Marshawn Lynch (2004), Jonathan Stewart (2005) and Beanie Wells (2006).

Based on Brown's talents, offensive situation and previous top recruit track records, it's easy to see why Kansas State is excited for this season as a potential surprise team in the Big 12.

And speaking of surprises, don't be surprised to see Brown fly up draft boards and be in the mix for a top-32 pick if the redshirt sophomore decides to declare for the 2012 NFL Draft.


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