These are tough times for Big 12 fans, heck sports fans, all across America as the NCAA Tournament has been cancelled, along with the rest of the sports world due to coronavirus.
But do not fear, your trusty Heartland College Sports team is here to give you something to debate: Who is the biggest NFL bust in Big 12 Football history?
There are certainly quite a few different directions to go here, but let’s get to our roundtable as the HCS staff gives their take.
Matthew Postins: Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri, No. 10 overall by Jacksonville in 2011)
Gabbert was supposed to be the answer to Jacksonville’s quarterback future. The season before, in 2010, the Jaguars went 8-8 and after the season parted ways with veteran David Garrard, who had been their top passer for five straight seasons. The Jags signed Luke McCown to be the veteran transitional quarterback, but that lasted just a few games before Gabbert had to take over due to injury. Gabbert’s season in replacement of McCown was serviceable — 2,214 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
But he never progressed. His second season, 2012, he threw for 1,662 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions in 20 games. From there, nothing worked. His final season in Jacksonville lasted three games, with 481 yards passing, one touchdown and seven interceptions. From there, Gabbard set out on a journeyman career that saw him land in San Francisco, Arizona and Tennessee, which ended in 2018. With a career of 9,063 yards, 48 touchdowns and 47 interceptions in eight seasons, those are the numbers for a late-draft selection, not one taken No. 10 overall. He ended with a career record of 13-35 as a starter.
His second season, 2012, he threw for 1,662 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions in 20 games. From there, nothing worked. His final season in Jacksonville lasted three games, with 481 yards passing, one touchdown and seven interceptions. From there, Gabbard set out on a journeyman career that saw him land in San Francisco, Arizona, and Tennessee, which ended in 2018. With a career of 9,063 yards, 48 touchdowns and 47 interceptions in eight seasons, those are the numbers for a late-draft selection, not one taken No. 10 overall. He ended with a career record of 13-35 as a starter.
Pete Mundo: Rae Carruth (WR, Colorado, No. 27 overall in the 1997 NFL Draft)
I mean the guy is a first-round pick who recently got out of prison for his role in the death of a woman after he had her murdered because she would not abort his child. Rae Carruth had less than 75 career catches and is one of the biggest P.O.S. human beings in modern existence. I can’t fathom there being a bigger bust than Rae Carruth when you combine the on-field disappointment with the off-field disaster.
For content, Carruth was a First-Team All-Big 12 selection in 1996 and then was a first-round pick by the Carolina Panther. He put up a solid rookie season with 44 catches for 545 yards and four touchdowns. In 1998 he broke his right foot in the opener and didn’t play the rest of the season. For the 1999 season, disaster happened. He played in six games, but in November he allegedly hired a hitman to murder his girlfriend who was eight months pregnant with their child. Cherica Adams ultimately died one month after falling into a coma, while the baby was born, but suffered permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy after being without oxygen for 70 minutes prior to birth. Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child.
Derek Duke: Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State, No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft)
Man, this was tough for me. There were so many options and unfortunately, I can only go with one player. Being the “baby” at Heartland College Sports, my way back memory doesn’t go back nearly as far as some of my colleagues here. But for me, one name always pops up in my mind compared to others. It’s former Oklahoma State wide receiver and “current” Jacksonville Jaguar Justin Blackmon. Blackmon was a superstar at Oklahoma State winning two Biletnikoff awards and being a two time All-American during his time in Stillwater. He racked up over 3,500 yards and 40 touchdowns in college and was going to be a top pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
And with the fifth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Jacksonville took the stud wideout and while his rookie year was promising (865 yards and 5 touchdowns), he only played in four more games in a Jaguar uniform before his career went off the rails due to suspensions. It seemed like since 2013, he could never get out of his own way and soon enough, it felt like he had more DWI’s than career touchdowns in the NFL. Even after all these years, the Jaguars still own his NFL rights if he ever comes back and that’s a mighty big if because I believe we will never see him play football again.
Cameron Brock: Jason White (QB, Oklahoma, undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft)
It may seem a bit unfair, but Oklahoma quarterback Jason White is clearly the biggest bust in the Big 12’s history. He flew up to New York twice for the Heisman Trophy presentation, winning once. In his six seasons as a Sooner, Oklahoma played in the National Championship three times, two with White as a starter. During his junior and senior seasons, he found his receivers for 81 touchdowns and over 7,000 yards. This, with Adrian Peterson as an excellent running option. Jason White is one of the greatest college football players of all-time. So, how in the world did he go undrafted? How in the world did he never take a snap in an NFL game?
Injuries. White signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans and retired in August of his first training camp. His knees were in such bad shape, he would’ve been lucky just to make it as the third-stringer. Is it a fair assessment to label White as a bust? Absolutely not. But you know, life isn’t fair sometimes. White missed out on his NFL dreams. He may have missed out on winning a Super Bowl and being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He could’ve very well made it to Canton. Instead, he lost millions in salary, more in endorsements and saw his dreams shatter. It’s not fair. It’s unfortunate. Such is life. Thankfully, unlike many other busts, White has seen success after football.
Dave Beall: Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State, No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft)
In my opinion, Justin Blackmon is one of the bigger if not the biggest NFL bust in Big 12 history. He was the best wide receiver I’ve ever seen play and honestly may be the most dominant player regardless of position I’ve seen play in person with my own eyes. This cat was unstoppable, uncoverable, and would single-handedly win games for Oklahoma State. Remember the Cowboy’s Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford? That was all Blackmon. There have been faster guys, taller guys, and better route runners than him but he was a perfect blend of all the tools a receiver needs to succeed. And he caught everything thrown to him.
His career stats in college added up to 253 receptions, 3,564 yards, and 40 touchdowns in just three years but his freshman year was just 20, 260, and 2. His junior and senior years were phenomenal. He was the Big 12 offensive player of the year in 2010, and in 2010 and 2011 he was a 2x first-team All-Big 12, a 2x unanimous All-American, a 2x Paul Warfield Trophy winner, and the second player ever to be a 2x Biletnikoff Award winner.
He was drafted 5th overall in the 2012 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars and was being compared to the likes of Anquan Boldin and Terrell Owens. His first season as a pro he was selected to Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie Team after compiling 865 yards and 5 touchdowns on 64 receptions, including a game against the Houston Texans where he had 236 yards on 7 catches, the third-most ever by an NFL rookie at the time.
Blackmon being a bust wasn’t because of a lack of talent, it was because he had issues with substance abuse. After being suspended for one game at Oklahoma State for getting a DWI while driving back to Stillwater from Texas he was arrested for DUI in Stillwater after being drafted but before signing his contract which resulted in very strict language being put in about alcohol and drug use.
Before the 2013 season (his 2nd as a pro) he received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. His first game back he caught 5 passes for 136 yards and score, and then followed that up the next week with 14 catches for 190 yards. But during the Jaguars’ bye week he got suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy a second time. He was able to apply for reinstatement before the 2014 season but after getting arrested yet again in Oklahoma for possession of marijuana Jaguars’ GM David Caldwell said Blackmon wouldn’t be rejoining the team that season. He was reportedly denied reinstatement for the 2015 season by the NFL. After that, he basically walked away from the game.
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