Two high school hot shots wind up as NFL Draft long shots
By CHAREAN WILLIAMScjwilliams@star-telegram.comR
Kirby Freeman, left, went to Miami and Bobby Reid to Oklahoma State as blue-chip high school recruits. Getty Images Related Tags (BETA)
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ARLINGTON ó Kirby Freeman and Bobby Reid arrived at the last-chance Pro Day at UT-Arlington a couple of weeks ago, wearing their dreams on their sleeves. In that respect, they werenít any different than the 90 or so other prospects likely too short, a step slow or just not good enough for the NFL.
So how did two of the biggest names in high school football in 2003 find themselves here, among so many no-names, as long shots to make it in the NFL?
"Weíre guys that came out and were pretty high-profile guys out of high school," Freeman said. "Itís kind of 'what have we done lately?í "
Freeman, Reid and Grand Prairieís Rhett Bomar were the Texas high school quarterbacks among the 12 quarterbacks invited to the EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp in 2003. They had arms to thrill and their pick of colleges. The future was theirs.
But Freeman and Reid had parallel college careers that ended in injury and disappointment at different schools than where they started. Neither is likely to be drafted next weekend, though they both still have NFL dreams.
"I think, not to try to be an apologist for recruiting, but itís definitely not an exact science and never will be, no different than the NFL Draft," said recruiting analyst Bobby Burton, editor of rivals.com. "Both of those guys have talent probably today like they did coming out, but for whatever reason, it didnít work out for them."
Freeman was a dual-threat quarterback, playing under his father, Steve, in Brownwood. He passed for 2,941 yards and threw 24 touchdowns his last two seasons, while rushing for 2,091 yards and 32 touchdowns. He chose the University of Miami, picking the Hurricanes for one big reason.
"The year I went out to Miami, they sent six in the first round [of the NFL Draft]," Freeman said. "I was thinking, 'If Iím going to live the dream and play in the NFL, this is where I need to go.í Five offensive coordinators later ..."
Freeman transferred to Baylor for his final season, and he began the 2008 season as the Bearsí starter. But he completed only 4 of 11 passes for 31 yards and two interceptions in the opener against Wake Forest and was pulled for freshman Robert Griffin. Freeman broke his foot the next week and never played again as Griffinís stock rose.
Freemanís college stats are not pretty: 98-of-210 (46.7 percent) for 1,360 yards with 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
"Iím not sure it turned out exactly as he had hoped," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "But he had some bright moments, too. He was MVP of a bowl game and did some nice things there at Miami. Itís just unfortunate it didnít work out for him here at Baylor. But Kirby is a top QB. I think heíll have a chance to play at the next level if somebody will give him that opportunity."
Freeman has no regrets. He met his fiancťe in Miami, earned his degree from there, was named MVP of the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl in Larry Cokerís final game and came off the bench to rally the Hurricanes to a comeback victory over rival Florida State in 2007.
"Iím completely satisfied," Freeman said. "I gave it everything I had. I hadnít ever been in the right place at the right time. Yet. I keep hoping and praying that maybe this is it. Maybe this is the right time and the right place for me to do something. We will see."
Freeman considered calling his playing career quits. He eventually wants to follow his father into coaching. But a chat with Briles convinced Freeman that he might regret not giving the NFL a try.
So thatís how he found himself renewing acquaintances with Reid six years later on a football field miles from the Elite 11 camp. Several small-school prospects whispered their names, as if they were Hall of Famers.
"Iím just a shadow now," Reid said, half-joking.
Reid, like Freeman, was a dual-threat quarterback in high school. He had 2,650 combined yards his senior season, passing for 22 touchdowns and rushing for 16 while leading Galena Park North Shore to a 15-0 record and the Class 5A state championship. He was tabbed the next Vince Young.
He chose Oklahoma State, but his first two seasons were marred by injury and a change in head coaches from Les Miles to Mike Gundy. Reid threw for 411 yards and five touchdowns in a 2006 game against Kansas, breaking Gundyís school record for most yards in a game.
But the next week, against Texas A&M, Reid suffered a concussion and Zac Robinson came off the bench and threw three touchdowns. Still, Reid completed 55.4 percent of his passes and threw 24 touchdown passes in 2006 in becoming a semifinalist for the Davey OíBrien Award.
The next season, it happened all over again. In a Week 2 game against Florida Atlantic, Reid injured his ankle and knee, and Robinson came off the bench to throw three touchdowns. When Robinson was named the starter, an Oklahoman columnist questioned Reidís attitude and toughness in detailing the reasons Reid lost his job.
Gundy went into a rant that now has been viewed almost 800,000 times on YouTube. "Come after me! Iím a man! Iím 40!" Gundy screamed at columnist Jenni Carlson. Reid said he no longer cringes at the video, though he admits it still upsets his girlfriend.
In three seasons playing at OSU, Reid completed 226 of 424 passes (53.3 percent) for 3,143 yards with 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
"No regrets about anything," said Reid, who redshirted as a freshman. "I wish the situation with me would have went a different way. Thatís just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Iím here to erase all that and just move forward in my career."
Reid left Oklahoma State ó with his degree ó after the 2007 season and declared for the NFL Draft. But, after second thoughts, Reid returned to his hometown for one last college season. Reid vowed to turn around Texas Southern, which had gone 0-11 in 2007.
"There were a few things I needed to get straight before taking that leap into the real world," Reid said.
Reid was 148-of-261 (56.7 percent) for 1,791 yards, with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions last season before tearing a knee ligament. The Tigers were 4-5 in the games Reid started and finished; they went 0-3 without him.
"He didnít come in here carrying a chip on his shoulder or anything," Texas Southern coach Johnnie Cole said. "He came in here to help. He really showed that he wanted to come in and help make us a winner. I think if he had stayed healthy, I think we would have won two or three more games than we did."
Cole is convinced Reid can play in the NFL. Reid is too. Freeman shares that same confidence in himself. Itís just like old times.
After their workout for NFL scouts, Reid and Freeman shook hands and promised to keep in touch. They donít want anyone wondering: Where is he now?
2003 Elite 11
In 2003, EA Sports chose 12 quarterbacks for its Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. Here is what happened to the 12:
Player High school College(s) Pro hopes
Rhett Bomar Grand Prairie Oklahoma, Sam Houston Projected as a third- or fourth-round choice in draft
John David Booty Evangel Christian (Shreveport) USC Fifth-round pick of the Vikings in 2008
A.J. Bryant Peach County (Fort Valley, Ga.) Georgia Moved to wideout in college and was not drafted last year
Kirby Freeman Brownwood Miami, Baylor Not expected to be drafted
Brian Hildebrand Corona, Calif. Oregon State,Mt. San Antonio (Calif.), Nebraska, Humboldt State Will not be drafted
Cornelius Ingram Hawthorne, Fla. Florida Moved to tight end at UF and projected as a third-round pick at TE
Nate Longshore Canyon Country (Calif.) California Not expected to be drafted
Anthony Morelli Penn Hills (Pittsburgh) Penn State Signed by Cardinals as a free agent last year but cut in training camp
Chase Patton Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.) Missouri Chase Danielís backup is not expected to be drafted
Bobby Reid Houston North Shore Oklahoma State, Texas Southern Not expected to be drafted
Matt Tuiasosopo Woodinville (Wash.) None Third-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 2004 MLB Draft
Drew Weatherford Land OíLakes (Fla.) Florida State Not expected to be drafted
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