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Back in Time- California No. 1s

Evaluation never stops at 247Sports and that includes evaluations of our evaluations.

Jimmy Clausen announced his commitment to Notre Dame at the College Football Hall of Fame. He is now a back-up with the Carolina Panthers.

So we are going to crank up the DeLorean, fuel the flux capacitor and look at the top prospects (according to the 247Composite, which weighs equally the ratings and rankings of media networks that cover recruiting) from the state of California from the 2007-2011 classes and tell you who we would have liked with the benefit of hindsight.

Class of 2007

Industry Pick- Jimmy Clausen, QB, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian

More than one national recruiting analyst and most who had been in the business for years felt that Clausen was the best quarterback they had seen in some time. He had an outstanding arm and a good pedigree (his two brothers played at Tennessee and LSU/Tennessee respectively) and was in the minds of most a can’t-miss prospect. Clausen was a five-star prospect according to the 247Composite with a stellar numerical rating of 0.9987. He signed with Notre Dame and improved each year he was there, throwing for 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns compared to only four interceptions his junior year before declaring for the NFL Draft. He was selected in the second round by the Carolina Panthers where he is a back-up.

The Do-Over- Ryan Mathews, RB, Bakersfield (Calif.) West

Everyone would have loved to have known that Matthews was going to blow up like he did at Fresno State and in the NFL. He was a three-star prospect according to the 247Composite with a numerical rating of .8021. He rushed for 1,808 yards and 19 touchdowns during his junior year with the Bulldogs and was drafted as the No. 12 overall pick by the San Diego Chargers. He made the pro bowl last season.

Class of 2008

Industry Pick- Darrell Scott, RB, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure

Matt Kalil very likely was the top prospect in California for the Class of 2008. He was the fourth overall pick of this year's NFL Draft and plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

Scott had size, speed and explosiveness and gave every indication of being a can’t miss running back prospect in this particular class. He was considered a five-star with a numerical rating of 0.Indeed he did end up having the physical tools, but his lack of preparation prior to his freshman year at Colorado sidetracked him as did his open complaints about carries (there were other backs on the roster that were just better at this point). He transferred to South Florida where he was solid, but then made the ill-advised decision to declare early for the draft. He went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys this season, but was cut after failing a physical (hip flexor).

The Do-Over- Matt Kalil, OT, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite

Kalil had lofty ratings and rankings as a recruit- he was a five-star according to the 247Composite and had a numerical rating of 0.9876, so it wasn’t like he was a complete miss. But as far as the state rankings go, he ended up being behind not only Scott, but current Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist (originally signed with Notre Dame) and oft-injured tight end Blake Ayles who went to USC and then ultimately Miami (Fla.) and never made an impact. So that’s three guys that didn’t make it not only to the NFL, but at their first college choices. Kalil was a first-team All-American at USC, a Lombardi Award semifinalist and the No. 4 overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. When we watched him in high school, he was as can’t miss as they come. Looking back, the three gambles ahead of him did not pay off.

Class of 2009

Industry Pick- Matt Barkley, QB, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei

With a big arm and outstanding pedigree, Barkley was one of the most celebrated quarterback recruits ever. A five-star with a numerical rating of 0.9993, he was the top overall prospect in the country according to the 247Composite and was the top quarterback as well. He enrolled at USC and has been a starter since the first game of his freshman season. Barkley hasn’t enjoyed the supporting cast that some of his predecessors with the Trojans have had, but he’s still put up excellent numbers (he set a USC record with six touchdown passes against Colorado last year) and is projected to be a top pick in this year’s NFL Draft (No. 2 currently on Kiper’s Big Board).

The Do-Over- None. By most accounts Barkley was the right call here.

Class of 2010

Industry Pick- Ronald Powell, DE, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde

Powell was a five-star prospect with an 0.9999 rating (extremely high) by the 247Composite, meaning the 6-foot-4, 220-pound jumbo athlete was close to a consensus (Scout/Fox went with current Miami (Fla.) offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, who prepped in Minnesota) No. 1. Powell signed with Florida and has shown flashes of the freakish potential the industry saw during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and on film, but just when it appeared he was poised to break out, he suffered a setback. Powell had a team-high six sacks in 2011, but suffered an injury that has led to a redshirt this season.

The Do-Over- Robert Woods, WR, Gardena (Calif.) Serra

Woods is one of the most dynamic players in college football and as recently as last spring, projected to be a top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft if he declares. He set college football on fire as a freshman in 2010, finishing with 111 catches for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also set the USC single-game record for receptions with a 17-catch, 177-yard showing against Minnesota in this year's season opener. Woods wasn’t necessarily a miss like Matthews was. The 247Composite had him at five stars and a numerical rating of 0.9986.

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