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The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

January 21, 2009 at 5:09 PM

The should-have-been Blue Chips

Yesterday, I took a look at the past 10 years of Blue Chips, to see just how well each of the top recruits named by The Times panned out. We give the blue chip label to players we think will become Division I stars, and as yesterday’s blog showed, it didn’t always work out.

Today, I’m looking at the players who did better than expected. These are the Blue Chip misses, the red and white chips — or guys that missed the list totally — that should have been at the top of each class. And it begins with a pair of Seahawks, established NFL players who, back in 1999, didn’t make our list of six blue chips.

Nate Burleson, O’Dea, 1999. This might be our greatest miss of all time, simply because Burleson was not only left off the blue chip list, but the red chip list, too. Yes, Burleson, a starting receiver for the Seahawks, was a white chip, as a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior out of O’Dea. Then he went to Nevada and ended up as a third-round pick before earning the 7-year, $49 million deal with the Seahawks.

Marcus Trufant, Wilson (Tacoma), 1999. Trufant was a red chip in 1999, when he was a 6-foot, 175-pound senior out of Wilson of Tacoma. The skill position players picked ahead of him? Paul Arnold and Robin Miller. Then Trufant went to Washington State, made the Rose Bowl, finished on the all-Pac 10 team and was picked 11th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft. He’s been named to one Pro Bowl and signed a $50.2 million extension.

Rien Long, Anacortes, 1999. Long, a 6-foot-7, 255-pound lineman, was a red chip in 1999, a year two linemen were blue chips (Dan Major and Jeremey Williams). None came close to matching Long’s college success, as Long won the 2002 Outland Trophy as the country’s best interior lineman, and he went on to be a fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans.

Mike Karney, Kentwood, 2000. Karney was a red chip in 2000, and perhaps it is too much to put a fullback on the blue-chip list, but Karney has had a successful professional career. He was an all-Pro selection in 2006, and while at Arizona State, he was one of college football’s top fullbacks.

Michael Koenen, Ferndale, 2000. He’s a kicker. I know. I’ve heard it enough today, as I ran this list by the office. But we include kickers on the list every year — even had a punter become a blue chip one year — so when someone is as good as Koenen has been since high school, it’s worth noting. At Western Washington, Koenen set a school record with a 43.1-yard punting average. Since leaving Bellingham, he has been the punter for the Atlanta Falcons and handled the team’s kickoffs.

Will Derting, Okanagan, 2001. Derting didn’t make the blue-chip cut in 2001, when he was a 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker out of Okanagan. Okanagan certainly isn’t an easy place to get noticed, but Derting was definitely noticed once he started playing for the Cougars. He was an NFL draft prospect his senior season, but a torn ACL ended his career,

Nate Robinson, Rainier Beach, 2001. A strong case could be made that Robinson had better career prospects as a defensive back than as a point guard. After his freshman year at Washington, he decided to play basketball exclusively, but he showed definite blue-chip potential in his freshman season with the football team.

Adam Carriker, Kennewick, 2002. Carriker was a difficult player to assess out of high school. He had the size — 6-foot-3, 245 pounds as a senior — but he played quarterback and defensive end for a winless Kennewick team, and he was named only to the all-Big 9 second team. But as a junior at Nebraska, Carriker led the Big 12 in sacks, and in his senior season, he was named the Big 12 defensive lineman of the year. It helped that he grew to 6-foot-6 and 297 pounds, with enough size and skill that St. Louis made him the 13th overall pick in the 2007 draft.

Michael Allan, Interlake, 2003. Perhaps Allan shouldn’t have been a blue chip, but he definitely was among the top 100 players to graduate in 2003. But the future seventh-round draft pick was not on the list in 2003, largely because he was just a 6-foot-4, 190 pound receiver when he left Interlake. When he graduated from Division III Whitworth as a tight end, he was 6-foot-6 and weighed 255 pounds. He set school records for individual season touchdown receptions (15 in 2005), career touchdown receptions (29), and career yards per catch (18.7).

Brandon Gibson, Rogers (Puyallup), 2005. Was Gibson a Division I star? It’s hard to argue otherwise. He’s probably the top receiver to ever play for Washington State, though it’s a shame it ended in such a difficult season. But Gibson, recently invited to the Senior Bowl, finished his four years as Washington State’s all-time receiving leader. In 2005, Gibson was picked behind skill players J.R. Hasty and Leon Jackson, neither of whom have accomplished much in Division I.

Any other recruits you think should have made the blue-chip list? Feel free to go through the lists I found today in our archives (they are PDF’d of microfilm, so you might need to zoom a bit to be able to read them):

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

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