The conference was overflowing with future NFL standouts 10 years ago.
Stardom in college football is often fleeting. Unlike professional sports, where a player's career with a team can stretch out as long as they, or the team they play for, wants it to, the longest a college sports star can sustain a career is four years. Because of this, it is easy for fans to forget about some of their favorite player's just years down the road.
With the recent release of the 2012 All-Pac-12 football team, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the 2002 All-Pac-10 team and how their careers played out after their selections.
2002 All-Pac-10 Offense
QB Carson Palmer Sr. USC
Palmer set a number of USC records and took home the Heisman in his senior campaign as he led the Trojans back to glory and blazed a trail for the great Trojan teams that followed him. Palmer had actually been largely a disappointment before 2002 as he was a heralded high school quarterback, but had thrown more interceptions then touchdowns and failed to lead USC back to prominence.
Palmer was the first pick of the 2003 draft by Cincinnati and he quickly led the Bengals to the playoffs after years of futility in 2005 only to be injured on the team's first drive of their opening playoff game. Palmer's breakout year in 2005 which earned him a Pro Bowl trip and an AFC Player of the Year Award has been his best to date. He hasn't been able to replicate the success of his third season in the league, but remains a solid starter for Oakland.
QB Jason Gesser Sr. Washington State
I don't think that the conference does it anymore, but they used to add more spots than usual on the team for positions that had more deserving players than the usual position allotment would allow (It happens a lot on this team). Gesser was in fact very deserving of first team status, as he capped off his great career with the Cougars by leading them to a Rose Bowl and sharing Pac-10 Player of the Year honors with Palmer.
Gesser wasn't big enough to sustain an NFL career, though he did spend a year with Tennessee. He spent a few years split between the CFL and AFL before settling in on a coaching career that recently saw him serve as the interim head coach at Idaho this season.
RB Steven Jackson So. Oregon State
Jackson looked like an NFL running back in college and led the conference in rushing as a sophomore while also being named a first-team All-American. He followed it up by being named first team All-Pac-10 in 2003 and was taken in the first round of the draft by St. Louis with the 24th pick.
A massive physical freak, Jackson has used his 6'2 240 pound frame to become one of the most consistent running backs in the NFL for almost 10 years now. He has remained with the Rams for his entire career and is the franchise's all-time leading rusher and a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
RB Onterrio Smith Jr. Oregon
Smith arrived in Eugene after being kicked off the Tennessee team and was an instant star for the Ducks, rushing for more than 1,100 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns in 2002 before declaring for the NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, Smith's troubles didn't end at Tennessee and his NFL career with Minnesota was littered with suspensions and comical follies involving drugs that prevented him from having what could have been a good career. Despite all of his potential, Smith was out of the league within three years due to a two-year suspension from the league.
WR Shaun McDonald Jr. Arizona State
McDonald wasn't a big receiver at 5'10 185, but he put up big numbers in 2002, grabbing 87 catches for more than 1,400 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. McDonald skipped his senior season after being first team All-Pac-10 back-to-back years and was taken in the fourth round by St. Louis.
McDonald had a solid run with the Rams for four years in which he had more than 1,000 yards receiving before having a big year with Detroit in 2007. McDonald left the league after a year with Pittsburgh in 2009.
WR Bobby Wade Sr. Arizona
Like McDonald, Wade wasn't big or fast, but was a great pure receiver and put up great numbers as he grabbed 93 passes for nearly 1,400 and scored 8 touchdowns in 2002. Wade played for a bad Arizona team, but made the most out of it and was far and away their best player on offense.
Wade was drafted by Chicago in the fifth round of the NFL Draft and was a valued punt returner for the Bears before having a couple good years receiving with Minnesota. His NFL career came to an end in 2010 after a brief stint with Washington.
WR Reggie Williams So. Washington
The best receiver in Husky history had his best year in 2002 as he had nearly 100 receptions for nearly 1,500 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Williams had two 3 touchdown games and would regularly take over games with his size (6'4 220) and speed.
Williams had a less prolific junior year before leaving early and getting selected by Jacksonville with the ninth pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. Williams showed flashes of his college ability in Jacksonville, but was inconsistent and was basically out of the NFL after the 2008 season and was arrested for drug possession in 2009. Williams was able to recover and get a tryout with Seattle but was unable to make the team.
TE Mike Seidman Sr. UCLA
Seidman was the team's MVP and a Mackey Award finalist as he had more than 600 yards receiving for the Bruins and scored 5 touchdowns. Seidman was the Bruins best receiving target and set the single-season receiving yard record for tight ends at UCLA.
He was taken by Carolina in the third round of the NFL Draft, but was never able to sustain a career due to ACL injuries and left the league in 2007 after a brief stint with Indianapolis.
OL Kwame Harris Jr. Stanford
Harris was the best lineman in the conference in 2002, winning the Morris Trophy in 2002 before being one of the first Stanford players I can ever remember to declare for the draft early.
A talented physical specimen at 6'7 325, Harris was taken by San Francisco towards the end of the first round and had a solid five year run with the 49ers, starting much of the time, but had his NFL career end in just one season after signing with Oakland in 2008.
OL Mike Saffer Sr. UCLA
Saffer paved the way for a solid trio of UCLA running backs as the team average 125 yards a game. A three-year starter, Saffer spent a year with the New York Giants in 2003.
OL Derrick Roche Jr. Washington State
Roche was the best player on a talented Cougar offensive line and a key reason why the Cougars went to the Rose Bowl in 2002. Roche would go on to earn All-America honors in 2003 as a senior and though he didn't have an NFL career, he has spent time as an assistant coach at UTEP and Idaho State.
OL Jacob Rogers Jr. USC
Rogers emerged as one of the best linemen in the conference in his second year as a starter and was crucial in the Trojans return to glory in 2002 as he protected Palmer and blocked for a rejuvenated Trojan run game. He would have an even better senior year, earning All-America honors and winning the Morris Trophy.
Drafted by Dallas late in the second round of the NFL Draft but had only a brief career in the NFL due to injury.
OL Calvin Armstrong So. Washington State
Armstrong was a big body tackle at 6'7 320 who started in almost every game of his Cougar career and helped protect Gesser and paved the way for running back Jermaine Green. He wouldn't match the performance of his sophomore year moving forward, only earning honorable mention all conference in 2003 and missing out on honors in 2004.
Despite declining from his sophomore year, Armstrong was taken by Philadelphia in the sixth round of the NFL Draft and had a brief career in the NFL and a career in the CFL.
OL Scott Tercero Sr. Cal
A big part of Cal's breakout season under Jeff Tedford in his first year in Berkeley, Tercero paved the way for Joe Igber to be a 1,000 yard rusher and protected quarterback Kyle Boller.
He was selected by St. Louis in the sixth round of the NFL Draft and was with the team for two seasons.
DL Terrell Suggs Jr. Arizona State
One of the best defensive linemen to ever play in the conference, Suggs earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American honors as he broke the single-season NCAA sacks record with 24. Suggs also forced an amazing 14 fumbles and knocked down 9 passes while also grabbing two interceptions and led the Sun Devils to the Holiday Bowl.
Taken by Baltimore with the tenth pick of the NFL Draft after he declared following his junior season, Suggs slid back to linebacker and has been one of the best defensive players in the league since his rookie season.
DL Eric Manning Sr. Oregon State
Manning was a tough, run stuffing defensive tackle that led a tough Beaver defense. I'm not sure if Manning ended up having any kind of NFL career and there is little about him lurking on the web.
DL Tully Banta-Cain Sr. Cal
Banta-Cain was an under the radar standout before Tedford took over and the Bears broke out, greatly aided by 13 sacks and 22 tackles-for-loss as a senior. Banta-Cain capped off a great career at Cal, trailing only Regan Upshaw and Andre Carter in career sacks.
He slipped to the seventh round of the draft where he was taken by New England, but he immediately became a borderline starter for the Patriots on their best teams and won two Super Bowls. Banta-Cain went to San Francisco after good years with the Patriots and left the league in 2011.
DL Rien Long Jr. Washington State
Arguably the greatest defensive linemen to ever play for the Cougars, Long was a huge and ultra-athletic beast for the Cougars as a junior in 2002 and took home the Outland Trophy along with All-American honors. Long anchored a strong Cougar defensive front and was the best player on a Rose Bowl team.
Despite early projections that had him being considered for the first round of the draft after declaring early, Long fell all the way to the fourth round where he was taken by Tennessee. He had a short career with the Titans that was hampered with injuries before leaving the league in 2007.
LB Richard Siegler Jr. Oregon State
The outspoken linebacker had a reputation for giving opponents locker room fodder, but also backed up on the field as one of the best linebackers in the conference. Siegler was a tackling machine that could also pressure the quarterback along with being able to drop back into coverage and followed up 2002 with another first team All-Pac-10 selection in 2003.
A fourth round draft pick by San Francisco, Siegler failed to catch on in the NFL and only spent a year with the 49ers and a year with Pittsburgh. He was embroiled in a dicey legal problem in 2007 involving prostitution, but spent 2010 and 2011 as an assistant with Portland State.
LB Nick Barnett Sr. Oregon State
Barnett was the best player on a very good Oregon State defense and led the conference in tackles while also getting 21 of them for losses along with 6 six sacks. Relying on athleticism rather than size, Barnett was quick to the ball and also an asset in pass defense.
Green Bay took Barnett late in the first round and he lived up to his first round status during his lengthy career with the Packers, earning All-Pro honors in 2007 and helping them win Super Bowl XLV. He has been a starter for Buffalo now since 2011.
LB Lance Briggs Sr. Arizona
Briggs was a bright spot on a lot of bad Arizona teams and this was his second-straight first team All-Pac-10 selection. He wasn't a flashy player, but simply just an outstanding linebacker that never missed a tackle.
His lack of flash probably led to him dropping to the third round of the draft where Chicago took him, but he had done nothing but make them look brilliant during his career with the Bears lining up next to Brian Urlacher. One of the best linebackers in the league year after year, Briggs has made seven Pro Bowls.
LB Matt Grootegoed So. USC
An undersized linebacker at 5'10 210, Grootegoed was actually a running back and safety in high school, but quickly made his mark as a tough, speedy linebacker for the Trojans, racking up honors already as a sophomore. Grootegoed would be a big part of USC's turnaround on defense and left USC as an All-American in 2004.
Lacking the size to play in the NFL, Grootegoed made a couple squads before having a career in the CFL for a few years.
DB Troy Polamalu Sr. USC
Probably the best defensive back to play in the conference in the last 10 years, Polamalu was the leader of USC's resurgence and the first guy that comes to mind when thinking about the Trojans taking over the Pac-10 with ferocious defense. Polamalu was a first team All-American for pretty much everyone in the country who made a list and was also the Trojans Most Inspirational Award winner.
The fact that he was taken in the mid-first round by Pittsburgh to his pure football skills, as Polamalu is the biggest or straight up fastest guy. All he has done with the Steelers is be make the Pro Bowl almost every year, win two Super Bowls and become one of the most recognizable players in the league.
DB Marcus Trufant Sr. Washington State
Trufant was a four-year starter for the Cougars and arguably the best cornerback in the history of the program. Trufant more than earned his All-Pac-10 and All-American honors by not giving up a single touchdown in 2001 or 2002.
The hometown Seahawks took Trufant with the eleventh pick of the draft and he has been with the team ever since, quickly establishing himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Trufant is now a veteran leader for the Seahawks and his younger brother, Desmond a standout cornerback for Washington.
DB Ricky Manning Sr. UCLA
A perennial lockdown cornerback for the Bruins, this was Manning's third-straight year being named first-team All-Pac-10. Manning was a tough corner known for grabbing interceptions as he left UCLA among the all-time leaders in picks.
He was drafted in the third round by Carolina and had a good career in the NFL with the Panthers and later Chicago and St. Louis, grabbing 14 interceptions over the course of his career. Manning was recently named the head coach of his powerhouse high school alma mater, Edison, in Fresno, California.
DB Dennis Weathersby Sr. Oregon State
Looking back, I'm surprised the Beavers didn't have more success in 2002 with all of the talent that they had. Weathersby was a big corner at 6'1 205 and known for his physical play, as he was stalwart in the Beavers defensive back field his entire time in Corvallis.
He was drafted by Cincinnati in the fourth round of the draft, but unfortunately had his career cut very short by a nightmarish string of bad luck that hit him right before being drafted. Weathersby was shot in a case of mistaken identity just three days before the draft, but was able to recover. Just about a year later, he was in a car accident that left him in a coma and essentially ended his career.
DB Derrick Johnson So. Washington
The speedy Johnson had his best year as a sophomore in 2002 picking up more than 50 tackles while breaking up 10 passes and intercepting 5. Johnson would have another good year in 2003, picking off six passes, and was actually a junior in 2002 as he never applied for a medical redshirt that ended his 2001 season.
Johnson was taken in the sixth round of the draft by San Francisco and had a busy six-year NFL career that saw him play for a different team each year.
K Jared Siegel So. Oregon
Siegel put together an impressive season in 2002 as one of the leading scorers in the nation while also hitting 83 percent of his field goals for the Ducks.
P Nate Fikse Sr. UCLA
Fikse averaged 41 yards per punt while also handling field goal and extra point duties for the Bruins.
KOR LaShaun Ward Sr. Cal
Ward was one of the most dangerous and consistent kick returners in the conference as he averaged 29 yards per return and also brought one back for a touchdown against Arizona.
He went undrafted but was able to make a few NFL teams over the course of a short career and later landed in the CFL for a few seasons.
PR Keenan Howry Sr. Oregon
Howry was also a very good receiver, but was most electric as a punt returner as he average 14 yards per return and took punts back all the way against UCLA and Oregon State.
His returning skills were crucial in him being taken in the seventh round by Minnesota where he played for a few years before ending up in the CFL.