Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Jeff Fuller Vanishing Act

The past few weeks have tremendously helped me recover from the 2011 Texas A&M football season. I guess recruiting has a way of doing that to you. It's easy to forget about the pain of the past when you have an exciting new coach ushering in a heralded class of young men. With Scott and Trey hyping up the new class and the "AggSwagg" movement, things are feeling pretty good right now.

But there is one thing that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time now, and I think the reason I'm writing about it now is because the NFL Draft buzz should really heat up soon. Since the only underclassman with a legitimate shot of being drafted (Ryan Swope) officially announced that he will return to Aggieland for his senior year, our gaze can be turned upon the graduating seniors. The Rundown will undoubtedly attempt to cover the A&M/NFL Draft angle in the coming weeks, but before we dive into detailed breakdowns, I wanted to pose a question.

What the hell happened to Jeff Fuller this year?

I remember in 2008 when Fuller flipped his commitment from Oklahoma to A&M. It was a huge get for Mike Sherman. (By the way, when did "get" become the recruiting buzz word? Kids these days!) Coming out of McKinney Boyd HS, he was considered a top WR prospect that would do great things at the college level.

Up through his 2010 junior year, I would say Jeff Fuller did some great things at Texas A&M. Who can forget his triumphant return from a broken leg to score THREE touchdowns against UT on Thanksgiving in 2009? Fuller almost singlehandedly kept the Aggies in that game. Another memory that comes to mind is his 2010 All-Big 12 campaign, in which he set the A&M record for receptions.

After such a strong junior year, some expected Fuller to forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft. Fuller was projected as a first day pick, but he elected to return to Aggieland for one more year. The 12th Man rejoiced - our star receiver was back, and the Aggies were poised to reclaim Big 12 supremacy.

Obviously that didn't pan out as we had hoped. Unfortunately, neither did Jeff Fuller's senior year.

Fuller never seemed right in 2011. He dealt with various leg injuries and a concussion, and even got benched against Kansas State. Whether that was because of performance or attitude or both, I don't know.

What I do know is that the player I saw in 2008-2010 was simply not there last year. When watching the games, too often I found myself asking where Fuller was. He would disappear for long stretches, but then make an incredible catch. There was no consistency whatsoever.

When the team was continually falling apart in the third quarter, they needed someone who had been there before to rise up and lead. Who that someone is can be debated, but I am convinced no player on that team was as talented as Jeff Fuller. No Aggie had the ability to turn a game around like he did. That's the thing that irks me the most.

I hope Fuller goes on to have a successful career in the NFL. I wish him all the best. I just hate that my lasting A&M memory of one of the best athletes to ever step foot on our campus will be one of disappointment.

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