Occasionally, that early exposure doesn't work out as well:

Ron Powlus, Notre Dame: No, he didn't play as a freshman. Two broken collarbones ended that chance. But when he threw four touchdown passes against Northwestern in his debut, Brent Musburger asked breathlessly how many Heismans he would win. ESPN's Beano Cook had the answer: two. It didn't happen. Powlus's career was marred by injury. He now works for a bank in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Ronald Curry, North Carolina: Bobby Bowden once called him the "best schoolboy quarterback I ever did see." He ended up setting Tar Heels records for passing yards and total offense, but by his senior season, he was sharing job with redshirt freshman Darian Durant. He now plays wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders.

Maurice Clarett, Ohio State, and Mike Williams, Southern California: Clarett will forever be the reason these two got lumped together. A refresher: He led the Buckeyes to the national championship as a freshman running back, then tried to enter the NFL draft, a privilege previously extended only to those who had been out of high school for three years. A U.S. district judge ruled Clarett should be eligible for the draft, a ruling that lured Williams, an all-American wide receiver and sophomore who had helped the Trojans to the national championship, into the draft as well. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg finally ruled that Clarett -- and Williams -- couldn't enter the draft. Neither is playing this season.

C.J. Leak, Tennessee: The older brother of current Florida quarterback Chris Leak began his career as one of the most highly touted recruits in the history of Wake Forest's football program. Jim Caldwell, then the Demon Deacons' coach, wanted to bring Leak along slowly, and he threw just 18 passes as a freshman. As a sophomore, Leak played in three games -- without throwing a touchdown pass -- before a knee injury ended his season. He transferred to Tennessee in 2001, but never won the starting job. Now, he is listed as a tight end on Tennessee's roster.