Every year there are collegiate athletes that become a household names. There are those who succeeded in college and continued to success in at the professional level (Adrian Peterson, Carmelo Anthony, Peyton Manning). However, there are even more who fail to make it at the next level (Jimmer Fredette, Trent Richardson, Ryan Leaf). What is truly telling of these athletes’ character is when they are able to find success after their unsuccessful careers in sports. The following players are just those men. Those who succeeded at one level, and while they did not last in professional sports, began to find a path in another direction.
Brady was a fan favorite in his golden years at Notre Dame. He broke numerous records and many expected a Carson Palmer-esque NFL career. He was hyped as a top-ten pick, yet fell to the Browns at 22 (rightfully so). He competed with Derek Anderson for three years before being traded to the Denver Broncos in 2010; spending two years at Mile High without a start. He bounced around four more teams until he signed a contract as a college and NFL football analyst for Fox Sports in 2014. He left Fox for a shot with the Dolphins and was last seen still chasing the dream as a participant of the 2015 Veteran’s Combine. His greatest feat is his charity, 3rd and Goal Foundation. Its goal is to make homes handicap-accessible for veterans. His father served in Vietnam and inspires Quinn to continue giving back to the nation’s heroes. His annual charity golf event took place this weekend in Dublin, Ohio.
Shipley spent six years catching passes at the University of Texas. He made splashes starting his fifth year and was granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA. Alongside quarterback Colt McCoy, the Longhorns battled and lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.
The West Virginia star quarterback made his name by running the Mountaineers to four bowl game victories (the first quarterback to do so in consecutive years). He set numerous records with his arm and feet (including career rush yards and touchdowns scored) before his senior season came to a close. The Miami Dolphins drafted White in the 2009 draft with their second selection to compete for the QB job. He showed potential, but the mobile threat wasn’t a great passer in a pass-first league. A helmet to helmet collision with Ike Taylor late in his rookie season was the last play of his NFL career. He was carted off the field and subsequently cut in the off-season. White had a short stint with the UFL’s Virginia Destroyers before an unsuccessful return to the NFL in the 2013 off-season with the Washington Redskins. He finished his football career in 2014 in the CFL and retired in March 2015. White tried his luck in baseball after being cut by the Dolphins. He was drafted by the Anaheim Angels in the fourth round of the 2014 draft but elected to go to WVU for football. He signed a minor league deal with the Miami Marlins in 2013, but the return was less than spectacular.
The 2003 NBA Draft was loaded with future stars. Among those drafted were LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh…and Darko. The Pistons snagged the seven-foot Serbian after the draft opened up with the Cavaliers no-brainer pick of James first overall. There were high hopes in Detroit that crashed and burned harder than the city of Detroit itself. While he never did play college ball in the states, the hype was too ridiculous to not include him on this list. Starting at 1:29
Smith is one of the greatest examples of college talent that had little chance in the big leagues. He suited up as starting quarterback at The Ohio State halfway through his redshirt sophomore year, and never looked back. He lost only one start in 2005 on his way to 11 rushing and 16 passing TDs, along with a QBR of 162.7 with only 4 interceptions. The Buckeyes upset the defending champion Texas Longhorns in 2006 on his way to 30 TDs, 5 interceptions, a 161.9 QBR and a Heisman trophy. While his team lost to Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship game, his legacy in college football had already been cemented. In the end, Smith was named the “Big Ten Player of the Decade” by Adam Rittenberg for his work at The Ohio State. The 6-foot Heisman winner fell to the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the NFL draft. He took the field four times late his rookie year, occasionally showing flashes of his college greatness, but mostly disappointing. His second year was stunted by a diagnosis of Lemierre’s Syndrome, simply put as a blood clot of the jugular vein. This opened the door for rookie Joe Flacco to take the reins and send Troy packing at the end of his third season in Baltimore. Smith was scooped up by the San Francisco 49ers for the 2010 season. He was relatively successful during his time as the 49ers’ first black starting quarterback, going 3-2 in a 6-10 season for the team. Despite the success, incoming head coach Jim Harbaugh wanted to find another quarterback and let Smith go before next season. It was Smith’s last success in professional football, bouncing around the NFL, UFL and CFL the next four years. His focus has since turned to bettering himself and others. He’s been an advocate for the FIT Kids Act which would establish guidelines for activity and nutrition in schools nationally. He is also enrolled in graduate classes at his alma mater in addition to working as a graduate assistant.