The last week has been filled with a lot of questions about Josh Freeman. Why did he fail? How did he fail? Who's fault was it? I, like a lot of Bucs fans rooted for Freeman to succeed. But looking back at it, I wonder where we ever came up with the idea that it was some external force that led Freeman to fail.
When Freeman was recruited for college out of Grandview, Missouri he had a lot of key skills - big size, a decent arm, he could catch and throw and he took the game at an ease. The knock on Freeman was that he would take prestige games off and slack through drills because he was significantly better then his teammates. During his Jr. Year, coming off of an 8-3 2005, several major programs visited Freeman, but in the end it was a battle of four: Oklahoma, Kansas State, Nebraska and Missouri by all accounts. While we don't know for sure (*cough* *cough* Oklahoma *cough* *cough*) one program implied to Freeman that he should be come into college as a tight end, not a QB. Josh Freeman's father took it as a 'racial slight' (check Wikipedia for Freeman) and Freeman came down to Kansas State and Nebraska.
After a meeting with Bill Snyder, Freeman decided that Snyder's approach: that Freeman would need to change his work ethic and he would be unlikely to start but he could grow into the role didn't work for him. Freeman committed to Nebraska, where Bill Callahan promised Freeman a fast track to start at Nebraska. But Freeman's 2005 Senior season wasn't as solid as his Jr & Sophomore efforts, while his yards were up, his percentage completion rate wasn't moving (53%) and his team sputtered going 7-4 and one out of the playoffs.
Throughout his HS career, despite all the accolades, Freeman had never managed to get a highly talented team past the first round of the state level playoffs. As Bill Snyder retired, Ron Prince made a last minute pitch to Freeman: come into our program, and you can start in your first year. It was too good of an offer for Freeman, who quickly found himself jumping to Kansas State and breaking his commitment to Nebraska.
Season Team GP Rating Att Comp % Yds TD Int Att Yds TD
2006 Kansas State Wildcats 11 103.45 270 140 51.9 1,780 6 15 54 −21 2
2007 Kansas State Wildcats 12 127.26 499 316 63.3 3,353 18 11 53 −40 4
2008 Kansas State Wildcats 12 136.49 382 224 58.6 2,945 20 8 107 404 14
Freeman's tenure at Kansas State through three years generated stats... and a lot of losses. NFL scouts looked at his diminishing INTs and number of attempts and assumped Freeman was going to be the next thing in the NFL draft. But despite a solid offensive line and future NFL star Jordy Nelson, the Wildcats never took hold under Freeman, going 5-7 twice, including a loss to a downtrodden KU team and a complete collapse in the 2008 season, Freeman's last in the college ranks.
With Prince gone, and Snyder's return eminent, Freeman elected to not return for a senior season.
"The worst thing that could have happened to Josh was being selected so high in the draft. It was shocking for a kid who had never won anything at any level." noted Kevin Keitzman, 810 WHB Radio host. "He felt like he was the next Joe Montana, and the moment adversity hit at K-State and the moment going got rough and coaches changed he split on K-State, just like he's trying to pout and split on Tampa."
Freeman so far has been through numerous coaches. 2 in High School. 1 in college leaving before another, two at the pro level. That makes five. It is sometimes easy to blame the coach for his failures; but after five coaches and no success at any level, at some point you have to wonder if at least part of the problem isn't Freeman himself.