five favorite players. And you can't talk about 1999 without a mention of Beau Morgan. He was a Chan Gailey favorite and even though he had no chances of making the team because of his obligations to the Air Force, the Cowboys desperately wanted him to have some kind of role. But he was just too small and not fast enough and really didn't have a true position for the NFL.
2000 - For about three weeks, the star of camp was a little speedy return guy named Darran Hall. A real speed demon who could be that return threat to replace Deion yeah, not so much. In the fourth preseason game in Denver, Hall not only fumbled the opening kickoff that led to a Broncos touchdown, he then fumbled the ensuing kickoff that led to a Denver field goal. Just like that, his dream died right there on the old Mile High Stadium turf. I'm pretty sure he was allowed to fly back on the team charter but he was released two days later. Other guys from that year included Clint Stoener, who made the team and played three years, and teacher-turned-kicker Tim Seder, who beat out current Bills kicker Rian Lindell.
2001 - Best memory of that training camp came from a guy that wasn't even in camp when it began in Wichita Falls. In fact, had it not been for a gruesome collar-bone injury to wide receiver Jermaine Copeland (which occurred on a diving sideline catch right at my feet when you could actually hear a loud pop), the Cowboys might have never had to go outside to bring in a receiver. What they found was a guy playing for the af2 in Arkansas. But Reggie Swinton hurried himself to camp and it seemed like it was just a few practices later he was making a diving touchdown catch in a team drill. Swinton made the team that year and actually stuck around for about three seasons. Another camp buzz came from a small-school safety named Lynn Scott, who made our "Who's Not Hot" list about four straight days because he couldn't field a punt. He not only made the team but played four seasons.
2002 - With the HBO cameras filming "Hard Knocks," they were looking for their own stars to emerge. Guys like Randal Williams and Richmond Flowers (who was maybe a better singer than he was a player, and he wasn't a great singer) were stars of the show. But maybe they should've profiled the safety position a little more. The Cowboys had just drafted a safety with the eighth overall pick so all eyes were on Roy Williams that year. But it was a guy that became his backup that created a buzz of his own. Little-known Keith Davis, sporting No. 40, made the town of Italy, Texas proud as he made the club as a special teams ace. Davis is still considered one of the best special teams players the Cowboys have ever had. Also, he certainly joins Hawthorne on my personal top five list, too. (Just to round it out, let's finish that list with Darren Woodson, Jason Witten and James Whalen).
2003 - Not everyone on this list comes from nowhere. In Bill Parcells' first season, a big story of camp went to one of the biggest guys. Willie Blade, a third-round pick from 2001, was turning his career around and seemed to be one of Big Bill's favorite projects. Blade was playing well until a knee injury in camp kept him out for a month. Also, this rookie free agent quarterback had a little something to him. He was a little erratic and green, but Parcells saw something he liked in him. So he decided to keep him around. In about four years, Tony Romo would become the face of the franchise.
2004 - As soon as the Cowboys signed pass-rusher Kalen Thornton to a free-agent deal just after the draft, there was some talk about him becoming the first father-son combo to make the Cowboys roster. His father, Bruce, played three years in Dallas from 1979-81. But that's not why his son made the team. He was a sack-artist in the preseason games. And he's the only player on the proverbial "roster bubble" that I can recall the coach announcing he had made the team, long before