College Football Recruiting's 10 Biggest Five-Star Busts Since 2008
Athlon Sports looks at the last five recruiting classes and pinpoints the biggest busts.
By: Braden Gall | 1/29/13, 6:10 AM EST
The top 10 players in the 2008 Athlon Consensus 100 included Julio Jones (No. 2), Da’Quan Bowers (No. 4), A.J. Green (No. 6), Arthur Brown (No. 7), Patrick Peterson (No. 9) and Terrelle Pryor (No. 1). Others like Matt Kalil, Tyron Smith, EJ Manuel, Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph and Michael Brewster were also “five-star” talents.
“Five-Star” is defined many different ways. Scout.com use to automatically give the top 50 players in every class a fifth star until it changed that approach this cycle (there are 42 for the 2013 class). Rivals and 247 Sports give roughly 30 per year — give or take a few each year based on merit. For example, Rivals’ 2013 class includes 33 five-stars, the 2012 class had 32 and the 2011 class had just 26. ESPN has recently added stars to its ranking process and is far more prudent with its five-star rankings. The 2012 and 2013 classes feature just 11 five-stars each.
That doesn't mean, however, that these five-star prospects are guaranteed success on the college level. Players transfer, are kicked out of school, can't stay eligible or simply aren't as good as anticipated. A big-time recruit can earn the "bust" label for a number of reasons. For the sake of this discussion, Athlon Sports considers the Top 30 players in the AC100 as five-star talents and only players in the last five classes (2008-12) are considered.
So who are the biggest five-star busts of the last five years?
1. Dayne Crist, QB, Notre Dame (2008)
Canoga Park (Calif.) Notre Dame
AC100 No. 20, No. 2 QB
Injuries certainly played a large role in Crist being labeled a bust, but he has had his chances and failed to even come close to his lofty recruiting status. He played in 13 games for Notre Dame in three years (2,163 yards, 16 TD, 8 INT) before transferring to Kansas to reunite with Charlie Weis. At KU, he had yet another shot at being the star, but managed to throw just four touchdowns and nine interceptions this fall (1,313 yards). He trailed only Terrelle Pryor in the '08 quarterback rankings.
2. Bryce Brown, RB, Tennessee (2009)
Wichita (Kan.) East
AC100 No. 4, No. 1 RB
The recruiting process for the top running back of the 2009 class was a circus. He eventually signed with the Vols nearly two months following National Signing Day. He showed ability, rushing for 460 yards and three scores as a freshman. But in the offseason, he left Knoxville to return home to play at Kansas State. He played two games for the Wildcats, rushing for a total of 16 yards on three carries. Regardless of what Brown does in the NFL, his college career must be considered a bust for not one but two college programs.
3. Jermie Calhoun, RB, Oklahoma (2008)
Van (Texas) High
AC100 No. 10, No. 2 RB
The Van High School running back was the highest rated running back recruit to sign with Oklahoma since Adrian Peterson. He never lived up to his lofty top ten status. He played 16 career games, rushing for 242 yards and one career touchdown. He injured his knee and missed all of 2011 before transferring to Angelo State in December 2011.
4. Blake Ayles, TE, USC (2008)
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran
AC100 No. 15, No. 1 TE
Ayles played for two seasons at USC, catching just 14 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown. He then transferred to Miami and was set to contribute in 2011 before a preseason concussion ended his college career. He never played another down and went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. It was an unfortunate end for what appeared to be a very promising career for what was considered the best player at his position in the nation.
5. Dorian Bell, LB, Ohio State (2008)
Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
AC100 No. 11, No. 2 LB
A freakish athlete, Bell could never get his head screwed on straight off the field. Behavior and focus were concerns long before he signed with Ohio State and they continued after he showed up in Columbus. After redshirting in 2009 and playing on special teams in 2010, he was suspended for the 2011 season as one of the 12 involved in Tatoo-Gate. He transferred to Duquesne as a result. He has posted 129 tackles in 15 games for the Dukes.
6. Tyler Love, OL, Alabama (2008)
Mountain Brook (Ala.) High
AC100 No. 23, No. 3 OL
Nick Saban has rarely missed on five-star talent but Love will end his Tide career as an afterthought on some of the most talented teams in program history. He played a total of 12 games in his four-year career (one in 2011 and six in 2009) and will earn two national championship rings. He decided to step away from football after the 2011 season with one year of eligibility remaining.
7. Russell Shepard, WR, LSU (2009)
Houston (Texas) Cypress Ridge
AC100 No. 2, No. 2 QB
Shepard did play 48 games in his LSU career and he did technically play in a national championship game (1 solo tackle). But he finished his career without making any major impact at any one position despite being ranked behind only Matt Barkley in the '09 AC100. He posted 570 yards receiving and rushed for 716 yards over the course of his career, but he never threw a pass at QB and never became a focal point of the offense. His career high in offensive touches for a single-season was 65 in 2010. To be ranked the No. 2 player in the nation, Shepard must be considered a bust.
8. B.J. Scott, ATH, Alabama (2008)
Prichard (Ala.) Vigor
AC100 No. 22, No. 2 ATH
Scott projected as an “athlete” because he had potential at both defensive back and wide receiver. It turns out that he wasn’t good enough at either. He saw time as a freshman at wide receiver catching two passes before redshirting in 2009. He then played six games as a sophomore at defensive back making six total tackles. He transferred to South Alabama and eventually landed back in FBS football when USA joined the Sun Belt in 2012. He had 84 tackles in 2012.
9. Randall Carroll, WR, UCLA (2009)
Inglewood (Calif.) Cathedral
AC100 No. 29, No. 4 WR
The speed demon had loads of ability but couldn’t ever get his game together. He played 34 games in three years before being dismissed from the team in January 2012. Carroll was involved in Twitter wars with his coaching staff, a bench-clearing brawl with Arizona and academic ineptitude during his time in Westwood. You have to produce more than 21 catches, 297 yards and two touchdowns for a program to put up with that much poor behavior.
10. Chris Martin, DL, Cal (2010)
Aurora (Colo.) Grandview
AC100 No. 19, No. 4 DE
After playing high school football for more than one program, Martin is set to play for his fourth college in 2013. He committed to Notre Dame, signed with Cal, transferred to Florida before playing a down and ultimately left Gainesville for City College of San Francisco. He then signed with Kansas in December and it turns out he actually will play for Charlie Weis — but at Kansas instead of Notre Dame. Martin could still alter his legacy, but great players don’t normally play for four different teams in four years.
Others receiving votes:
There are plenty of other names who could eventually land on the above list as well. It is simply too early to evaluate all of the 2010, '11 and '12 classes. Kyle Prater and Darius White, for example, were complete busts for USC and Texas respectively but both have second chances coming in 2013 for Northwestern and Missouri. The same could be said for Jeff Luc at Florida State, Arthur Lynch at Notre Dame or Lache Seastrunk at Oregon. The stud athletes are certainly considered busts by the fans in Tallahassee, South Bend and Eugene no matter what they do at Cincinnati, Florida or Baylor.
Darius Winston, DB, Arkansas (2009)
West Helena (Ark.) Central
AC100 No. 22, No. 2 CB
Winston wasn’t kicked out of school and didn’t transfer, but he also did very little of consequence while in Fayetteville. He played in 37 games and made a total of 52 tackles in four years. He had one career interception and set a career high with 23 tackles in 2010. For a school like the Hogs who don't land five-star talent very often, it hurts that much more to "miss" on a five-star.
Darrell Scott, RB, Colorado (2008)
AC100 No. 3, No. 1 RB
Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas (2008)
AC100 No. 9, No. 3 QB
T.J. Bryant, CB, USC (2008)
AC100 No. 28, No. 2 DB
Patrick Hall, ATH, USC (2009)
AC100 No. 30, No. 1 ATH
Kyle Prater, WR, USC (2010)
AC100 No. 6, No. 2 WR
Darius White, WR, Texas (2010)
AC100 No. 12, No. 3 WR
Malcolm Jones, RB, UCLA (2010)
AC100 No. 29, No. 6 RB
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia (2011)
AC100 No. 9, No. 2 RB
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