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What Happened To The 5-Star Prospects?
Former Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson
How many of the superstar recruits actually pan out? Richard Cirminiello goes back four years to see how many of the 5-star prospects actually lived up to their billing, like former Oklahoma star Adrian Peterson, and which fizzled.
Recruiting - What Happened To the 5-Star Prospects?
The 5-Star Prospects From 2004
Re-Ranking the 2004 Recruiting Classes
5-star recruit. The Holy Grail for any coaching staff, university, and
fan base. There are good high school players, and then there are the
5-star athletes, the top 1% of available candidates, and the caliber of
players that programs and recruiting classes are built around. However,
the glow of landing one of these rare gems can sometimes fade before the
following February’s signing day. The reality is that even the
highest-rated recruits can be hit-or-miss, an inexact science that can
be exhilarating or unbelievably frustrating. To illustrate this point,
we’ve taken a revisionist look at the 30 5-star recruits from four years
ago to see who lived up to expectations and who was living a lie. We’ve
also revised the ratings of each player to reflect how well they’ve
matched lofty advanced billings since leaving high school.
*Historical rankings from 2004 are courtesy of Scout.com
1. OL Jeff Byers, USC – In terms of perseverance, you might need
to break out a sixth star for Byers, who battled his way back from
serious injuries to start at guard last season and play in 13 games.
After looking like a blue-chipper as a true freshman in 2004, he missed
all of 2005 and 2006 with torn cartilage in his hip and back problems,
respectively. Byers played well in his first season back with USC,
showing hints of why he was so highly touted coming out of high school,
and laying the foundation for what should be an ever better final
2. LB Willie Williams, Miami – Exhibit A of the million-dollar
athlete with a 10-cent head, Williams squandered countless opportunities
to make restitution for a checkered past. After leaving Miami and
attending West Los Angeles Community College, he resurfaced at
Louisville, only to wear out his welcome last September following an
arrest for possession of marijuana, felony tampering, and driving
without a license. Undoubtedly out of second chances, Williams’ vast
potential as a linebacker is likely to go untapped.
Rating: No stars
3. RB Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma – Although injuries limited
Peterson in 2005 and 2006, there’s no debating he’s one of the most
complete backs to come out of college in a long time. A big back that
can bounce off tacklers or jet past them, he burst onto the scene as a
true freshman, rushing for 1,325 yards and finishing second to USC’s
Matt Leinart in the Heisman voting. Peterson suffered a high ankle
sprain as a sophomore and broke his collar bone as a junior, the only
things that prevented him from smashing Billy Sims’ Sooner rushing
record. Just like his first year in Norman, he was a rookie sensation
for the Minnesota Vikings in 2007, rushing for 1,341 yards, including a
single-game record 296 yards on Nov. 4, and getting named NFL Offensive
Rookie of the Year.
Ted Ginn, Ohio State – For the three years Ginn was in Columbus,
only USC’s Reggie Bush was a more electrifying gamebreaker with the ball
in his hands. Able to rip through a secondary or special teams coverage
with effortless motion, he made a seamless full-time switch to offense
and never looked back. Although not the prototype at receiver, Ginn
caught 125 passes for 1,943 yards and 15 touchdowns, while carving out a
niche as one the best return men of all-time. He was selected No. 9
overall in last year’s draft, catching 34 passes and scoring three times
for the Miami Dolphins.
5. DE Brandon Miller, Georgia – Miller was a 5-star recruit that
wound up playing much of his career like a 3-star defender, at best.
Whether it was an inability to match him at the right position, nagging
injuries, or sub par football instincts, he never came close to reaching
the lofty expectations that preceded his arrival in Athens. A part-time
starter at linebacker the last two years, Miller finished a very
disappointing stay at Georgia with 108 tackles, nine tackles for loss,
and just a single sack.
Dan Connor, Penn State – At a school that’s been defined by its
linebackers, Connor staked his claim over the last four years to being
the best ever to play in Happy Valley. An All-American the last two
seasons, he won the Bednarik Award given to the nation’s best defensive
player and became the Lions’ all-time leading tackler in 2007. A
linebacker with unmatched instincts at the position, he should be
scooped up long before the end of the first round of this spring’s NFL
7. QB Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma – Most blue-chip busts are a result
of a kid not being able to cut it, but that’s not the case with Bomar.
He really came on as a redshirt freshman in 2005, earning MVP honors in
the Holiday Bowl, but let the air out of his Sooner career when NCAA
rules violations resulted in his dismissal before the start of the
following season. Bomar got back to action in 2007 as a member of Sam
Houston State, throwing 10 touchdowns and six picks in nine games. He
has one more year of eligibility in Huntsville to breathe life into a
once-promising career that took a disastrous detour.
8. DE Charles Johnson, Georgia – After two mostly uneventful
years in Athens, Johnson had one big season in 2006, and bolted to the
NFL, a bad trade-off for Dawg fans that wanted him for one more fall.
In his debut as the starter, the junior finished with a team-high 19
tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups and 27 pressures, good
enough for a spot on the All-SEC Second Team. Johnson was a third round
selection of the Carolina Panthers in 2007, but was inactive for 13
games as a rookie.
9. WR Early Doucet, LSU – An injury last year and the program’s
depth at the position between 2004 and 2006 kept Doucet from really
teeing off statistically, and contending for national awards. However,
those in the know recognize that he has matured into one of the nation’s
most polished receivers, a fluid athlete that runs great routes and can
deliver key blocks. Doucet finished with 160 career catches, modest in
some circles, yet 20 went for touchdowns, and his best days lie ahead in
a league that’s going to tap all of his athletic ability.
10. QB Xavier Lee, Florida State – Keeping in mind that Lee was
one of the highest-rated quarterbacks of 2004 and an almost legendary
recruit, his career in Tallahassee will go down as sizable bust. While
there were rare moments of brilliance, they were too few infrequent for
a program that felt he was the answer to its recent problems behind
center. A fantastic all-around athlete, Lee was never able to wrap his
arms around the starting job for any length of time, opting to take a
stab at the NFL Draft in 2008 rather than return to school for one final
11. WR Fred Davis, USC – Relatively anonymous through the first
three years, Davis erupted his senior season, parlaying 62 catches for
881 yards and eight touchdowns into the 2007 Mackey Award. A rangy wide
receiver coming out of Rogers (Ohio) High School, he added a few pounds
and adjusted well as a seam-splitting tight end with a knack for making
acrobatic grabs. The most prolific tight end in USC history, Davis
should be plucked in one of the first two rounds of April’s NFL Draft.
12. LB Keith Rivers, USC – A three-year starter on the weakside,
Rivers distinguished himself as one of the nation’s most complete
linebackers, tough enough to defend the run and athletic enough to cover
the pass. He finished his Trojan career with 240 tackles, twice earning
First Team All-Pac-10 honors, while getting plenty of All-America
recognition a year ago. Destined to have a long career in the NFL,
Rivers could be off the board by the end of the first round in April.
13. DE Jeff Schweiger, USC – While Schweiger started fast as true
freshman, injuries and all that Trojan depth prevented him from ever
carving out any sustained level of excellence. He got buried on the
depth chart, eventually opting last year to return home to San Jose,
where he’ll play for Dick Tomey and the Spartans in 2008. In a
different environment and against lesser competition, Schweiger has a
second chance to impress pro scouts and add a couple of stars to his
14. WR Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech – One of the most freakishly
gifted receivers to ever play college football, the only thing that
occasionally stopped Johnson in Atlanta was the inconsistent play of his
quarterback. An uncommon blend of 6-5 size, 4.35 speed, and huge mitts,
the two-time All-American hauled in a school-record 178 passes and 28
touchdowns in just three seasons. Now a member of the Detroit Lions, he
caught 48 passes for 756 yards and four touchdowns in 2007, numbers that
were suppressed by a season-long back injury.
Xavier Carter, LSU – There’s fast and then there’s too fast, which
is how some Tiger football fans might label Carter. One of the fastest
men on the planet, he chose to give up football before the start of the
2006 season in order to pursue a professional track career. The 2006
NCAA Men's Track Athlete of the Year and an Olympic hopeful in Beijing
later this year, Carter finished his LSU football career with nine
catches. At 6-3 with those jets, there’s no telling how dominant he
could have been had he stuck around and honed his pass-catching skills.
Rating: No stars
16. DE Derrick Harvey, Florida – One of college football’s most
disruptive edge rushers, Harvey has decided to enter the NFL Draft a
year early, where he could go as high as the first round. He really
came into his own as a sophomore, tying for the SEC lead with 11 sacks,
and kept the momentum going with an all-league effort a year ago. In
the 2007 BCS Championship game against Ohio State, Harvey was a force,
collecting three sacks and a fumble recovery in an epic MVP
17. LB Brian Toal, Boston College – A rare dual-threat at north
of 250 pounds, Toal is one of the ACC’s better linebackers and a lock as
a short yardage runner. Before redshirting last year to rehab a
shoulder injury, he’d racked up 180 tackles, a dozen plunges for scores,
and a bunch of first down runs in three seasons of work. With a chance
to be completely healthy for the first time since his freshman year,
Toal’s poised to deliver a monster final audition for NFL scouts.
18. DT DeMario Pressley, NC State – A fixture on the Wolfpack
defensive line since his sophomore season, Pressley started three
seasons in Raleigh, flashing the kind of quickness and closing speed
that’s caught the attention of NFL scouts. Although a variety of
nagging injuries prevented him from fulfilling the hype of being the
nation’s top defensive tackle of 2004, Pressley still had a productive
career worthy of a 5-star prospect.
19. WR Cameron Colvin, Oregon – Physically, Colvin’s about as
gifted as any young receiver that’s ever chosen the Ducks, but every
time he was ready to emerge, an injury got in the way. In 2006,
hamstring and groin injuries limited him throughout the season. And
last year, after putting together the best back-to-back performances of
his career, Colvin broke his ankle in October, missing a chance to put
up huge numbers in the Oregon offense. In four years, he finished with
74 catches for 892 yards and seven touchdowns, never catching more than
22 balls in a season.
20. OL Alex
Fletcher, Stanford – Although he sometimes gets lost playing for
Stanford, Fletcher has been a rock the last three seasons, starting 31
games and displaying the flexibility to play both guard and center.
Peaking as a blocker throughout his college career, he was named Second
Team All-Pac-10, setting the stage for what should be a banner final
year in Palo Alto in 2008. While Fletcher considered leaving for the
NFL following his redshirt sophomore year, he did nothing but enhance
his draft stock last fall.
21. DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU – The prototype for NFL tackles, Dorsey
was a part of a deep rotation in Baton Rouge his first two seasons
before emerging as an unblockable All-American as a junior and a
senior. Last year, despite playing much of the year with a knee injury,
he finished ninth in the Heisman voting, while becoming the first player
ever to win the Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott, and Outland awards in the same
year. A sure-fire first round pick in April’s draft, he could go as
high as No. 1 overall.
Anthony Morelli, Penn State – Morelli started two seasons in Happy
Valley, but never quite lived up to the hype that made him one of the
country’s most coveted quarterbacks four years ago. Rarely the reason
that the Lions won a big game, he finished his career with modest
numbers, including 31 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions. A senior
season that was supposed to be his breakthrough year wound up being
riddled with inconsistent play, and as many picks as touchdowns in Big
Zach Miller, Arizona State – A superb all-around tight end, Miller
started every game of his three-year Sun Devil stay, catching 144 passes
for 1,512 yards and 14 touchdowns. He bookended his career by being
named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2004 and earning consensus
All-American honors in 2006 before leaving early for the NFL Draft. Now
a member of the Oakland Raiders, Miller debuted in 2007 with 44
receptions for 444 yards and three touchdown catches, laying the
foundation for a promising pro career.
24. RB Charlie Jones, Miami – While there were occasional flashes
of production, especially in 2005, Jones didn’t come close to
approaching his full potential as an every-down back. In four years, he
never enjoyed a 100-yard day with the Hurricanes, missing all of 2007
with a foot injury. Possibly sensing that he’d be buried behind
sophomore Graig Cooper and junior Javarris James in 2008, Jones is
considering transferring to another school for his final year of
Frank Okam, Texas – One of the nation’s premier run-stuffers over
the past two seasons, Okam was as good as advertised for the Longhorns.
An important part of the Texas line from the moment he arrived in
Austin, he became a full-timer in 2005, earning All-Big 12 recognition
at the end of the last three seasons. A possible first-day draft choice
this April, Okam wrapped up a productive career with 160 tackles, 28
tackles for loss, and 12 passes defended.
26. OL Leon Hart, Auburn – Although Hart played a lot of football
on the Plains, seeing action in 39 games, he never transcended beyond
being a role player, and started just twice in his career. Last season
set up as a chance for redemption for the senior, but he separated his
shoulder before the opener, and was limited to just three
inconsequential appearances all year.
27. QB Chad Henne, Michigan – More than just Michigan’s all-time
leading passer, Henne showed uncommon maturity in 2004, when an injury
to Matt Gutierrez forced the true freshman into the lineup. He never
looked back, becoming a rare four-year starter for the Wolverines.
While he’ll certainly go down in the Michigan annals, Henne failed to
achieve greatness in Ann Arbor, going 0-4 versus Ohio State and never
earning a spot on the All-Big Ten first team.
Greg Harrison, Penn State – Harrison certainly looked the part
coming out of Shenandoah Valley (Penn.) High School, a hulking lineman
with good quickness, burst and smarts. However, he injured his foot
shortly after arriving in State College, struggled to crack the lineup
in 2006, and was not a part of the team last season. For all the hype
surrounding Harrison, the jump from high school to college was too much
for a player that never even lettered for the Lions.
Revised Rating: No stars
29. DT Eric McLendon, Reedley College – The rare 5-star prospect
that never made it to the big leagues, McLendon had a cup of coffee in
the junior college ranks, moved on to another school in North Dakota,
and then fell off the map. The state of Georgia’s top recruit in 2004,
he was a 6-6, 288-pound force that was headed to Athens before academic
issues got in the way.
Revised Rating: No stars
30. S Drew Kelson, Texas – Although a terrific student-athlete
and one of the ‘Horns’ best special teamers, Kelson hardly resembled a
5-star recruit in his four seasons in Austin. More of a role player
throughout his career, he made cameos at running back, linebacker, and
safety, eventually getting four starts and most of his playing time in
dime packages. Kelson peaked in 2005 with 36 tackles, two tackles for
loss, five passes defended and a couple of forced fumbles.