Football Recruiting: Top Five Busts of The Past Five Seasons

September 10, 2011; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Isaiah Crowell (1) scores a touchdown against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the third quarter at Sanford Stadium. South Carolina defeated Georgia 45-42. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Each year there are players in a team’s recruiting class who enroll at their respected institution and leave with, well, not as much prestige as they entered with.

A few weeks ago I put together an article about the top five recruiting steals of the past five seasons, which you can read here, and now it is time for the top five recruiting busts of the past five years.

Now, let me first say that this is not to downgrade the particular athletes that are featured in this article. Some of them became great leaders and had productive careers, but they did not pan out to be what they were projected.

There are a lot of factors that play into a recruit not panning out as people think they should have. Maybe analysts, like myself, over-hype these recruits and rate them too high? Maybe they really did not pick the right school or system for them? Or maybe, they ran into trouble, showed a lack of discipline, or simply peaked to their fullest potential in high school.

I have compiled, to the best of my knowledge, a list of five recruiting busts with three honorable, or rather, dishonorable mention players. The list goes as far back as the class of 2008 and went no further than 2011, so technically it covers only four recruiting classes. I did not include players who were just freshman and underachieved this past season (Dorial Green-Beckham, cough, cough) nor did I include the class of 2013 since they obviously haven’t played a game in college yet. Without further ado, here is the list. Let the debate begin.

(Dis)Honorable Mention

Gary Brown – Florida

Why not start this list off with a bang, right? Brown was in the class of 2009 and signed with the Gators out of high school. He was a five-star recruit, No. 11 overall player in the nation and the No. 2 overall defensive tackle. Brown’s impact was never felt on the football field as he never played a down for the Gators after being kicked of the team for misdemeanor battery charges. So yes, Urban Meyer did suspend someone during his tenure in Gainesville.

Richard Samuel – Georgia

Samuel enrolled at Georgia as the No. 3 running back in the nation and the country’s No. 18 overall player for the class of 2008. The former five-star recruit never lived up to his hype as he played running back, switched to linebacker, switched back to running back and then rounded out his senior season as a fullback. In his career, Samuel rushed for just 833 yards and four touchdowns.

George Farmer – USC

It is difficult to put Farmer on this list simply because he has only been in college for two years. The class of 2011 star wide receiver was rated as the No. 8 overall player in the nation and the No. 1 receiver in the land. In two seasons so far, Farmer has had a total of five receptions, 49 yards receiving and no touchdowns. Now, to his credit, he has played behind the likes of Robert Woods and Marquise Lee, so it is a possibility that he could transform into the star who he was once projected to be over the next two years.

Top Five Recruiting Busts

5. Russell Sheppard – LSU

Sheppard signed with the LSU Tigers in the class of 2009 as a five-star dual threat quarterback. He was the No. 3 overall player and No. 1 rated dual  threat quarterback in the nation. After playing quarterback sparingly as a freshman in mainly running situational plays, Sheppard moved to wide receiver. In his career, Sheppard never seemed to be used to his full potential as he recorded just 716 yards rushing and 570 yards receiving with 10 total touchdowns.

4. Dorian Bell – Ohio State

Another player from the class of 2009 who never made it was outside linebacker Dorian Bell. The five-star prospect was rated as the No. 20 overall player in the country and the nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker. Bell experienced a suspension riddled career as a Buckeye and was one of the players suspended in the prominent tattoo parlor scandal with Terrelle Pryor that resulted in sanctions for Ohio State and the firing of head coach Jim Tressel. After two seasons in Columbus, Bell was suspended for the entire season entering the fall of 2011 and left the team to play at Duquesne University. His career stats at Ohio State included just nine tackles and one forced fumble.

3. Isaiah Crowell – Georgia

Crowell was expected to be the savior of the Georgia program that had just experienced a dismal 6-7 season in 2010. He dramatically chose the Bulldogs over Alabama on signing day by bringing out a bulldog puppy to show the world. In the class of 2011, Crowell was the No. 8 overall player and No. 1 running back in the nation. To Crowell’s credit, when he was healthy he was good. Through eight games he was averaging over 100-yards per game, but then suffered a high ankle sprain that essentially ended his season. In the off-season entering his sophomore season, he was arrested on three counts of weapons charges and was dismissed by Head Coach Mark Richt. Crowell rushed for a total of 850 yards and five touchdowns at Georgia before transferring to Alabama State where he will be a junior this season. If you think back, one of Georgia’s biggest busts of all-time, running back Jasper Sanks, was also one of the best players coming out of high school to be the “next Herschel Walker.” Both Crowell and Sanks are, coincidentally, from the same high school. Zing!

2. Jermaine Calhoun – Oklahoma

Much like Crowell was supposed to be the next Herschel Walker, Calhoun was projected by many as the best back to come out of the state of Texas since Adrian Peterson. In 2008, Calhoun was rated as the No. 1 overall player and No. 1 running back in the country. After red-shirting in 2008, Calhoun appeared sparingly in 2009 and rushed for just 200 yards. In 2010, Calhoun missed the entire season due to a serious knee injury, and then in 2011 Calhoun left the Sooner program to attend Division II Angelo State University.

1. Bryce Brown – Tennessee

The class of 2009 was all about Bryce Brown, and the recruiting world revolved around him. As the No. 2 overall player and No. 1 running back in all the land, and a two-time high school all-American, Brown was courted by every school around. After being a commit to Miami for multiple months, on signing day Brown announced that he would re-open his recruitment and re-evaluate schools. After visiting Tennessee in late February, Brown signed with the Volunteers in March. As a freshman at Tennessee in 2009, Brown was a backup and a rushed for 460 yards and three touchdowns. Not too bad right? Well, after head coach Lane Kiffin left the team on the first day of spring practice in 2010 and bolted for USC, Brown left the program and decided to transfer to Kansas State where his brother had also recently transferred after leaving the Miami Hurricanes program. In 2011, Brown left the Kansas State program as well and in 2012 became an NFL free agent and is currently on the Philadelphia Eagles roster. His career rushing stats in the NFL of 564 yards and four touchdowns in one season is more than his entire college career.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @EvanWilliamson_.

Topics: Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans

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  • Al

    What’s really sad is with the exception of Farmer, I’ve never even heard of the rest. Smh

  • Dallas

    Richard Samuel was a great Bulldawg and gave 150 percent every game and practice. I dont care what his stats were, I loved the guy and wouldnt have taken anyone else. Damn Good Dawg.

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