Highest-Rated Recruits of the Last Decade Who Never Panned out
We have to always remember that not every star and stud recruit will go on to fulfill his promise and perform to expectations. A ton of variables come into play that can affect a recruit's success in college.
From suffering an injury, not adjusting to the speed of the game, a coaching change, being under-developed, academic problems and running into off-the-field trouble, a myriad of things can happen to hinder your favorite 5-star prospect's success.
Over the years, we've had some significantly hyped prospects who for one reason or another just didn't pan out. This piece will take a look into the last 10 years of recruiting (2004-2013)—but I'm going to knock off the 2012 and 2013 classes because it is still too soon to judge them.
Here are some of the highest-rated recruits over the past decade of recruiting who never panned out.
Russell Shepard, WR, LSU
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Shepard was a very highly rated recruit by all of the major recruiting publications in 2009, but LSU never got the superstar it thought it signed.
Shepard was a dual-threat QB who was expected to make a smooth and easy transition to the wide receiver position in Baton Rouge. Many felt he was going to be the next Peter Warrick. But he certainly wasn't.
Shepard only caught 58 career passes and never topped 260 yards receiving in any season. He scored just 10 TDs in four seasons, and today is viewed as a solid bust.
Morrell Presley, TE, UCLA
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Presley committed to USC initially, but he ended up signing with rival UCLA, where he was the headliner of Rick Neuheisel's '09 class.
Manny had Presley as the nation's top TE prospect, and he was really a 6'4", 215-pound big WR.
In two years in Westwood, Presley caught a grand total of 11 passes. He eventually ran into some off-field trouble and was removed from the Bruins' roster.
Dayne Crist, QB, Notre Dame/Kansas
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Dayne Crist was a 5-star QB from the 2008 class who really looked the part. He was 6'5", weighed 225 pounds and had a cannon for a right arm.
You figured he'd take over for Jimmy Clausen and make his own name in South Bend.
That never worked out, though, as Crist never could become a consistent playmaker, even when Brian Kelly named him the starter.
He eventually transferred to Kansas and was even worse there. Last season for the Jayhawks, Crist completed just 47.7 percent of his passes for a 4:9 TD-INT ratio.
Will Hill, DB, Florida
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Before we ever heard of Jabrill Peppers, there was Will Hill from New Jersey. Hill was a 5-star ATH/DB from the 2008 class who was a super athlete.
He was electric and signed with Florida, bringing much buzz to Gainesville, where he played with bad coverage awareness and was a notoriously poor tackler. He left school early as a junior after not making an impact and wasn't drafted.
Today, he's a reserve on the Giants' roster.
Darrell Scott, RB, Colorado/South Florida
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Darrell Scott was the top RB prospect in the country in 2008 and had a lot of hype around him. I never was as high on him as others were, but he had good talent.
Scott committed to Texas, but de-committed due to Mack Brown changing RB coaches. He eventually picked Colorado and ran for a pedestrian 438 yards and one TD in two seasons. He had some gripes about his carries and bolted Boulder during his sophomore year.
Scott then resurfaced at South Florida, where he still made no major impact.
Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU
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Terrence Toliver came to LSU from Texas, where many in 2007 viewed him as the top WR in the national class and a sure-fire 5-star prospect. He was long at 6'4" and had a high ceiling.
Toliver never really put it all together in Baton Rouge, as his top season was a 53-catch, 735-yard, three-touchdown season in 2009. You can make an argument Toliver was solid, but others will say he is a huge bust due to the incoming hype surrounding him. He now plays for the Chicago Bears.
Mitch Mustain, QB, Arkansas/USC
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In a class that included Matthew Stafford, Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford and Christian Ponder, Scout.com had Mustain as its No. 1 QB in 2006.
He went through a recruiting soap opera with home school Arkansas, finally electing to sign up to be a Razorback. Houston Nutt started him as a true freshman, and even though Mustain won eight games, he wound up transferring after one season.
He went to USC, where he was nothing more than a career backup in Los Angeles and was one of biggest busts in modern recruiting.
Jason Gwaltney, RB, West Virginia
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Jason Gwaltney was a big 6'0", 235-pound 5-star rock toter in the 2005 class. He had a special blend of power, vision and quickness.
USC thought it had him, but he ended up at West Virginia.
Gwaltney had serious character issues in Morgantown, as he skipped workouts, meetings and was even arrested for speeding and suspicion of underage drinking.
He played in just six games.
Ben Olson, QB, UCLA
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Ben Olson was one of the first cases of a recruit shooting up the board due to great showings at offseason camps and combines. The southpaw had a strong arm, stood 6'5" and had coaches drooling over him.
He signed with BYU in 2005 but took his Mormon mission and returned only to transfer to UCLA. Aside from being constantly injured, Olson never was spectacular on the field for the Bruins.
After awhile, many of the fans turned on him and started rooting against him.
Ryan Perrilloux, QB, LSU
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Ryan Perrilloux had committed to Texas, but he signed with LSU for the 2005 recruiting cycle. He was blessed with a 6'2", 220-pound frame, good speed and a powerful arm.
He also wasn't afraid to tell you how good he was. Perrilloux turned many people off with his arrogance, and it led to issues with teammates, coaches, staff and eventually, the law.
He was involved in a brawl at a Baton Rouge nightclub and later reportedly violated team rules. Perrilloux got thrown off the team and resurfaced at Jacksonville State, never living up to his hype.
Fred Rouse, WR, Florida State/UTEP
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Fred Rouse was a phenom who had such substantial amount of hype people started feeling he could have gone straight to the NFL from high school.
He was 6'4", around 200 pounds and had excellent speed, ball skills and big-play ability. He signed with Florida State and caught just six passes for 114 yards and a TD as a freshman.
Rouse transferred to UTEP after his freshman year at FSU due to various reasons and problems. He and caught 25 balls for 379 yards and two TDs in El Paso. More problems led him to transferring to Concordia College.
Rouse never came close to panning out.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League.
He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.