Every Big Ten Team's Biggest Recruiting Flop from BCS Era
In hindsight, it's always easy to identify mistakes. Head college football coaches, however, often don't have the luxury of waiting around to see a player develop. In today's cut-throat world of college football recruiting, coaches are under enormous pressure to get verbal commitments from top prospects as early as possible. That mindset inevitably leads to recruits who don't live up to the hype.
Here, we'll look back at the Big Ten football players who earned that coveted scholarship, only to see their premature "Big Man On Campus" status fizzle away seemingly overnight. To qualify, the recruit must have been considered at least a "highly touted" 3-star recruit. All 4- and 5-star recruits are eligible.
The player must also have been recruited by a Big Ten program. Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, many members of the first Big Ten recruiting class in Lincoln are still on campus. It would be unfair to call them flops until they've exhausted their eligibility. But that still leaves us with 11 teams, each wishing it had a do-over when it comes to these recruits.
Here is our list of the biggest recruit flop from each Big Ten team during the BCS era.
Illinois: Melvin Alaeze, DE
There are few recruits in Big Ten history that have gone from highly touted status to a complete crash and burn faster than Melvin Alaeze.
Alaeze was a huge, powerful defensive end from Maryland and was Rivals.com's top national DE and No. 4 overall recruit in 2005. After committing to Maryland, Alaeze failed to qualify academically. Alaeze then attended Hargrave Military (Prep) Academy before Maryland cut all ties with him after he was charged with intent to distribute marijuana.
The charges were eventually dropped, but Alaeze was then in search of a new collegiate home. Ron Zook at Illinois pounced, but just two weeks after classes started in 2006, Alaeze was suspended from the team for not attending his classes.
Two weeks later, Illinois revoked his scholarship.
On December 24, 2006, back in Maryland, Alaeze and another individual attacked a man, stole $400 in cash, drove off in the victim's car—all after shooting the man three times. Alaeze was arrested and charged with attempted murder, per High Beam Research (subscription required), among other crimes and is now serving an eight-year prison sentence.
Indiana: Jerimy Finch, S
"Indiana" and "4-star recruit" don't often appear together in the same sentence. But the Hoosiers appeared to land highly touted Jerimy Finch, heading into the the class of 2007 cycle. Originally verbally committed to Michigan, Finch changed his mind and opted to attend Indiana—or so we all thought.
When national signing day rolled around, Indiana waited and waited for a letter of intent from Finch—only to find out that Finch, somewhat surprisingly, had already sent one to Florida.
Finch played in three games for Florida, eventually intercepting a pass against rival Tenessee. But Finch left the game with an injury and did not return during the 2007 season. When the season was over, Finch decided to transfer to Indiana, his original choice—if you don't count Michigan.
Finch played off and on for Indiana, making minor contributions on special teams and rarely on defense. Finch ended up transferring yet again, this time to NAIA Marian University in Indianapolis.
Not exactly an auspicious college career for a guy who was Rivals.com's No. 1 national DB recruit of the class of 2007.
Iowa: Dan Doering, OL
Iowa has produced a truckload of great offensive-line talent, and in 2005, Dan Doering was touted as the next great Hawkeye lineman.
The Rivals.com 5-star offensive tackle never truly developed. Often switching positions on the line, Doering never played with any regularity, and his game never matured during his time at Iowa.
Players failing to develop isn't a rare story, but for such a highly touted offensive tackle in a program known for developing NFL talent at the position, it's more than a mild surprise.
Michigan: Tate Forcier, QB
A Rivals.com 4-star quarterback, Tate Forcier was so hyped by his own family, he probably bought into it himself. Forcier started just one season at Michigan, completing 58.7 percent of his passes, along with 10 interceptions compared to just 13 touchdowns.
When the 2010 season began, Forcier was third on the depth chart behind Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner. After seeing some occasional playing time, Forcier was declared academically ineligible for Michigan's trip to the Gator Bowl to take on Mississippi State.
Forcier then simply departed Michigan without really telling anyone and eventually landed at San Jose State after aborted attempts to transfer to a whole host of schools, including Miami, Kansas State, Washington and Hawai'i.
A bizzare, quasi-suicidal incident in 2011 only added a further layer of instability to Forcier's football career. After sitting out the 2012 season as a transfer, Forcier left San Jose State in January 2013.
Forcier eventually landed with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger Cats—a stint that lasted just a few weeks.
Michigan State: Antonio Jeremiah, DT
Michigan State is recovering from a pretty ugly recruiting snafu. A Detroit-area 247Sports.com 3-star, body-slammed a security guard at school earlier this year. It's safe to say that Jayru Campbell probably won't end up on a list like this in the future as we're pretty sure he won't end up at Michigan State—or likely any other Big Ten program.
The Spartans have had a pretty good history of snagging some top defensive talent. But mixed in with all of the diamonds, you're bound to find a lump of coal or two. A Rivals.com 4-star defensive tackle from Ohio, Antonio Jeremiah was never able to properly adjust to the collegiate game in the Big Ten.
Despite being moved around on the defensive line, and even a short stint trying out the offensive line, Jeremiah was never able to make a name for himself or live up to the lofty expectations.
Minnesota: Hayo Carpenter, WR
In the class of 2009, 247Sports.com named Hayo Carpenter a 4-star propect, the top JUCO wide receiver prospect and the No. 3 overall JUCO prospect. Minnesota fans were rightfully expecting great things from Carpenter, who supposedly had 4.3 speed and hands that could catch almost anything.
Carpenter selected Minnesota over several other interested programs, including Florida. Unfortunately, that announcement of Carpenter heading to Minneapolis was the biggest headline he ever made. His career ended with a grand total of 43 receiving yards on three catches.
It wasn't long until head coach Tim Brewster was departing Minnesota. Brewster clearly fell into his own trap: He overhyped his recruits so much that when they couldn't possibly deliver on such lofty expectations, the blame rightfully fell on Brewster.
Brewster was fired midway through his fourth season after leading Minnesota to a 15-30 record.
Northwestern: Davon Custis, DL
Davon Custis' commitment to Northwestern was a minor coup for the Wildcats. Rated by Rivals.com as one of the top 25 defensive end prospects in the class of 2009, Custis spent four completely unremarkable years in Evanston.
After his first season on campus in 2009, Custis played two games in 2010. He then played in only a single game in both 2011 and 2012.
It was not one of Pat Fitzgerald's better moments.
Ohio State: Dorian Bell, LB
We were really tempted to put Maurice Clarett in this spot. He was never able to achieve all he could have, either at Ohio State or in the NFL, due largely to his own actions. However, Clarett was the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year in 2002 and was a big part of Ohio State's 2003 Fiesta Bowl victory over Miami (that season's BCS Championship Game).
So, instead, we went with a 247Sports.com 5-star who not only failed to make a splash in Columbus, he also didn't even break the surface of the water.
Dorian Bell was part of Ohio State's impressive class of 2009 and was among the top linebacking recruits in the nation. The Monroeville, Pennsylvania, native spent his first season on campus as a redshirt before finally seeing some brief action as a redshirt freshman in 2010.
Sadly, that is about as far as Bell got in Columbus. He was suspended after the 2010 season for the entire 2011 season due to violations of the Ohio State athletic department's drug- and alcohol-abuse policy.
Bell left Ohio State in the wake of the Tattoogate scandal that cost Jim Tressel his coaching career. But Bell seems to have landed on his feet, this time at FCS Duquesne.
Regardless of what he can do for the Dukes in his time left, he'll remain one of the biggest recruiting busts in Ohio State's recent history.
Penn State: Antonio Logan-El, OT
Apparently we're not the only ones who think that Penn State's Antonio Logan-El was a massive bust for Penn State.
Logan-El was a Rivals.com 4-star offensive tackle who publicly spurned his home-state Terrapins for Penn State. Unfortunately, Logan-El never made it into the good graces of Joe Paterno and his staff and never saw the field for the Nittany Lions.
Logan-El never showed much passion for the game and didn't deal well with the rigors of being a Penn State football player. He eventually fransferred to FCS Towson where he completed his collegiate career.
Purdue: Selwyn Lymon, WR
Selwyn Lymon was supposed to fill that hole Purdue had on its roster at wideout. Purdue had quarterbacks, and Purdue had some speedy, shifty receivers. But as far as powerful, bruising ball-catchers, Purdue had a need.
Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, Lymon, a Rivals.com 4-star and No. 7 receiver prospect, never really became anything more than an occasional target. Despite perpetual "potential," Lymon had some off-field issues that detracted from his football career. He was infamously stabbed in the chest during a fight in early 2007.
The Miami Dolphins signed him to a free-agent contract in 2008, but Lymon was cut prior to the start of the 2008 preseason.
Wisconsin: Jake Bscherer, OL
Jake Bscherer was a Rivals.com 4-star recruit in 2006 and was ranted about as the No. 4 offensive tackle in the nation that year. A native of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the Badgers seemed like a natural destination. After all, top-tier linemen tend to excel in Wisconsin's run-happy offense.
Bscherer was a backup in his first two years on campus before taking a redshirt season in 2008. He started six games in 2009, before transferring to Division II Minnesota-Duluth.
He eventually made his way to the Seattle Seahawks, where he was cut from the roster prior to what would have been his rookie season in 2013.
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