Every Pac-12 Football Team's Biggest Recruiting Flop from BCS Era
There's no time like the present, but today we're taking a dip into college football's past to reveal some of the biggest Pac-12 recruiting flops in recent memory.
You can define "flop" a number of different ways, but for the purposes of this piece its definition will be short and sweet. Quite simply, a flop is going to be the difference between the hype and the result on the field. Those with the most hype and the smallest contribution to their programs will find themselves on the following slides.
It should be noted, however, that things don't work out for a variety of reasons. In some instances, the touted player just wasn't as good as everyone thought he would be. Other times you'll see poor academics or off-the-field troubles get in the way. Finally, there are scenarios where, for whatever reason, a player just didn't fit in with the program very well.
The deeper you dig into the past, the more recruiting information tends to become a bit muddied. Still, some players on this list were a clear-cut choice. Others will be hotly debated. There is no exact right or wrong here.
But here are the players we think are every Pac-12 team's biggest recruiting flops over the past 16 seasons.
Biggest Recruiting Flop: DE Louis Holmes
You may soon notice a theme of players from the junior college ranks, and we begin with the biggest recruiting flop for Arizona in the BCS era: defensive end Louis Holmes.
A Rivals.com 5-star player out of Scottsdale Community College, Holmes had the size at 6'5" and 280 pounds to become one of the most dominant defensive players in the country. And to be fair to the former Wildcat, his career wasn't a complete failure. He did rack up 73 tackles and six sacks in two seasons.
But he failed to improve on his numbers from Year 1 to Year 2 and didn't seem to come close to maximizing his talent. Unlike several players to come on the list, Holmes at least made an impact. But compared with what he could have accomplished at Arizona, he has to be considered a bust.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Biggest Recruiting Flop: RB Ryan Bass
The next name on the list is one that you're likely unfamiliar with, unless you happen to be a diehard Idaho Vandals fan. We're talking about former 247Sports 5-star back Ryan Bass, a once-promising Sun Devil who ultimately made zero impact on the field.
Well, zero impact may be a little harsh, but five-star players are generally expected to put up more than 293 yards in two seasons. Bass, after a ho-hum freshman campaign, played in just seven games as a sophomore before getting suspended.
He then transferred to Idaho, where he finished out the remainder of his collegiate career. You don't often associate Arizona State with prized running backs, but Bass was exactly that. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to deliver on the gridiron.
California Golden Bears
Biggest Recruiting Flop: DE Gabe King
You don't necessarily have to be a former 5-star recruit to make this list, because defensive end Gabe King was still one of the more intriguing prospects in the country, even with a measly 4-star ranking from 247Sports (please note the heavy sarcasm).
He had offers from top programs around the country, including both Alabama and Auburn, and yet, he stayed on the West Coast and chose to play football for then-coach Jeff Tedford. King appeared in three games in 2011 and failed to make a single tackle. In 2012, he had four in just two games.
In 2013, after upping his career total to six tackles, he left the football program to focus on academics. The 6'5" 290-pound King could have been a real terror on the defensive front, but after an intense recruitment he didn't make the kind of impact many thought he could.
Biggest Recruiting Flop: RB Darrell Scott
Colorado fans may want to turn away from this slide. The biggest recruiting flop in recent memory for the Buffaloes has to be running back Darrell Scott, the top-ranked player from the 2008 class, per 247Sports.
Anytime a program lands a player of that caliber, expectations are that he will dominate from day one, and that wasn't the case with Scott.
As a freshman, he ran for 343 yards and nine touchdowns. That's a solid start, except for the fact that he gained fewer than four yards per carry and backed it up with a 95-yard sophomore campaign in which he saw action in only five games.
Scott then transferred to South Florida, leaving behind little legacy and failing to meet even the smallest expectations fans had when he first opted to become part of the Buffaloes.
Biggest Recruiting Flop: RB Lache Seastrunk
Running back Lache Seastrunk and the Oregon Ducks' notoriously speedy offense seemed like a match made in heaven. When the 247Sports 5-star player out of Texas committed to Oregon, you could practically feel a slight tremor ripple throughout the rest of the Pac-12.
But for whatever reason, Seastrunk and the Ducks never seemed to click. Whether it was a lack of effort (doutbful, considering what he accomplished at Baylor), a failure to understand the offense, or perhaps something behind the scenes, the talented back spent his time at Oregon on the bench and out of the spotlight.
To his credit, he transferred to Baylor and became one of the top players in the country. He is now a member of the Washington Redskins. But Duck fans were hoping he would become one of the top offensive weapons in program history, and he never even saw the field during the regular season.
Oregon State Beavers
Biggest Recruiting Flop: DE Simi Kuli
If you've been a fan of Oregon State for more than a few seasons, the name Simi Kuli no doubt brings with it feelings of unfulfilled promises.
That's because Kuli, a Rivals.com 5-star defensive line prospect from the junior college ranks in 2008, never saw action in the regular season. He was supposed to be the state's next best thing after ex-Oregon star Haloti Ngata dominated in the trenches from 2003 to 2005, but that never happened.
In fact, Kuli never enrolled with the Beavers and ultimately wound up at West Texas A&M, where he left the national radar for good. It might be stretching the topic a little to select someone who never actually attended the school as a student, but given the enormous talent Kuli reportedly had and the fact that he then made zero impact as a player, the big defensive end cannot be ignored.
Biggest Recruiting Flop: DT Ekom Udofia
Defensive tackle Ekom Udofia was rated as the top player in Arizona and the No. 58 player nationally by Rivals.com when he committed to play for the Stanford Cardinal back in 2005. It seemed like a major steal for a program that had been struggling.
As it turns out, Udofia had an unremarkable career that does little to back up the hype he received coming out of high school. He redshirted as a freshman and began his career with 43 tackles and one sack in his second year. He also started all 12 games.
Udofia would make another 19 starts with the Cardinal over the following two seasons, but he only registered a half sack. He did contribute with 48 total tackles during that time frame, but that isn't the kind of impact you expect from a supposedly dominant defensive tackle.
Biggest Recruiting Flop: QB Ben Olson
When it comes to highly touted high school quarterbacks, you won't find many who had more hype than former UCLA QB Ben Olson. The Rivals.com 5-star player was the apple of the nation's eye, and he ultimately selected BYU as the place he would continue his football career.
After serving on a two-year mission trip, Olson packed his bags and transferred to UCLA, where he would play in just 14 games across three injury-plagued seasons. He ended up passing for a total of 1,873 yards and 12 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.
His career highlight came against Stanford in 2007 when he threw for 286 yards and five touchdowns. But at 6'5" and 236 pounds, Olson, at least physically, had it all. His career never really got going, however, and he didn't even come close to living up to the hype.
Biggest Recruiting Flop: RB Dillon Baxter
Your first thought with USC might be a player like George Farmer, but the wide receiver has battled injuries throughout his career yet continues to make an impact within the program despite rarely seeing the field.
Running back Dillon Baxter, on the other hand, was a major disappointment all around. Once a top-10 recruit overall, per 247Sports, Baxter looked the next Reggie Bush. He had blinding speed and the rare ability to juke defenders without slowing down.
In two years as a Trojan, Baxter had 68 carries for 281 yards and one touchdown. He was eventually kicked off USC's squad and wound up at San Diego State. A short while later, Baxter found himself at Baker University, a far cry from the "lights, camera, action" spotlight of USC.
Biggest Recruiting Flop: DE James Aiono
You see a picture of defensive end James Aiono in an Indianapolis Colts uniform, and you might be confused as to why he made the list of biggest recruiting flops. Some players, such as former Kansas State running back Bryce Brown, have such incredible talent that mistakes or poor play in college still don't eliminate the NFL as a potential career path.
Thus, we arrive at Aiono, a former Utah player who arrived on campus with plenty of hype. He was, after all, the top-rated JUCO player in 2008, per 247Sports. That's about where the good news ends and the bad part begins for Aiono's career, though.
He played in only 23 games and totaled just 12 tackles. At 6'3" and 305 pounds you can see why he still got a look from the NFL. That kind of size cannot be taught, but unfortunately for the Utes it didn't translate very well to the football field.
Biggest Recruiting Flop: TE Kavario Middleton
Tight end Kavario Middleton could have played college football almost anywhere. The 247Sports 5-star recruit had ideal size at 6'6" and 255 pounds to play any number of positions, but one figures utilizing his height as a pass-catcher would be a no-brainer.
The interesting part about this particular story is that Middleton actually got off to a nice start with the Huskies. He had 12 grabs as a freshman and then 26 more as a sophomore, which added up to 257 yards receiving and three scores.
But Middleton wouldn't see another down in purple and gold. He was dismissed from the program in July of 2010 and eventually wound up at Montana. In short, Middleton was Austin Seferian-Jenkins before ASJ became a Husky. But unlike Seferian-Jenkins, Middleton never really put it all together.
Washington State Cougars
Biggest Recruiting Flop: RB Jermaine Green
Washington State hasn't had many top-notch recruits throughout the BCS era, but one who comes to mind right away is running back Jermaine Green. A Rivals.com 5-star player hailing from the junior college ranks, Green committed to the Cougars over Purdue and looked like he might immediately become one of the Pac-10's best players.
In Year 1, Green was exactly that as he raced out to a 150-carry, 829-yard campaign in which he reached the end zone on 10 occasions. That season alone made it difficult to put him on the list of biggest flops, but he followed it up with just 285 yards and a 3.5 yards-per-carry average in 2003.
Green's career slowly fizzled out, and he was never able to realize his enormous potential that combined a small linebacker's frame with elite speed and athleticism. Had he actually progressed from his first season in 2002 to his final campaign in 2003, we might have seen one of the best seasons by a running back in league history.