Former 5-Star Recruits Who Will Deliver on Their Hype in 2014 Season

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJuly 28, 2014

Former 5-Star Recruits Who Will Deliver on Their Hype in 2014 Season

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    All 5-star recruits arrive on their college campuses with a ton of hype. However, not all of them deliver on the huge promise they showed as recruits.

    Over the past few recruiting cycles, college football has seen several former 5-star recruits live up to their billing. For this upcoming 2014 season, several former 5-star prospects figure to finally show why they were such coveted recruits coming out of high school.

    Whether it be a coaching change, a conquering of the depth chart or just an abundance of natural talent, these guys are ready.

    Alabama has a tight end who figures to have a big season, while a versatile defensive back at Michigan is too talented to not immediately deliver on his hype. Plus, a former No. 1 overall recruit will really turn heads this year in the SEC. 

Johnathan Gray, RB

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    School: Texas

    Johnathan Gray was a 5-star running back in the 2012 recruiting class. He came to Texas with a ton of hype, as he was a prospect without many weaknesses as a player.

    Gray has been solid through two seasons in Austin, totaling 1,481 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. However, more is expected out of a 5-star recruit.

    Look for Gray to put his full skill set on display this fall under new head coach Charlie Strong. When he does, Longhorn fans will truly see why he had so much hype in high school.

Robert Nkemdiche, DL

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    School: Ole Miss

    It remains to be seen if Robert Nkemdiche becomes a permanent defensive tackle or defensive end. His best position long term is probably the former.

    Nkemdiche was the No. 1 overall recruit in 2013, and the Georgia native originally committed to Clemson. He was often compared to former elite defensive end prospects such as Jadeveon Clowney and Mario Edwards in high school.

    As a true freshman, Nkemdiche had a solid season that saw him flash a ton of potential. This year, he's expected to be fully adjusted to the college game and dominate.

O.J. Howard, TE

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    School: Alabama

    Alabama has a roster full of former 5-star studs. Among them is tight end O.J. Howard, who has the athleticism of a receiver.

    An in-state recruit in the Crimson Tide's 2013 class, Howard was the No. 1 tight end in the country on pretty much everyone's list. He caught 14 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman.

    With Howard settled into 'Bama's offense, those numbers will see a significant increase this fall. The NFL is in this guy's future.

Kelvin Taylor, RB

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    STEPHEN MORTON/Associated Press

    School: Florida

    Kelvin Taylor signed with Florida as a 5-star running back in 2013. He's a legacy player for the Gators, as he is the son of former running back Fred Taylor. 

    Taylor's instincts, agility and quickness were all advanced for a high school player. He rushed for 508 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman, but the 2014 season will be the year he delivers on his hype from high school.

    Florida has a new offensive scheme, plus Taylor has a year of experience under his belt. There'll be some fireworks in Gainesville this fall.

Tony Brown, CB

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    School: Alabama

    Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve are good players, but Tony Brown is more talented than they are. The former 5-star prospect was one of the top players nationally in the 2014 class.

    Brown is 6'0" tall, plus he weighs nearly 200 pounds. He combines outstanding speed with tremendous instincts, explosiveness, short-area quickness and fluid hips. The Texan may not begin the season as a starter, but he'll be running with the ones in Tuscaloosa soon enough.

    A freshman All-American season is not out of the question for Brown.

Jabrill Peppers, DB

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    School: Michigan

    From New Jersey, Jabrill Peppers enters his freshman season at Michigan as one of school's most hyped recruits in history.

    He'll play in the secondary for the Wolverines, but Peppers also can ball as a receiver and running back.

    He has an exceptional blend of instincts, awareness, athleticism, strength, speed, balance and quickness for a young player. Peppers is too talented of a prospect to be kept off the field by head coach Brady Hoke, and he's simply too good of a football player to not deliver on his hype this year.

Leonard Fournette, RB

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    School: LSU

    Leonard Fournette was the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2014, and he's not going to make people wait for him to deliver on his hype.

    Fournette could be the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, and everyone knows what the Minnesota Vikings star and former NFL MVP did at Oklahoma.

    At 6'1" and nearly 230 pounds, Fournette's size, strength, speed, agility and ability to catch the football are all remarkable. He'll get a ton of touches this season at LSU. Should he stay healthy, Fournette likely will only be in Baton Rouge for two more seasons after this fall.

    Per, the following was written about Fournette on July 28:

    "Even some in the NFL, after seeing his high school tape, have said he's talented enough to play in the pros right now."

    All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.
    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.
    All stats are from
    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 and Cleveland Browns.