10 Big-Name Recruits Who Screwed Up Most in 2019 Signing Window
Picking colleges is all about the right fit for prospects, but it often has a lot to do with playing time, too.
Now more than ever, if players don't get immediate game reps, they sometimes develop wandering eyes. That transfer portal is getting awfully full these days, isn't it?
For every Jalen Hurts and Kelly Bryant who can't see a Tua Tagovailoa or Trevor Lawrence coming because they don't have a crystal ball, there are prospects who should have known better than to commit to a certain school.
Guys who wait their turn are a dying breed these days. In some cases, there are players ahead of them on the depth chart, and in others, they may have teammates with whom they can't compete talent-wise.
Several marquee players in the 2019 class made puzzling decisions when they signed on the dotted line. So, who could become the next Justin Fields or Tate Martell, talented prospects too impatient to stay at their original school of choice and battle for a starting job?
Let's take a look at some candidates.
S Chris Adimora, Texas
Based on how Texas head coach Tom Herman and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando recruited defensive backs in 2019, it appears as though they aren't happy with their current depth chart.
During a resurgent 2018 season that put the program back on the map, the Longhorns ranked 110th nationally against the pass. But despite that horrific number, the 'Horns are improving at the position, and few other schools in the country have stockpiled as much talent at safety as Texas.
Last year, they secured B.J. Foster and Caden Sterns, two potential All-Americans who played as true freshmen and were dominant at times. With Brandon Jones and Chris Brown back as well, that's a loaded group.
Incoming 4-star safety Tyler Owens is elite, and the speedy star should hop on the field right away. It's enough depth to make the 'Horns move DeMarvion Overshown to outside linebacker.
So, where does that leave Chris Adimora?
The 6'1½", 192-pound safety had plenty of offers and was the 190th-ranked player in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. However, his path to playing time at Texas is blocked, and it doesn't look like it's getting less clogged anytime soon.
Though Kenyatta Watson looks like a cornerback, he could also jostle for time at safety.
Will Adimora compete and be content if he has to wait for a starting role? Sterns, Foster and Owens are too talented to keep off the field. It'll be interesting to see where Adimora fits.
WDE/OLB Ja'Darien Boykin, Louisville
Miami head coach Manny Diaz fared well in the late signing period, capping Wednesday's national signing day with a big pickup when he flipped Alabama pledge Christian Williams. He's also making waves by landing players in the transfer portal.
However, Diaz swung and missed on 4-star weak-side defensive end Ja'Darien Boykin, who seemed like a Hurricanes lean for the past few weeks. On Wednesday, Boykin pulled a stunner when he committed to Louisville to highlight Scott Satterfield's first class.
Even after Diaz missed on flipping one-time Alabama commitment Khris Bogle (who signed with Florida), Boykin still elected to play for the Cardinals. It was a massive win for Satterfield, but it begs the question why he didn't want to play for a bigger-name school with a major opportunity.
Diaz is known for his defensive acumen, and with Bogle heading to Gainesville, Boykin had a chance to go to The U and start right away. His pledge could have catapulted Miami into the top 25 in the recruiting rankings.
Instead, the Hurricanes are 28th, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, while Boykin is a part of the 73rd-ranked class for a team that was the worst in the ACC a year ago and is in major rebuilding mode.
This is not a knock on Satterfield (who is a great coach) or Louisville, a program that has been strong before and will be again. But Boykin's decision was disappointing for Diaz and the Hurricanes, and it makes one wonder why he chose the Cardinals instead.
RB Sean Dollars, Oregon
But what happens if the 5'10", 185-pound runner gets to Oregon and is buried on the depth chart? It could happen.
The Ducks' top two runners in 2018 were CJ Verdell (1,018 yards) and Travis Dye (739 yards). Both averaged more than five yards per carry as freshmen, which doesn't seem to bode well for Dollars carving out immediate playing time.
While Verdell is more of a compact, between-the-tackles runner, Dye is similar to Dollars. Darrian Felix is also on the roster with two seasons of eligibility remaining, and although he didn't have a good 2018 season, he's a potential home run hitter as well.
Dollars has plenty of talent, but he's going into a crowded backfield. With perhaps the top NFL prospect in quarterback Justin Herbert returning, Cristobal figures to insist on throwing the ball around the field, too. That won't leave a ton of carries for anybody other than Verdell and Dye.
If Dollars redshirts and separates himself from the other two guys, he'll get his turn for the Ducks. But if he wants to see the field earlier, he may be in the wrong place.
WR Cornelius Johnson, Michigan
New Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis is a wide receivers coach at heart, so the deep, talented group of Wolverines receivers have to be excited about the new-look offense.
Since the Wolverines didn't always look good throwing with transfer quarterback Shea Patterson last season, it may seem ridiculous to have a Michigan receiver featured here. One would think there's plenty of room for contributors, right?
That's what 6'2" incoming freshman Cornelius Johnson likely assumes. The Army All-American has to believe he can step right into the rotation in Ann Arbor.
But Gattis could open things up with Patterson, and if his light comes on, he could be the best quarterback in the Big Ten. If that happens, Gattis also will have unlocked the potential of an elite group of receivers.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black and Nico Collins are a potentially incredible trio of pass-catchers who haven't begun to scrape the surface of their collegiate potential. Ronnie Bell and Oliver Martin are possible boom candidates, too.
Considering fellow recruit Giles Jackson may be more college-ready than Johnson, the latter could have to overcome a number of players in the pecking order.
Johnson broke out in the Army All-American Bowl with a pair of touchdowns, which could be a springboard that catapults him into college. But he needs to stay patient if the freshman wall keeps him from meaningful reps. If he doesn't, he may look elsewhere.
RB Kenny McIntosh, Georgia
Much like Sean Dollars at Oregon, Kenny McIntosh faces a similar uphill battle for playing time in a crowded Georgia backfield.
The 6'0½", 218-pound mauler could eventually slide into the role vacated by Elijah Holyfield, who left Athens a season early for the NFL. But McIntosh isn't likely to find room to roam for the Bulldogs in 2019.
Junior D'Andre Swift, who may leave for the NFL after this season, could be one of the nation's top five running backs in 2019. Brian Herrien was Georgia's third-leading rusher in '18, and he'll be coming back for his senior season, too.
Two rising stars also appear poised to get more carries in 2019. One is James Cook, who chose UGA over his brother Dalvin's Florida State Seminoles. Zamir White, last year's top-ranked running back, is also returning from a knee injury.
If everyone's healthy, McIntosh may be fifth in the pecking order at running back. That's tough for a top-200 player to stomach.
McIntosh was presumably aware of what he was getting into, and he likely just wanted to be a part of one of Kirby Smart's star-studded recruiting classes. While Georgia's backfield is crowded, it could clear up a bit in a year's time.
McIntosh is the type of bruising back who normally thrives in the SEC, but he won't be a threat to get immediate carries.
QB Dylan Morris, Washington
Dylan Morris likely looked at the Washington depth chart, saw four-year starter Jake Browning was leaving and believed in his ability to battle for the job as a true freshman.
But the Huskies' job is going to be a hotly contested competition that already has a heavy favorite.
Georgia transfer Jacob Eason likely wouldn't have relinquished his job with the Bulldogs had he not gotten injured, which enabled then-true freshman Jake Fromm to take over and lead UGA to the national title game in 2017. Fromm hasn't relinquished that gig since, causing Eason to head back to his home state.
Eason has a huge arm and a ton of talent. But even if he doesn't wind up winning the job, redshirt freshmen Colson Yankoff and Jacob Sirmon are exciting young prospects as well. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore Jake Haener was the first signal-caller off the bench for Browning in 2018.
So, where does that leave Morris, the nation's 171st-ranked player and the No. 4 pro-style quarterback?
With offers from California, Oregon, Notre Dame and others, the 6'1" signal-caller had attractive options. If he's as good as his offer sheet suggests, he'll make it a fun battle. But if Eason (who has two years of eligibility remaining) runs away with the job, Morris' talent may go to waste.
Morris is playing at home, which suggests he'll give it some time and battle as the depth chart works itself out. But only one quarterback can play at a time, which makes it difficult to be patient.
The Huskies' quarterback situation is worth watching.
QB Taisun Phommachanh, Clemson
At 6'3" and 194 pounds, Connecticut prep signal-caller Taisun Phommachanh the type of project who needs to get in the weight room and develop into a late-blooming quarterback with huge upside.
The Tigers have the time.
Clemson freshman Trevor Lawrence was perhaps the most impressive freshman quarterback in college football history. He led the Tigers to a national championship, and he has at least two seasons of college eligibility remaining before he heads to the NFL.
Chase Brice is a quality backup behind him, too.
There's nothing wrong with Phommachanh heading to Clemson and letting offensive coordinator Jeff Scott develop him for a few years. He knew Lawrence was on campus and was going nowhere on that depth chart.
But how long will Phommachanh wait?
The Tigers are one of the early favorites for 2020 No. 1 pro-style quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. If he commits to Clemson, he could be too good to keep off the field once Lawrence moves on.
Phommachanh likely knows he wouldn't be a first-year starter at any elite program, so he shouldn't be a threat to transfer in 2019. But if he starts to grow and mature and looks sharp enough to start earning headlines, watch out. That's when kids start looking elsewhere.
While Phommachanh may be a "project" prospect, he's a high-upside talent who could bolt in a few years.
QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
If you're an Oklahoma fan, you're likely furious about seeing Spencer Rattler featured here.
After all, the nation's top-ranked quarterback committed to Oklahoma in June 2017, long before Kyler Murray would even have the option to head to the NFL early and with a sturdy backup in Austin Kendall entrenched.
Murray and Kendall are both gone, and while redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai remains, Rattler could get on the field in 2020 after Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts finishes his one year in Norman.
While Rattler told the Arizona Republic's Richard Obert "I love it" when asked about Hurts' transfer, he likely would have loved it more to win the Sooners' starting gig as a true freshman.
Rattler may be fine with Hurts' arrival, but another transfer could make him change his tune.
Between Hurts, Murray and Baker Mayfield, the Sooners have now relied upon three straight transfer QBs. If head coach Lincoln Riley can turn Hurts into a star like he did with Murray and Mayfield, it'll make Oklahoma just as attractive for next year's top transfer.
And if Rattler gets bumped down the depth chart again, he'll likely start looking around.
WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Garrett Wilson is the second-ranked receiver in this year's class, but two things could sour him on Ohio State in a hurry.
With leading receiver K.J. Hill returning to join Chris Olave, Jaelen Gill, Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, Jaylen Harris and others, the Buckeyes are loaded on the perimeter. Wilson is a game-breaking talent capable of getting on the field as a true freshman, but will he?
And if Justin Fields doesn't win his NCAA appeal, Ohio State could have quarterback issues in Ryan Day's first year as head coach. Even if Fields can play in 2019, he isn't an advanced passer yet.
Ohio State may wind up having a ton of talented but frustrated receivers, and it's fair to wonder if there will be enough catches to go around. If that happens, will distance away from the Lone Star State be a problem for Wilson?
With a lot of potent passing offenses closer to his home, Wilson may be one to watch if the Buckeyes struggle to carve out snaps for him.
QB Joey Yellen, Arizona State
Rather than stay in California and play for one of the Pac-12 schools or head to a place like Georgia, Washington State or Boise State, Joey Yellen instead committed to Arizona State in June 2018. Fellow pro-style quarterback Ethan Long did the same.
Six months later, dynamic dual-threat Jayden Daniels joined them in the Sun Devils' 2019 class and became the odds-on favorite to replace Manny Wilkins on sheer talent alone. Those three guys will battle for the job with junior Dillon Sterling-Cole.
When Daniels pledged, Yellen and Long still had time to reopen their recruitments. Neither did.
Yellen is no slouch, having earned an invitation to the Under Armour All-America Game. But while Daniels is a bit raw, his superb athleticism can help the Sun Devils win in a variety of ways.
If Daniels proves to be too talented to keep off the field, it may force Yellen to look elsewhere. There's no way for head coach Herm Edwards to keep everybody happy, and the loser of the battle may want a do-over.
Since Daniels appears likely to win the job, that leaves Yellen as the most talented runner-up.
Brad Shepard covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.