Recruiting 2015 - The 2011 5-Star Recruits

Did it work out? Did the superstar prospects fulfill their promise?

E-mail Rich Cirminiello
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Where are they now? The Five-Star Prospects of the …
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- 2011 5-Star Recruits: No. 26 to 50

E-mail Rich Cirminiello
Follow me ... @RichCirminiello
Earn a Ph.D. in college football … class is in session at Campus Insiders

The five-star recruit, the ultimate symbol of success for any college coaching staff, university or passionate fan base. There are talented high school players, and then there are the five-star thoroughbreds, the crème de la crème of available candidates, and the caliber of players that programs and recruiting classes are built upon. However, the luster of landing one of these rare gems can sometimes fade even before the subsequent February’s class sets foot on campus.

The stark reality each year is that even the highest-rated recruits can be hits-or-misses, an inexact science that’s part inebriating and part maddening. To illustrate the point, all that’s required is a revisionist’s peek at the 50 blue-chippers from four years ago to see who was a beast and who wound up being a colossal bust. Only a fraction, a little less than one-third, have gone on to consistently perform at the top of their class, which ought to somewhat curb enthusiasm for this February’s Signing Day.

*Historical rankings from 2011 are courtesy of Scout.com

25. TE Ben Koyack, Notre Dame
Koyack will be the latest in a long line of NFL tight ends who did their apprenticeship in South Bend. That said, he’s not going to be mentioned in the same breath as recent Irish stars Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert. Over four years, Koyack started 20 games, including 13 in 2014, and made 44 receptions for 532 yards and five touchdowns. And the Mackey Award semifinalist is coming off his best season while at Notre Dame.
Worth the Hype? Not quite

24. OT Bobby Hart , Florida State
While Hart was a key cog along the Seminole front wall, he was never the program’s best blocker, which ought to be a minimum standard for a five-star recruit. He finished his Seminole career with 37 starts, including a handful as a 17-year-old rookie 2011. In his final two years of eligibility, Hart was named honorable mention All-ACC as a junior and Third Team All-ACC as a senior.
Worth the Hype? Sort of

23. RB Savon Huggins, Rutgers
Huggins was the embodiment of a bust after becoming the most celebrated recruit to ever choose the Scarlet Knights. Injuries and the presence of the far less heralded Jawan Jamison, Paul James and Justin Goodwin prevented Huggins from ever carving out a central role within the offense. Prior to missing all of 2014 to injuries, Huggins had rushed for only 842 yards and nine touchdowns in three years. He’s been granted his release and will transfer to a yet-to-be-determined program.
Worth the Hype? Nope

22. WR Kasen Williams , Washington
Williams’ career might warrant an asterisk, because he hasn’t been the same player since breaking his left fibula and a bone in his foot in October of 2013. It was a horrific injury that not only derailed his junior season, but also was complicit in an uneventful finale on Montlake. Prior to going down, though, Williams was on his way to becoming one of the Pac-12 top young receivers, making 113 catches for 1,305 yards and a dozen touchdowns in two years.
Worth the Hype? Sort of

21. WR Trey Metoyer, Oklahoma
If it could have gone wrong for Metoyer during his Sooner career, it did. The fact that he didn’t initially qualify academically was a harbinger of things to come for a player whose best work was done during spring drills. Before leaving the program in October of 2013, Metoyer caught 19 career passes, and had more allegations of indecent exposure—three—than touchdown receptions—two. A classic case of wasted potential, he was arrested most recently in February of 2014.
Worth the Hype? Nope

20. DE Ishaq Williams, Notre Dame
The 2014 campaign was supposed to be Williams’ time to finally begin approaching his upside. But a high-profile academic suspension dramatically changed those plans. Williams hopes to return to the program by June, provided the books are in order. At 6-5 and 270 pounds, with the requisite athleticism, there are enough raw ingredients to turn the career tide. But Williams has just one start in three years, a red flag for a player with so much natural ability.
Worth the Hype? Not yet

19. LB Curtis Grant , Ohio State
While it would be unfair to tag Grant as a complete bust, he never once came close to meeting the expectations that accompanied his arrival from high school in Richmond, Va. He was supposed to be a wrecking ball for the Buckeyes, but instead was more of a role player. To his credit, Grant fought through injuries and a downgraded reality to start 28 career games, including all 15 during this past season.
Worth the Hype? Not quite

18. OT Kiaro Holts , North Carolina
As disappointments go, Holts is sure to contend for the biggest one from this class. The Midwest’s top-rated lineman of 2011 attracted offers from as far away as Florida and USC. However, he started just three games in four years, never measuring up as more than a veteran backup off the bench. So ready is Holts for the next stage of his life that he will not use his final year of eligibility now that he’s earned his Carolina degree.
Worth the Hype? Nope

17. OG Christian Westerman , Auburn
Westerman is evidence that you can go home again. The Chandler, Ariz. native transferred to Arizona State after spending his first two seasons on the plains of Auburn. He sat out the 2013 season, per NCAA rules, before nabbing the starting left guard job in Tempe. Westerman played well enough in his Sun Devil debut to earn honorable mention All-Pac-12, laying the groundwork for what could be a breakout finale that attracts the attention of NFL scouts.
Worth the Hype? Not yet

16. RB Brandon Williams, Oklahoma
Williams lasted just one year in Norman, tugged back to Texas to be closer to his daughter. However, while a transfer to Texas A&M has been good for his family life, it hasn’t ignited his athletic career. In two seasons as an Aggie, Williams has run the ball just 131 times for 648 yards and four scores. He still has the speed and the size that attracted so many scholarship offers four years ago, but he’s quickly running out of eligibility.
Worth the Hype? Not yet

15. DT Delvon Simmons , Texas Tech
Simmons is getting close. He has one final year of eligibility to reach his ceiling, but it won’t take place in Lubbock. The former Red Raider, who originally signed a letter-of-intent to play for North Carolina, transferred to USC in 2013. After sitting out a season, he won a defensive tackle job and finished his Trojan debut with 44 tackles. Simmons has the agility for a big man that could result in a breakout year in 2015.
Worth the Hype? Not yet

14. DT Viliami Moala, Cal
Moala arrived in Berkeley out of shape in 2011 in what would become a harbinger of things to come for the highly touted Sacramento product. He got in shape, but never had the impact that the Bears expected, starting just one season before mistakenly declaring for early entry into the NFL Draft. Moala went undrafted last May, signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens and was never offered a contract.
Worth the Hype? Nope

13. DE Anthony Chickillo, Miami
Foundational player, no doubt. But Chickillo never made the crossover leap to being a dominant defensive force at Miami. A starter since his rookie season, he ended up as a quality strongside end that was better at stopping the run than rushing the passer. Chickillo raised expectations in 2011, finishing third in ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, was more steady than spectacular over his final three seasons, finishing with 15.5 career sacks.
Worth the Hype? Not quite

12. LB Steve Edmond, Texas
Edmond was a solid all-around performer for the Horns, though he never elevated above honorable mention All-Big 12, which he achieved in each of his final two seasons in Austin. He earned four letters in four seasons, while starting in the middle since 2012. Edmond peaked this past fall, making 131 tackles, 13 stops for loss and 5.5 sacks in his first year working with new head coach Charlie Strong.
Worth the Hype? Sort of

11. OT La’el Collins, LSU
Collins was a rarity in Baton Rouge, the star Tiger who stayed with the program for all four seasons. The stalwart pass protector went from a Freshman All-American in 2011 to a Second Team All-American in 2014, racking up accolades, knockdown blocks and 38 career starts. Collins was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the SEC’s top lineman, this past fall, a fitting for a veteran who could be selected in the opening round of April’s NFL Draft.
Worth the Hype? Yes

10. DE Aaron Lynch , Notre Dame
For Irish fans, it turns out, Lynch was a 6-5, 270-pound tease. In 2011, he whet the appetite of Golden Domers by notching 5.5 sacks and 14 hurries, en route to a spot on the Freshman All-American Team. But just a few months after his debut ended, he left South Bend to play closer to his Cape Coral (Fla.) home. After spending one relatively quiet year at South Florida, Lynch left the Bulls and was drafted in the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers. He actually played well for the Niners, leading the team with six sacks.
Worth the Hype? Not quite

9. RB Malcolm Brown, Texas
Four years. Not a single 1,000-yard season. Yeah, no one expected this level of production from one of the country’s highest ranked running backs. Brown was hampered by injuries in the first half of his career and competition from Johnathan Gray in the second half. Plus, it didn’t help that the Longhorns often struggled at the line of scrimmage and in the passing game. Averaging just 157 carries a year in Austin could benefit Brown as he looks to continue his career on Sundays.
Worth the Hype? Not quite

8. S Karlos Williams , Florida State
A number of blue-chippers change campuses. Few, however, change sides of the ball. Williams was an exception. After serving as a backup safety in his first two seasons, the Seminoles chose to move one of their best athletes to offense to bolster running back depth. It worked, too, as Williams ran for 730 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 91 carries. However, with expectations soaring in 2014, his production slipped, opening the door for true freshman Dalvin Cook to become the front man of the ground game.
Worth the Hype? Not quite

7. S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix , Alabama
Three and out. Clinton-Dix’s career path took him from rookie letterwinner to sophomore starter to All-American in his Crimson Tide finale in 2013. He was one of the nation’s top safeties as a junior, which wasn’t lost on the Green Bay Packers, who plucked him out of last May’s opening round. Clinton-Dix has fulfilled expectations in his pro debut, racking up 94 regular season tackles, including 66 solos, as a 10-game starter.
Worth the Hype? Yes

6. LB Trey DePriest, Alabama
While DePriest never made the same headlines as some of his predecessors in Tuscaloosa, he still had a solid career with the Tide. The rock in the middle started 39 games, finishing with 237 tackles, including a career-high 88 as a senior. DePriest followed up a Second Team All-SEC junior year by being named First team All-American by the AFCA and First Team All-SEC by the league coaches in 2014. He’s a terrific leader, though a lack of ideal range will hinder his pro outlook.
Worth the Hype? Yes

5. RB Isaiah Crowell, Georgia
Crowell was all set to become the next big thing at running back in Athens following an SEC Freshman of the Year debut. But then he ran afoul of the law, was shown the door by Mark Richt and eventually landed at FCS Alabama State. To his credit, Crowell regrouped and played well enough to remain on the radar of pro scouts. And despite going undrafted last year, he finished second on the Cleveland Browns with 607 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
Worth the Hype? Not quite

4. DT Anthony Johnson, LSU
Johnson was dubbed the ‘freak’ coming out of high school for his rare combination of strength and quickness, but there was nothing especially freaky about his three years in Baton Rouge. He started 16 games for the Tigers and earned Second Team All-SEC in 2013 before declaring for early entry into the NFL Draft. Johnson was not selected last spring, settling in with the Miami Dolphins as a priority free agent. He played in seven games before injuring his ankle.
Worth the Hype? Not quite

3. RB De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Thomas was arguably the most electrifying player of his class, playing as if he was channeling a modern-day Rocket Ismail. A lethal all-purpose weapon, with world-class speed, he epitomized the Ducks’ big-play, quick-strike attack. In his three years in Eugene, Thomas scored 46 touchdowns, 26 on runs, 15 on receptions and five on special teams. The fourth-round draft choice is attempting to relive his college days as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Worth the Hype? Yes

2. OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Was Kouandjio the second best player of the 2011 class? No. But he was a two-year starter for the Crimson Tide, earning All-SEC First Team in 2013, and convinced the Buffalo Bills to take him with their second pick. While Kouandjio has started slowly with the Bills, he cracked the rotation late in the year, and hopes to continue that momentum next season. He’s still a bit of a project, but the foundation is strong enough to remain hopeful about the future.
Worth the Hype? Yes

1. DE Jadeveon Clowney , South Carolina
Clowney had somewhat of an enigmatic superhero quality to him during his three years with the Gamecocks. While there was little doubt he was the most dominant individual of this class, it didn’t always show, especially in his 2013 amateur finale. Still, Clowney was a wrecking ball when he was on, peaking with 23.5 stops for loss and 13 sacks during an All-American sophomore season. The future is a little uncertain for the top overall draft pick of 2014 after missing most of a rookie year that ended with a risky microfracture knee surgery.
Worth the Hype? Yes

- 2011 5-Star Recruits: No. 26 to 50


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