Class of 2002 5-Stars: A Look Back had forty-six 5-star recruits in the class of 2002. In this article, I take a look back at how they did during their college and pro careers.

Among recruiting fans, the most coveted recruits in any recruiting class are the five-star recruits. And the 2002 class had 46 players who earned that honor. I take a look back at how that select group of recruits did during their college careers and, for some, their pro careers.

First, I'll take a look at which schools signed those 46 players. 5-Star Recruits
Class of 2002
Florida State 5
Texas 5
Miami (FL) 4
North Carolina State 3
Virginia 3
Ohio State 3
Southern Cal 3
Tennessee 3
Notre Dame 2
Stanford 2
Florida 2
Oklahoma 2
Washington 1
Texas A&M 1
Georgia 1
Oregon 1
Michigan State 1
Michigan 1
Mississippi State 1

Many fans assume that a recruit that has that five-star ranking beside his name automatically means that he will likely have a great college career. While that may be true in many cases, it's not as likely as you would believe.

Of the 46 recruits, how many of them eventually earned All-Conference honors and All-American honors while in college? Those are two honors that indicate a player has had an outstanding career.

Fifteen (32.6%) of the 46 earned All-Conference honors at least once while seven (15.2%) of those fifteen earned All-America honors.

While those numbers are solid, something you have to take into consideration is other factors that prevented some of the players from achieving the success their talent indicated they would have.

Fourteen of the 46 players had careers ended or sidelined due to four factors - academic issues, injuries, Mormon missions and being dismissed from the team.

  • Three players had academic issues that prevented them from becoming the player they were predicted to be. Either they weren't able to get into school or they couldn't stay in school due to academics.
  • Six players had career-ending injuries or injuries that derailed their career to the point where they were never the same player.
  • Two of the players went on two-year Mormon missions that proved too much for them to come back from and be the player they were prior to going on the mission.
  • Three players were dismissed from their schools prior to their senior seasons. Only one of those three, Maurice Clarett, ever earned any kind of honor and he earned his All-Conference honor prior to being dismissed. He eventually was drafted by the NFL in the supplemental draft but he was never the same player after he was dismissed from college.

    When you add those numbers together, that means 14 of the 46 players never achieved their potential due to various situations that occurred off the field or due to injuries. That's 30.4% of the forty-six players. And only one of those (Maurice Clarett) 14 ever earned All-Conference honors.

    When you subtract those 14 from the original 46, that leaves 32 players who were able to play out their careers. Now, when you go back and look at how many of those 32 players earned All-Conference and All-American honors the percentages are much better. Of those thirty-two, 14 earned All-Conference honors (I removed 1 of the original 15 All-Conference selections, Maurice Clarett), which is 43.8%, and 7 of those 32 earned All-American honors, which is 21.9%.

    Those are solid numbers.

    The next indicator on how good a player is is whether he ends up playing in the NFL.

    Of the 46 players, 24 ended up being drafted (52.2%). Of those 24, there were four 1st-rounders, two 2nd-rounders, four 3rd-rounders, five 4th-rounders, six 5th-rounders, two 6th-rounders and one 7th-rounder. That means twenty-two never got drafted. Of those 22, thirteen came from that group that were included in those that had injuries, academic issues, were dismissed or went on Mormon missions

    So, when you take out those 13, that leaves 33 players. Twenty-four of those thirty-three were drafted, which is 72.7%. Of those 24, 19 had NFL careers that lasted three or more years. That's 79.2% (19 of 24) that had solid NFL careers,

    With all that said, here are the bottom line numbers in regard to the class of 2002 five-star players achieving greatness in college and also having a three or more year NFL career once their college career is over with. Seven (15.2%) of those forty-six players ended up being All-Americans during their college careers and nineteen (41.3%) of the forty-six ended up playing three or more years in the NFL.

    BTW, one last bit of information. Of the colleges that signed two or more 5-star recruits, several did really well developing them while others didn't.

    The success stories among the colleges are Southern Cal, Stanford, Texas and Florida State.

    Of Southern Cal's three 5-star signees, all three were drafted and had NFL careers of three or more years. Stanford's two 5-star signees also were drafted and had NFL careers of three or more years. Florida State and Texas both signed five 5-star signees. FSU had four drafted, three of whom had careers of three or more years in the NFL. And Texas had three drafted, all of whom had careers of three or more years.

    Of the teams that signed two or more 5-star recruits, five had poor success developing them. They were Miami (FL), North Carolina State, Ohio State, Florida and Tennessee.

    Tennessee had the least success when you consider none of the three they signed were drafted by the NFL. One transferred to another school and never was heard from again. One was injured and the other one simply didn't develop. Miami signed four with just one being drafted and having an NFL career that lasted three or more years. None of the other three were drafted, nor were their careers derailed to outside factors. They simply didn't develop. North Carolina signed three and only one was drafted but his NFL career was as a three-year practice squad member. Of the other two, one was dismissed from the team and the other never developed. Ohio State signed three, only one of whom ever played in the NFL, Maurice Clarett. And he only played a couple of pre-season games before being cut. Of the other two, one had his career ended due to an injury while the other one didn't develop. Florida signed two players, only one of who was drafted. And he ended up playing just a couple of years in the NFL before being cut. The other player never developed.

    Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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