Maybe I say this as a cynical college sports reporter, but the star system is a joke.
Really, the star system is nothing more than exactly what it sounds like: a star for kids to hold up and say, "I'm a three-star! You're only a two-star!" I don't get much out of the star-system other than using it as a reference point when discussing new players, but to use that as an actual evaluation system when there's so many other things available - and yes, those things do go into stars, but the point remains - isn't worth it.
Today, we're going to mock the star system as best we can by looking at some highly-touted recruits that turned into busts at the collegiate level and some unknown players (either unranked or two-stars) that grew into major stars both in college and at the NFL. Players with 'best' next to their names are automatically five-stars while those with worst will have their respective stars in parenthesis.
Because of how many high school recruits there are in a given year, we are going to limit this from 2000-on; this is also around the time when the star system became popular, so this helps from all angles. Nothing says let's get ready for college football and the NFL more than insulting the system that so many of these players are ranked on, right?
15 Bust: Kyle Wright - Miami
Did people really compare Kyle Wright to Ken Dorsey? I know Dorsey was the quarterback for the Hurricanes' 34-game winning streak, but Dorsey? Putting Wright on this list will likely upset many of my Florida readers either because he's too low or because he actually had some success on the field - the future Minnesota Viking and San Francisco 49er completed 58.6 percent of his passes in 2005 for 2,403 yards and an 18-10 TD-INT ratio - but with all of the expectations in place, the former Gatorade Player of the Year didn't get the job done.
But again, Wright is also one of the few busts on this list to enjoy actual success, so there's that. However, I'd be remiss in my duties as a south Florida resident to not mention Wright's disappointing tenure in Coral Gables.
14 Star: Alfred Morris - FAU (2 stars)
My Florida Atlantic bias is showing, but come on. Morris was a two-star recruit out of Orlando that landed with what at the time was a rising FAU program (seriously, winning a major FBS bowl game six years after your program's first game at any level is amazing) and graduated after the 2011 season with every FAU rushing record (returning sophomore Devin "Motor" Singletary has since surpassed Morris' single-game rushing totals with 254 and 235 last season, while Gregory "Buddy" Howell Jr. broke Morris' single-season TD record a year ago with 13; Singletary had 12 to move past Morris' 11 for second-place).
Since being drafted by the Washington Redskins in 2012, Morris has made three Pro Bowls, led the NFL in rushing his rookie year, and could be in for a major comeback season with the Dallas Cowboys this year. Not a bad find for Howard Schnellenberger...
13 Bust: Ryan Perrilloux - LSU
That Ryan Perrilloux is so high on this list means I'm being more merciful than I should be, but there was no saving this guy. Commonly in coach Les Miles' doghouse for arrogance, breaking team rules, and even a federal investigation, Perrilloux once claimed he'd win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman despite JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn both being behind him.
Perrilloux was dismissed in 2008, landed at Jacksonville State in 2010, and was dismissed from there too. Somehow, Perrilloux landed a futures contract with the New York Giants in 2011, but nothing came of it; he's now coaching quarterbacks at East St. John (La.), his alma mater.
"There's no reason not to root for Ryan Perrilloux," Miles told reporters last year after he was asked about Perrilloux and Jacksonville State, the Tigers' first opponent in 2016. "Your time has passed at LSU but he's got a wonderful life. He's doing the things he wants to do and that's to be commended."
12 Star: Julius Thomas - Portland State (no stars)
Granted, this does come with a caveat because Julius Thomas, as has been stressed to us in nearly every Broncos and Jaguars game that's been on TV, played basketball at Portland State. In fact, Thomas was a two-star recruit coming out of Tokay High School (Lodi, Ca.) as a power forward, but when he finally gave collegiate football a try in 2010, it was enough for the Denver Broncos to take note.
Though Thomas struggled in Jacksonville, he previously turned in two Pro Bowl seasons in 2013 and 2014 after being a fourth-round pick in 2011 with the Broncos. That's the Peyton Manning effect for you, folks.
Really, Thomas is our representative for any player that was recruited primarily for another sport (i.e. basketball) and still became a successful NFL player. Let's get back to the busts.
11 Bust: Marcus Vick - Virginia Tech
Here's the thing with Marcus Vick: the guy definitely showed potential, especially when he completed 61.2 percent of his passes in 2005 for 2,393 yards, 17 touchdowns to 10 picks, and added six touchdowns on the ground (although with a 2.6 yards per carry mark...Michael, he was not). However, the expectations of living up to his brother's legacy - and we're not just talking the legacy he left at UVA, but the one that made him a video game glitch with Madden 2004 - left Vick in a bad way, especially when it came to the 2006 Gator Bowl.
Some have speculated that Marcus Vick may have only been as touted as he was because of his last name, but I do think there was talent beneath the character issues. Would Vick have been better had he not went to UVA like his brother? I'll leave that for those with classic NCAA games...
10 Star: Mike Iupati - Idaho (2 stars)
As a former offensive lineman that may or may not have been able to play small-time Division III in New York based off my size alone, I'll fully admit that scouting that unit is probably the most hit-or-miss as you'll get. All of the top offensive line recruits you see redshirting this season isn't a coincidence; the adjustment from high school to college, even at the lowest levels, isn't as easy for big uglies as it'd be for running backs or linebackers.
However, letting someone like Iupati slip through the cracks and only end up at Idaho - and I mean that with all due respect to all the potato people - makes me wonder how that happened. If your defense is the language barrier Iupati faced as an American-Samoan, we should probably have a talk.
9 Bust: Bryce Brown - Tennessee
And while the transition from college to high school isn't often as problematic and major as it is for quarterbacks and offensive lineman, you'll certainly have your busts. Called by some to be the best running back prospect from Kansas since Barry Sanders himself, Brown - recruited by Lane Kiffin himself to the University of Tennessee - had one of the more infamous recruiting trails we've seen as trainer and handler Brian Butler would sell update of the running back' recruitment for $9.99 a month or $59 a year. Why? This is a high school running back we're talking about, albeit a highly-touted one, but to sell updates?
Brown landed at Tennessee and served as the backup behind Montario Hardesty - now reunited with Kiffin at FAU as an asst. strength coach - before transferring to Kansas State in 2010. The last time we saw Brown was in 2015 with the Seahawks, but who knows? Maybe Kiffin will add him to FAU's staff next...
8 Star: Chad Greenway - Iowa (no stars)
How did Greenway not have any stars coming out of high school? I get it, the guy was coming from South Dakota and also played basketball, baseball, and ran track & field, but Idaho got a steal with the recently-retired Greenway. By 2006, Greenway was a first-round pick of the rebuilding Vikings and by 2008, Greenway was leading the team in tackles (albeit a flawed statistic, but you have to remember how impressive those defenses were).
A two-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 2012, Greenway played all 16 games every year but once from 2007-15, becoming a mainstay on the Vikings defense and in the Minnesota community. Again, this is why the star system is one that we shouldn't pay much attention to in terms of evaluating the future, but I digress. Next...
7 Bust: Dayne Crist - Notre Dame
If you want to really get Notre Dame fans crazy, just go and mention Dayne Crist to them. Jimmy Clausen's supposed replacement after the future Carolina Panther departed in 2009, Crist had two season-ending knee injuries in 2009 and 2010 before leaving the Fighting Irish in 2011 for Kansas. Who wouldn't want to reunite with Charlie Weis?
Because Irish fans are so devoted to their teams, Crist would later admit to receiving more death threats than he could count. But as the Fighting Irish were headed for a National Championship appearance after the 2012 season, Crist remained cheerful in an interview with CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman.
"In retrospect, you can always ask, 'What if?' but I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Injuries are part of the game. Injuries don't discriminate. And it's like everything else in life, it's how you adapt to what comes at you."
6 Star: Tony Romo - Eastern Illinois (No Stars)
We've beaten this story so many times over the years, especially when another Eastern Ilinois quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, was headed for the NFL Draft in 2014. I think we should let Romo's former rcoach, Bob Spoo, take it from here as he told NFL Network the following earlier this year.
"Being the head coach, I had to look at the film for him obviously coming out of high school. And Roy Wittke was my quarterback coach at Eastern Illinois. He recruited Tony. He brought it in and to be honest with you I wasn't quite sure if Tony was going to make it or not. And so consequently we only offered him a partial scholarship. That's how dumb I was."
At least things worked out for both sides as Romo, had he stayed healthy and won a couple more playoff games, may have had a darkhorse Hall of Fame case and more players began to know about the school. Call it the Alfred Moris effect!
5 Bust: Michael Dyer - Auburn/Louisville
This one absolutely pains me to write about because I, like so many others, hopped on board the Michael Dyer train and for good reason. Dyer's first two year at Auburn were historic as the Arkansas native broke Bo Jackson's freshman rushing yards record with 1,093 in 2010 and ran for 1,242 yards his sophomore season, but was suspended indefinitely before the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl and soon transferred to Akansas State.
Then, Dyer was dismissed following a controversial traffic stop where a gun and marijuana was found, so the former BCS National Championship MVP transferred again, this time to Arkansas Baptist College where he prioritized school over football. In 2013, Dyer enrolled at Louisville and ended his collegiate career by being academically ineligible for the 2014 Belk Bowl.
Dyer most recently played with the Texas Revolutions of Champions Indoor Football, a league you probably didn't know existed.
4 Star: Brent Grimes - Shippensburg (No Stars)
Brent Grimes may have the most fascinating journey to the NFL on this list, so we'll start with him not getting any stars out of Philadelphia Northeast (Pa.) and playing at Division II Shippensburg. In 2006, Grimes was signed as a priority free agent by the Atlanta Falcons who then allocated him to NFL Europa where he'd win a World Bowl with the Hamburg Sea Devils. In 2007, Grimes joined the Atlanta Falcons for good and made his first Pro Bowl in 2010.
Say what you want about Brent's wife, Mika, but you have to give this guy credit for never giving up on his path to the pros. Playing at Division II? Fine. Playing in NFL Europa? Alright. Bouncing around there before landing with a team known as the Sea Devils? Brent Grimes may be the real MVP of this list.
3 Bust: Garrett Gilbert - Texas/SMU
If simply mentioning Dayne Crist is enough to make Notre Dame fans go crazy, I can only wonder what would happen if you mentioned Garrett Gilbert to a Texas Longhorns fan. Despite having a Texas football name and seeming like the perfect replacement for Colt McCoy after the 2009 season, Gilbert threw 10 touchdowns to 17 picks in 2010 and was booed early in 2011. Gilbert would soon transfer to SMU, but years later, the wounds of being booed by Longhorns fans still stung.
“Hearing boos again, not really being able to shake that, at that point I kind of knew it might be time to start over and wipe the slate clean,” Gilbert told NFL.com in 2014. “It’s tough to sum up quickly. For whatever reason, things didn’t work out. I think that led to some forcing the ball, trying to force things to happen. Maybe I read the papers a little too much, as well.”
Don't read the papers, man, we're always out to get players. It's not like we're reporting the facts about what goes on with teams and struggling players...
2 Star: DeMarcus Ware, Troy (No Stars)
Right there, you know DeMarcus Ware is sticking his tongue out at all of the scouts who didn't even bother giving him a star. It's not like Ware went on to one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time and should have no problems getting into the Hall of Fame come 2022, right?
Then again, people also had doubts about how Ware would adjust to the NFL and then voiced concerns about his health after the Dallas Cowboys cut him in early 2014, so I don't know what else to say. You know, we talk about how long these Hall of Fame speeches are, but with all of the people that have almost wanted Ware to fail, you have to wonder how many of those people he'll mention in the summer of 2022. Will you be on there?
1 Bust: Fred Rouse - Florida State
No one is going to beat Fred Rouse and frankly, I don't know how anyone can. With Rouse, you had the expectations (Bleacher Report would later call him the next Randy Moss), the build (6'5" with a 4.4 40 time), and the hype, signing with Florida State in 2005 and almost immediately getting into spats with Bobby Bowden. Rouse was in Tallahassee for a year before being dismissed, transferring to UTEP and then landing at Concordia College.
Rouse attempted to be drafted in 2011 after working at Troy's Pro Day, went undrafted, and landed in the UFL with the Omaha Nighthawks. Later, Rouse spent time with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa Redblacks. last playing in 2014. Oh, Fred, where have you gone? Who are you upsetting now?
Which of these players were the biggest busts? Who was the biggest surprise star? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!
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