Fall Sundays are often reserved for the NFL (and religious services), while Saturdays are synonymous with college football. But in recent years, there has been a growing interest in football that is played under Friday night lights throughout the country. High school football players have become more than just the stars in their respective campus hallways.
They get evaluated on how they may do at the collegiate level. Young athletes from major metropolitans aren’t the only ones being placed under the recruiting spotlight. College football fans are learning about talented athletes from small, rural towns who would have otherwise may have, aside from college coaches, gone unnoticed.
It’s become even more of a spectacle considering the evolution of social media and the overall internet has made tracking the top high school athletes. Not just seniors, but juniors and even younger athletes are scouted for recruiting classes a few years from now. Athletes who receive the 5-star rating are considered the cream of the crop.
Some 5-star college recruits go on to have success in college and the NFL - e.g. running back Adrian Peterson and quarterback Cam Newton. But not every 5-star rating guarantees being a top-tier player in the NFL. It doesn’t even mean winning a national championship in college football. Nor does it guarantee you’ll have an extended stay on the depth chart’s first line.
The following are 15 former 5-star football recruits who were unable to find success at the college level; becoming the biggest busts in recent college football history.
15 Kyle Wright, QB
Coming out of Monta Vista High School in Danville, Calif., quarterback Kyle Wright had his options that also included joining the USC Trojans. Wright would end up making the jump to play for the Miami Hurricanes after being considered the top quarterback recruit for the Class of 2004. Wright watched as a freshman while Brock Berlin was the quarterback. In Wright’s first season, he threw for just 2,403 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
He struggled in 2006 as a junior with injuries and had just 1,644 yards, eight touchdowns and even interceptions. As a senior, Wright played just 10 games as the Hurricanes finished below .500; Wright had 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. After he was unable to play in the NFL, Wright moved on to computer software. Wright is currently the application sales manager for Oracle in San Francisco, Calif.
14 Robert Lane, QB
Sometimes, a talented player who can’t find success in college has more to do with not being used the right way. Robert Lane was a talented dual-threat quarterback in high school. After moving from free safety to quarterback, he finished his career at Neville High School in Monroe, La., with 9,016 total yards and 107 touchdowns both by air and by ground. He was once verbally committed to LSU in 2003, but decided to make a change to Ole Miss after a coaching change.
Lane only played in six games in 2004 after redshirting the 2003 season - throwing for just 242 yards and rushing for 309 yards. Lane was used by head coach David Cutcliffe in a three-QB system. But Cutcliffe was fired and replaced by Ed Orgeron - who went 10-25 in his three season at Ole Miss. During that time, Lane was transitioned to tight end from 2005 to 2007 - finishing with 517 yards on 47 receptions. Lane would go on to work in finance, not regretting the decision to play for the Rebels.
13 Dayne Crist, QB
Dayne Crist was a five-star recruit out of Canoga Park, Calif., who faced a lot of competition when he arrived at Notre Dame. After playing behind Jimmy Clausen in 2009, Crist took most of the snaps as a sophomore with 2,033 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. But Tommy Rees stood out near the end of the season and became the full-time starter in the 2011 season.
Crist would make the decision to transfer out of Notre Dame and play for the Kansas Jayhawks in 2012; a move that would give him more playing time than he had at South Bend, Ind. But Crist struggled, and so did the rest of the Jayhawks. Crist completed just 47.7 percent of his throws for 1,313 yards, four touchdowns and nine interceptions. Meanwhile, Notre Dame went to the National Championship that year.
12 Thomas Herring, OT
The USC Trojans were believed to have found the next big offensive tackle star in Thomas Herring (pictured, no.77). After a successful high school career at Fremont High Shcool in Los Angeles, Calif., Herring had offers for other top programs like Michigan, Oklahoma and LSU. He was likely expected to make a big impact as a freshman in 2004, but he was unable to qualify for admission. This meant that Herring had to sit out the 2004 season.
Herring then had to be redshirted in 2005 after he suffered a torn knee ligament in the summer workouts before the season. He spent his entire collegiate career either as a backup lineman or on the injury reserve. He had issues with a dislocated kneecap in 2007, a knee sprain and a torn Achilles tendon in 2008.
11 Whitney Lewis, RB/WR
The 2003 recruiting class featured a lot of talented athletes that included linebacker Ernie Sims at No. 1 and running back Reggie Bush at No. 2. Right behind them was Whitney Lewis of St. Bonaventure High School in California. He was a dual-threat offensive weapon with 42 total touchdowns; doubling as a wide receiver and running back juggernaut. He would sign with USC and make a few catches and rushes for a total of 38 yards in 2003 as a true freshman.
Lewis had to be redshirted in 2004 due to his grades being too low, followed by being a backup that never saw the field in 2005. With two years of eligibility, Lewis then completed a transfer to Division I-AA Northern Iowa. In 2006, Lewis caught just seven passes for 50 yards. He had his first and only touchdown reception in his final year in 2007 as part of a 26-reception, 218-yard senior season with the Panthers.
10 Mitch Mustain, QB
Springdale, Ark., high school prospect Mitch Mustain was considered to be a very valuable piece of what the Razorbacks were hoping to accomplish. Arkansas was able to get a commitment from the five-star recruit for the 2006 season. Mustain then became a true freshman and split the reps in games Casey Dick. Dick led the team with 991 passing yards; followed by Mustain’s 894. But Mustain’s days in Arkansas ended when he wanted a transfer in January 2007.
He was upset with being benched despite winning seven games in a row. Mustain would go to USC and play in 2008 and 2010 - finishing with just 505 total yards and three touchdowns. Mustain obviously never went to the NFL and spent two seasons playing in the Arena Football League for the San Jose Sabrecats (2013) and the San Antonio Talons (2014).
9 Tyler Love, OT
The Alabama Crimson Tide have been known for attracting a lot of talented big men on both sides of the line. Tyler Love had shown a lot of promise while playing at Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Ala. He was a six-foot, six-inch tall offensive tackle who weighed 307 pounds as a senior. This led to a lot of offers as the top OT in the country for the class of 2008. Love went local and chose to commit to Alabama.
But during his four years with the Crimson Tide, Love was nothing more than a reserve offensive lineman. Sure, he was in a very competitive program. But he chose to forgo his final year of eligibility after earning his degree in financial planning. With football not in his future, Love would go on to work in sales and is currently an account manager for Alchem Chemicals near Atlanta, Ga.
8 Darrell Scott, RB
There are not a lot of running backs who get labeled “The Next LaDanian Tomlinson.” But Darrell Scott had a lot of hype even as a junior in high school. His numbers were so impressive at Moorpark High School, he was shopped around to different private schools by his mom and stepdad. Scott maintained the five-star recruit ranking as he played his senior year at St. Bonaventure High School; receiving more than 40 college football scholarship offers.
Scott went to Colorado and had just 343 yards on 87 carries. Into his sophomore season, Scott publically demanded more carries than the 23 he had in 2009. Scott would announce his transfer to UCLA. Unfortunately, the Bruins weren’t interested. He settled for South Florida and had just 814 yards and five touchdowns as a junior. Scott was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys, but never played a down in the NFL.
7 James Banks, QB/WR
James Banks had a lot of attention surrounding him as showed to be a dual-threat quarterback out of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Ind. Banks had a 42-2 record where he had 3,215 yards and 39 touchdowns in the air and another 1,665 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground. Out of all of the programs he could have chosen, Banks left Big Ten country to go play for Tennessee out of the Southeastern Conference.
Banks was unable to get consistent starting time as a freshman quarterback and actually struggled to complete passes. The Volunteers made him a wide receiver as a sophomore and he led the team with 42 receptions and 621 yards. But Banks would be dismissed from the program before his junior year due to alcohol-related charges and incidents. He struggled at the JUCO level and couldn’t get into the NFL. Banks has since continued to be arrested and charged in incidents relating to drinking.
6 Ben Olson, QB
Ben Olson is an interesting story as a former No. 1 high school football recruit. He actually signed his letter of intent to BYU early; right before his junior year at Thousand Oaks High School in California. Fans at BYU were excited since he had come off a senior season with 2,989 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior. After redshirting his freshman season, Olson went on a two-year mission trip for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When he returned, the BYU program had changed so much that he felt he needed to transfer. Olson would prove ineffective in the 14 games he played for the UCLA Bruins from 2005 to 2007 - a 55.3 percent completion rate with 12 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Olson has since moved on from football and works as a salesman for a software company in the Utah Valley.
5 Jason Gwaltney, RB
There were many who felt that Jason Gwaltney was one of the best high school athletes to ever come out of Long Island, N.Y. But Jason Gwaltney had a lot of hype when he was compared to greats like Jim Brown. His ego grew as more top college programs contacted him, including Pete Carroll after USC won the national championship in 2005. Above them, Ohio State and other big name schools, the six-foot, 234-pound bruising Gwaltney chose West Virginia.
Many thought he was destined to win at least one Heisman Trophy, but he played just six games as a true freshman in 2005 - 45 carries for 186 yards and three touchdowns. But off-the-field issues saw him dismissed from West Virginia. He attempted to play Division-II and Division-III football. His fall from grace continued when he was arrested in 2013 for his involvement in a robbery in Huntington, N.Y.
4 Melvin Alaeze, DE
Melvin Alaeze looked like he had all of the tools you would want in a defensive end. He was six feet and two inches tall, weighing a massive 277 pounds as a senior in high school. But he was also fast on the end with a 4.5-second 40-yard dash time, which earned him several offers as the No. 4 overall recruit in the class of 2005. Alaeze would sign a letter of intent to play for Maryland in December 2004. But he had issues with academics and couldn’t make it for 2005.
In 2006, Alaeze was arrested for marijuana possession and several other charges. He lost his scholarship and tried again at Illinois. He was soon discarded with academic and personal issues, including a diagnosis for clinical depression. In November 2007, Alaeze was sentenced to eight years in prison for first-degree assault in a shooting and robbery that took place in Randallstown, Md. Many people viewed it as just another chapter in the sad story of a talented athlete’s life taking several wrong turns.
3 Ryan Perrilloux, QB
Ryan Perrilloux had a successful high school football career at East St. John High School in Reserve, La. He finished fourth all-time in career passing yards with 9,025 in four years. But he was also a dual-threat, which earned him the five-star rating by several scouting sites. Perrilloux would decide to sign his letter of intent with LSU. But his time on the field was limited in 2006 and barely made an impact in 2007 - although he did have eight touchdown passes as the Tigers won the title that year.
Perrilloux would end up being dismissed from LSU after a failed drug test. He also had a number of personal issues that questioned his disciplined. He played two years at Jacksonville State and tried to enter the 2010 NFL Draft. Perrilloux settled for the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League. Perrilloux is now the quarterbacks coach at his former high school.
2 Willie Williams, LB
In 2004, Willie Williams was viewed as one of the best linebackers to come out of high school football. Out of all of the running backs to come out of his recruiting class, he was viewed to be better than NFL All-Star players like Calvin Johnson and Marshawn Lynch. Williams had a lot of hype as he was writing some entertaining recruiting diary entries for The Miami Herald. Williams signed with Miami, but transferred out after one year.
He would go to Louisville, but was a risk due to his attitude. Unfortunately, Williams would be dismissed from the program after being arrested for possessing drugs. Williams would try to play at the NAIA level but had several legal troubles involving several felony charges. He’s sitting at Kenton County Jail in Covington, Ky., currently serving a 15-year sentence.
1 Fred Rouse, WR
Fred Rouse was considered the No. 2 overall prospect for the Class of 2005. Coming out of Tallahassee, Fla., Rouse chose to go with a local option and committed to play for Florida State University. The 6-foot-4 receiver was a target by many top programs and that seemed to have boosted his ego. Rouse barely had game action as a true freshman in 2005. But he had 116 yards and a touchdown on six receptions.
He was dismissed from the team due to failed drug tests. He was also arrested for breaking into a former teammate’s apartment. Rouse transferred to UTEP, but still saw limited action in 10 games. He tried to play at Texas Southern, but that didn’t work out either. Going to jail for violating probation left him searching to play football at some level. He would at Concordia College in Selma, Ala., would lead him to have a brief stint in the Canadian Football League.