This time of year the college football world goes into a recruiting frenzy. The season has ended. Spring games are still months away. Fall practice seems like it may never get here. So every fan (at least every diehard) focuses on recruiting.
If you’re like the rest of us fanatics, you want to know anything and everything about the recruits your school is after. And if you cheer for a big program, five-star prospects offer bragging rights. Remember that movie with Shaq? No, not Kazaam. That other one in which he played (and it was a stretch) a basketball player? Blue Chips. That’s what the five-star recruits are. Blue chips. They are considered the cream of the crop. And you want as many of them as scholarships your school has available.
For Florida, the Army All-American Game was a big moment. Huge in the recruiting world. The Gators went from having not one five-star prospect committed to have three (according to Rivals.com) in only a matter of a few hours. And if the Under Armour All-American Game the week before was a barometer of those who may get that elusive fifth star in the coming weeks, Florida may end up with five or six when all is said and done.
Since 2002 (and not including the current recruiting class), Florida has signed 22 five-star prospects. Looking back over the 22, you can see some definite success stories and some definite misses. Due to this, a few friends (One Eyed Willy, KP, and Vanilla Bear) and I decided to perform a little exercise and rate each player from one to five stars based on how they played or the potential they now present. In the end, we only rated 19 of the 22, leaving off the three from the 2009 recruiting class (Gary Brown, Andre Debose, and Jelani Jenkins) due to redshirting and lack of anything to accurately rate them on. Our goal was to determine who lived up to the hype and who went in the other direction. And here are the results:
5.00 Stars – Derrick Harvey, Percy Harvin, Jarvis Moss, Brandon Spikes, Tim Tebow – These are the guys that met the hype head on, ran it over, and never looked back. It was unanimous that each one of them lived up to their five-star status. It’s no coincidence the three of the five that have been drafted all went in the first-round and the remaining two most likely will. These were definitely the men among boys.
4.75-4.50 Stars – Andre Caldwell, Carlos Dunlap, Chad Jackson – Two receivers that came in together and a stud defensive lineman. Caldwell left Florida as the career leader in receptions and Jackson left with the single-season record. Dunlap will test the NFL waters after a dominant junior year.
4.25-4.00 Stars – Ciatrick Fason, Will Hill, Matt Patchan – Fason might have had a chance at a place higher in the rankings had he not left after his junior year and Hill and Patchan are still fighting hard to realize greatness. Hill’s only knock is having to split playing time, but five-star status may be in sight as he gets on the field more in 2010. If Patchan is left at one position, he could still blossom into a star.
3.75-3.50 Stars – Omar Hunter, Dee Webb – Realistically, Hunter gets an incomplete at this stage in his career. With years still ahead of him, he will have plenty of chances to shine. Webb was another one of those that could have cashed in on greatness with one more year. As it was, he was consistent, but rarely spectacular for three seasons.
3.25-3.00 Stars – Joe Cohen, Carl Johnson – There was talk for a while at trying Cohen out as a power back, so that may have slowed his development, but in the end he was an important part of the defense, just never a true star. Johnson has one final year to pull it all together. He’s been good, but not great just yet.
2.75-2.50 Stars – Torrey Davis – Davis probably gets more credit than he deserves for one spectacular play. In the end, he left Florida after never becoming the player he was expected to be and spending most of his time in the doghouse.
2.25-2.00 Stars – Carl Moore, Cameron Newton, James Wilson – Moore and Wilson still have a chance to prove themselves, but they may not become more than solid athletes. Newton on the other hand still has a chance to be great, but if he does, it will be while wearing the orange and blue of a different SEC school.