There is no science to player evaluation. None. How do we know? If there were, barring injury, every first-round pick would produce, every free-agent signing would pay off and every five-star recruit would become a star.
Instead of a science, though, it’s a roll of the dice. Want proof? We’re here to remember some big SEC recruiting busts. We’re looking at each SEC school’s biggest recruiting bust this century. (It sounds more ominous – “the biggest recruiting busts of the century” – than it really is; remember, the century is all of 17 years old.)
Still, we’re going to bring up some names that are going to cause fans and coaches (and maybe even some former teammates) to shake their heads, grit their teeth and maybe even mumble, “Oh, man …”
Player: OT Tyler Love.
The skinny: Love, from Birmingham, was a five-star recruit and considered the nation’s best tackle prospect (and a top-25 prospect overall) in the ’08 recruiting class. But he played in just 13 games in his Tide career, all as a reserve.
Player: QB Mitch Mustain
The skinny: He might be the most-hyped high school athlete in Arkansas history. He was considered a national top-10 player and – along with Matthew Stafford – one of the top two quarterbacks in his signing class. Mustain famously decided to stay home and play for the Hogs; his high school coach, Gus Malzahn, came along with him as Arkansas’ new offensive coordinator. But though Mustain started as a freshman, he (and Malzahn) were ill-suited for coach Houston Nutt’s run-oriented offense. Mustain threw for 894 yards, 10 TDs and nine picks that season, then transferred to USC. (We won’t even get into the issues his mom, Beck Campbell, created.) He finished his college career with 1,399 yards, 13 TDs and 12 picks.
Player: OLB Lemarcus Rowell
The skinny: Rowell was a five-star prospect from Opelika High, about 12 miles from Auburn’s campus. He was a 6-foot-4, 220-pound pass-rush terror – or so the story went. But Rowell had to sit out his true freshman season because of eligibility issues, then played in 11 games in 2002 and had 20 tackles. Rowell never played for the Tigers again. He was arrested in the summer of 2003 and indefinitely suspended; he transferred to a junior college, then to FCS member Jacksonville State, where he eventually was ruled ineligible for academic reasons.
Player: DT Gary Brown
The skinny: There are busts and then there are busts. Brown falls in the latter category: He was a five-star prospect who never played a down of college football. He had weight and grade problems, then was eventually bounced from the program in 2010 after an arrest; he allegedly hit a woman who ordered some party-goers to leave her apartment.
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