10 biggest SEC busts of the 2013 recruiting class
Late January is all about recruiting. The hardcore recruiting fans are batting around ranking systems and squinting at grainy video of high school kids. And nobody, even Alabama, can get all of the players they want.
But take heart, SEC fans. As Messrs Jaggers and Richards put it so long ago, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.
The corollary to the Rolling Stones theory of recruiting is that sometimes you find you didn’t need some of the players you thought you did.
We went back through the loaded 2013 class and picked out 10 outstanding examples of this phenomenon. All 10 were among the nation’s top 100 players in the class but flopped in college.
1. Robert Foster, WR, Alabama: Foster was a 5-star recruit in the 247sports rankings (which is the source of all other rankings in this article), which placed him as the No. 23 player in the entire country. After three years in Tuscaloosa, Foster’s career stats are underwhelming: 21 catches for 215 yards. He’s been buried behind a tide of better players, although Foster does still have one more season to make an impact. Give Foster credit for sticking with the program.
2. Dee Liner, DT, Alabama: How a d-lineman named Dee Liner (No. 25 below) couldn’t make an impact is beyond the imagination. Two years in Tuscaloosa netted a total of three tackles for Liner, who did play well in 2016 — albeit for Arkansas State in the Sun Belt. Quite a fall for the former No. 46 player in the entire 2016 class (for comparison’s sake, 2016 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa was No. 37).
3. Elijah Daniel, DE, Auburn: A 4-star recruit who was ranked No. 49 overall in the nation, Daniel showed flashes of skill in two seasons at Auburn: 23 tackles and 3.5 sacks. That said, he got booted off the team after being charged with burglary and theft, resurfaced at FCS Murray State, played a year, entered the NFL Draft, and wasn’t picked. Not the way Tiger fans hoped it would work out.
4. Daniel McMillian, LB, Florida: The Gators were thrilled to land this in-state linebacker, who was the No. 56 prospect in the nation. In four seasons, McMillian didn’t see much playing time. His career totals? 59 tackles and one interception. Florida’s defense was the impetus in gaining 2015 and 2016 division titles, but McMillian had little to do with that.
5. Grant Hill, OT, Alabama: Hill, like the basketball star he shares a name with, was a highly-talented but injury-prone player. The No. 62 player in the 2013 class, Hill played well in spot duty for the Tide, but then was on an unspecified medical leave in 2015, before basically disappearing from the Alabama program.
6. Tyren Jones, RB, Alabama: Jones looked like a future star in 2014. The No. 66 player in the class rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns in mop-up duty. But he got dismissed at Alabama, entered a junior college, flirted briefly with signing with South Carolina in 2016, and was last seen when he was arrested early this year on charges that involved violence, drugs and a gun.
7. Justin Manning, DT, Texas A&M: Manning was the No. 73 player in the 2013 class, and he ended up making three tackles at Texas A&M. Manning missed the 2015 season, apparently struggling some with his focus, before being ruled out of further competition due to injury issues, allegedly to a knee. He was finished almost before he ever started.
8. Kelsey Griffin, DT, South Carolina: Griffin was Carolina’s top-ranked signee in their 2013 class, No. 83 overall in the nation. Unlike some of the other players on this list, he did keep his nose clean and stick around for four season. That said, the production didn’t match the expectation: 66 tackles and three sacks in his four years in garnet and black.
9. Frank Herron, DT/DE, LSU: Seriously, what is it with defensive tackles? Herron at least was recruited as a defensive end, where he was the No. 88 player in the nation in 2013. In three seasons playing tackle at LSU, his production has been minimal — 46 tackles and two sacks. Since he did redshirt, Herron has one more season to earn his way off this list.
10. Marquez North, WR, Tennessee: Tennessee needed some help at receiver — enter North, the No. 90 player in the class. Unfortunately, North had a Benjamin Button career at UT. As a freshman, he caught 38 passes for 496 yards and a touchdown, and looked like a future star. As a sophomore, the numbers dropped to 30 catches for 320 yards. In a bizarre trend, in his junior season, North caught six passes for 58 yards. He then promptly declared for the NFL Draft, and went undrafted. North is unique on this list for going from “can’t miss” to “What happened?” while in college.