Top recruiting bust for each school over last 10 years



Signing Day is tomorrow. It’s a day when every program is a winner. It’s an exciting day when every signee teems with All-American potential. It’s a glorious day with much back-slapping and giddy Internet chat room blather by full-grown men who should know better.

The following is a cautionary tale meant to temper your child-like glee. I humbly present the biggest recruiting bust for each Big Ten school over the past decade. A moment of silence, please … thank you.

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Illinois: Melvin Alaeze, DE, Randallstown, Md., (Randallstown), 2006.
This may be the most heart-breaking story of all. The five-star recruit and No. 4 player in America according to Rivals, Alaeze could have gone anywhere in the nation. He inked with Maryland but didn’t qualify and went to Hargrave Military Academy. Maryland revoked its offer before he got to campus when Alaeze was charged with intent to distribute marijuana. He then signed with Illinois in 2007 but never played after being suspended for missing classes. Alaeze spiraled terribly from there, as he was sentenced to eight years in prison for attempted murder and armed robbery.

Indiana: Jerimy Finch, S, Indianapolis (Warren Central), 2007. rated Finch the top safety in the nation, as he signed with Florida. But Finch bolted Gainesville after a season and landed in Bloomington in 2008. Finch was a modest contributor on defense and special teams and left before his senior season for tiny Marian University in Indianapolis.

Iowa: Dan Doering, OL, Barrington, Ill. (Barrington), 2005.
A five-star recruit and the No. 4 offensive tackle in the nation per, Doering was supposed to be one of the next great Hawkeye offensive linemen. But, it never materialized for the No. 30 player in the nation, according to  He lacked a top work ethic and was shuffled around the line, never playing on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Top three recruiting needs for each Big Ten team ]

Michigan: Kevin Grady, RB, Grand Rapids, Mich. (East), 2005.
A classic “best that never was” tale. Grady was a spectacular flameout largely because of injury and a drinking problem that landed him in trouble. Grady was the first Michigan player to enrollee early, arriving as a five-star recruit. The jump start helped, as Grady ran for 483 yards and caught 14 passes as a freshman as Mike Hart’s backup. Grady never would approach that rushing total again, running for 187, 33 and 80 yards in his remaining three seasons with just six catches. His tenure never gained traction and he eventually was moved to fullback after missing his junior season due to injury, becoming little more than a role player.

Michigan State: Antonio Jeremiah, DT, Hilliard, Ohio (Darby), 2007. had Jeremiah as the No. 14 defensive tackle in the nation. The mammoth man never flipped the switch in a moribund career that you wouldn’t know even existed unless you looked it up. The staff tried him on the offensive line. To no avail.  Jeremiah was nothing more than a bit player who suffered a knee injury going into his final season. A fitting end to a failed tenure.

Minnesota: Hayo Carpenter, WR, Lawndale, Calif. (College of the Canyons), 2009.
He was a four-star JC recruit with 4.3 speed that Tim Brewster—What else?–hyped even more, as Carpenter picked the Gophers over Florida and a host of others. Alas, he finished with three catches for 43 yards in two years after being touted as the No. 1 JC player in the nation by The Carpenter era epitomized the Brewster era—lots of sizzle, no substance. Perfect.

[ MORE: Video: Why recruiting rankings aren’t everything ]

Nebraska: Harrison Beck, QB, Clearwater, Fla. (Countryside), 2005.
He was the No. 1 ranked quarterback in Florida and the No. 3 ranked pro-style quarterback in the nation, according to Beck was supposed to be Bill Callahan’s top signal-caller. Nebraska actually accepted his commitment and turned away a visit from Mark Sanchez, who was supposed to visit the following week in the summer of 2004. Beck never emerged ahead of guys like Joe Ganz and Zac Taylor. Beck eventually left for N.C. State and finished at North Alabama.

Northwestern: Davon Custis, DL, Gahanna, Ohio (St. Francis De Sales), 2009.
He played four anonymous seasons in Evanston. He just didn’t have the heart for it. Custis contributed little during his tenure. Check out this resume: redshirted in 2009, played in two games in 2010, played in one game in 2011 and 2012. Not what you’d expect from one of the 25 best defensive ends in America, according to

Ohio State: Dorian Bell, LB, Monroeville, Pa. (Gateway), 2009.
According to reports in May 2011, Bell was suspended for the season because of what was believed to be a third violation of the athletic department’s drug and alcohol abuse policy. As a redshirt freshman in 2010, Bell dealt with injury and made little impact when he played. rated him a five-star recruit, the No. 3 outside linebacker in the nation and No. 33 overall prospect. He barely created a ripple on the field in Columbus.

Penn State: Antonio Logan-El, OT, Forestville, Md. (Forestville), 2006.
Known as “ALE,” Logan-El was a five-star recruit and the No. 5 offensive lineman in the nation, according to He famously burned Maryland in a very public national signing day event, inking with PSU and causing Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen to steam. Logan-El never played a down for the Nittany Lions after redshirting as a freshman in 2006. He never seemed to have a fire in his belly for football and struggled with intense conditioning.

Purdue: Selwyn Lymon, WR, Fort Wayne, Ind. (Harding), 2005.
He was the big, physical wideout that Joe Tiller’s offense had been pining for. Alas, Lymon never materialized into much more than a pedestrian option who teased with potential. The No. 7 wideout in the nation, according to, Lymon also had some off-field issues, as well, as he was stabbed in the chest during a night club fight in March 2007, according to published reports. Night clubs? In West Lafayette? Who knew?

Wisconsin: Jake Bscherer, OL, Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (Sturgeon Bay), 2006.
Pick a prep All-American team, and this guy probably was on it. had him as the No. 4 offensive tackle in the nation. Bscherer played almost exclusively as a backup his first two seasons and then redshirted in 2008. He started six games the next season on his way to a spectacularly undistinguished career.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (12 Comments)
Brian on 2/4/2014 @ 10:30am EDT Said:

I am not a big fan of this list. What did you hope to accomplish by reminding these guys that their playing careers did not live up to other peoples hype. You failed to mention if any of these “recruiting busts” went on to graduate, in which case they should be considered a success.

Jim on 2/4/2014 @ 10:31am EDT Said:

How does Kyle Williams not make this list? 5-star LB recruit out of Bolingbrook and one of the top players in the country. Takes a full ride to Iowa where he’s set to start right away, but he only makes it one week before leaving Iowa City. He was shipped to Purdue where he played one season before off field issues took over his life. He’s now serving 47 years in federal custody.

Marcus on 2/4/2014 @ 10:36am EDT Said:

Regarding Jerimy Finch: How can a kid who transferred to Indiana be considered a recruiting bust for the Hoosers? I don’t get it.

Chris Metzger on 2/4/2014 @ 11:35am EDT Said:

My first two questions as a recruiter would be: “Can you tell me what being coachable means?” Then: “Do you think you are bigger than the 100-year tradition at our university?” The answers will indicate how a three-star becomes an all-star. In the end, recruiting is caveat emptor.

Buckeye Matt on 2/4/2014 @ 11:56am EDT Said:

How could you leave out Terrell Pryor? Every Buckeye fan (me included) thought that he would lead us to a championship. But, due to his shenanigans, had to leave the team early, got several others to leave or get suspended, and made the school give itself a bcs ban so that the bcs didn’t give the program the axe…not to mention that we lost our head coach and didn’t get to play in a bowl game after having a 13-0 season. Terrell Pryor was not only a bust for himself, but for the entire program, the entire school, and the entire state.

Stephen on 2/4/2014 @ 12:23pm EDT Said:

“Bust” ? I get it. But some of the comments are a bit too personal I think.
If a guy’s collegiate football career is undistinguished after being rated so highly, you really do not need to add any snarky comments to it.
But the point is well taken. Lets hope the SEC has plenty of these as they sure have a wealth of 4 and 5 star guys? 

Chuck on 2/4/2014 @ 6:03pm EDT Said:

I agree with some of the others that this list is a bit harsh. We’re talking about kids here. Just because their athletic careers didn’t pan out doesn’t make them failures. Lighten up, Tom.

Jake on 2/4/2014 @ 6:08pm EDT Said:

Agree with Brian. Why?!? If a kid shows up, tries hard and ultimately does not meet his goals, then is it his fault that higher expectations were piled upon him. Failing to mention if they got degrees, shows how little the B1G Network and Jim Delany care about the “student” portion of the term “student-athlete”. A much better story would have highlighted players like Kirk Cousins or Le’Veon Bell. Recruiting analysts were not in love with them, but they worked hard and their talents made them extremely successful college players. MSU rarely ranks in the Top 25 of these recruiting lists, but ended this year ranked #3 in the country in the polls that actually relate to playing football.

cb on 2/4/2014 @ 7:50pm EDT Said:

I don’t really think anything that was written was that big of a deal. All of that would be public knowledge at this point. I also don’t see why they would need to include if they got degrees. None of the players got scholarships for Math so they wrote about how well they lived up to the players football scholarship. We as a society take things way to personal. If you don’t want bad things written or said about you don’t get arrested, don’t fail drug tests, and don’t break the rules you agree to.

    Buckeye Matt on 2/4/2014 @ 11:17pm EDT Said:

    CB you’re right…people are taking this list too seriously. It’s just a look at some over hyped players that didn’t live up to the expectations put on them. If you don’t want people to say mean things, don’t do stupid things. Over half of this list is players that were arrested or got kicked out because of crimes or academic reasons. And all of the remaining players (except for the last guy on the list) didn’t achieve the goals because they didn’t try. So don’t sit here and feel bad for these kids. They received a free education (and as someone who paid for college I would’ve loved a free ride), and given the stage to help progress then to a professional level, and they chose to mess that up.
    And Chuck, he’s not calling them failures, you did. He said their careers didn’t pan out, and you just assumed he meant they were failures.

    These kids aren’t failures because of a bad career, most of them are failures for being criminals and giving up the chance to get a free education. So taking everything so personally.

Buckeye Matt on 2/4/2014 @ 11:23pm EDT Said:

Lol I’m just trolling, but seriously people lighten up, it’s just a list of players that didn’t live up to the hype. If you feel the list is harsh then don’t read the article. As a writer Tom can choose (or he was told) what to write on, and if you don’t like them don’t read them! He was trying to make a list of recruiting busts interesting and maybe controversial.

adam on 2/14/2014 @ 11:50am EDT Said:

Doering got hurt a ton, seems kinda unfair to assume that he just wasn’t working hard just because he couldn’t live up to the crazy expectations people had for him when he was 18.