2012 Recruiting Top 50 Prospects: How Did They Do?
Does it really matter to get the superstar players, or is the whole star system overblown? The top players of the 2012 class should’ve been the main men over the last few years – so how did the top 50 recruiting prospects do?
Is it worth the millions of dollars, countless hours, and the work needed to get the love and attention of the top high school prospects? Are the five-star of five-star players worth the hype? Short answer, no, but if you get one of the elite of the elite players who does work out and play up to expectations, that can be all the difference.
Out of the CFN Top 50 prospects in 2012, how many did what they were supposed to? How many fizzled, and how many couldn’t succeed under the ridiculous hype? Here are the top 50 and what they all did.
50. WR Chris Black, Alabama
After starting out his career at Alabama – and making just 25 catches for 290 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons – he transferred to Missouri. He didn’t do much more with the Tigers, making just 17 grabs for 257 yards and a score.
49. CB Davonte’ Neal, Notre Dame
After originally going to Notre Dame, Neal transferred to Arizona where he was fine, but hardly a five-star prospect making 85 tackles with just two interceptions.
48. OT Kyle Kalis, Michigan
A nice part of the Wolverine offensive line, he turned into an all-star guard. While he was mostly known as the five-star guy who dogged his commitment to Ohio State to go to That School Up North, he turned in a nice career.
47. CB Brian Poole, Florida
Okay, but overshadowed by other Gator star defensive backs, Poole stepped up in his sophomore season finishing with 120 career tackles with six interceptions and 23 broken up passes. While he went undrafted, he’s become a nice part of the Atlanta defense.
46. WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
Cooper was supposed to be great, but he turned out to be even better than the expectations making 228 catches for 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns. The All-American and Heisman candidate closed out with a 124-grab, 1,727-yard season before turning pro early. Oakland snapped him up with the fourth overall pick in 2016.
45. OG Jordan Simmons, USC
Knee problems kept him from ever doing much. He moved around on the O line before moving to the defensive side, but he just never, ever had any injury luck.
44. LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
Nailed it. All-American, All-SEC, and the leader of a national champion, the 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year stepped it up in his final two seasons with 195 tackles and 17 tackles for loss. Buffalo took him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
43. OT Kennedy Estelle, Texas
A key part of the massively underachieving 2012 Texas recruiting class, he was known mostly for being suspended before being later dismissed by Charlie Strong.
42. QB Devin Fuller, UCLA
While he was hardly worth a top 50 spot, and wasn’t a quarterback, he wasn’t a bust, catching 146 career passes for 1,322 yards and ten scores as a midrange receiver.
41. OT Avery Young, Auburn
Very, very good, he started late in his freshman season and was a regular up front over his final three seasons. While he might not have been a superstar, he was a versatile part of the line for his entire career. Undrafted, he landed with New Orleans.
40. DE Dante Fowler, Florida
Kaboom. With 140 tackles, 14.5 sacks, and 33 tackles for loss, Fowler grew into a deadly star of the Florida defensive front before getting picked third overall by Jacksonville in 2015.
39. WR Shaq Roland, South Carolina
Roland only caught 56 passes for 891 yards and ten touchdowns in his three years. He had his moments, but not enough of them.
38. WR Cyrus Jones, Alabama
A decent starter for the defensive side after starting out as a receiver, he made 69 tackles and five picks in his last two years, and was deadly whenever he got his chances as a kick and punt returner. The 2015 Cotton Bowl MVP was taken in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by New England.
37. DE Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
Sometimes, it’s okay to get a top-shelf prospect who came up with a really, really solid career. Jenkins lived in the land of the very good, making 204 career tackles with 19 sacks. The Jets drafted him in the third round in 2016.
36. RB Mario Pender, Florida State
Nope. He ran for just 346 yards and five touchdowns in his two years before getting booted off the team after being arrested on battery charges.
35. DE Channing Ward, Ole Miss
Okay, not great, he was a steady producer over his four years finishing with 109 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
34. S Nelson Agholor, USC
As a safety, Agholor turned into a whale of a wide receiver. Okay as a freshman, he caught 56 passes for 918 yards and eight scores as a sophomore and roared with a 104-catch, 1,313-yard, 12 touchdown junior campaign. Philadelphia drafted him with the 20th overall pick in 2015.
33. RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
While he might not have come up with the legendary career of a Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, or a Trent Richardson, he ran started his career with two straight 1,000-yard seasons and ran for 979 as a senior. He left early with 3,322 yards and 37 scores, averaging almost six yards per carry. Jacksonville took him in the second round in 2015.
32. WR Thomas Johnson, Texas A&M
An all-timer for all the wrong reasons. He caught 30 passes for 339 yards as a freshman, disappeared, got into some off-the-field issues, was off the team, was sent to jail for allegedly hacking a man to death with a machete.
31. OG Joshua Garnett, Stanford
Stanford just doesn’t miss on its offensive line recruits – at least most of them. The All-American started right away and grew into job, winning the Outland as a blaster of a run blocker in his senior season. San Francisco drafted him in the first round.
30. CB Ronald Darby, Florida State
Overshadowed by other FSU defensive stars, Darby had a decent, but hardly special career – blossoming as a junior making 43 tackles – before leaving early for the NFL. Buffalo took him in the second round of the 2015 Draft.
29. QB Gunner Kiel, Notre Dame
The can’t-miss prospect had one of the more interesting college careers. First, he was supposed to be an Indiana Hoosier, and then he was going to LSU, and then Notre Dame, where eventually signed. Not getting any playing time, he bolted for Cincinnati where he threw for 6,835 yards and 56 touchdowns and 26 picks in his three years.
28. OG Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
A phenomenal get for the Beavers, he started out well earning CFN Freshman All-America honors on the way to a nice college career. He was drafted by Philadelphia in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
27. DE Darius Hamilton, Rutgers
An excellent producer during his four years and change – he missed almost all of 2015 hurt. With 168 tackles, 11 sacks and 27 tackles for loss, he was a great player on several bad teams.
26. DE Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
A solid part of a great Buckeye line during his final three seasons, and a nice producer for a national champion, he finished with 142 tackles and 13.5 sacks. He was drafted by Buffalo in the third round in 2016.
25. RB Rushel Shell, Pitt
While he had a few nice moments as a freshman at Pitt, but he turned out to be a solid producer after transferring to West Virginia and rushing for 2,000 yards and 20 scores in three years.
24. OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
Boom. He grew into an All-American and Pac-12 all-star as a terrific blocker on a great Cardinal line. New Orleans took him 13th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
23. S Eddie Williams, Alabama
There were a whole slew of problems. Nick Saban kicked him off the team after being charged in the beating of a student.
22. DE Chris Casher, Florida State
Expected to be an elite pass rusher, he wasn’t much more than a part of a rotation with just 62 tackles and nine career sacks in his four years.
21. RB Trey Williams, Texas A&M
An elite kick returner, he averaged over 24 yards per try in his three seasons, while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He ran for 1,343 yards and 18 scores in an okay, not special, college career.
20. DT Ellis McCarthy, UCLA
A massive disappointment, he was supposed to be the crown jewel in the reemergence of UCLA football, but he only made 58 tackles with six sacks – and lost his starting job – before leaving early for the NFL.
19. OT Arik Armstead, Oregon
Among the land of the very good, he’s always been more of a prospect than a producer. He only came up with four sacks in his three years, but he was solid enough against the run – making 87 tackles – and had just the right combination of skills and size to be the 17th overall pick by San Francisco.
18. RB Duke Johnson, Miami
Underappreciated as a star on mediocre teams, he ran for over 3,500 yards, caught 69 passes, averaged close to seven yards per carry and ripped off a 1,652-yard, ten touchdown junior season before being taken by Cleveland in the third round.
17. LB Josh Harvey-Clemons, Georgia
After starting out his career at Georgia – and coming up with 63 tackles and an interception in a big sophomore season – but had several issues before being dismissed. He landed at Louisville a year later, coming up with 148 tackles and three picks in two seasons as a key to a strong secondary.
16. CB Tracy Howard, Miami
Just a defensive back, Howard played all four years and came up with 104 tackles with five picks and ten broken up passes. He only intercepted one pass in his final two years.
15. RB Keith Marshall, Georgia
Expected to be the next great Georgia running back, he started out fine with 759 yards and eight scores as a freshman, but he got hurt and was lapped by other fantastic Dawg runners. He finished with just 1,379 yards and 12 scores and three receiving touchdowns.
14. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
There were crabs, there was a major scandal, and there were a whole slew of other issues. There was also a Heisman, a national title, a College Football Playoff appearance, and a No. 1 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay. He completed 66% of his passes for 7,964 yards and 65 scores with 28 picks and seven rushing scores – yeah, he lived up to the No. 14 ranking.
13. OT Kyle Murphy, Stanford
Extremely athletic, he grew into a good starter by his junior season earning All-Pac-12 honors. By his senior year, he was the star of a fantastic line. However, he never quite become the elite of the elite blocker expected, drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by Green Bay.
12. OT John Theus, Georgia
A starter right out of the gate, he moved around the tackle spots and did a nice job, but wasn’t the superstar franchise blocker expected after being the 12th-best prospect. He was drafted by San Francisco in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
11. DE Jonathan Bullard, Florida
Good enough, he was an All-SEC selection in a solid, but unspectacular career making 175 tackles and 12 sacks in his four years. The Chicago Bears took him in the third round in the 2016 NFL Draft.
10. DT Malcom Brown, Texas
It worked. The 2014 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, he made 70 tackles and 6.5 sacks for the Longhorns in his final year before leaving early and being taken late in the first round by New England.
9. DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State
An All-ACC cog in the Florida State national championship machine, he was excellent at times, making 62 tackles with six sacks and 12 tackles for loss in his three years – stepping up in his final two. He became a second round pick by the Chicago Bears.
8. S Landon Collins, Alabama
Yup – it all worked out well. A key part of a national championship Alabama team, he was a 2014 All-American before being taken early in the second round by the New York Giants in 2015. He made 184 tackles with five picks for the Crimson Tide.
7. WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland
One of the most dynamic players in the ACC and, eventually, the Big Ten when healthy, he caught 150 passes for 2,227 yards and 14 scores and was an elite kick returner, averaging close to 26 yards per try with two scores. A fifth-round pick by Minnesota in the 2015 NFL Draft, he’s turning into key part of the Viking offense.
6. S Shaquille Thompson, Washington
Originally he seemed like he was going to Cal, but he became a dominant force for Washington as a hybrid linebacker/safety. He finished making 232 tackles with 15 tackles for loss and five sacks earning All-America and All-Pac-12 honors before being taken with the 25th overall pick by Carolina in the 2015 NFL Draft.
5. RB Johnathan Gray, Texas
Good, but pushed aside by better backs, and the problems with the team and the program across the board, Gray had an okay four-year career – derailed by a torn Achilles tendon – running for 2,610 yards and 16 scores, and catching 52 passes for 418 yards and a score.
4. OT D.J. Humphries, Florida
After bulking up in a hurry, he became a factor right away for the Gators but was banged up over his final two years. While he didn’t quite play up to the No. 4 overall hype, he was good enough to become the 24th pick to Kansas City in the 2015 NFL Draft.
3. DE Noah Spence, Ohio State
Before getting booted off the team and starring for Eastern Kentucky – and before going off to the NFL – he was just starting to scratch the surface for the Buckeyes, making 62 tackles with 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in two years.
2. DE Mario Edwards, Florida State
Very good, but not good enough to be the No. 2 overall guy, he made 95 tackles with eight sacks and 23 tackles for loss in his three years on the FSU interior before going off to the NFL. The Raiders took him in the second round in 2015.
1. WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
The Tiger coaches loved him as a prospect and as a talent, but a slew of off-the-field problems led to his transfer to Oklahoma, where he didn’t do anything. He left Mizzou catching 87 passes for 1,278 yards and 17 touchdowns in his two seasons.