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July 13, 2011

Rivals at 10: Most disappointing classes

Having highly ranked recruiting classes is one thing; those prospects producing once they get to campus is another.

Every fan - and every coach, for that matter - knows all about highly touted prospects who never produce once they start playing college football. Coaches and fans can deal with a few high-profile guys falling on their face.

But when a majority of the top players in a class fail to produce? That's bad news, as these programs can attest.

Here is a look at what we think are the 10 most disappointing recruiting classes from the first decade of Rivals.com (the classes from 2002 through 2011).

10. Notre Dame 2006
Coach: Charlie Weis
Class rank: 8th
Five-star signees: 2 (RB James Aldridge, OT Sam Young)
Buzz: The Irish have struggled most of this past decade and this class is a microcosm of why. The class was headlined by two five-star prospects in RB James Aldridge and OT Sam Young. Young went on to become a four-year starter but Aldridge rushed for less than 1,000 yards in his first three seasons before moving to fullback as a senior. He was injured early in the year and did not return. Rivals100 QB Demetrius Jones started one game for the Irish before transferring to Cincinnati and playing linebacker. He then moved on to Central State (Ohio) to play wide receiver and tight end.

9. Texas A&M 2003
Coach: Dennis Franchione
Class rank: 10th
Five-star signees: 1 (OT Jorrie Adams)
Buzz: The class was headlined by the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle, Jorrie Adams. Adams, a five-star prospect, played some defensive end as a freshman before being dismissed from the team. Four-star LB Lamar Mitchell lasted only a short time on campus before transferring to Houston, and four-star DB Stephen Hodge never truly made an impact. Justin Warren was the No. 1 outside linebacker prospect in the nation but seemed to regress each year in College Station, eventually running a 5.0-second 40-yard dash at the school's pro day.

8. Miami 2008
Coach: Randy Shannon
Class rank: 5th
Five-star signees: 2 (LB Arthur Brown, DT Marcus Forston)
Buzz: The Hurricanes hit local high school Miami Northwestern hard to help fill out the class, signing eight players from the school. The headliner was Northwestern five-star DT Marcus Forston who has been inconsistent when not injured. But fellow five-star signee Arthur Brown has since transferred to Kansas State. Highly ranked LBs Ramon Buchanan, Jordan Futch and Marcus Robinson have been role players. Northwestern WR Tommy Streeter was another four-star prospect, but he had just one catch last season. Some other four-star players who haven't lived up to billing include WRs Aldarius Johnson and Davon Johnson, DT Jeremy Lewis, OL Ben Jones and LB/S C.J. Holton.

7. Michigan 2008
Coach: Rich Rodriguez
Class rank: 10th
Five-star signees: none
Buzz: This was the first Wolverines signing class for Rich Rodriguez, who had replaced Lloyd Carr. Despite there not being a five-star signee, the class still was top-heavy with the likes of Darryl Stonum, Boubacar Cissoko and Dann O'Neill. Cissoko was kicked off the team last fall, while O'Neill transferred to Western Michigan after only one year on campus. RB Sam McGuffie broke into the starting lineup as a true freshman but transferred to Rice following the season. Other four-star prospects who haven't lived up to the hype include Gs Ricky Barnum and Elliott Mealer, LBs J.B. Fitzgerald, Taylor Hill and Marcus Witherspoon and ATH Terrence Robinson.

6. Texas 2007
Coach: Mack Brown
Class rank: 5th
Five-star signees: 2 (G Tray Allen and CB Curtis Brown)
Buzz: The true seniors from last season's disappointing 5-7 squad came from this class. Five-star G Tray Allen was the No. 16 prospect in the country and thought to be a can't-miss lineman, and five-star CB Curtis Brown came in as the No. 21 player in the country. Allen has not yet cracked the starting lineup, and while Brown earned second-team All-Big 12 honors, he never made the impact expected of him. Four-star signees Andre Jones, Aundre McGaskey, Ben Wells. Russell Carter and Brandon Collins failed to finish their careers at Texas for various reasons.

5. Texas A&M 2005
Coach: Dennis Franchione
Class rank: 8th
Five-star signees: 1 (TE Martellus Bennett)
Buzz: The Aggies pulled off a coup by signing five-star TE Martellus Bennett, which solidified a top-10 class. While he never was a true standout, he had a solid career in College Station but most of the other highly ranked prospects in the class did not. Rivals100 DE Paul Freeney never could break into the rotation while Rivals100 OL Michael Shumard bounced between tackle and guard. LB Jodie Richardson and DT Vincent Williams were big gets, but neither produced once they were on campus.

4. Tennessee 2005
Coach: Phil Fulmer
Class rank: 4th
Five-star signees: 1 (CB Demetrice Morley)
Buzz: Five-star CB Demetrice Morley was the headliner of the class, but was dismissed from the team shortly after Lane Kiffin took over the program. Rivals100 RB LaMarcus Coker was also dismissed from the team, while four-star WR Slick Shelley transferred to Tulsa because of a lack of playing time. Four-star QB Jonathan Crompton never lived up to the hype, either, and was one of numerous four-star busts in this class.

3. Miami 2004
Coach: Larry Coker
Class rank: 4th
Five-star signees: 3 (WR Lance Leggett, G Tyler McMeans, LB Willie Williams)
Buzz: The class forever will be remembered for five-star LB Willie Williams. He arrived in Coral Gables after a well-documented recruitment and with an extensive arrest record, and he did not last long on campus. Five-star WR Lance Leggett had a huge senior year in the Texas private-school ranks but never became a dominant college player. Tyler McMeans was a five-star junior college offensive lineman signee who wasn't the road grader he was expected to be. Four-star QB Kirby Freeman eventually transferred back to his home state to play for Baylor. Other four-star prospects who didn't pan out included DE Rhyan Anderson, LB James Bryant and RBs Andrew Johnson, Charlie Jones and Bobby Washington.

2. Florida State 2005
Coach: Bobby Bowden
Class rank: 2nd
Five-star signees: 3 (DT Callahan Bright, WR Fred Rouse, TB Antone Smith)
Buzz: There was a lot of excitement in Tallahassee on National Signing Day when the Seminoles finished off the nation's No. 2 class. Five-star WR Fred Rouse decided to stay in his hometown, choosing Florida State over Texas, while five-star DT Callahan Bright made one of the first televised commitments, choosing the Seminoles over Texas A&M. But Bright never qualified and Rouse transferred to UTEP and eventually to Concordia (Ala.). Five-star RB Antone Smith didn't come close to living up to billing, though he did earn honorable mention All-ACC honors as a senior. Four-star prospects who didn't produce included ATH Matt Dunham, LB Dan Foster, OT Matt Hardrick and S Clarence Ward.

1. Tennessee 2009
Coach: Lane Kiffin
Class rank: 10th
Five-star signees: 2 (RB Bryce Brown and S Janzen Jackson)
Buzz: Vols fans had reason to be ecstatic about this class, the only one put together by Lane Kiffin. But it hasn't worked out: There were 22 signees in this class, and nine already are gone and just six are expected to play key roles this fall. The nation's top overall prospect, RB Bryce Brown, decided on Tennessee well after signing day, while five-star DB Janzen Jackson switched his pledge late from LSU. Brown has since transferred to Kansas State, while Jackson - while talented - has had a checkered career because of off-field issues. WR Nu'Keese Richardson and DB Mike Edwards were charged with armed robbery and dismissed from the team. The Vols lost another running back from the class when former Rivals100 prospect David Oku decided to transfer after last season.

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