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Former five-stars who have one more chance to shine in 2022

Theo Wease
Theo Wease (USA Today Sports Images)

There are many five-stars who have not lived up to expectations. Such is life. But here is a look at a dozen of them over the last handful of recruiting classes who are looking at a final make-or-break year heading into the college football season.


MORE: Big Ten transfer QBs already impacting games this season

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Alabama beat out Michigan and Maryland for the No. 7 prospect and the top-rated weakside defensive end in the 2018 class. Only Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Amon-Ra St. Brown, JT Daniels, Xavier Thomas and Micah Parsons were ranked higher than the Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances star but Anoma’s career still has not taken off.

As a freshman in Tuscaloosa, Anoma had nine tackles in 13 games. He then transferred to Houston and took a redshirt year but was dismissed for a violation of team rules. Anoma landed at UT-Martin where he led the team last season with 9.5 tackles for loss including six sacks.

Within the last few weeks, Anoma transferred to Michigan (one of his original finalists in his recruitment) and reports out of Ann Arbor is that he could see the field early on.



The only pro-style quarterback in the 2020 class ranked higher than Bailey was Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei (and Bailey was one spot ahead of Ohio State’s CJ Stroud) but his time at Tennessee was not fruitful and he left for another opportunity.

Because of a prior relationship in the recruiting process with coach Marcus Arroyo, Bailey transferred to UNLV. He was competing for the starting job there with Doug Brumfield but in UNLV’s season opener against Idaho State, a 52-21 win, Bailey went 3-of-8 passing for 26 yards and Brumfield finished 21 of 25 for 356 yards and four scores.


Zachary Evans was the only running back ranked higher than Bowman in the 2020 class but now Evans has transferred from TCU to Ole Miss and Bowman went from Clemson to Florida and now to UCF.

After rushing for more than 5,000 yards and 70 touchdowns at Lakeland, Fla., Bowman picked Clemson but had only 34 yards on nine carries in his first season. The five-star then transferred to Florida but last season he had just 14 touches for 81 yards.

With the switch from coach Dan Mullen to Billy Napier, Bowman entered the portal again and headed to play for coach Gus Malzahn in Orlando. A final determination will have to wait, though, as Bowman will likely have to sit out this season because he’s transferred twice.



In the 2020 class, only Clemson’s Myles Murphy was ranked higher and Murphy is quickly headed toward a first-round grade in the NFL Draft. There were always questions about Burch’s high school competition level at Columbia (S.C.) Hammond Program and he’s off to a slow start with the Gamecocks.

As a freshman, Burch totaled 19 tackles and last season he didn’t get his first career start until the bowl game against North Carolina. He finished the year with 26 tackles and one sack.

Burch’s best football could be ahead of him, though, as the former five-star is coming off a strong spring and fifth-round NFL Draft pick Kingsley Enagbare leaves a spot open on the Gamecocks’ defensive line.



Trevor Lawrence is the starting quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Justin Fields starts for the Chicago Bears. Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was Daniels’ high school teammate, is a budding star with the Detroit Lions. Those were the three prospects ranked ahead of Daniels in the 2018 class as the former five-star quarterback has had highs and lows in his college career and is now the starting quarterback at West Virginia.

After setting Orange County records with more than 12,000 passing yards and 152 touchdowns at powerhouse Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, Daniels started at USC as a freshman but lost his job after an injury in the first game of his sophomore season. The five-star then transferred to Georgia during the 2020 COVID year and was 7-0 as the Bulldogs’ starter. The only thing he lost in Athens was the starting job to Stetson Bennett last season as Georgia raced to the national title.

Daniels is now in Morgantown looking to rebound with the Mountaineers and get back on track as one of the best QBs in college football.



The Catawissa (Pa.) Southern Columbia five-star was the No. 1 receiver in the 2020 class ahead of Ohio State teammate Jaxon Smith-Njigba, LSU’s Kayshon Boutte and other big-timers but Fleming could be poised for a big season in Columbus. Admitting this offseason that he has worked on his route-running and getting off the line better, Fleming has only 19 catches for 160 yards and one touchdown but to be fair getting on the field was tough with Smith-Njigba and two first-round NFL Draft picks in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave last season.

Fleming has also been dealing with shoulder issues. Ohio State’s receiving room is loaded again with Smith-Njigba, Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., and others but Fleming could have a much bigger impact in the Buckeyes’ offense and we all know QB CJ Stroud will throw it often.



One of five five-star receivers in the 2020 class along with Julian Fleming, Demond Demas, Rakim Jarrett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Johnson started his college career at Notre Dame but played only 29 snaps during his one season in South Bend.

The former St. Louis (Mo.) De Smet prospect then went to UCF and played in five games a year ago but did not have a single catch.


There was significant debate during the rankings meetings about whether Kennedy should have been a five-star and we landed on yes but his first two seasons at Alabama have been underwhelming. Ranked as the fourth-best inside linebacker in the 2020 class behind Oregon’s Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell and Florida’s Derek Wingo, Kennedy has only contributed on special teams during his first two years.

It could be understandable with Will Anderson, Henry To’oto’o and Dallas Turner among others gobbling up the linebacker spots but at some point the former Theodore, Ala., standout has to emerge in Tuscaloosa.



McCoy has seen his fair share of drama so far without having much to speak of on the field yet. That could change dramatically now that his waiver has been granted at Tennessee and he has some off-the-field issues in the rearview mirror.

The top-ranked athlete in the 2019 class flip-flopped to and from USC and Texas during the recruiting process and played one season with the Trojans where he caught 21 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Now eligible in Knoxville, McCoy has the potential to put up big numbers and reach his potential in an offense that we all know will pass the ball.


Injuries have really plagued Sanders throughout his college career at Alabama and it has drastically limited his opportunities in the Crimson Tide’s backfield. On top of injuries, Sanders has also been passed by other talented running backs such as Brian Robinson Jr. last year as the former five-star rushed only 72 times for 314 yards and two touchdowns.

The running back room is absolutely stocked in Tuscaloosa and Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs only adds to it. Alabama has landed the top two running backs in the 2023 class as well in Justice Haynes and Richard Young so Sanders has a chance to make an impact but the window is closing.


Wease really started to get going in his career in 2020 when the former five-star who was ranked only behind Jadon Haselwood and George Pickens at receiver in the 2019 class tied for Oklahoma’s team lead with 37 catches for 530 yards and four touchdowns.

If Wease can return to those numbers this season then that would be phenomenal for the Sooners. But in 13 games as a freshman, Wease only had eight catches and last season the former five-star missed all but one game because of injury.

One could argue Haselwood could also be on this list but out of that five-star Oklahoma 2019 class, only Wease remains on the roster.



The top offensive center in the 2019 class and the second-best prospect in the state of Georgia behind only five-star receiver George Pickens, Webb picked the Bulldogs over many other SEC programs but never really secured a major role on the offensive line.

Webb played in two games in 2019 and then only three the following season before making the move to Jacksonville State. He was only one of two centers ever ranked as a five-star along with Jeff Byers in 2004.