Midseason report: Former five-stars who need big seasons
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
Before the season started, we mentioned some former five-stars that needed big seasons. Here’s an update on how they are doing.
The skinny: Smith initially became an early commitment to Clemson, but then backed off and took a closer look at LSU, Oregon and Auburn. However, he then re-committed to the Tigers a few days before National Signing Day. Smith was never able to reach his potential at Clemson, totaling 28 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack in 17 career games.
Deciding to play closer to home after last season, Smith has yet to hit his stride at Maryland, with 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack to this point.
The skinny: Jones initially committed to home-state Maryland, but after taking an official visit to Ohio State in January he flipped to the Buckeyes. In a situation very similar to Rahshaun Smith’s, Jones never met expectations in Columbus. After totaling only 29 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack in 16 career games, he also made the decision to transfer to Maryland.
Jones has made an impact through the early part of this season, totaling 17 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble for the Terps.
The skinny: Browning was heavily considering Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, TCU and UCLA, but after an official visit to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ game against Michigan - and a follow-up in-home visit from coach Urban Meyer - he committed to Ohio State.
While Browning earned playing time during his first two seasons, including three starts in 2018 after Tuf Borland went down with an Achilles injury, he again was a backup to begin the 2019 season. Despite not getting full-time reps this fall to this point, Browning has begun to show his true potential with 21 tackles, five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
The skinny: While he also considered Florida, Miami, Florida State, Alabama and Georgia, Grimes was considered an Ohio State lean since the start of his process. He finally put an end to any speculation with a commitment to Ohio State in late August. Grimes totaled only three receptions for 20 yards in 2017 before returning to the Sunshine State to deal with family issues. In December, he decided to leave Ohio State and transfer to Florida.
After totaling 26 receptions for 364 yards and two touchdowns during his first season in Gainesville, Grimes has 15 receptions for 231 yards for the Gators this fall.
The skinny: Johnson initially was an early commitment to Tennessee, but then flipped to Clemson at the end of his junior season after taking a visit to Death Valley. After redshirting in 2017, the arrival of Trevor Lawrence on campus in 2018 led to his transfer.
Finding a new program closer to home - Northwestern - Johnson won the starting job over T.J. Green but has struggled immensely. Having completed only 43 of 89 passes for 367 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions, the Wildcats are hoping that Johnson begins to show signs of his potential soon.
The skinny: Shelvin avoided any recruiting drama by committing early to in-state LSU. Nebraska was the most persistent with its efforts to try and flip him, but in reality he was always solid with the Tigers. After redshirting in 2017 and then playing in only four games in 2018 due to injuries, this was an important season for Shelvin.
Seeing increased playing time due to injuries on the defensive line, he has thus far totaled 15 tackles and one tackle for loss. He should continue to see increased playing time as the Tigers wait for other players to get healthy.
The skinny: Anthony considered Michigan, Penn State, Maryland, Auburn and Oklahoma, but after his first visit to Ann Arbor the Wolverines were considered the heavy favorite. He ended his process with a commitment to Michigan in December. Anthony redshirted in 2017 and then played in only four games at linebacker in 2018. While he showed improvement during the off-season, he has yet to make a substantial impact this season with only 10 tackles.
The skinny: Solomon initially committed to Michigan, but then re-opened his process during the summer leading into his senior season. After taking closer looks at Georgia, Alabama and USC, he re-committed to the Wolverines on National Signing Day. Solomon showed a great deal of promise as a true freshman, totaling 18 tackles in 13 games. However, a knee injury last season limited him to only six tackles in five games.
In December, he decided to transfer, landing in Tennessee, where after waiting for his NCAA transfer waiver to play immediately, Solomon has totaled 12 tackles and one tackle for loss to this point.
The skinny: Taylor had offers from many of the top programs in the country, but after spending three days in Tallahassee during the spring he committed to the Seminoles a few days later. In his first two seasons Taylor saw plenty of playing time, but 2018 was hampered by injuries.
The off-season saw him make a move to strong safety, where he earned the starting job. Playing his new position this fall, Taylor has totaled 21 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and an interception.
The skinny: With both of his parents being Alabama alumni, and with his dad having played for the Tide, everyone assumed that Davis would follow suit. While he did eventually commit to Alabama, several schools, mainly Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame, put up a serious fight. Surprisingly, to many, Davis has yet to make any serious impact in Tuscaloosa.
Expectations were limited coming into summer camp, but after a promising performance there was some hope that he may begin to flourish. However, that has not become reality, as Davis has made little to no impact on the field this fall for the Tide to this point.