Recruiting is a huge part of college sports. It's no secret that you must recruit well if you want to compete for championships. It's so important, many college football fan bases celebrate landing big-time recruits as if they won a conference or national title.
That said, recruiting well doesn't always mean recruiting the 5-star kids. Sometimes, recruiting well is the ability to look at a 5-star kid and figure out whether or not he can meet his full potential. This can be difficult, as things like injuries obviously cannot be predicted or controlled.
Every year, recruiting websites and publications slap "star ratings" on teenagers based on all sorts of factors. Sometimes the ratings are accurate. Often times, however, everyone misses — labeling a kid as a sure-fire, can't miss prospect, only to watch him fade into obscurity once he gets on campus.
Four years have passed since the 2011 recruiting class signed their letters of intent. ESPN rated 14 athletes from that class as 5-star recruits. Some of the names you'll recognize: Jadeveon Clowney, Isaiah Crowell, Cyrus Kouandjio. Nearly half of them, however, never made or have yet to make their mark on college football.
Let's take a look at the forgotten 5-stars of 2011.
Christian Westerman, Tackle, Auburn
Westerman was rated by ESPN as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the class and the No. 6 prospect overall. After redshirting in 2011, he played in only two games the following season due to an ankle injury. After that season, he transferred to Arizona State and made the position switch to guard. He'll be a senior for the Sun Devils this season.
Tony Steward, Linebacker, Clemson
Steward was rated as the top linebacker and No. 9 overall prospect in the class. Though he appeared in 43 games in his college career, he never saw consistent action until his senior season. He left Clemson with 104 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and no interceptions. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Bills, where he'll fight for a roster spot this fall.
Jeff Driskel, Quarterback, Florida
Driskel is probably the most recognizable name on the list. ESPN has him as the top quarterback in the class and the No. 10 prospect overall. Four disappointing seasons later, he transferred away from Florida to Louisiana Tech, where he'll be a senior this coming season. He tossed 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions during his time in Gainesville.
George Farmer, Wide Receiver, USC
Farmer was the top-rated receiver in the class and the No. 12 prospect overall according to ESPN. He caught five passes for 49 total yards combined in his first two seasons for the Trojans. He then tore his ACL and MCL during the 2013 preseason, causing him to miss his true-junior year. In 2014, he returned and caught 25 passes for 314 yards and four touchdowns. He entered the 2015 NFL Draft and went undrafted. He signed on with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent and will compete for a roster spot this fall.
Ray Drew, Defensive End, Georgia
Drew was the No. 2 defensive end in the class behind only Clowney and the No. 13 prospect overall. He left Georgia with 7.5 sacks to his name — six of them coming during the 2013 season. He entered the 2015 NFL Draft and went undrafted. He'll compete for a spot on the Miami Dolphins roster this fall.
Charone Peake, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Peake was the No. 2 receiver in the class and the No. 14 prospect overall. His collegiate career has been littered with injuries so far. He's managed just 49 catches for 456 yards and five touchdowns as a result. He'll give it one more go in 2015 for a Clemson Tiger team that has its eyes on the College Football Playoff.