published Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Five-star fallout: Georgia has had various levels of success with top-level prospects

The Georgia Bulldogs have signed 14 Rivals.com five-star prospects under coach Mark Richt, with tailback Sony Michel of Plantation, Fla., becoming the 14th earlier this month.

Two of Georgia’s five-star signees, quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver A.J. Green, were productive for the Bulldogs before becoming top-five picks in the NFL draft.

There were others who didn’t have near the impact throughout the course of their careers. Then there were those who showcased their talents before being dismissed, with tailback Isaiah Crowell and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons headlining that category.

A look at the list:

MARQUIS ELMORE (2002) — After spending 2001 at Hargrave Military, Elmore signed as a promising defensive end but was moved inside to tackle, where he never could flourish. Elmore played just 17 career games for the Bulldogs before his eligibility expired after the ‘06 season, and he amassed only eight tackles.

KREGG LUMPKIN (2003) — Lumpkin rushed for 523 yards and six touchdowns for the SEC East champions as a freshman but tore his ACL on the first day of August camp in 2004. His best season came as a redshirt junior in ‘06, when he had a team-leading 798 yards and six scores. The emergence of Knowshon Moreno resulted in less playing time as a senior, but Lumpkin capitalized off the field by majoring in economics and housing.

PAUL OLIVER (2003) — Oliver redshirted in 2003 and waited in the wings behind All-SEC cornerbacks Tim Jennings and DeMario Minter before earning a starting role in ‘06, when he tallied 57 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. He announced he would return for his senior season but then failed out of school and entered the NFL’s supplemental draft, where he was picked by San Diego. Oliver, who played five seasons with the Chargers before being released, committed suicide last September.

BRANDON MILLER (2004) — Miller signed as the nation’s No. 1 weakside defensive end but never developed as a pass-rushing threat. He was moved to inside linebacker and wound up playing in 49 games, including 21 starts. Miller finished his career with 108 tackles and one sack.

RESHAD JONES (2006) — The touted safety from Atlanta redshirted in 2006 but had blossomed by the 2008 and ‘09 seasons, when he collected a combined 149 tackles, seven tackles for loss and nine interceptions. He bypassed his senior season for the NFL draft and was a fifth-round selection by the Miami Dolphins. Jones has started all 32 games the past two seasons and has racked up 201 tackles.

MATTHEW STAFFORD (2006) — Stafford enrolled early as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback, and he was touted as a future top overall NFL pick by ESPN’s Mel Kiper before ever taking a snap for the Bulldogs. Stafford was thrown into the fire as a freshman in ‘06 and had four touchdowns and 12 interceptions before igniting a late-season surge with an upset at fifth-ranked Auburn. He led the Bulldogs to a No. 2 ranking in 2007 and set Georgia’s single-season mark for touchdown passes at 25 in 2008. Stafford bypassed his senior season and proved Kiper correct when he was selected first overall by the Detroit Lions.

A.J. GREEN (2008) — Green was an instant producer for the Bulldogs, compiling 109 receptions for 1,772 yards and 14 touchdowns during his first two seasons. In a 20-17 win over Arizona State in 2009, Green amassed 153 receiving yards and blocked a fourth quarter field-goal attempt. His junior season was sidetracked by a four-game NCAA suspension for selling his jersey, but he still led the team with 57 catches for 848 yards and nine scores. He left after his junior year was the fourth overall selection in the 2011 draft, getting picked by the Cincinnati Bengals.

RICHARD SAMUEL (2008) — Samuel became the top tailback following Moreno’s early departure to the NFL and made six starts in 2009, which was highlighted by an 80-yard run that led to a 104-yard performance in a win at Arkansas. He slipped behind Washaun Ealey and Caleb King on the depth chart and moved to linebacker in 2010, when he redshirted. He was back at tailback for his final two seasons, with his biggest claim to fame being his go-ahead touchdown in the 2011 win over Florida. Like Lumpkin, Samuel excelled off the field and did an internship in Georgia’s compliance office.

BRANDEN SMITH (2009) — Mostly a cornerback, Smith made 26 career starts and amassed 80 career tackles. He also had 363 career rushing yards, 63 career receiving yards, 23 career kickoff returns and 19 career punt returns. Smith was not drafted last spring and signed a free-agent contract with Tampa Bay but was cut in August.

ISAIAH CROWELL (2011) — After holding up an English Bulldog to announce his signing with Georgia, Crowell rushed for 850 yards and was named SEC freshman of the year. He went over 100 yards in each of his first three SEC games against South Carolina (118), Ole Miss (147) and Mississippi State (104), but the back half of that season was marred by an ankle injury and a one-game suspension for a positive marijuana test. Crowell was dismissed from the team in the summer of 2012 on felony weapons possession charges, though those charges were later dropped. He transferred to Alabama State and is eligible for May’s NFL draft.

RAY DREW (2011) — Drew struggled his first two years but emerged this past season, compiling 41.5 tackles, eight tackles for loss and six sacks. He has played 33 career games for the Bulldogs, including seven starts.

JOSH HARVEY-CLEMONS (2012) — Harvey-Clemons was dismissed from the team Tuesday for violating team rules. He appeared in 25 games, including 11 starts, but was suspended for last season’s opener at Clemson as well as the Gator Bowl against Nebraska. The safety had 15 tackles in last year’s win over LSU and had big plays in victories over Kentucky and Georgia Tech, but he will forever be remembered for colliding with fellow safety Tray Matthews at Auburn, which enabled the Tigers to complete a miraculous 73-yard touchdown in the final minute.

JOHN THEUS (2012) — Theus started all 14 games at right tackle as a freshman, but he started just once in the first six games this past season before reclaiming the starting role. He could be moving to left tackle for his junior season on an offensive line that must replace three starters.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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