These blue chip recruits entered this season with all of the hype but failed to live up to the billing.
1. Spencer Rattler — Oklahoma, QB
Rattler was the preseason Heisman favorite, and the Sooners were the favorite to win the CFP national championship. Things didn’t go as planned as the highly overrated Rattler showed he’s not nearly as good as the hype suggested.
The Sooners didn’t look the part either. Rattler forced passes into double coverage and his propensity to play “hero ball,” as opposed to making the simple and proper reads, led to disaster more often than not.
Much to the chagrin of then-head coach Lincoln Riley.
Spencer Rattler is ungodly overrated pic.twitter.com/ULfA5M51ui
— Denton (@dentonfo) September 18, 2021
Rattler was benched in place of five-star freshman Caleb Williams, the No.1 ranked signal caller in the 2021 recruiting class.
In less than one full season Rattler went from sure-shot Heisman candidate to the transfer portal. Rumors have it he will try to revive his college career at Nebraska with supposed QB guru Scott Frost.
2. DJ Uiagalelei — Clemson, QB
Uiagalelei is another former five-star signal caller who went from Heisman candidate to “DUD” this season.
In 2020, Uiagalelei showed flashes of the potential that made him the No. 3-ranked quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class. Filling in for former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, DJ was nearly perfect in his outings and even played very well in an overtime loss to Notre Dame.
But this year he was a totally different player on the field. A lot of it had to do with a revolving door of offensive personnel, but Uiagalelei still wasn’t very good most weeks.
DJ UIAGALELEI INTERCEPTED!
PICK-SIX GEORGIA! pic.twitter.com/Ivng4pYaPl
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 5, 2021
His mechanics came into question often, and that’s a direct reflection on offensive coordinator and QB coach Tony Elliott. He was often late on throws or completely missed reads downfield, a sign of not being on the same page as the offensive coordinator.
At one point, DJ was considered the best quarterback product out of a rich crop from California that included Heisman front-runner Bryce Young (Alabama), and future first-round draft picks Matt Corral (Ole Miss) and CJ Stroud (Ohio State).
We have discovered that he’s not in the same stratosphere as the other three Cali kids.
3. Sam Howell — North Carolina, QB
UNC’s gunslinger Sam Howell is another Heisman candidate who failed to live up to expectations this past season.
Howell struggled to lift the offense after losing Dyamo Brown (WFT), Jevontae Williams (Broncos) and Michael Carter (Jets).
But although the cupboard was not bare in Chapel Hill last season, Howell wasn’t up to the task of elevating his teammates as generational talents at QB do.
Howell will probably still be a high draft pick because the NFL is QB-thirsty, but he must get better handling the blitz and making correct reads against it. He was awful at that in a 17-10 loss in Blacksburg to unranked Virginia Tech. Of the six sacks, four were his fault for not getting the football to the hot read.
Sam Howell's 2021 debut:
🔹 17/32, 208 yards
🔹 1 TD
🔹 3 INTs
🔹 Sacked 6 times pic.twitter.com/ys8ZeVY7tk
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) September 4, 2021
4. Kedon Slovis — USC, QB
Out in Southern California a bevy of things played a role in the “Men of Troy” struggling on the gridiron.
But none resonated bigger than the disappearing act of the 2019-2020 Kedon Slovis, who took over for transfer JT Daniels.
Slovis was one of the more accurate passers in CFB his first two seasons in SoCal, but this year he was borderline awful. His play was so erratic that the Trojans turned to true freshman Jaxson Dart.
Kedon Slovis' interception to start the game leads to an Oregon State touchdown. It's Oregon State 7, USC 0 with 9:58 left in the first quarter. pic.twitter.com/SKUh8UaBUL
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) September 26, 2021
Slovis could go pro or possibly return for another season. If he does return, will it be at USC with new coach and QB whisperer Lincoln Riley running the show?
Riley may want Dart’s overall skill set. Or even better, he may get Caleb Williams to transfer from Oklahoma. This situation is fluid.
5. Xavier Thomas — Clemson, Edge Rusher
When the Tigers landed former five-star pass rusher Xavier Thomas during the 2018 recruiting cycle they had visions of past edge rushers Vic Beasley, Shaq Lawson and Clelin Farrell.
Thomas hasn’t looked the part since his freshman campaign. The speedy pressure creator’s been missing in action in “Death Valley.”
That season he had 36 pressures on 150 pass rush snaps and seven sacks, with a pass-rush grade of 84.1, pass-rush win rate of 20.7 and a pressure rate of 17.0. All those numbers have declined each year since.
Some factors that contributed to Thomas’ decreased production include defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ changing from a 3-1-7 defense to more of a traditional 4-3 and 4-4 look.
He’s struggled ever since the scheme change. COVID-19 also hurt him as he battled from the effects of it. He declared himself fully healthy this season, but his performance says otherwise.
A former five-star athlete with his athleticism should still be able to wreak havoc more than once or twice a game.
The best bet for him may be to transfer or go pro on straight freshman year POTENTIAL.
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