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Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook and other recent recruiting misses that hurt college football teams

Did your team miss on a top prospect? You might be thinking about him for a while.

Imagine if Georgia hadn't lost Derrick Henry to Alabama.
Imagine if Georgia hadn't lost Derrick Henry to Alabama.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

On National Signing Day in 2015, four-star Maryland offensive tackle Isaiah Prince – the highest-rated player in the state – committed to Ohio State over his hometown Terps. At a press conference to announce Maryland's recruiting class, head coach Randy Edsall sounded unconcerned about missing out on the blue-chipper:

"You're not going to get every guy that you're looking for, and you never worry about the guys you don't get," Edsall said last February. "You worry about the guys that you do get. That's my thing."

Edsall was out of a job eight months later, and missing on big-time recruits was part of the reason. But his indifference to the players he didn't secure – genuine or not – is an easy mindset to get into for anybody with a stake in a college football program. If you miss on a player, who cares? We want kids who want to be here.

In reality, teams all over the country have big holes to fill. When they miss chances to fill them with the best talent, it often comes back to bite them. Here are some cautionary tales, collected from our friends at the college blogs around the SB Nation network. And check out our alternate histories for Alabama signing Tim Tebow and Texas signing Robert Griffin III.

Ole Miss loses four-star LB Leo Lewis to Mississippi State in 2015

Even though he didn't play much for Mississippi State this year, I do think Leo Lewis could have contributed to Ole Miss' thin linebacker corps right away. He was a guy that both schools were really after and it came down to a Signing Day decision. Pretty sure he was a highly rated four-star guy, so I'd say he counts as a blue-chip type of prospect that Ole Miss missed out on and could have used right away. – Red Cup Rebellion

Iowa blue-chip OL commit Ross Pierschbacher flips to Alabama in 2014

The biggest miss was probably Pierschbacher, a blue-chip in-state recruit who was verbally committed to Iowa for a while before ultimately flipping to Alabama a month or two before Signing Day. He started for the Tide as a redshirt freshman, so there's little doubt that he would have started for Iowa this year. Iowa's offensive line was solid -- especially at the guard spots where Piersbacher played for Bama -- but the Hawkeyes would have made room for Piersbacher and his talent would have enhanced the entire offensive line. He may have wound up at tackle for Iowa this year, which was an area of need as Iowa suffered several injuries there over the course of the season. –RossWB, Black Heart Gold Pants

Kansas State loses three-star QB commit Aaron Sharp to UCLA in 2014

A lot was made of K-State starting walk-on Joe Hubener all season, but most people took things at face value and assumed he was the second-string QB, or maybe third-string.

But realistically, Hubener should have been the fifth-string QB this year behind Ertz and Daniel Sams (who transferred to McNeese), Alex Delton (who should have kept his redshirt) ... and three-star Aaron Sharp, who decommitted late and went to UCLA instead, where he's now a wide receiver because he wasn't beating Josh Rosen for the job. But if he'd stayed with K-State, he may well have been the clear No. 2, or even the starter. In any event, his absence from the class, when combined with Ertz's injury, pushed everyone up and forced a true freshman to forego his redshirt and a walk-on to start. – Jon Morse, Bring On The Cats

Five-star safety Vonn Bell goes to Ohio State over Tennessee in 2013

Tennessee's near miss on Vonn Bell in Butch Jones' first two months was costly. The Vols still had serviceable seniors Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil at safety this season. But given UT's abundance of close losses in 2015, particularly by allowing fourth-quarter drives via Baker Mayfield and fourth-and-long conversions to Florida, it's hard not to think Bell could have made a real difference. – Will Shelton, Rocky Top Talk.

Miami misses out on five-star RB Dalvin Cook, who chooses Florida State in 2013

For Miami, this one is simple: Dalvin Cook. He ran for a ton of yards and the game-winning TD in 2014 against the 'Canes. In 2015, he pretty much beat us single-handedly. Miami has been in an OK place at running back, with Duke Johnson, UM's all-time leading rusher, in 2014 and Joseph Yearby/Mark Walton in 2015. But none of those players are the caliber of superstar that Dalvin Cook is. That's a recruiting loss that really hurt Miami. – Cameron Underwood, State Of The U

Pitt loses four-star local receiver Robert Foster to Alabama in 2013

Foster was local and expected to pick the Panthers, opting for Alabama instead. He has had a slow start to his college career, but Pitt could certainly use him for this year with Tyler Boyd gone. There could be bigger misses, but that's what I have off the top of my head. His really hurt because he looked like he was bound for Pitt. – Anson Whaley, Cardiac Hill

Derrick Henry decommits from Georgia, goes to Alabama in 2013

Our friends at Dawg Sports felt this would suffice:

(Photo: Butch Dill – USA TODAY Sports)

That has got to hurt.

Washington doesn't get four-star WR Jordan Payton in 2012

There's a few I could list for Washington - missing on both Josh Garnett and Zach Banner certainly hurt as the Huskies fielded a very young and inexperienced OL, but WR was an even bigger weak point for the Huskies so I'll nominate Jordan Payton. He's exactly the kind of big bodied productive WR the Huskies really missed with Kasen Williams off to the NFL and Damore'ea Stringfellow at Ole Miss. – Kirk DeGrasse, UW Dawg Pound

Five-star safety/linebacker Shaq Thompson picks Washington, not Cal, in 2012

Thompson was probably worth 1-2 wins a year for Cal given how awful its defenses were. Would've played safety/linebacker hybrid and changed the personality of the Bears defensively. He also helped supercharge Washington's defensive resurgence. – Avinash Kunnath, California Golden Blogs

LSU shows up late to the Dak Prescott party in 2011

A lot of LSU's recent issues with the quarterback position could have easily been prevented by one three-star in the class of 2011. LSU did offer the in-state prospect from Haughton, La., but very late in the process. Gary Crowton, then the Tigers' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, did not think Prescott was a fit for his offense. His replacement, Steve Kragthorpe, quickly made Prescott a priority, but by then he was already committed to Mississippi State.

Prescott would have had time to develop behind 2011 JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger and then started the past two seasons. A big part of the issues that Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris have had the last two years could be easily tied to inexperience. Had the Tigers landed Prescott (or Gunner Kiel in 2012), those two would only now be competing for the job as third- and fourth-year players. -- Billy Gomila, And The Valley Shook

Kansas loses four-star DE Geneo Grissom to Oklahoma in 2010

Grissom was a Kansas verbal. After Mark Mangino was forced out, he re-opened his recruitment and went to Oklahoma. The Kansas D-Line has been awful ever since, although let's be honest, that probably has more to do with Gill and Weis than it does missing out on a recruit or two. But certainly, missing out on recruits like this had an impact on the likelihood of success for those coaches. - Mike Grissom, Rock Chalk Talk

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What are some other recent recruiting misses that would have helped your school's team? Let us know in the comments.


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