Everyone knows that stars and rankings are extremely subjective. Recruiting services like coaches are wrong about players all the time. Notre Dame has been wrong plenty. Getting the most out of each recruiting class is how a team becomes a championship team. It seems like if even one of these players turned out how they were supposed to, Notre Dame might have been a different team.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Ron Powlus is probably the most famous example. The late Beano Cook predicted that Powlus would win the Heisman Trophy twice at Notre Dame. Obviously, that did not happen and Powlus’ career was mediocre. Here are the biggest recruiting busts in recent memory:
Freddie Parish — Safety — Long Beach, California
Parish was ranked as the 72nd best recruit and the 5 best Safety in the nation when he signed his letter of intent to attend the University of Notre Dame in 2003. He only started one game and collected 24 career tackles at Notre Dame before transferring to FCS school Stephen F. Austin. In 2005, he had 46 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks and an interception.
Anthony Vernaglia — Linebacker — Orange, California
Vernaglia was the 5th ranked Athlete in the 2004 class. He had offers from Penn State, UCLA and USC but choose to select Notre Dame. After redshirting his season, he collected 25 total tackles in his three seasons at Notre Dame. After his Redshirt Junior season, he transferred to Hofstra where he finished out his college career.
D.J. Hord — Wide Receiver — Kansas City, Missouri
Hord was 11th best Wide Receiver in the 2005 class, according to Rivals.com. Hord appeared 12 games in three seasons as a Notre Dame football players. He only caught 2 passes for 7 yards. Following the 2007 season, Hord transferred to Northern Iowa. In 26 games for the Panthers, he recorded 51 catches for 750 yards and 5 touchdowns. Hord is currently a graduate assistant for Northern Iowa.
James Aldridge — Running Back — Crown Point, Indiana
Aldridge was the 27th best player in the 2006 class and a 5-star recruit. The 5-star classification typically means that they prospect is “can’t miss”. However, Notre Dame missed big with Aldridge. Alridge finished his Notre Dame career with 255 carries for 979 yards and 3 touchdowns. His career average was 3.84 yards per carry. Aldridge has been busy since his graduation, training to join the U.S. National Rugby team.
Demetrius Jones — Quarterback — Chicago, Illinois
This was probably Notre Dame’s most visible bust as it occurred during the 2007 Notre Dame-Georgia Tech game on national television. Jones was ranked as the 2nd best Dual Threat Quarterback and the 54th best player in the nation. Jones only played in one game for Notre Dame. He was 1 of 3 for 4 yards and had 12 carries for 28 yards. Jones then transferred to Northern Illinois then Cincinnati where he eventually converted to Linebacker. He was booted from Cincinnati for academic reasons. After Cincinnati, he attended Central State, a Division II school, where he played Wide Receiver. He caught 41 passes there. He was arrested in 2011 for a string of dormitory burglaries. Jones is currently the Quarterback for the Kane County Dawgs, a semi-pro Indoor football team.