When Quinton Flowers committed to USF in June 2013, the Bulls were six months removed from a two-win campaign and three months away from starting a four-win campaign. The three-star quarterback passed on offers from Florida, Mississippi State, Nebraska and TCU because he knew he could make a big difference at USF.
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"I really wanted to go to a place that wanted me to come in as a quarterback," Flowers said at the time. "I loved what the USF coaches were about and how excited they were about my talent. I think I can help get their program to the next level."
The ninth-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country (247Sports), Flowers was then-head coach Willie Taggart's highest-rated recruit in the 2014 class. And he was the only top-25 quarterback to sign with a Group of Five program.
Four years later, he is approaching 10,000 career all-purpose yards and, following last year's 11-2 mark, is leading the undefeated Bulls' charge toward a New Year's Six bowl.
Here are five other Group of Five stars who aiming for a New Year's Six bowl who, like Flowers, passed on Power Five offers.
Shaquem Griffin — LB, UCF
Power Five Offers: Minnesota
Shaquem Griffin (then a safety) and twin brother Shaquill (cornerback) were both three-star prospects from St. Petersburg, Fla., who had almost identical offers in 2012. They picked nearby UCF over Minnesota and became difference-makers in Orlando.
Shaquill leveraged a strong senior season into a third-round selection by the Seahawks in the 2017 NFL Draft, and Shaquem is flourishing at linebacker. The redshirt senior is helping the 3-0 Knights chase a berth in the AAC title game.
Riley Ferguson — QB, Memphis
Power Five Offers: Iowa State
Memphis' New Year's Six bid took a hit in Week 5 with a blowout loss at UCF but the Tigers still have a chance, especially with Riley Ferguson at quarterback.
After a year apiece at Tennessee (2013) at Coffeyville Community College (2015), Ferguson was the guy who was supposed to inadequately replace first-round pick Paxton Lynch. He preferred to dominate defenses instead, passing for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns during their eight-win season, and while his 2017 numbers aren't as gaudy through four games, he's still one of the best quarterbacks in the Group of Five.
Cedrick Wilson — WR, Boise State
Power Five Offers: Virginia Tech
Like Memphis, Boise State's New Year's Six hopes were dealt a huge blow with an very unlike-Boise home loss to Virginia in Week 4.
One of the bright spots in 19-point loss was senior receiver Cedrick Wilson. A year after passing on a Virginia Tech offer while starring alongside Riley Ferguson at Coffeyville, the Memphis native had 13 receptions for 209 yards against the Cavaliers.
Wilson is trying to top his 56-catch, 1,129-yard, 11-touchdown 2016 season and boost his NFL stock.
Ed Oliver — DT, Houston
Power Five Offers: All of them
The highest-ranked recruit to ever sign with a Group of Five program, Ed Oliver could've gone anywhere in the country. Instead, the sixth-ranked player in the entire 2016 class stayed home to play for Houston.
A First-Team All-American as a freshman, Oliver has battled injuries during the Cougars' 3-1 start but is still the most dominant interior defensive lineman in the country when healthy.
Art Thompkins – RB, Toledo
Power Five Offers: Indiana
Toledo's roster is laced with overlooked recruits who are proving Power Five teams wrong, including running back Art Thompkins.
A three-star recruit in the 2015 class — and the 141st-ranked running back — the Pittsburgh native passed on his lone Power Five offer (Indiana) to sign with Toledo, where he averaged 8.1 yards per carry as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and has rushed for at least 50 yards in three of their four games in 2017.
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