On Monday, news broke that Florida DT Gary Brown was arrested under suspicion of misdemeanor battery. A few of the news reports mentioned that Brown was a five star recruit in UF's 2008 class.
Florida has been very good at pulling in five star recruits since Urban Meyer arrived in 2005. It also has seen an unusually high number of them get into some kind of trouble, certainly more than most programs see. Here's a look at all the guys rated five stars by one or both of the major two recruiting services. The players are consensus five star guys unless otherwise noted.
Avery Atkins (5* on Scout) - Booted from the team in 2006 for various legal problems; arrested five times from 2005-06 for charges ranging from drugs to domestic battery; was found dead in 2007.
Reggie Nelson (5* on Scout) - No problems on or off the field.
Tim Tebow - No problems on or off the field.
Percy Harvin - Tested positive for drugs at the NFL combine.
Brandon Spikes - Eye gouging incident versus Georgiain '09.
Jamar Hornsby (5* on Scout) - Tossed from team for credit card fraud.
Jarred Fayson (5* on Scout) - Played sparingly for two years; transferred to Illinois.
Carlos Dunlap - Arrested for DUI before 2009 SEC Championship Game.
James Wilson - Has played sparingly.
Cameron Newton (5* on Rivals) - Arrested for laptop theft; suspended indefinitely and transferred to a JUCO.
Aaron Hernandez (5* on Scout) - No problems on or off the field.
Lorenzo Edwards (5* on Scout) - Has essentially played only special teams.
Deonte Thompson (5* on Scout) - No trouble, but jury is still out after little impact in three seasons.
Justin Trattou (5* on Scout) - No problems on or off the field.
Major Wright (5* on Scout) - No problems on or off the field.
Chris Rainey (5* on Scout) - No problems on or off the field.
John Brown (5* on Scout) - Played sparingly in two seasons; struggled to get in shape and get grades up; transferred to a JUCO.
Will Hill - No problems on or off the field.
Omar Hunter - Has battled injuries but was a rotation guy in 2009.
Carl Moore - Made little impact in 2008 and was injured all of 2009.
Matt Patchan - Has bounced back and forth between D-line and O-line without making much impact.
Gary Brown - Arrested Monday for battery.
Andre Debose - Injured all of 2009.
Jelani Jenkins - No problems on or off the field; red shirted.
Xavier Nixon - (5* on Scout) - No problems on or off the field, started some at end of 2009.
Only seven of the 23 players from 2005-08 got a clean "no problems on or off the field" rating (it's a bit early yet to include the '09 recruits). That equals the seven from that span that got into trouble of some sort, though Johnson's issue wasn't really his fault. Six more have played without becoming stars (yet, in some cases), and the final three spent time in the coaches' doghouse before transferring out.
Now, only one in 15 (6.67%) of five star recruits from 2005-09 were All-Americans in 2009. Florida's ahead of the curve in that respect as four of the above 23 (17.3%) got to that level with Nelson, Tebow, Harvin, and Spikes. Having some players transfer, get hurt a lot, or not become a star is normal.
What is not normal is having roughly a third of what's supposed to be your best players get arrested or otherwise bring bad P.R. on your university. Florida's number of arrests in the Urban Meyer era was last year's big story, and it might be again if more players get in trouble like Brown did.
It's difficult, if not impossible, to fix a reputational issue in a single off season. If the Gators can simply keep their best players from making mistakes, it'd go a long way to solving the problem.