Power Ranking the Top 100 Recruits of the BCS Era

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJune 5, 2013

Power Ranking the Top 100 Recruits of the BCS Era

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    On Jan. 4, 1999, college football was changed forever. The BCS era was ushered in, and not only was college football now different, but so was recruiting.

    Since that year, there have been 443 top-ranked recruits, according to 247Sports' 5-star recruits from 2002-2014, Tom Lemming's Top 25 rankings in 2000 and 2001, and top-tier recruits in 1999 by Sports Illustrated. Out of this pool, 86 recruits went on to become All-Americans along with being drafted within the first three rounds of the NFL draft.

    Using hype as the main factor for this slideshow, the best 100 recruits of the BCS era have been ranked. These are the best recruits since the BCS era began—guys who came in with the most hype and also had solid college careers.

    Forget about the non-hyped recruits like Johnny Manziel, Eric Fisher, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. This list puts more emphasis on high school recruiting hype, which is why Matt Barkley, D.J. Williams, Lorenzo Booker and a big running back from Texas are so highly ranked.

    Here are the rankings for the best 100 recruits of the BCS era! 


100. WR Andre Caldwell, Florida, 2003

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    5-Star, 2003, 247Sports

    Round 3, Pick 97, Cincinnati Bengals (2008)

    Andre Caldwell’s brother Reche played for the Gators, and Andre was a friend of quarterback Chris Leak, so it was not a surprise when “Bubba” signed with Florida in 2003. He had impressive quickness, speed and ball skills.

    Caldwell became a leader at Florida and had his best season as a senior and team captain, recording 56 receptions for 761 yards and seven touchdowns. Right now, Caldwell is a reserve wideout for the Denver Broncos.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He has ideal size for the receiver position, and has been clocked at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash. It is that speed that makes him a threat to take it to the house from absolutely anywhere on the field." - Scott Vogelsberg, TheWolfPacker.com

    "In my mind, I've never seen a player as good as that. He has got every right to be arrogant but he takes his success with a grain of salt." - Jefferson coach Mike Simmonds to Mike Readling of the St. Petersburg Times

99. TE Marcedes Lewis, UCLA, 2002

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    5-Star, 2002, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 28, Jacksonville Jaguars (2006)

    Marcedes Lewis was one of the top recruits on a star-studded Long Beach Poly team in high school, and he was regarded as the top tight ends in the country. His length, speed, hands and ability to play like a wide receiver were impressive to watch against good California competition. 

    Many of the top players from Poly signed with USC, but Lewis stayed true to his early UCLA pledge. He played well in Westwood, won the Mackey Award in 2005 and is now a Pro Bowl tight end for the Jaguars. 


    What the Scouts Said

    "Few players possess the size, speed and awesome athletic ability that Lewis has. He's like a wide receiver stuck in a tight end's body. When a team signs a player like Lewis, you find ways to get him on the field as soon as possible." - Rick Kimbrel, BruinSportsReport.com

98. OL Justin Blalock, Texas, 2002

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    5-Star, 2002, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 39, Atlanta Falcons (2007)

    Justin Blalock could have ended up at Michigan or Oklahoma, but he settled on Texas as an elite offensive line prospect in the 2002 class. His 6’4”, 325-pound frame coupled with his power, agility and athleticism allowed him to play both guard and tackle.

    He went on to become a four-time All-Big 12 player, and he’s currently a starting offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons.


    What the Scouts Said

    "Guys like Blalock are a rare breed. Rarely will you find guys that have the total package like Blalock—size, aggressiveness, technique and the other good stuff. Blalock has them all, plus he's a student of the game and takes things on and off the field seriously." - Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

    "One of the best offensive lineman not only in Texas, but the entire country. Has an upper body that looks like a bodybuilder, but he also moves well. He is a smash-mouth run-blocker." - Rivals.com

97. QB Kyle Boller, Cal, 1999

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    No. 1 QB, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 1, Pick 19, Baltimore Ravens (2003)

    Kyle Boller wanted to go to UCLA in the worst way, but the Bruins offered and got a commitment from J.P Losman that same year. Boller had played safety as a junior, so film of him playing quarterback was limited, and college coaches didn’t know much about him.

    But after lighting up California competition as a senior, all of the big boys came rushing in. He signed with Cal and was dubbed as the savior of the program.

    After a few rocky seasons, Jeff Tedford turned him around, and Boller became a first-round pick of the Ravens. He never played up to his billing, though, and bounced around the NFL before retiring in 2012. Boller’s size at 6’3” and his arm strength made him one of the most talented quarterback recruits of the BCS era.


    What the Scouts Said

    "During pregame warm-ups, [Hart High offensive coordinator] Dean Herrington sometimes instructed a receiver to run as far as he could go, well into the other half of the field where the opponent was loosening up. Herrington would then whisper to his quarterback to let one fly. Herrington claims Boller has thrown a ball 86 yards in practice, with just a slight trailing wind. During a game, he completed a pass that was thrown 75 yards." - Jake Curtis, San Francisco Chronicle

96. RB Maurice Clarett, Ohio State, 2002

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    5-Star, 2002, 247Sports

    Round 3, Pick 101, Denver Broncos (2005)

    Maurice Clarett was an instant hit at Ohio State, rushing for 1,237 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman. The 5’11”, 230-pound back had great strength, instincts and quickness as a prep prospect. He wasn’t the fastest player, but when one has the natural running skills that Clarett had, speed becomes secondary.

    He ran into a series of off-field problems after his initial season, when he led Ohio State to a BCS title-game upset victory over Miami.

    He was dismissed from the team after his freshman season and wasn't allowed to participate in the 2004 NFL draft. After the Broncos reached for him in the third round the following year, they waived him a month after signing him due to his immaturity.

    Clarett has spent time in prison and also in the UFL. He is one of the biggest enigmas in recruiting history.


    What the Scouts Said

    "I've done this for a long time. There are two running backs in my career that I've had to make a special defense for. One was Robert Smith. The other was Maurice Clarett." - Cleveland St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle to Paula Crouch Thrasher of Cox News Service

    "Maurice Clarett is interesting to listen to and hear how much confidence he has in himself and his abilities. He believes in himself 100 percent and feels he can do anything on the football field." - Bill Kurelic, Rivals.com

95. QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri, 2008

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    4-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 10, Jacksonville Jaguars (2011)

    Former Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan recruited Blaine Gabbert fiercely and scored a commitment from the Missouri native. The 'Huskers had their top-notch quarterback prospect on the way, and things were great in Lincoln. However, Callahan ended up getting fired, which led to Gabbert changing his mind and ultimately signing with Missouri.

    At 6’4”, 226 pounds, he had a strong arm and deceptive mobility for a big quarterback. Gabbert put up solid numbers for Gary Pinkel at Missouri, and the Jaguars made him a top-10 pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Things haven’t gone that well in Jacksonville so far, but Gabbert still has a chance to start again in 2013.


    What the Scouts Said

    "Blaine was one you could see a long time ago. He had great size, phenomenal arm strength, pretty good quarterback. You could see that a long time ago." - Missouri assistant coach Cornell Ford to Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com (via Rivals, subscription required)

94. LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State, 2009

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    5-Star, 2009, 247Sports

    Undrafted, Cincinnati Bengals (2012)

    Vontaze Burfict committed to USC early in the 2009 recruiting cycle and seemed intent on being the next great Trojans linebacker. Yet, Arizona State successfully flipped him at the last minute, ending what turned out to be a nasty recruiting battle. Academic difficulties had an influence on Burfict, who had a productive but rocky career in Tempe.

    He was one of the best defensive players in the country as a 6’1", 245-pound athletic and quick linebacker. Character concerns caused him to go undrafted, but he was still picked up by the Bengals. Burfict led the team in tackles in 2012, and he looks like a stalwart for Marvin Lewis’ defense.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Vontaze is an incredible player and will be recruited by everyone next year. He's a stud, he has size, can run and loves to hit. You don't see many players like him." - Corona Centennial coach Matt Logan to Greg Biggins of Rivals.com (subscription required)

    "I never thought I would work out another player as good as Marcus Ball but Burfict is right there. The kid is incredible, he can play at the next level right now. It's not just his physical tools, it's his makeup and poise he plays with. He's able to slow the game down and people don't understand how hard that is. When you get to the next level and everything is happening rapid-fire and you have bullets coming at you, it's those players who can slow things down mentally and play at a faster pace than everyone that become great and he has that." - Nike linebacker coach Chris Gizzi to Greg Biggins of Rivals.com

    "Burfict isn't just fast, he's exceptionally quick and has incredible closing speed. He's strong, fearless and really sells out to make a play." - Greg Biggins, Rivals.com

93. QB Ryan Mallett, Michigan/Arkansas, 2007

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    5-Star, 2007, 247Sports

    Round 3, Pick 74, New England Patriots (2011)

    Jimmy Clausen was the top quarterback in 2007, but Mallett competed with the intent of showing he was a superior player. Michigan won his services over several other top programs, and the 6’6”, 235-pounder seemed like Big Blue’s QB of the future.

    But Lloyd Carr retired after Mallett’s solid freshman season, which prompted the latter to bolt from Ann Arbor when he did not fit Rich Rodriguez’s spread-option offense. He ended up at Arkansas and had a good career with Bobby Petrino.

    Mallett is currently Tom Brady’s backup in New England and is seen a possible NFL starter.


    What the Scouts Said

    “Mallett has the best arm that we've seen in eight years. He's off the charts with that." - recruiting analyst Greg Biggins to Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals.com (subscription required)

    "Ryan Mallett's arm strength was unbelievable. He had the ability to get the ball from Point A to Point B faster than any quarterback I've ever seen." - Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

92. OLB/DE Sergio Kindle, Texas, 2006

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    5-Star, 2006, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 43, Baltimore Ravens (2010)

    Sergio Kindle gave an early commitment to Mack Brown, which allowed him to stay close to home and play for Texas. He was lethal off the edges as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker due to him being a great athlete with a sudden first step and good strength.

    Pass-rushing was his specialty, and he became an All-American in Austin. He suffered a freak head injury before his NFL career began when he fell down two flights of stairs. As a result, he played sparingly for the Ravens and was released this January.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "I’ve coached tall guys, I’ve coached strong guys and I’ve coached fast guys. But athletically speaking, I’ve never coached a guy with this combination of the three. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds with a 315-pound bench press and 4.5 speed in the 40, well, with that ability inside his body type, that’s what sets him apart." - Wilson coach Bobby Estes to Chad Konecky of Scout.com

    "Kindle is one of the most intriguing prospects due to his ability to play multiple positions in college. If he played running back, we would compare his game to Eddie George. But we think he will start at linebacker where he is already drawing comparisons to Derrick Johnson given his height, weight, speed package." - Stacey Dean of Scout.com

91. TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame, 2008

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    4-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 43, Minnesota Vikings (2011)

    From Ohio, Kyle Rudolph spurned Ohio State for the Irish and never looked back. He was a 6’6”, 230-pound tight end prospect in 2008 with soft hands, great ball skills and a willingness to block in the run game.

    He went on to have a great career in South Bend, which caught the Vikings’ attention in the second round the 2011 NFL draft. Rudolph is now the starting tight end in Minnesota, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2012, where he was named MVP of the game.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Rudolph can create some horrible matchup problems for defenders. Not only is he big enough to go up and get the ball over defenders, he's also fast enough to get past them. He's one of the top basketball players in Ohio, so there's no questioning his athletic ability." - Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

90. DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida, 2007

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    5-Star, 2007, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 54, Cincinnati Bengals (2010)

    Carlos Dunlap stood 6’6” in high school and weighed 260 pounds. His athleticism was terrific, and he projected to various positions such as tight end, defensive end, left tackle and outside linebacker.

    He had his home state clamoring for him to go to South Carolina, but Dunlap chose to move to Gainesville. He had 19.5 sacks in his career at Florida and helped the Gators win a BCS title. Today, he plays defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "His greatest attribute is his speed, especially to be so big. He reminds me of [Manny] Lawson from North Carolina State. He is only going to get better." - Ft. Dorchester head coach Steve LaPrad to Scout.com

    "He plays very well off the ball, getting into the backfield quickly and able to make his key reads while playing his assignment. He has long arms and knows how to keep off of offensive linemen while adjusting to plays in the backfield. Deceptively quick, Dunlap can run a play down from the backside." - Scout.com

89. DB Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama, 2011

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    5-Star, 2011, 247Sports

    “Ha Ha” is a future NFL safety and has been a serviceable player in the Crimson Tide’s secondary. He started to stand out late last season and comes into 2013 as Alabama’s best defensive back on a team looking to win a third-straight BCS title. Clinton-Dix is more of a rangy, heady safety than a “box” guy.

    He had a 6’1”, 190-pound frame in high school and played in the Orlando area in Florida. Today, Clinton-Dix is a candidate to be an All-American in 2013. He chose to leave his home state of Florida and has seized the opportunity to be personally coached by Nick Saban.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "It is no secret that Clinton-Dix is a great athlete who possesses elite athleticism and great size with the versatility to be a cornerback or safety. What moves him to the forefront of the class in Florida is his knack for regularly making plays in games for Dr. Phillips (High School), despite limited opportunities as teams avoid him." - Chris Nee, Rivals.com

    "He's a hard hitter, has solid covering ability for a safety, and a very quick burst in breaking on the football makes him a very wanted man." - Michael Langston, FlaVarsity.com (via Rivals.com)

88. DB Matt Elam, Florida, 2010

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    5-Star, 2010, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 32, Baltimore Ravens (2013)

    Matt Elam had a quirky recruitment. He committed to Florida but decommitted when Urban Meyer announced a leave of absence. He then committed to Florida State, but Meyer got back in his ear, and he recommitted to the Gators.

    He’s a 5’10” defensive back who weighs slightly more than 200 pounds with excellent instincts and awareness. Elam wasn’t the most athletic or biggest safety as a recruit, but he’s one of the smartest and most naturally instinctive football players to come out as a prep prospect. The Ravens took Elam at the end of the first round of this year’s draft.


    What the Scouts Said

    "He is extremely versatile and appears to relish taking on more and more responsibility. Defensively, Elam plays downhill and seeks contact. Is always in position to make plays and finishes well." - Burke Hayes, Scout.com

    “Elam is an impressive kid all around. He is stocky and built like a college strong safety, but is able to run around and cover like many free safeties would...He can (play) a variety of roles in college and Florida fans should be excited about what they are getting with this kid." - Allen Trieu, Scout.com

87. DE Da'Shawn Hand, Uncommitted, 2014

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    5-Star, 2013, 247Sports

    Da'Shawn Hand is a 6’5”, 247-pound defensive end prospect from Virginia with an explosive first step, good strength and great athleticism. He’s one of the best defensive end prospects in recent memory and is a special talent.

    He may be just a notch below Jadeveon Clowney in terms of talent, but Hand is certainly in the same category as Robert Nkemdiche, Mario Edwards, Carl Lawson and Noah Spence. Don't be surprised to see Hand in college for just three years, as he’s ready to play now and will be an early impact guy wherever he lands.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Hand is a rare athletic specimen who has incredible body control and balance for a big rush end and is very hard to knock off his feet. He's the most rare pass-rusher since Jadeveon Clowney and has the potential to be as dominant in college." - Mike Farrell, Rivals.com


    "Hand is a unique prospect who is remarkably athletic, explosive and quick for his size. He has a frame that still has room to fill in and is learning more about the game every day. There aren't many things he can't do." - Rivals.com

86. QB J.P. Losman, UCLA, 1999

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    No. 3 QB, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 1, Pick 22, Buffalo Bills (2004)

    J.P. Losman was regarded as the No. 1 quarterback in the country for a long portion of the 1999 recruiting year. He was the reason UCLA didn’t offer a scholarship to Kyle Boller. Losman chose the Bruins because he wanted to start as a true freshman and even enrolled early to help his chances.

    When he got word that he didn’t win the job after spring practice, he transferred to Tulane. Losman’s arm strength was off the charts. He played himself into the first round of the draft but never got it going for the Bills. After short stints in the UFL, and with the Raiders, Seahawks and Dolphins, Losman is now out of football.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "A relatively unheralded player at an unheralded school, Venice High, Losman opened everyone's eyes with his arm and athletic ability at a quarterbacks camp at UCLA the summer before his senior year. He committed to UCLA shortly thereafter and as a result UCLA never pursued one of Southern California's other highly regarded quarterbacks, Hart's Kyle Boller, who is beginning his second season as Cal's starting quarterback. UCLA offensive coordinator Al Borges wanted Losman so badly that he personally recruited him—the only Bruin quarterback for whom Borges has ever done that." - Billy Witz, Daily News

85. OC Jeff Byers, USC, 2004

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    5-Star, 2004, 247Sports

    Undrafted, Seattle Seahawks (2010)

    Jeff Byers was a dominating offensive line prospect in 2004. The then-6’4”, 280-pounder had great snap quickness, could pull and trap well, and played like a bull at the point of attack. As a prep star, Byers could pancake a guy at the line and get downfield and make another block.

    He chose USC over a number of offers, but his career has been underwhelming due to injuries. When healthy, Byers was a good offensive lineman for the Trojans, but medical concerns left him undrafted. Today, he’s a reserve for the Carolina Panthers.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He’s the best offensive lineman we've ever recruited. We've never seen a lineman who could move like that and hit like he does." - Unnamed SEC coach to Greg Biggins of Scout.com (subscription required)

    "He’ll start for us as a true freshman next year if we get him. He's without a weakness on the football field. He's big, very athletic, has been well-coached and has a nice mean streak on the field. Not to mention he's so smart and a natural leader." - Unnamed Pac-10 coach to Greg Biggins of Scout.com 

    "He's the best high school player I've ever seen. I don't say this very often, but he's a 'can’t miss' player. He'll be playing on Sundays whenever he wants to." - Unnamed Big-12 coach to Greg Biggins of Scout.com

84. LB Dan Connor, Penn State, 2004

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    5-Star, 2004, 247Sports

    Round 3, Pick 74, Carolina Panthers (2008)

    Dan Connor was a two-way player for his high school team in Pennsylvania. He rushed for 1,807 yards as a running back during his senior year while also notching 141 tackles as a linebacker.

    His 6’2”, 220-pound frame filled out to be over 240 pounds in Happy Valley. Connor was a tackling machine and was selected by the Panthers, who took him in the third round in 2008. After spending a season with the Cowboys in 2012, Connor is now a linebacker for the New York Giants.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "When you think of Penn State linebackers, you can picture Dan Connor of Strath Haven in Wallingford, Pa. Outstanding technique and stance, Connor plays low, shuffles on the snap, plays beneath his pads and reads the play very well." - Former Texas A&M assistant coach Alan Weddell, via Rivals.com

    "I just can't tell you what amazing football instincts Dan has. He'll run a 4.6 40-yard time and shine on all the tests, but it is his football instincts that make him such a great player. He has an unbelievable competitive spirit. Dan will do whatever it takes to win a football game." - Strath Haven head coach Kevin Clancy to Phil Grosz of BlueWhiteIllustrated.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

83. QB Jason Campbell, Auburn, 2000

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    No. 2 QB, 2000, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 25, Washington Redskins (2005)

    At 6’5”, 185 pounds in high school, Jason Campbell’s arm strength was easy to see. He could fire the football downfield, attack outside the numbers and had the mobility to elude rushers in the pocket. He filled out his frame to 230 pounds and was the signal-caller of a strong Auburn team in the early 2000s.

    He played for a different offensive coordinator every year on The Plains but still produced solid numbers. Campbell was a first-round pick by Joe Gibbs and has played for the Redskins, Raiders, Bears and Browns, where he’s now competing with Brandon Weeden for the starting job.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Jason ranks even with Brock Berlin as the top QB in the nation. Brock may be more productive at this stage, but Jason has a higher ceiling because of his height, arm strength and all-around athletic ability (he's also a big-time basketball recruit)." - Tom Lemming, ESPN

    "Super all-around athlete; extremely accurate." - Tom Lemming, ESPN

82. OT Kwame Harris, Stanford, 2000

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    No. 1 OT, 2000, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 26, San Francisco 49ers (2003)

    Kwame Harris stood 6’6”, weighed 320 pounds and had terrific agility, smooth movement skills and quick feet as a recruit. He played high school ball in Delaware after being born in Jamaica. He went to Stanford and shadowed Pac-12 rushers, keeping the left side of the pocket clean.

    Things didn’t go as well in the NFL for Harris, as he played just six seasons, including one year with the Raiders. He last played in 2010 in the UFL and has since retired.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Dominating ...has all the tools to be All-American." - Tom Lemming, ESPN

81. RB Willis McGahee, Miami, 2000

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    No. 4 RB, 2000, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 23, Buffalo Bills (2003)

    The 6’0” running back weighed 220 pounds and used speed, power and a keen awareness to rack up yards against great South Florida competition in high school. Willis McGahee could have gone anywhere in the country, but like many Miami-born recruits, he chose to stay in the 305.

    He’s widely known for his horrific knee injury in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, but don’t forget that McGahee was a very talented running back prospect. He was a first-round pick of the Bills and has spent time with the Ravens and Broncos, making two Pro Bowls along the way. He is currently on the Denver Broncos.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "By the time Willis was a senior at Miami Central High, every college in the country was after him. Not even a torn ACL that limited him to five games his senior year could cool the chase." - Bruce Feldman, ESPN

80. RB Chris Wells, Ohio State, 2006

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    5-Star, 2006, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 31, Arizona Cardinals (2009)

    “Beanie,” as he’s commonly known, was a beast in high school. The 6’2”, 230-pound back was bigger, faster and stronger than anyone and everyone he faced during high school in Ohio. He was a lock for Ohio State, even though he had national offers.

    Chris Wells left Columbus after his junior season, and the Arizona Cardinals took him late in the first round in 2009. He fought injuries in Phoenix but rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2011. At the moment, Wells is still a free agent after being released by Arizona in March.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Possibly Ohio's top prospect for the senior class of 2005-06. A big battering ram of a running back with fine speed and vision...Wells is being compared to Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson." - Scout.com

    "He has tremendous speed. Great burst. Quick feet. Can accelerate outside and get corner. Square pads, delivers on contact. Breaks arm-tackles. Carries pads well. Has awesome leg strength. Good balance and lateral agility following contact." - Scout.com

79. OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia, 2005

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    No. 1 recruit, 2005, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 8, Jacksonville Jaguars (2009)

    Eugene Monroe had many college offers, but he decided in June of 2004 that UVA was the best place for him. His size (6’6”, 320 pounds), coupled with excellent athleticism, made him an elite left tackle prospect.

    Monroe shadowed rushers and could move like a dancing bear in space. He had a great career in Charlottesville and became a top-10 pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he now anchors the offensive line as a solid left tackle.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Monroe is the top player in the state of New Jersey and has been compared to the likes of Bryant McKinnie, Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden." - Mike Farrell, Rivals.com

    "Not only is Monroe built like your typical NFL offensive tackle, he has the stats to back up the early hype. He did not allow a sack last season and had 57 pancake blocks. He also benches nearly 350 pounds and squats 560 pounds. His physical tools combined with his intelligence and drive for perfection make him a can't miss prospect." - Gene Williams, Warchant.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

78. TE Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M, 2005

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    5-Star, 2005, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 61, Dallas Cowboys (2008)

    In high school, Martellus Bennett was a 6’6”, 240-pound pass-catcher who could play in-line at tight end or flex out wide like a receiver. He could run well for his size, had good hands and a world of potential. After thinking about entering the 2005 NBA draft, he pulled out and ended up at Texas A&M.

    Bennett was drafted by the Cowboys but never put all his talent together consistently. Today, coming off a productive season with the Giants, Bennett is playing with the Chicago Bears.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Think a defensive back can cover him? Wrong, because he'll use his size to out-jump them. Think a linebacker's going to hold him? Wrong again, because Bennett has the speed of a receiver but the strength of a true tight end prospect and isn't afraid to use them to make big plays." - Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

77. WR Robert Meachem, Tennessee, 2003

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    5-Star, 2003, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 27, New Orleans Saints (2007)

    College coaches are always looking for speed, especially at the wide receiver position. So they liked what they saw in Robert Meachem, a 6’2”, 200-pound wideout who was blowing by defenders on tape. He chose to sign with Tennessee, and his speed made him a factor as a freshman.

    He‘s had knee problems in his college and pro career. After starting out with the Saints for the first five years of his career, he was signed by the Chargers in 2012.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Meachem is the biggest, the fastest and arguably the best wide receiver in this group. While his junior year stats remain a mystery, his speed and jumping ability along with his tall and muscular frame make him nearly impossible to cover one-on-one in high school." - Mike Farrell, Rivals.com

    "This guy from Texas called the other day and said I was going to be rated one of the top receivers in the country. That was surprising because I would hope there was quite a few guys in the nation better than me." - Robert Meachem to Mike Capshaw of HawgSports.com (via Rivals.com)

76. WR Chad Jackson, Florida, 2003

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    5-Star, 2003, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 36, New England Patriots (2006)

    Chad Jackson came out of Hoover High School, which is one of the best high school programs in Alabama. If he'd come out a few years later, he likely would have gone to Alabama or Auburn, but Florida was the pick.

    He had good size at 6’1”, 200 pounds, speed and the skill set of a potential No. 1 wide receiver. But he never reached that potential in the NFL, and he’s since spent time with the Patriots, Broncos, Bills, Raiders and in the UFL.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "I have coached a lot of good players but Chad Jackson is probably the best playmaker I have ever been around. He can do a lot of things. He has great speed, height and acceleration. He is also a great kick returner and can play free safety. He makes catches in practice that I have never seen before." - Hoover head coach Rush Propst to Bryan Matthews of AuburnSports.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

75. OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama, 2011

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    5-Star, 2011, 247Sports

    The 6’6”, 311-pound Cyrus Kouandjio committed to Auburn on national signing day in 2011, but he soon had second thoughts. As the days went on, Alabama gained more and more of an advantage.

    ‘Bama already had his brother on its roster, and Kouandjio, a Maryland prospect, admired the program. Kouandjio finally signed with the Tide several days after national signing day. He started all 14 games at left tackle in 2012.

    He’s regarded as a future high NFL draft pick and is one of the best left tackles in the country entering the 2013 season.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Clowney had his way with every offensive lineman he came against, until he crossed paths with Kouandjio. Kouandjio used his quick feet, long arms and strength to more than hold his own against the nation's No. 1 prospect, making a case that he should not only be the No. 1 offensive tackle, but No. 1 overall." - Scott Kennedy, Scout.com

    "Kouandjio has everything a college coach is looking for in an offensive tackle, not to mention he has the ability to eventually be a left tackle and make a lot of money in the NFL one day." - Bob Lichtenfels, Scout.com (subscription required)

74. DB Marlin Jackson, Michigan, 2001

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    No. 2 DB, 2001, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 29, Indianapolis Colts (2005)

    Marlin Jackson's range, speed and ability to simply come out of nowhere to jump passing lanes made him a factor on defense. He could play cornerback or safety, had sound technique and was a tremendous athlete as a prep.

    He won a Super Bowl with the Colts and also played a season for the Eagles in 2010. Jackson has been out of football for two seasons but is one of the best defensive back recruits on this list, stemming from his high school days and career in Ann Arbor.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "2001 marked the year that Michigan took over the state of Pennsylvania in recruiting, and no theft from the Nittany Lions was greater than Marlin Jackson. The Sharon, Pa., star cornerback selected the Wolverines during the summer of 2000, sending Penn State fans into an insane fury. Jackson was already highly regarded at the time, but saw his rankings rise even further with a strong senior season of play." - MaizeandBluenews.com

73. LB Reuben Foster, Alabama, 2013

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    5-Star, 2013, 247Sports

    After a roller-coaster recruitment in which Reuben Foster committed to Alabama, decommitted from Alabama, committed to Auburn, decommitted from Auburn, nearly committed to Georgia, visited Washington, nearly recommitted to Auburn and then signed with Alabama, his maturity has been  questioned.

    However, he’s a 6’2”, 245-pound missile of a ‘backer with great vision, instincts, speed, strength and range. He’s a great player who should mature well in Alabama’s business-oriented program. If Foster takes care of business, he’ll be a top NFL prospect.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "There are not many weaknesses in Foster's game. He is an elite linebacker that attacks the football, and he plays with speed from sideline to sideline. He is an instinctive linebacker that can move side to side with great quickness." - Chad Simmons, Scout.com

    "He hits like a truck, he explodes through the ball-carrier, and he is one of the most explosive players to come out of high school in the last decade." - Chad Simmons, Scout.com

72. WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri, 2012

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    No. 1 recruit, 2012, 247Sports

    When he's focused, Dorial Green-Beckham is a playmaker. He’s a 6’6”, 220-pounder with speed, yards-after-the-catch skills and good hands. Alabama, Oklahoma and Arkansas all lost out to Mizzou due to his desire to stay close to home.

    He caught 28 passes for 395 yards and five scores as a freshman. Look for Green-Beckham to have a breakout sophomore campaign. If he follows that with another good year as a junior, you’re looking at a probable first-round pick.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "His smooth body control allows him to make catches that the normal college receiver can't. He also demonstrated excellent speed after the catch." - Barry Every, Rivals.com (subscription required)

    "He's 6-foot-6, 220 pounds with room to play at 240-plus, he runs in the 10.7 range in the 100 meters, triple jumps 45 feet and is dominant in every aspect on the football field. What more do you want?" - Mike Farrell, Rivals.com

71. WR Keenan Allen, Cal, 2010

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    5-Star, 2010, 247Sports

    Round 3, Pick 76, San Diego Chargers (2013)

    Keenan Allen isn’t a burner on the field, but he has great hands, good separation quickness and size at 6’2”, 206 pounds. He came to Cal all the way from North Carolina and was initially set to play safety. Yet Jeff Tedford, being the offensive-minded coach he is, loved Allen’s ball skills so much that he made him a full-time wide receiver.

    That proved to be a shrewd move, as Allen produced good numbers for the Bears despite subpar quarterback play during his career in Berkeley. He will be a promising rookie wideout for the San Diego Chargers this fall.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "It would be shocking if he didn't play meaningful time as a true freshman. He doesn't lack confidence and is very coachable." - Barry Every, Rivals.com

    "Keenan put on a show this week. He was nearly unstoppable on offense. The Alabama coaching staff was just amazed at how well he was doing against older kids. He is going to be a great football player before all is said and done." - Mentor and former coach Otis Yelverton to Shane Youngblood of TideSports.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

70. CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, 2009

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    5-Star, 2009, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 17, Cincinnati Bengals (2012)

    Some felt Dre Kirkpatrick would develop into a safety in college. He choose ‘Bama due to the opportunity to get pro-style coaching in an NFL defensive scheme.

    Kirkpatrick plays well in zone schemes and has good toughness for the cornerback position. He can match up with big wide receivers thanks to his 6’2” height. Kirkpatrick fought some injuries as a rookie but looks like a defensive fixture for Marvin Lewis going forward.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Kirkpatrick is an excellent cover corner. He has great hips, reads the field, great at changing direction and can make up ground if beaten off the line. Kirkpatrick will likely see significant playing time as a freshman." - Andrew Bone, Scout.com

69. DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson, 2008

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    No. 1 recruit, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 51, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2011)

    Da'Quan Bowers was regarded by 247Sports to be the top player in the country in 2008. He had a great first step, could convert speed to power and played with exceptional range. Bowers also had good strength and presented himself to be a complete defensive end prospect.

    He played well at Clemson during his junior year and, if not for offseason knee surgery, could have been the No. 1 overall pick. Bowers tore his Achilles tendon in May of 2012, and he played his first NFL game in October.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "A lot of coaches who have come through here have told me he's the best defensive lineman prospect in the state since William Perry." - Bamberg-Ehrhardt head coach Ron Duncan to TigerIllustrated.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required).

    "Bowers is a powerful, athletic defensive line prospect and will rival former No. 1 overall pick Courtney Brown as the best prospect at his position to come out of the Palmetto State." - JC Shurburtt, Rivals.com

68. QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State, 2008

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    5-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 3, Supplemental, Oakland Raiders (2011)

    Terrelle Pryor’s recruitment extended past national signing day in 2008, rubbing many people the wrong way. He was accused by the general public of just seeking more attention and kept Michigan, Oregon, Penn State and Ohio State waiting.

    Pryor ended up playing well for the Buckeyes, but he ended up withdrawing from the university on June 7, 2011, after being part of a memorabilia-selling incident. He was taken by Al Davis in the 2011 supplemental draft, and he’ll contend for the starting job in Oakland this offseason.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Pryor is so good he could be the next (and first) Terrelle Pryor." - Mike Farrell, Rivals.com

    "He has the potential to be the next Vince Young of college football, and we don't say that lightly." - Jeannette coach Ray Reitz to Mike Farrell of Rivals.com

67. DB Taylor Mays, USC, 2006

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    5-Star, 2006, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 49, San Francisco 49ers (2010)

    Taylor Mays was an athletic specimen in high school, and he became a stud free safety for the Trojans, intimidating Pac-12 offenses every Saturday.

    Mays was a four-time All-American, and he was selected to the first team in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. After being selected by the Niners in the 2010 draft, he now plays with the Cincinnati Bengals.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "For my region, probably the most 'college-ready' is Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea safety Taylor Mays. When I think of 'college-ready,' I think of players that have physically mature bodies, bodies that can handle the rigor of D1 right from the get-go. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, in my opinion there's no question that Mays has the most mature physique of any high school player on the west coast." - Chris Fetters, Scout.com

66. LB LaMarr Woodley, Michigan, 2003

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    5-Star, 2003, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 46, Pittsburgh Steelers (2007)

    LaMarr Woodley was recruited by USC and Michigan State in 2003, among other schools, but he felt that Michigan was the best place for him in the end. His size, strength and quickness all made him a terror as a pass-rushing hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end in high school.

    Woodley was an All-Pro in 2009 and has won a Super Bowl with the Steelers.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "At 6-2, 250 pounds, he is a big linebacker, but he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds. He also said there is nothing on the field he cannot do." - Michael Spath, TheWolverine.com (via Rivals.com)

    "I think I'm the top linebacker in the country. For my size, I can do it all. I can get to the quarterback. I can cover. I can tackle. I play sideline to sideline." - LaMarr Woodley to Michael Spath of TheWolverine.com

65. LB Ahmad Brooks, Virginia, 2002

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    5-Star, 2002, 247Sports

    Round 3, Supplemental, Cincinnati Bengals (2006)

    Ahmad Brooks is one of the best linebacker prospects the high school ranks has ever seen. He was big at 6’3”, 230 pounds, agile, athletic and fast. Football came so easily to him that he seemed bored with it, and he ended up running into off-field problems.

    He was dismissed from the Cavs squad, and the Bengals took a flyer on him in 2006. He had an up-and-down career in Cincinnati but has rejuvenated himself as a pass-rusher with the 49ers, becoming a second-team All-Pro in 2012. 

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Brooks, the USA TODAY defensive player of the year, is one of the most decorated prep players in the country. The 6-3, 230-pound Brooks recorded 207 tackles as a senior from his middle linebacker position after missing all of his junior season with a broken ankle. Brooks recorded a 4.6 clocking at the Nike camp at Penn State last summer despite being out of shape coming off the ankle injury." - Osceola Staff, Warchant.com

    "He's been a dominant type of player his whole career. To be that big and that athletic and that fast speaks for itself." - Hylton coach Bill Brown to Warchant.com

64. DT Darnell Dockett, Florida State, 1999

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    No. 1 DL, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 3, Pick 64, Arizona Cardinals (2004)

    Darnell Dockett was a 6’4”, 260-pounder in high school. He seemed like a guy with great potential who just needed to get with the right coach to keep him focused. Dockett went through a rough childhood, and football was his main outlet.

    He chose Florida State and flashed dominant ability as a defensive tackle in Tallahassee. Today, he’s a three-time Pro-Bowler, All-Pro and defensive leader for the Arizona Cardinals. He’s a great example of how recruits can mature in college and after.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Florida State found out when the rest of the television audience did Sunday that the Seminoles landed their newest pass-rusher. Darnell Dockett, named to the Parade All-America team on Sunday, punctuated the day by committing to Florida State during ESPN's telecast of the Hula Bowl. Dockett was in Maui, Hawaii, as part of another All-America team." - Alan Schmadtke, The Orlando Sentinel

63. RB William Green, Boston College, 1999

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    No. 3 RB, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 1, Pick 16, Cleveland Browns (2002)

    William Green had a 6’1”, 220-pound frame in high school and used it to carve up New Jersey high school defenses. He could slash through holes quickly and had good strength to rock tacklers back upon contact.

    Green ran hard and well at Boston College, which got him into the first round of the draft. He flamed out as a pro due to repeated off-field problems and has been out of the league since 2005.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "The surprise of the East, New Jersey RB William Green is the top name in a deep group." - CBSSportsLine.com

62. WR Derrick Williams, Penn State, 2005

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    5-Star, 2005, 247Sports

    Round 3, Pick 82, Detroit Lions (2009)

    Derrick Williams was all set to commit to Florida, as he really liked Ron Zook. Yet when Zook was fired, Williams reset his recruitment. Penn State convinced him to head to Happy Valley.

    Williams had more quickness than pure speed as a recruit, and although he made plays at PSU, he didn’t live up to the standards of a No. 1 recruit. He’s currently out of football.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "I've been coaching high school for 10 years and I've had some great players in my tenure. Last year, I had three former players in the NFL, 78 players playing college football and 28 of them playing in Division I, but Derek is hands-down the greatest player that I've ever coached." - Eleanor Roosevelt head coach Rick Houchens to Rob Lewis, VolQuest.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

61. LB Keith Rivers, USC, 2004

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    5-Star, 2004, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 9, Cincinnati Bengals (2008)

    Keith Rivers had good athleticism and play speed as a recruit, which got him 5-star status. He could track the run and pursue ball-carriers in a relentless manner. USC sold him on wearing No. 55 and getting prepared for the NFL in a pro-style defense.

    He went to USC and became a great linebacker, which led to him being a Top 10 pick by the Cincinnati Bengals. Rivers was traded to the Giants for a fifth-round draft pick in 2012.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Don't know Rivers? College football coaches do. In their world of recruiting, he's like Britney Spears walking into an all-boys prep school. He's one of the most sought-after football players ever to come out of Central Florida. Most analysts agree the Lake Mary senior is the top graduating linebacker in the country." - Rick Maese, Orlando Sentinel

60. WR Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State, 2004

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    5-Star, 2004, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 9, Miami Dolphins (2007)

    Ted Ginn Jr.’s speed, athleticism and yards-after-the-catch skills were so good as a high school player that Ohio State cancelled its plans to make him a defensive back. Ginn could stretch the field, was a deep threat and was dangerous as a return man.

    The Cleveland native has the same traits today with the Panthers. Ginn was a lock for the Buckeyes from the start of his recruitment, and he made his mark in Ohio State.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "A good case can be made for Ginn being the best of the best. As good as a defensive back as Ohio State signee Donte Whitner, also from Glenville, was last season (one of the top two players in the state of Ohio), Ginn is without question even better. He has blazing speed and tremendous cover skills. He’s drawn rave reviews from everyone and is also one of the country's premier track athletes. I think he’s an impact football prospect who should step in and play in college right away." - Bill Kurelic, Rivals.com (subscription required)

59. LB Ernie Sims, Florida State, 2006

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    No. 1 recruit, 2003, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 9, Detroit Lions (2006)

    Ernie Sims played linebacker in Tallahassee, but many forget he was also an accomplished running back in high school. The offensive coaches for the 'Noles would have welcomed Sims with open arms. However, his speed, instincts and athleticism made him an even better outside linebacker prospect.

    Sims dominated competition in Florida in high school, and his signing with FSU was a no-brainer. Today, he plays for the Cowboys and has also played for the Eagles and Colts after being a Top 10 pick of Lions.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "When you talk about recruiting in Tallahassee, the name that usually comes to mind is North Florida Christian's Ernie Sims III. The six-foot, 225-pound running back/linebacker is the consensus top player in the state and could easily be the top recruit in the nation. Comparisons have been made to Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Ray Lewis, and pretty much every NFL All-Pro tailback and linebacker." - Gene Williams, FlaRecruiting.com/Rivals.com (subscription required)

58. WR/RS Devin Hester, Miami, 2002

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    5-Star, 2002, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 57, Chicago Bears (2006)

    If this was a list based on pure athleticism and speed, Devin Hester could be No. 1. He was a raw but uber-athletic and speedy recruit who was a blank canvas. Some argued running back was his best position, others said wide receiver. Miami tried to make him a cornerback, but Hester was just a cover guy.

    The Chicago Bears quickly realized that, and the 5’11”, 190-pounder was made into a return specialist/wide receiver early in his pro career. Hester could make the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a pure return man, which would be a remarkable feat.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "If we say Devin Hester, you think of the explosive Miami Hurricane turned Windy City flyer who ran back the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI. We think of Hester before he became a Hurricane, back to his playing days at Suncoast (Palm Beach, Fla.) High School. During his time at Suncoast, he was not held to playing one position.Following this junior season, he reported to the Nike Football Training Camp held at the University of Miami at 5-11, 170 pounds. He was honored as MVP by recording a camp best 4.33 40-yard dash." - Patrick Bark, StudentSports.com

57. OL Vernon Carey, Miami, 1999

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    No. 3 OL, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 1, Pick 19, Miami Dolphins (2004)

    As a recruit, Vernon Carey’s size at 6’5” and 330 pounds was immediately noticed. He had good strength and nimble feet, which allowed him to play up and down the offensive front.

    He was probably best at guard and enjoyed a solid career for his hometown Dolphins after fulfilling his promise at Miami in college. Today, Carey is retired from pro football and on the coaching staff of Miami-area powerhouse Northwestern High School.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "UM already has commitments from some big-name area talents. Offensive lineman Vernon Carey of Miami Northwestern, regarded as the nation's best at his position, headlines the locals." - Chris Perkins, Orlando Sentinel

56. S/LB Shaq Thompson, Washington, 2012

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    5-Star, 2012, 247Sports

    Shaq Thompson committed to Cal early in his process, then decommitted a week later. Yet Cal was still expected to be the pick, and it was, until Cal assistant coach Tosh Lupoi went to Washington.

    Lupoi successfully convinced the 6’2”, 210-pound Thompson to play in Seattle, and today he’s probably Washington's best and most versatile defender.

    Thompson played outside linebacker as a true freshman but likely yearns to be moved back to safety. Wherever he plays, he could be a first-round pick in a few years and is a candidate to be the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year this year.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "At 6-2 and 210 pounds, Thompson is a big safety, but he also has the speed to run with wide receivers and track down running backs across the field. Thompson is rangy and closes passing lanes quickly, but he also has the size to come down in the box and be an extra linebacker in run defense. He plays the game with reckless abandon, and will quickly be known as a fearsome hitter who makes wide receivers think twice before crossing the middle of the field." - Josh Helmholdt, Rivals

55. CB Dee Milliner, Alabama, 2010

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    5-Star, 2010, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 9, New York Jets (2013)

    Dee Milliner is a great athlete with good speed and plays with excellent instincts. Milliner is a top-notch man-to-man corner and has experience operating in a complex zone scheme orchestrated by Nick Saban.

    He’ll help the Jets replace Darrelle Revis by using his long arms to press AFC East receivers, freeing up Rex Ryan to call more blitzes. Milliner was a prized recruit and now is a prized rookie.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "I used to tell guys, ‘If he doesn't get hurt and he keeps doing what he’s doing right now, he will play in the NFL.’ He had that much ability. His demeanor, his work ethic, the way he carried himself on and off the field, you could tell he was going to have a great chance." - Elmore High School football coach Jeff Foshee to Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal

54. LB Arthur Brown, Miami/Kansas State, 2008

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    5-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 56, Baltimore Ravens (2013)

    Arthur Brown’s recruitment was a little quirky at times, as not everyone agreed with how the Kansas native handled it. However, he signed with the Hurricanes and was one of the top prospects in Miami’s elite 2008 class. Yet, he was a bust as a true freshman and struggled to learn the defensive playbook.

    Brown eventually left Coral Gables and resurfaced at Kansas State, where he became one of the most productive tacklers in the Big 12. He’s expected to start and help replace Ray Lewis in Baltimore.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "The first thing that jumps out at you while watching film is his sheer speed, quickness and aggressiveness. Brown is a sideline-to-sideline 'backer in every sense of that phrase. He flies around the field with very little regard to his body or the opposition. Brown is extremely physical. He supports the run exceptionally well, fills the hole and fights off blocks to find the ball. Brown shows great instincts for the position, as it seems like he is just turned loose on every play. Brown is the most explosive linebacker since Ernie Sims." - Jamie Newberg, Scout.com

53. OT Tyron Smith, USC, 2008

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    4-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 9, Dallas Cowboys (2011)

    Tyron Smith looked like a big wide receiver or tight end in high school. He was 6’5”, had outstanding length in his arms and a frame that had yet to fill out.

    His athleticism, quickness, agility and balance made him a premier offensive tackle prospect. UCLA came after him hard, but USC eventually won his recruitment.

    He played the right tackle position at USC due to Matt Kalil being at left tackle, but it was obvious Smith could play left tackle in the NFL. The Cowboys agreed. Smith is now the starting left tackle in Dallas.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "In the last five years of traveling all over doing the NIKE Camps, he's the best lineman I've seen period. If you could make a blueprint of what an offensive lineman should look like and play like, it's him." - Marty Spalding to Greg Biggins, Rivals.com (subscription required)

52. OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama, 2009

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    5-Star, 2009, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 11, San Diego Chargers (2013)

    To see the 6’5”, 335-pound D.J. Fluker move around in high school was a sight to behold. He had quick feet, a hard punch and stymied rushers with strength.

    Fluker went on to become one of the best offensive tackles in the country at Alabama and anchored one of the greatest offensive lines in recent college football history. He has a good chance to become a Pro Bowl right tackle or even an All-Pro-caliber offensive guard in San Diego.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "After the camp, Coach [Joe] Pendry said I did a great job and he was really impressed. He said he was going to talk to Coach [Nick] Saban because he wants me on offense. He said I was a quick learner and it wouldn't take me long before I would be one of the best." - D.J. Fluker to Tim Watts, TideSports.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

51. RB Leonard Fournette, Uncommitted, 2014

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    No. 1 recruit, 2014, 247Sports

    Leonard Fournette is such a highly regarded running back prospect that the 2014 recruit nestles into this slot without playing a down of college football. He’s a 6’1”, 225-pound runner with great speed, instincts, vision, strength and hands.

    It’ll be interesting to see where Fournette lands, as LSU and Alabama will be the final two schools standing.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He's not as elusive as Marshall, but he's a pro-style back playing at the high school level. He's 225-230, the weight the NFL likes their backs to be. And here's the thing. I'm a track coach and I hold the stopwatch. He's a 48-49 (seconds) in the 400 meters. Once you get that train moving, you can't stop it. If there's a hole, he'll see it and if he sees it, he'll get to it." - New Orleans' McDonogh 35 High coach Wayne Reese to Gary Laney, ESPN.com (subscription required)

50. RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama, 2012

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    5-Star, 2012, 247Sports

    T.J. Yeldon gave a commitment to Auburn during his recruitment, but Alabama worked hard on him and convinced him to switch sides in the Iron Bowl rivalry.

    He’s a 6’2”, 216-pound running back with a good burst through holes, agility and instincts. Yeldon has an athletic running style and can outrun a defense. As a true freshman, he ran for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns. Yeldon looks like a future first-round pick.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He's a complete back. He's a very versatile kid who can play everywhere. Everybody that has offered him, has offered him as a running back. There were questions whether he would be a wide-out until this past year. But he proved [in 2010] he was a running back in college and that's what he wanted." - Daphne assistant Mike Vickery to Keith Niebuhr of Rivals.com (subscription required)

49. CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida, 2013

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    5-Star, 2013, 247Sports

    Vernon Hargreaves could well be the best cornerback prospect in the past 10 years. He’s a complete player who has a 5’11”, 185-pound frame. With his awareness, instincts, feel, quickness, speed and natural cover skills, the loose-hipped youngster should carve a niche for himself early in Gainesville.

    He has the talent to be a three-year-and-out player. Notre Dame, USC, Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State all impressed Hargreaves, but Florida was his first choice all along. In a few years, he could be significantly higher on this list.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "The Gators signed the biggest lockdown corner on the market and arguably the top defensive player in the recruiting cycle. Hargreaves is one of the highest rated pure cover corners ever in high school, and he’s more polished at 18 than most guys are as juniors or seniors." - Jon Cooper, Saturday Down South

48. LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, 2009

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    5-Star, 2009, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 38, San Diego Chargers (2013)

    Manti Te’o came all the way from Hawaii in 2009, and the big linebacker had good play quickness, competitiveness, instincts and size at 6’2”, 230 pounds.

    Say what you want about Te’o’s romantic life, but the guy is a productive tackling machine who will fit the Chargers’ 3-4 scheme well as an inside linebacker.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Though the state of Hawaii has turned out some good players in recent years, it's rare that the island produces a prospect as good as Manti Te'o—a linebacker considered by many to be one of the very best in the nation. A defender with pure instincts and a great nose for the ball, Te'o has built a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the country. He's aggressive, smart, strong and fast. In short, he's everything you could want in a college linebacker." - Tim Hyland, College Football Guide

47. CB Bryant McFadden, Florida State, 2000

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    No. 1 DB, 2000, Tom Lemming

    Round 2, Pick 62, Pittsburgh Steelers (2005)

    Bryant McFadden was one of the first “big” cornerback prospects in modern recruiting, as he stood 6’0” and weighed 180 pounds. He was an athletic cover man as a prospect and didn’t let wide receivers out-muscle him for balls.

    McFadden made a fine living operating as a cornerback with the Steelers. He won two Super Bowls and was one of the smarter corners in the NFL. He was released on Feb. 8, 2012.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Excellent in man-to-man, he's also aggressive and strong -- bench presses 315 and squats 405. College coaches compare him with Charles Woodson." - Allen Wallace, SuperPrep

46. CB Lito Sheppard, Florida, 1999

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    No. 1 CB, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 1, Pick 26, Philadelphia Eagles (2002)

    Another great defensive back prospect from Florida, Lito Sheppard was one of the top recruits in 1999 as a sticky cover corner prospect.

    He chose to stay home and play at Florida and wound up being a first-round pick in the 2002 draft. Sheppard was an All-Pro in 2004 with the Eagles and had a good run in Philly. He’s currently out of the NFL, and he last played for the Oakland Raiders in 2011.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "We were throwing this summer, and Lito's out there covering. Then Jacquez (Green) steps on the field, you know, a [former UF] All-American, an NFL receiver. Lito was right on Jacquez, he couldn't get away from him. I remember saying to myself, man, this guy's the real deal." - Former Florida Gators and NFL wide receiver Travis Taylor to Matt Hayes of The Florida Times-Union

45. RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon, 2005

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    5-Star, 2005, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 13, Carolina Panthers (2008)

    The balance, strength, vision and speed Jonathan Stewart had as a 5’10”, 225-pound running back prospect in high school was impressive. He could fit in any scheme, from a zone-blocking attack to a downhill power offense.

    The Panthers took Stewart in the first round of the 2008 draft after a great career in Eugene. Today, he's half of one of the better running back duos in the NFL with DeAngelo Williams in Carolina.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Few prospects in the Northwest have attracted the attention to the magnitude of Washington’s all-time rushing leader, but fewer have ever packaged the speed and power together that led ESPN.com to consider him the No. 2 prep recruit in the country. The Seattle Times went so far as to rank him as the state’s fifth-greatest running back of all time." - GoDucks.Net

44. WR Fred Rouse, Florida State/UTEP/Concordia, 2005

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    5-Star, 2005, 247Sports

    Fred Rouse makes this list on hype and hype alone, as his one season at Florida State was a yawner. As a prospect, he was a 6’4”, 195-pounder dripping with speed, quickness, length and natural playmaking ability. Rouse was even talked about as possibly trying to enter the NFL draft out of high school.

    He went to Florida State and flamed out, ending up at UTEP, where he didn’t produce up to expectations. Rouse left UTEP and finished his college career at Concordia College. Today, he plays for the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "As a senior at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Fla., Rouse was the most coveted wide receiver recruit from the class of 2005. The 6-foot-4 receiver received so many scholarship offers that his high school coach started hiding them to reduce Rouse's stress and burgeoning ego." - Jacob Carpenter, The Birmingham News

    "There is no doubt in my mind that the nation's best pure wide receiver prospect is Tallahassee Lincoln's Fred Rouse." - Tom Lemming via Jacob Carpenter of The Birmingham News

43. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson, 2011

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    5-Star, 2011, 247Sports

    Sammy Watkins was an explosive wide receiver from Florida in the 2011 recruiting class. He can release quickly off the line and snatch a pass with his hands and has great run-after-the-catch skills. He caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman.

    His sophomore campaign started with a suspension, yet Watkins is still one of the best receivers in the country. If he has another season like his freshman campaign, he could be a first-round pick as a junior in the 2014 draft.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "No receiver during the week of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl made defensive backs look as lost and deathly slow as Watkins did. He possesses the change of direction and acceleration that will leave defensive backs corkscrewed into the ground. His soft hands and body control allow him to make plays on underthrown balls. Clemson is in dire need of a difference-maker at receiver, especially since the Tigers will be breaking in a new starting quarterback. Look for Watkins to eventually become the No. 1 receiver for the Tigers during his freshman season." - Barry Every, Rivals.com

42. RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon, 2011

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    5-Star, 2011, 247Sports

    De'Anthony Thomas was committed to USC for a good portion of the 2011 recruiting cycle but took a trip to Eugene late in the process. USC wanted him to play cornerback, and Thomas wanted to be a running back.

    He showed up wearing Oregon gear at his national signing day announcement and has gone on to be perhaps the fastest Duck in school history. Thomas is a highlight waiting to happen with his 5’9”, 180-pound frame. If Tavon Austin can be a first-round pick, so can Thomas.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Snoop (Dogg) is the person who gave Thomas the nickname 'the Black Momba' when he played for the Crenshaw Bears in a league he supervised." - Oregonian Sports

    "I crowned him the Black Momba because I'd never seen nobody move in grass that fast other than a black snake." - Snoop Dogg to Oregonian Sports

41. WR Robert Woods, USC, 2010

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    5-Star, 2010, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 41, Buffalo Bills (2013)

    Robert Woods was a decorated wide receiver prospect in 2010 who chose to stay home and play in Los Angeles at USC. He learned the playbook quickly in summer camp and started for Lane Kiffin as a true freshman.

    He’s a 6’0”, 201-pounder who has great quickness, athleticism and polished route-running ability. Woods sets defenders up well and has good separation quickness. His elusiveness with the ball is underrated, but the Buffalo Bills know what he can do. Woods owns numerous receiving records at USC.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Woods is the type of athlete that makes everything look easy. He doesn't look like he's running that hard, but he's gliding by everyone. He doesn't adjust well to the ball in the air and makes hard catches look easy. He has soft, but strong hands that can catch a pass over the shoulder, or snag a pass out of midair that's thrown on a rope. Quite simply, he's the best receiver I've seen in the Class of 2010." - Scott Kennedy, Scout.com

40. DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida, 2010

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    5-Star, 2010, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 23, Minnesota Vikings (2013)

    In 2010, Sharrif Floyd was a big, strong defensive tackle prospect from Philadelphia who committed to be a part of a special recruiting class at Florida. He developed well in Gainesville due to a strong work ethic, commitment, strength and athleticism.

    He can fight through blocks or penetrate gaps, menace a pocket on passing downs and play like a warrior. Floyd is expected to become a great 3-technique defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He gets so low and comes off the ball so hard that he can get underneath and overpower any lineman in the country. Floyd also plays with a nasty disposition and is looking to physically embarrass his opponent. Should play as a freshman, and barring any injuries could be a three-years-and-out guy headed to the NFL." - Barry Every, Rivals.com

39. DE Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss, 2013

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    No. 1 recruit, 2013, 247Sports

    Robert Nkemdiche pledged to Clemson in the spring of 2012 but ultimately decided to join his brother at Ole Miss. He is one of the strongest and most powerful defensive end prospects of this generation.

    From Georgia, the 6’5” end will weigh more than 280 pounds soon and could grow into a tackle before he leaves Oxford.

    Nkemdiche has great snap quickness and a high motor and competes with great tenacity. He’s ready to play college football and should become an All-SEC player early in his career. If he continues to play better with his hands, Nkemdiche could be a three-year-and-out player, as the NFL is in his future.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "One college football recruiter called Grayson High School defensive end Robert Nkemdiche the Southeast's best prospect since the early 1980s. Another college recruiter described Nkemdiche as a younger version of Reggie White, the late NFL Hall of Famer, because of his rare combination of size, speed and strength, as well as his ability to rush quarterbacks from the edge or bull-rush guards and centers from the trenches." - Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com

    "He's the best defensive line prospect in high school I've ever seen and it's not even close." - Central Gwinnett High School coach Todd Wofford to Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com

    "I've had some of the older recruiters come through here and tell me he's Lawrence Taylor." - North Gwinnett High School coach Bob Sphire to Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com

38. RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, 2010

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    5-Star, 2010, 247Sports

    Round 4, Pick 131, San Francisco 49ers (2013)

    Marcus Lattimore is a living legend to the folks in South Carolina. He shredded Palmetto State competition as a running back in high school with his 6’0”, 210-pound frame. He weighs more than 230 these days, but he was productive for Steve Spurrier before suffering two major knee injuries.

    Lattimore was selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and if he can get back to close to full strength for the 2014 season, the Niners got themselves a potential difference-maker. Lattimore is one of the most respected players in recent SEC history.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Lattimore was already a nationally decorated high school player at Byrnes HS in Duncan, S.C. He was South Carolina’s Mr. Football, a USA Today All-American and a 5-star prospect on numerous recruiting sites. College football fans from all over already had an idea of who the running back was and how much potential he had." - Chris Stanley, Garnet Report

37. DT Haloti Ngata, Oregon, 2002

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    5-Star, 2002, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 12, Baltimore Ravens (2006)

    Haloti Ngata is a beastly 6’4”, 340-pound defensive tackle. As a recruit, the big man showed the same power, quickness and shocking athleticism that he does today. Ngata signed with Oregon as a prospect from Utah and disrupted practices so much for the Ducks that he wasn’t allowed to play against the first-team offense.

    Today, he’s one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. Ngata is a multi-time Pro-Bowler, five-time All-Pro, Super Bowl champion and probable Hall of Famer.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Haloti Ngata? Everybody knew that Ngata was good. He wouldn't be a five-star prospect if he wasn't. But, oh boy, was he impressive to watch in person. Easily the biggest guy there at the game, Ngata also proved that he was big-time off of it. In one series alone, he sacked a quarterback, ran five yards down the field to lay a devastating hit on a running back and then he bolted through the line of scrimmage and tackled another running back for a three-yard loss on third down." - Jeremy Crabtree and Bobby Burton, Rivals.com

36. WR Reggie Williams, Washington, 2001

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    No. 1 WR recruit, 2001, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 9, Jacksonville Jaguars (2004)

    Reggie Williams had offers from all over the country and was initially expected to leave the state of Washington. Aside from several schools in the SEC, Miami, Michigan, Texas and Ohio State all wanted him. However, Washington stayed persistent, which finally won Williams over.

    The 6'4", 200-pound wideout was a great athlete with good speed, ball skills and strength. He was a top-10 pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2004 and didn't produce up to the standards his talent warranted. Williams last played in 2011 for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "One of the most sought-after recruits in the nation during his senior year of 2000 at Lakes High School in Tacoma, he was named the AP's State Player of the Year. After a long drawn-out recruiting process, he announced on local television his intention to become a Husky, letting it be known he only planned only staying only three seasons." - Joe Kaiser, Dawgman.com (via Scout.com)

35. DT Travis Johnson, Florida State, 2000

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    No. 2 overall recruit, 2000, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 16, Houston Texans (2005)

    Travis Johnson was a man among boys in high school. His explosiveness at the snap, power, strength and tenacity were fierce.

    College coaches stalked Johnson, and the Los Angeles native chose Florida State because the Seminoles were the Seminoles, but also because he didn't want to choose between Michigan, USC and UCLA.

    "It was not fun," said Johnson to the Los Angeles Times regarding his decision-making process. "It got old after the first couple of weeks. By the end, I hadn't slept in 48 hours and hadn't eaten in a day-and-a-half."

    He had a solid career with the Houston Texans and is now a free agent who has not played in the NFL since 2010.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Explodes off the ball, outstanding closing speed, great reactions." - Tom Lemming, ESPN.com

34. QB Chris Simms, Texas, 1999

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    No. 2 QB recruit, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 3, Pick 97, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003)

    Chris Simms is the son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms. He was a prized recruit in ’99, as the lefty had a 6’4” frame, great arm strength and just looked the part. Simms committed to Tennessee initially, but after a visit to Texas, he signed with the Longhorns.

    Simms was an outstanding prospect, but he did not excel at Texas and was not taken until the third round of the NFL draft. After a mediocre NFL career, Simms is now an assistant coach for the New England Patriots.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Simms is determined to realize the potential he showed as a Parade All-America at Ramapo ( N.J.) High, where he played in every game for four years, threw 63 touchdown passes, led the Green Raiders to a Group 3 state championship as a junior and became the most celebrated schoolboy quarterback since Peyton Manning." - Austin Murphy, Sports Illustrated

33. WR Charles Rogers, Michigan State, 2000

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    No. 1 recruit, 2000, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 2, Detroit Lions (2003)

    Charles Rogers’ size (6’3”, 220 pounds), speed, ball skills and athleticism made everyone who watched him play take notice. On the field, he was an excellent prospect with unlimited talent. He won the Biletnikoff Award in 2002 for the Spartans. and the Lions drafted him to be their home-bred franchise WR.

    However, today, Rogers is out of football after running into a series of off-the-field events. He still remains one of the best wide receiver talents the recruiting industry has ever seen.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Electrifying; closest WR prospect I've seen to Randy Moss." - Tom Lemming, ESPN.com

32. WR DeSean Jackson, Cal, 2005

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    5-Star, 2005, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 49, Philadelphia Eagles (2008)

    DeSean Jackson’s recruitment ended a little strangely, as he committed to USC secretly near signing day but didn’t like the Trojans coaches' apparently arrogant reaction to the news. So when he went on TV to announce the decision, he pulled a shocker and committed to Cal.

    Jackson’s electrifying speed, quickness and playmaking skills were on full display during his time in Berkeley. He fell to the second round of the draft, but the 5’10”, 175-pounder is regarded as one of the premier playmakers in the NFL today.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "At 5-11, 160 pounds, Jackson isn't the biggest receiver on the block but has just about every other skill you could possibly want in a big-time receiver. For starters, he has explosive speed and is able to run his routes and make his breaks without losing much of his explosiveness. His hands are as good as any receiver we've seen this year, and his ability to run after the catch is also the best in the West region. For those who haven't seen Jackson play, his playing style is similar to that of an Isaac Bruce of the St. Louis Rams." - Greg Biggins, Rivals.com (subscription required)

31. Kenny Phillips, Miami, 2005

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    5-Star, 2005, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 31, New York Giants (2008)

    Kenny Phillips’ size (6’2”) and athleticism at the safety position were off the charts. He’s a Miami kid, so it wasn’t a mystery where he would sign in 2005, especially since Miami is known for its defensive backs. That said, being considered as one of the best in school history is a fantastic accomplishment.

    He has great range and speed and will lay the wood on a receiver in the back end. He played on a New York Giants team that won a Super Bowl and is scheduled to start at safety for the Eagles this year. When healthy, Phillips is one of the top defensive backs in the NFL.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He is a special kid. You don't get those every year. You wish you could." - Harold Barnwell to CaneSport.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

    "He has great intelligence, understanding of the game, poise, confidence. All that's based on the fact that he has size, speed, he has awareness of what his responsibilities are as a player and as a leader." - Carol City coach Walt Frazier to CaneSport.com

30. LB Rey Maualuga, USC, 2005

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    5-Star, 2005, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 38, Cincinnati Bengals (2009)

    Rey Maualuga was an intimidating linebacker recruit who not only had a 6’2”, 250-pound frame, but he also had great speed and quickness. He could make plays all over the field.

    Coaches drooled over him, but Pete Carroll convinced him to come to Troy. He became one of the best linebackers in USC history. Maualuga slipped in the draft due to some off-field concerns, but he has been productive for the Bengals and recently re-signed with them as a free agent.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Maualuga measured in at a rock-solid 6'2.5", 241 pounds and looks like a college player right now. The big man clocked a 4.50 in the 40 on his first run. Then, with three watches on him since none of the other timers believed a player that big could ran that fast, busted out a 4.47, which was one of the fastest of the day. He's big, fast, hits like a truck and has good football instincts. You just don't see players with Maualuga's ability coming out of the Eureka area too often." - Greg Biggins, Rivals.com (subscription required)

29. RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas, 2005

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    5-Star, 2005, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 4, Oakland Raiders (2008)

    Darren McFadden was a tall, skinny running back in 2005, but he left Fayetteville weighing more than 220 pounds while standing 6’1”. He helped usher in the “Wildcat QB” era as a Hog and even flashed some passing skills.

    However, his instincts, vision, quickness, power and speed as a runner are what helped make him a Heisman finalist. McFadden made SEC competition look silly at times, as he lit up some great defenses. He’s battled injuries in Oakland, but he remains the Raiders’ best offensive player.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He combines great speed with tremendous size. Opponents simply bounce off of him when he runs. He carried his high school team by playing running back, quarterback and defensive back. Several experts believe McFadden has former Miami star Sean Taylor's ability at safety, while he has been compared to Oklahoma phenom Adrian Peterson as a runner." - Trey Biddy, HawgSports.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

28. DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma, 2006

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    5-Star, 2006, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 3, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2010)

    Gerald McCoy was born to be a Sooner, as he hails from Oklahoma City. He’s 6’4”, 300 pounds today and is fresh off a Pro Bowl season for the Bucs. In 2006, he was an explosive and quick defensive tackle prospect who had good strength at the point of attack.

    McCoy can penetrate gaps or play with leverage, but he’s been making a living getting into the offensive backfield since he was a high school recruit. McCoy is one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the modern recruiting era.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Obviously, he's the premier defensive lineman in the country for a reason. He plays as hard as you want him to play. He has a great, great motor. He has the know-how and great quickness for a big man. He's so athletic. He gives you a lot of flexibility defensively because he can really disrupt the flow of an offense without having to bring pressure. Combined with the other tackles we have, we really feel Gerald is going to fit in well and fit in from Day 1." - Oklahoma Sooner assistant coaches Brent Venables and Bobby Jack Wright to Carey Murdock, SoonerScoop.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

27. RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson, 2006

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    5-Star, 2006, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 9, Buffalo Bills (2010)

    C.J. Spiller’s elusiveness, instincts as a runner and ability to be a factor as a receiver out of the backfield made him an exciting recruit to watch. He had deceptive power and compares favorably to 2014 recruits Sony Michel and Dalvin Cook.

    He was a star at Clemson and is one of the Buffalo Bills' main offensive weapons. Spiller also was one of the nation's best high school return men, and his explosiveness made defenses nervous whenever he was on the field.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "When you talk about playmakers, Union County RB C.J. Spiller is one of the names you hear the most around the Sunshine State and in the nation. The talented back is an explosion waiting to happen every time he touched the ball for the Tigers over his incredible career with Union County." - Michael Langston, FlaVarsity.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

    "C.J. is just really a guy that doesn't come along too often. He has the ability to take over a game at any moment, and that's really what makes him so special, and there is no question we are going to miss him a lot when he is gone from Union County." - Union County head coach Buddy Nobles to Michael Langston of FlaVarsity.com

26. OT Matt Kalil, USC, 2008

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    5-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 4, Minnesota Vikings (2012)

    At 6'7", Matt Kalil towered over competition as a high school offensive tackle for traditional Southern California powerhouse Servite High School. His brother Ryan was a stud center for USC, and Matt followed in his footsteps. Although he wanted to be a tight end when he was younger, Kalil was one of the best left tackle prospects in recruiting history.

    He helped keep Matt Barkley’s pocket clean at USC, and that led to the Minnesota Vikings making him their franchise left tackle in last year’s draft. Kalil’s length, technique, quick feet and athleticism are good assets to his game.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "I think we made the right call promoting Kalil to the No. 1 spot. Unless he has a bad year or somebody totally comes out of left field, I don't know how he'll be bumped from his perch...Kalil is about as good a tackle prospect as we've seen in the past five years. Long, athletic, strong, smart, technically sound, you could gush all day about Kalil. He plays against great competition, and I love how he challenges anybody that wants to face him. He did it at the NIKE Camp and then did it again at USC's Camp. He does it on the field every Friday night in the toughest league in the Southern Section.” - Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

25. CB Patrick Peterson, LSU, 2008

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    5-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 5, Arizona Cardinals (2011)

    Peterson was known as Patrick Johnson as a recruit, but he still was the same big, physical cover corner that he is now. He’s 6’1”, 220 pounds and is a fantastic return man.

    Peterson was the best cornerback in the SEC during his career in an LSU secondary that also featured Morris Claiborne and a young Tyrann Mathieu. Peterson spurned the Florida schools to play against SEC competition. That proved to be a shrewd move that helped him prepare for the NFL. He’s a two-time Pro-Bowler and All-Pro player today.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Beyond being ‘just’ a starter as a true freshman, some recruiting experts have tabbed Johnson as one of the most sure-fire NFL prospects that they have ever seen at defensive back. Hyperbole aside, he came to the USC Rising Stars Camp in June and absolutely blew away everyone that saw him play. Running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash on a notoriously slow track, the 18-year-old has elite cornerback speed in a safety's body." - USCFootballRecruiting.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

24. QB Cam Newton, Florida/Auburn, 2007

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    4-Star, 2007, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 1, Carolina Panthers (2011)

    Cam Newton signed with Florida thinking he could beat out Tim Tebow for the starting job. The 6’5”, 245-pounder from Atlanta ran into some off-field problems and enrolled at Blinn Junior College.

    He then went to Auburn, where, in his only season, he led the Tigers to a BCS title and won the Heisman Trophy. With his arm strength, athleticism and magical creativity, Newton went on to have an historic rookie season for the Panthers and is one of the best young QBs in the NFL today.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Newton has all the tools to be a big-time quarterback prospect. He has great size, great speed and a strong arm to go along with tremendous leadership skills. I also expect whatever program signs him to potentially have one of the real steals of this class." - JC Shurburtt, Rivals.com (subscription required)

23. RB Trent Richardson, Alabama, 2009

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    5-Star, 2009, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 3, Cleveland Browns (2012) 

    Trent Richardson had a compact, powerful and fast running style in high school. He was from Florida and had a wealth of offers but chose to head to Tuscaloosa.

    He spent time in Mark Ingram’s shadow early in his career but went on to nearly win a Heisman Trophy himself. Richardson helped the Tide dominate the SEC and win two BCS titles. He’s one of Nick Saban’s all-time best players and is the Browns’ franchise player today.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Trent is just a great leader and I can tell you this right now, Alabama is getting the real deal and I'm excited about watching him on television in the coming years because he's a pretty special player." - Escambia coach Jimmy Nichols to Michael Langston of FlaVarsity.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

22. RB Carnell Williams, Auburn, 2001

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    No. 14 recruit (No. 4 RB), 2001, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 5, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2005)

    Carnell "Cadillac" Williams was a smooth, shifty, speedy runner with deceptive power in high school. He committed to Tennessee, but Tommy Tuberville wouldn’t take no for an answer.

    As signing day approached, Williams pulled a surprising switch and signed with Auburn. He formed a dangerous duo with Ronnie Brown and became a top-five pick. Williams suffered two major knee injuries in the NFL and last played for the Rams. He’s a free agent at this time.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "I just knew he was special. I'd never seen anybody like him before. I never saw anybody put forth the effort he did. He had ability, but nobody had ever gone 100 percent in every drill, every play in practice. Everything he did was full speed." —Rod Gray (Williams’ seventh and eighth grade coach) to Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

21. WR Andre Johnson, Miami, 1999

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    No. 1 WR recruit, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 1, Pick 3, Houston Texans (2003)

    Andre Johnson will go down as one of the best wide receiver recruits and NFL wide receivers of all time. He's a future Hall of Fame player, and his size, speed, strength and work ethic stayed with him from high school to Miami and on to Houston.

    He’s 6’3”, 230 pounds and in his prime could blaze through a secondary in a flash. He’s still the Texans’ No. 1 wideout and one of the best in the league.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He had heads turning at Michigan State. All the kids who were supposed to be the best in the country were there, and Andre simply dominated. When they double- and triple-teamed him, we put him at quarterback, and he dominated there, too." - Nigel Dunn, former coach of Miami Senior High, and Earl Tillman, Miami Senior High offensive coordinator, to Dave Joseph, Sun Sentinel

20. RB Kevin Jones, Virginia Tech, 2001

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    No. 1 RB recruit, 2001, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 30, Detroit Lions (2004)

    Kevin Jones was the nation’s top player, according to many in 2001, and his recruitment was a wild ride. He held a signing day press conference and surprisingly donned a Hokie jersey to announce for Virginia Tech.

    He went on to have a good career for Frank Beamer, displaying good speed, strength and vision. The Lions took Jones late in the first round, and he ran for more than 1,000 yards as a rookie. Jones was most recently a member of the UFL’s Hartford Colonials.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Jones was one of the players who brought recruiting into the mainstream of college athletics coverage. The day he was slated to announce his decision between Penn State and Virginia Tech, hundreds of people crammed Rivals.com message boards and chat rooms to follow the press conference play-by-play—the first of its kind back in 2001." - Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

19. QB Tim Tebow, Florida, 2006

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    5-Star, 2006, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 25, Denver Broncos (2010)

    Perhaps the most polarizing player on this list, Tim Tebow’s size, competitiveness, toughness and strength are his best assets. He showed that in high school and piloted Urban Meyer’s offense to soaring heights at Florida.

    Tebow won the Heisman as a sophomore and is the Gators’ best player in school history. His NFL career has not been successful. He was recently released by the Jets.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Why Tebow? The physical skills jump off the videotape, but it's the things most don't see that likely led to (Mike) Shula going all-in. Simply put, Tebow isn't your typical quarterback." - Travis Reier, TideSports.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

18. WR A.J. Green, Georgia, 2008

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    5-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 4, Cincinnati Bengals (2011)

    It was a toss-up in 2008 regarding who was better between A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Some preferred the silky smooth Green, and he didn’t disappoint in Athens. The 6’4” wideout who weighs more than 205 pounds and has great hands, speed and quickness.

    He’s the No. 1 wide receiver for the Bengals and has already made two Pro Bowls. Green has gone from highly touted recruit to highly touted NFL wideout.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "I have been coaching for 56 years and he is the best athlete I have ever had on offense, defense or special teams. He is a remarkable player and can do anything. He returned a total of nine punts this season and four of them were for touchdowns. He caught over 80 passes for over 1,500 yards and scored another 24 touchdowns. Only special players can do things like that. He had another great season." - legendary Summerville head coach John McKissick, UGASports.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

17. QB Matt Barkley, USC, 2009

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    No. 1 recruit, 2009, 247Sports

    Round 4, Pick 98, Philadelphia Eagles (2013)

    Matt Barkley started as a freshman at California powerhouse Mater Dei High, and he then started as a freshman for the Trojans. His nickname isn’t “Matty Trojan” for nothing, as Barkley broke many of the USC and Pac-12 passing records as a four-year starter.

    His ability to make good decisions, read coverages and make accurate throws are his strengths. He had a fantastic career in college and now will try to do the same with the Eagles.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "I'm going on record now to say...three years, Matt Barkley—who will be a true freshman this year —will be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Three years from now." - Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN/L.A. Times

16. DL Shaun Cody, USC, 2001

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    No. 1 DL recruit, 2001, Tom Lemming

    Round 2, Pick 37, Detroit Lions (2005)

    Shaun Cody is the landmark recruit who opened the USC recruiting floodgates in the 2000s. USC wanted Cody badly due to his snap quickness, strength and instincts.

    Cody played defensive end in high school, but the Trojans moved him to tackle as a freshman. His talent was apparent from the start, and he was a star in Troy. He’s with the Houston Texans now and is a relied-upon veteran starter.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "You see him play and you're just thanking God he's on your team because I don't know how I'd attack him. He's the best football player that has come through this school, and we've had some great ones." -Los Altos head coach Greg Gano to Kyle Melinn, ESPN.com

15. WR Julio Jones, Alabama, 2008

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    5-Star, 2008, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 6, Atlanta Falcons (2011)

    Julio Jones could be the best wide receiver in the NFL in a season or two, as the 6’3”, 220-pounder is a physical specimen. He’s a quiet guy, but his play speaks loudly. Jones was lethal in high school in Alabama, and Nick Saban had to fend off many schools to keep him home.

    Jones went on to become a force in Tuscaloosa. The Falcons surrendered a boatload of picks to land him in 2011. Jones already has one Pro Bowl selection.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Alabama fans have known for a long time that winning the Julio Jones sweepstakes meant adding a five-star wide receiver with nationally publicized hype." - Chase Goodbread, TideSports.com (via Rivals.com)

    "He can be a vertical receiver and get deep on you, as well as be a guy that can catch the ball over the middle. He's a physical player, he's a great blocker and he's got great toughness...Julio can do all of the above." - Nick Saban to TideSports.com (via Rivals.com)

14. OT Andre Smith, Alabama, 2006

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    No. 1 overall recruit, 2006, 247Sports

    Sixth pick in the 2009 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals

    Andre Smith was the top offensive line prospect in 2006 and was just a brick wall of a left tackle. He plays on the right side for the Bengals, but ‘Bama played him on the blind side.

    Smith, who is 6’4” and 335 pounds, has quick feet and agility in addition to his great strength. He dominated SEC competition, and that’s saying something. He just re-signed with Cincinnati and is a main cog in the Bengals’ offensive line.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Everything Smith did throughout the camp was impressive. His technique was flawless, and when he locked on a player, it was game over. He would use his great footwork, great upper-body strength and great hip roll in one-on-ones, and in drills he displayed exceptional technique." - Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

    "There isn't a better offensive lineman in the country. There are a lot of good ones out there, but this kid is the best out there." - unnamed SEC assistant coach to Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

13. DB Eric Berry, Tennessee, 2007

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    5-star, 2007, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 5, Kansas City Chiefs (2010)

    Eric Berry was an athletically and instinctively gifted defensive back from Georgia in 2007. He was tough, smart, physical and fast, which got him on field as a true freshman in Knoxville.

    Berry became a decorated collegiate player and bucked the NFL trend of not selecting safeties in the top five picks. Any award a defensive back can possibly win, Berry has the trophy on his mantle. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler and one of the best safeties in the NFL.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "College coaches are interested in his ability to shut down one side of the field on defense, but his speed may be his best attribute. As a sophomore at the Atlanta Nike camp, he ran a 4.55-second time in the 40-yard dash and last summer at Georgia Tech he ran an electronically timed 4.37. He also has a vertical jump of 38 inches." - Steve Hare, IrishIllustrated.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

12. RB Joe McKnight, USC, 2007

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    5-star, 2007, 247Sports

    Round 4, Pick 112, New York Jets (2010)

    Joe McKnight was supposed to be the next Reggie Bush for USC but only ran for 1,000 yards in a season once as a Trojan. He had better quickness than speed and was a natural runner.

    He committed to USC the summer before his senior season but kept it under wraps until a suspenseful signing day press conference that angered many LSU fans, since McKnight was a Louisiana native. He’s a key reserve contributor for the Jets these days.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "In 2007, the River Ridge (La.) John Curtis running back was the nation's top running back and the No. 2 player overall behind only quarterback Jimmy Clausen. He was also supposed to go to LSU, at least according to LSU fans who felt it would be an outrage for the most talented running back the state has produced since Marshall Faulk to head anywhere else...On signing day, McKnight stunned many by choosing the Trojans. LSU fans were stunned and outraged, so much so that the Curtis marching band got booed at Mardi Gras two weeks after McKnight's announcement." - Mike Farrell, Rivals.com

11. LB T.J. Duckett, Michigan State, 1999

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    No. 1 LB recruit, 1999, Sports Illustrated

    Round 1, Pick 18, Atlanta Falcons (2002)

    T.J. Duckett was considered perhaps the best player in the country during the 1999 recruiting cycle. He stood 6’0”, 255 pounds and wound up playing running back for the Spartans.

    He had deceptive quickness and speed, but it was his power and strength that stood apart. He was a major contributor for the Falcons for several seasons but has been inactive since 2009.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "A 6'2", 255-pound Parade All-America, T.J. not only was a three-year starter at quarterback and linebacker for Loy Norrix High in Kalamazoo, Mich., but also would run 100 meters in less than 11 seconds and wind up a three-time state champion in the shot put. Many recruiting experts regarded him as the best high school player in the country, and most thought his future was at linebacker." - Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated

10. QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia, 2006

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    5-Star, 2006, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 1, Detroit Lions (2009)

    Even when he was in high school, Matthew Stafford was said to be a future No. 1 overall pick by draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. He chose Georgia because he wanted to play early and in a pro-style offense.

    As a prep star, Stafford’s arm strength was comparable to John Elway’s. At Georgia, Mark Richt let the Texan rip as a true freshman. Today, he’s the starter and franchise signal-caller for the Detroit Lions and is only one of only four QBs in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Matthew is a guy that is not afraid of the competition. He knows that he is one of the elite quarterbacks, he has a certain swagger about him, and he is not going to be afraid of Joe Cox or anybody they have on campus if that is where he ends up. He just does everything right. He has a very strong arm, very cerebral, plays some of the best competition in the state of Texas." - Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com (subscription required)

9. QB Joe Mauer, Florida State, 2001

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    No. 1 recruit, 2001, Tom Lemming

    Because he was the No. 1 pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 2001 MLB draft, Joe Mauer never played a down for the Seminoles. He was regarded as the top QB prospect in the 2001 class.

    Mauer had a 6’5” frame, a cannon for an arm, great poise and good ball placement skills and even flashed good mobility. He’s the best QB you’ve never seen play. 

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Mauer reminds me of Michigan's Drew Henson not only because both are talented on the diamond, but also because of his arm strength, smarts and pure passing skills. Heading into the 2000 high school season, I ranked Mauer as one of the top two prospects in the country, and by the end of the year he was my undisputed No. 1. He has a superior arm and shows great coolness under fire." - Tom Lemming, ESPN.com

8. WR Percy Harvin, Florida, 2006

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    5-Star, 2006, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 22, Minnesota Vikings (2009)

    Percy Harvin’s suddenness and big-play ability were apparent in high school and continue to be today. Harvin was the multipurpose guy in Urban Meyer’s spread-option offense at Florida.

    He played wide receiver, running back and Wildcat QB in Gainesville, which is basically what he does now, along with returning kicks. Harvin was traded to the Seattle Seahawks this offseason and will be a focal point in Pete Carroll’s offense.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He's the best player I have ever coached. He can beat press coverage without a problem and is simply electric with the ball in his hands." - Landstown coach Chris Beatty to Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com

7. RB Reggie Bush, USC, 2003

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    5-Star, 2003, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 2, New Orleans Saints (2006)

    Whether he’s recognized in the record books or not, Reggie Bush is one of the best recruits and college players of all time. His speed, agility, instincts and athleticism were remarkable.

    While he hasn’t taken the NFL by storm, Bush has one 1,000-yard rushing season as a pro and will certainly help the Detroit Lions, his newest team.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Anyone who has the capabilities to download Rivals 100's video of running back Reggie Bush (6-0, 180, 4.4) from San Diego (Calif.) Helix knows what a special player he is. When you see the video it's easy to see why Bush is the running back of choice by many of the nation's best football programs." - Rick Kimbrel, Rivals.com (subscription required)

    "Reggie is a Marshall Faulk type of player. Reggie can catch, block and run. The amazing thing about him is he does them all well. Reggie is a dream to coach." - Helix head coach Gordon Wood to Rick Kimbrel, Rivals.com

6. RB Lorenzo Booker, Florida State, 2002

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    5-Star, 2002, 247Sports

    Round 3, Pick 71, Miami Dolphins (2007)

    Lorenzo Booker spurned hometown USC and committed to Notre Dame—before breaking down in tears and announcing for the ‘Noles on signing day in 2002.

    Booker was just OK in Tallahassee and never was an elite difference-maker. He was with the Bears during training camp last year but is without a professional team now.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "In 2002, the entire recruiting world was abuzz about a 5-11, 175-lb. running back who was supposed to be the next Barry Sanders. No, wait, better than Barry Sanders. The amount of hype heaped on Lorenzo Booker made him an easy target. After all, anything less than a Heisman Trophy, a national championship and an NFL career would classify him as a disappointment." - Allen Wallace, SuperPrep

5. QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, 2007

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    5-Star, 2007, 247Sports

    Round 2, Pick 48, Carolina Panthers (2010)

    Jimmy Clausen is ranked this high mainly due to his otherworldly hype. Some called him the LeBron James of high school football. He went on to Notre Dame after announcing his commitment to Charlie Weis at the CFB Hall of Fame.

    Clausen put up good numbers in South Bend, thanks to a quick release and accuracy, but today he is Cam Newton’s backup in Carolina.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "Reminds us of John Elway at the high school level." - ESPN.com (subscription required)

    "Clausen...is widely considered the best quarterback prospect out of California since John Elway." - South Bend Tribune

4. QB Vince Young, Texas, 2002

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    No. 1 recruit, 2002, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 3, Tennessee Titans (2006) 

    Vince Young was the first “big” dual-threat QB prospect, as he stood 6’5” and made magic happen. He went on to Texas and won a national title, which led to the Titans selecting him third in the 2006 draft. His pro career hasn’t gone as well as his Longhorn career, and today he’s out of the NFL.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "You can't turn on a television in Houston without seeing Vince Young. He was like LeBron James in Houston when he was coming out of high school." - Rodrique Wright, Young’s teammate at Texas to The Dallas Morning News

3. LB D.J. Williams, Miami, 2000

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    5-star, 2000, Tom Lemming

    Round 1, Pick 17, Denver Broncos (2004)

    D.J. Williams, who had a ton of hype in the 2000 recruiting year, was the leader of a great Concord De La Salle team in Northern California. He was an excellent athlete with fantastic instincts and speed.

    Williams was so highly regarded that he played fullback at Miami as a true freshman just so the coaches could get him on the field. He’s been a productive pro and is expected to start this season for the Chicago Bears.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He was so big, so strong, so fast, so fluid for De La Salle that he controlled the game on both sides of the ball. Sure, he was devastating on defense, but he was a monster with the ball in his hands as well. He played fullback in the Spartan veer, and once through the line, he made many a 160-pound safety consider a life insurance policy." - Clay Kallam, MaxPreps

    "As said by one recruiting coordinator, 'Anybody who says this guy is overrated is an idiot. Every school in the country would keep a place for this guy, right up until the very end.' He's the best overall prospect observed by SuperPrep since its inception in 1985." - Allen Wallace, SuperPrep

2. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, 2011

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    No. 1 recruit, 2011, 247Sports

    2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year

    This 2013 season should be Jadeveon Clowney’s final campaign in Columbia. He’s been on track for the NFL since he was a freshman in high school. His size (6’6”, more than 250 pounds) combined with his freakish athleticism are jaw-dropping.

    Clowney has lived up to the hype that surrounded his roller-coaster recruitment and has a high chance of being the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "He's the total package. I've never seen anybody like him. He's double- and triple-teamed every play. I haven't seen any high school kids block him. I don't think anybody has been like Clowney. He plays extremely hard and has the most instinctively competitive spirit of any kid I've seen." - former South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll to Keith Niebuhr of Rivals.com

1. RB Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma, 2004

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    No. 1 recruit, 2004, 247Sports

    Round 1, Pick 7, Minnesota Vikings (2007)

    Peterson’s blend of size, speed and exciting running style made him a living legend as a recruit. He’s one of the few high school players who could have gone straight to the NFL.

    Peterson’s success continued in the NFL, where he has won the 2012 NFL MVP among numerous other honors. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate and the best recruit of the BCS era.

     

    What the Scouts Said

    "The legend of Palestine High School (Texas) running back Adrian Peterson continues to grow as he nears the eve of his senior season. Peterson may have to don a cape and tattoo an "S" on his chest to live up to the lofty expectations some have tagged to him." - Matt Malatesta, TheOldCoach.com (via Rivals.com, subscription required)

    "He still has another year to go, but I think Adrian Peterson has as much talent as any running back that's come through the state of Texas since I've been covering recruiting full time (11 years)." - Bobby Burton, TheOldCoach.com

     

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns.

    For more of Bleacher Report's exclusive CFB Recruiting 200 Signature Series content check out the hub page.