High school football action is underway across the nation, as hundreds of teams kicked off the regular season in the final days of August. Regardless of what happened last year, each squad gets a fresh start and hope springs eternal.
The return of high school football gives us a chance to assess some of the sport's premier recruits. Each week, we'll take a look back at a busy slate of matchups and identify the impactful performances of prospects.
While some states won't welcome in the regular season until the first few weeks of September, we span the country and examine key games for America's most talented playmakers. Here's a look at the best of a wild opening week.
Recruit rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.com.
Long Beach Poly has a proud history of producing top-tier athletic talent. John Smith, a 6'1", 200-pound specimen, fits the mold.
Smith, a do-it-all offensive playmaker and dominant safety, is listed as the second-best class of 2014 athlete in 247Sports' composite rankings. He opened the season by showcasing his versatility in a 28-15 win over Crenshaw.
He was scintillating on special teams, setting up the winning fourth-quarter touchdown with a 38-yard punt return. His defensive efforts helped hold Crenshaw without a pass completion until late in the fist half.
Smith is still assessing his collegiate options. Michigan, Alabama, USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Arizona are all in the mix, according to 247Sports.
Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard has been in the spotlight as a Texas high school star since committing to the Longhorns prior to his junior season. The 6'3", 190-pound passer is a dual-threat playmaker and once again displayed those capabilities Thursday night at state title contender Cedar Hill.
Heard nearly led an improbable comeback from a 31-7 deficit by using his arm and his feet. He brought Guyer back from the abyss in the second half with 179 passing yards and 103 rushing yards, according to 247Sports (subscription required).
Cedar Hill ultimately held on for a 38-28 victory, but Heard served notice that his squad can't be counted out when he's behind center.
Madre London, No. 70 among all 2014 running backs in 247Sports' composite rankings, played a pivotal role Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium, where his squad defeated a fellow South Florida power. He scored twice for St. Thomas in a 38-3 win over Miami Northwestern, per the Miami Herald.
London gained 99 yards on the ground, helping to set the tone for a team that once again has state championship expectations. The 6'1", 205-pound senior is currently considering scholarship offers from Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Mississippi State, according to 247Sports.
Versatile running back prospect Kevin Shorter continues to be the key offensive cog at Newton High School. He contributed in multiple capacities throughout a 44-20 victory over Bridge City, according to 247Sports.
Shorter, who committed to Texas in August, scored three touchdowns to help his team dominate. He reached the end zone twice on the ground and added a touchdown reception.
The 6-foot, 185-pound speedster settled on Texas after considering offers from a wide array of schools, including Arkansas, LSU and Miami, per 247Sports.
Jaye Stackhouse, a 6'1", 190-pound cornerback, helps anchor the back end of North Gwinnett's ferocious defensive attack. He starred in a 35-0 win over Grayson, seizing momentum for one of the nation's top teams with a timely play.
Stackhouse picked off a first-quarter pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown in the opening quarter, per the Gwinnett Daily Post. His score gave North Gwinnett a 16-0 advantage.
The rangy corner has drawn consideration from North Carolina and Purdue, according to 247Sports.
Lorenzo Joe brings a lot to the table on offense. The 6'3", 200-pound athlete is expected to play wide receiver at Texas, where he committed in August 2012, but he lined up at quarterback for Cooper High School on Friday night.
He enjoyed a successful evening in a dramatic back-and-forth battle with Wichita Falls Rider. He accumulated 331 total yards and two scores in a 39-36 defeat, according to 247Sports (subscription required).
Joe's expansive skill set garnered offers from state schools Baylor and Texas Tech, per 247Sports.
The Tennessee commit continues to perform like one of the top tacklers in the country. Dillon Bates, a 6'3", 220-pound outside linebacker, led the defensive charge for Ponte Vedra during a 52-17 win over Nease.
He compiled 15 total tackles, according to 247Sports. Bates found the end zone on offense, punching it in for a score on the ground from four yards out.
New Orleans running back Leonard Fournette found the end zone three times in the first half of a 35-6 victory over Amite, according to NOLA.com. The 6'1", 225-pound St. Augustine star dominated early to put the game out of reach, proving why he deserves the title of top-ranked rusher in 247Sports' composite rankings.
He plowed through the line for a 42-yard touchdown with just nine seconds remaining in the opening half. Fournette, arguably the best remaining uncommitted prospect in the country, is currently considering offers from USC, Alabama, LSU and Michigan, among others according to 247Sports.
Adoree' Jackson displayed his elite explosiveness in a season-opening victory for Serra High School. The 5'10", 180-pound senior snagged four passes for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading the Cavaliers to a 28-22 win over Desert Ridge (Mesa, Ariz.), according to The Daily Breeze.
The Saturday night showdown in San Diego gave Jackson an opportunity to showcase his ability to score from anywhere on the field. He turned an intermediate pass play into a 41-yard touchdown, extending Serra's advantage.
Jackson, listed as the top member of California's 2014 recruiting class in 247Sports' composite rankings, also blocked an extra point and tallied five total tackles. His offer list includes USC, LSU, Oregon, Oklahoma, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee and Notre Dame, according to 247Sports.
Harold Landry, a 6'3", 240-pound pass-rusher at Pine Forest High School, was a defensive force throughout a 44-28 win over Lumberton. He tallied nine total tackles, including three sacks, according to MaxPreps.
The monstrous effort lends to Landry's reputation as one of the premier weak-side defensive end prospects in the country.
Landry, who committed to Boston College in April, now has six sacks on the season. Per 247Sports, he considered offers from Florida, Clemson and Florida State before announcing a verbal pact with the Eagles.
Quincy Wilson has quickly made a name for himself as one of the top defensive playmakers in Florida. The 6'1", 200-pound safety seized another opportunity to show off his ball-hawk skills in University's blowout victory over Taravella.
Wilson slammed the door on a Taravella scoring opportunity and turned the tide of the contest when he picked off a pass near the goal line and returned it 96 yards for a score, according to the Sun Sentinel. University cruised to a 61-14 win.
He is committed to play for Florida next fall, per 247Sports.
Dalvin Cook presents a matchup nightmare for defenses. The 5'11, 190-pound running back is a powerful force in Miami Central's sensational offensive backfield.
The Florida commit ran wild against American Heritage on Friday night, rushing for 142 yards. Cook scored four touchdowns on just 13 carries en route to a 42-20 win, according to the Miami Herald.
Desmon White dismantled Arlington Martin on Friday night. The 5'8", 160-pound quarterback, coming off a trip to the 2012 state semifinal, led DeSoto to a 46-7 win in the opener.
White threw for 197 passing yards and displayed his versatility with 102 rushing yards, according to The Dallas Morning News. He was responsible for five total touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) and began the game with a 59-yard scoring strike.
His ensuing 71-yard touchdown run gave DeSoto an early two-score advantage. White's size remains an issue in the recruiting department and he is still searching for offers, according to 247Sports.
Independence High School star Vic Wharton was instrumental to his team's attack throughout a 49-14 win over Marshall County. The multi-skilled defensive back and wide receiver scored four touchdowns in a variety of fashion during the victory, according to 247Sports (subscription required).
He caught two scoring passes, rushed for a touchdown and also scored on a 60-yard punt return. Wharton, who will stay in the state as a future Tennessee Volunteer, completed the contest with 102 yards receiving and more than 200 all-purpose yards.
Expect big numbers this season from Allen wide receiver Cole Carter, who is the main target in an explosive offense led by heralded junior quarterback Kyler Murray. He stepped up in a 49-27 win against in-state power Southlake Carroll, catching seven passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, per the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
He hauled in an 88-yard scoring strike to put the Eagles ahead for good. Carter also caught a 74-yard touchdown in the action-packed victory.
Dominant defensive end Solomon Thomas took it upon himself to protect Coppell's lead in the Tom Landry Classic against Longview. The 6'3", 260-pound prospect plowed through Longview's offensive front, racking up three sacks in a 32-24 win, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Thomas is among the most heavily recruited defensive players in the nation. He holds offers from a long list of schools, including Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Notre Dame, per 247Sports.
Strong-armed South Carolina quarterback Mason Rudolph propelled Northwestern High School to a 38-17 victory over Charlotte Catholic and 4-star running back Elijah Hood. The 6'4" signal-caller scored five touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) in an uptempo attack, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Rudolph completed 25 of 34 passes for 267 yards through the air. He considered offers from LSU, Louisville and Ole Miss before committing to Oklahoma State in June, according to 247Sports.
Treyvon Paulk, a Tennessee commit, posted huge numbers Friday night en route to a thrilling overtime win. Paulk picked up 233 yards and three rushing touchdowns in a 31-24 victory over Alpharetta, according to 247Sports.
Paulk, a physical 5'9", 200-pound back, raced into the end zone with a game-winning run. He scored from seven yards out to seal the season-opening victory.
Alaska isn't known for its football prowess, but Kenai Central running back Jace Daniels is off to a dominant senior season. He overwhelmed opponent Homer with 270 yards and eight total touchdowns in a 78-6 win, according to the Peninsula Clarion.
Daniels, just a role player on the team as a junior, scored six times on 17 carries. He added a pair of defensive touchdowns, returning a fumble and an interception to the end zone.
Those kind of numbers land you national headlines and he's already made it into a USA Today column.
Alabama commit Bo Scarbrough bulldozed through the Palm Beach Lake defense in his debut with IMG Academy. The former Tuscaloosa standout looked awfully comfortable in his first game as a Florida standout.
The 6'2'", 225-pound playmaker collected 234 rushing yards on just 11 carries, according to AL.com. Scarbrough scored four touchdowns, including a 71-yard scoring scamper.
He is listed as Florida's fifth-best senior player, per 247Sports' composite rankings.
Miami Central star Joseph Yearby, listed as the nation's sixth-best running back in 247Sports' composite rankings, hasn't wasted any time cementing himself as an elite playmaker this season. He carried the ball 25 times for 235 yards in a 42-20 win over American Heritage, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Yearby, who is currently committed to Miami, also scored a pair of touchdowns in the opener.
California commit Jaleel Wadood was impressive Friday night during St. John Bosco's 40-7 victory over Dominguez. The 5'11", 170-pound wide receiver and defensive back transferred to Bosco from Lakewood after his junior season, and it's safe to say the transition has been smooth so far.
Wadood hauled in six passes for 147 yards and three scores, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. He caught a 40-yard score on the first play from scrimmage and added a 57-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
DeAndre Tigg absolutely dominated for Lipscomb Academy in a 60-42 win over Page in the season opener. The 5'7", 185-pound running bank is listed as the 164th-best player at the position, per 247Sports' composite rankings, but he posted a performance that should stand up against the season's best.
He scored from distances of 69, 68 and 76 yards. Tigg is still searching for his first offer, per 247Sports.
Centennial speedster Tre Watson was a man on a mission Friday night, when his team hosted Liberty (Nev.) in the season opener. The 5'9", 190-pound running back scored five touchdowns on the ground, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Watson was a true workhorse throughout a 60-42 victory, carrying the ball 30 times for 274 yards. He committed to California in May after considering offers from Fresno State, BYU and Nevada, per 247Sports.
Florida commit Will Grier put on a passing clinic Friday night against North Raleigh Christian Academy. The Davidson Day quarterback tossed seven touchdown passes in the opening half of a 68-0 victory, according to MaxPreps.
Grier, ranked the second-best pro-style passer in the nation per 247Sports' composite rankings, is seeking to improve on a junior season that saw him throw for 69 scores. The 6'3, 180-pound quarterback also held offers from Auburn, North Carolina and Tennessee, according to 247Sports.