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Being a first-team All-Big Ten performer and a nominee for the Maxwell and Biletnikoff awards -- not to mention a third-round pick and an NFL player -- does not change the fact that many still point at Derrick Williams as one of the most erroneous selections for the No. 1 overall recruit in the Rivals.com era.
As a 5-foot-11, 189-pound prospect from Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt, Williams was one of the players who ushered in an age of multitalented athletes and boosted the stock of Percy Harvin and many others. Williams rushed for more than 2,500 yards, threw for 1,500 and had nearly 500 yards receiving in his final two years of high school. He was a dangerous return man and took all of that to Penn State with him.
He was also one of the first players to signal that Maryland was about to burst onto the scene for football prospects.
HOW FARRELL RE-RANKS THEM
Following the summer evaluation period, the Rivals.com team of analysts is meeting this week to discuss how to reshape the rankings for the class of 2014 Rivals100 presented by Under Armour. This presented a perfect opportunity to look back at former five-star prospects and re-rank them among the other elite prospects from their home states.
From the class of 2002 -- when Rivals.com established the Rivals100 -- to the class of 2013, there have been 11 states to have double-digit players earn five-star rankings. This week, it is time to turn back the clock and put those players in order based on what they did in high school.
None of the players identified as midseason five-stars for the class of 2014 is considered for this ranking. Each is subject to change through the regular season and all-star game evaluations.
Combining Maryland with Washington, D.C., gave the region 15 players rated as five-stars over the last dozen classes.
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said it started just before Williams and has grown exponentially since.
"Maryland/D.C. started to emerge as a talent producer right before the year Derrick Williams was No. 1 in 2005, and it took off after that," he said. "Williams is one of our overall No. 1 prospects who gets slammed the most, but he had a solid career at Penn State and was a third-round NFL pick so he wasn't as big a bust as people like to think."
The majority of the other players to be given a fifth star by the Rivals.com team are still in college, and they are not finished products. Cyrus Kouandjio, Eddie Goldman, Stefon Diggs, Kenny Bigelow and Kendall Fuller are just getting started.
Those who have gone through college have checkered results.
Melvin Alaeze was an amazing talent who has been jailed on attempted murder charges. Marvin Austin was a force at times in college, but character issues pushed his draft stock down and he is now a reserve for the New York Giants. Jelani Jenkins was one of the most consistent players, but his stock never took off as expected and he was a fourth-round pick of the Miami Dolphins this April. He is working to stay with the team.
Farrell said there is hope for the group and expressed disappointment with Alaeze.
"The success of this top 10 is still up in air with Kouandjio, Goldman, Diggs, Bigelow and Fuller all with bright futures," he said. "Alaeze was a tragic figure and had an amazing amount of talent and squandered it all, while Derrick Harvey was very successful at Florida and Jenkins struggled a bit."
The group is solid enough that it kept two NFL players off the list. Neither Arrelious Benn nor Victor Abiamiri cracked the top 10.
One player who transformed how the analysts viewed a position was Vernon Davis. He was not given a fifth star, and Farrell said that was a mistake.
"He was a freakish tight end," Farrell said. "Davis was ranked No. 48 overall in 2003 but clearly should have been one of our rare five-star tight ends. Davis changed the way we looked at tight ends after his success at Maryland, and he really started to make flex tight ends a common sight in high school and beyond."
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