football Edit

Rankings rewind: Robinson, Bosa

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Ohio State's Joey Bosa leads the Big Ten in sacks with eight.
Joey Bosa arrived at Ohio State with a lot of hype, and thus far he definitely has not disappointed. Bosa continued his impressive sophomore season Saturday night at Penn State, finishing the game with 2.5 sacks and six tackles, including the game-ending sack in the second overtime during the 31-24 victory.
As a freshman, Bosa started 10 games and finished with 44 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. He has already raised his game to another level this season, as he currently leads the Big Ten in sacks (8) and tackles for a loss (11.5), plus he has forced three fumbles. These numbers also put him fifth nationally in sacks, 10th in tackles for a loss and sixth in forced fumbles.
Bosa attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was a two-time first-team all-state selection. During his last two seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas, Bosa totaled 19 sacks and 51 tackles for a loss, including 9.5 sacks and 27 tackles for a loss during his senior season. Recruiting for Bosa was fast rising, with Alabama and Florida State being two of the first schools to offer. It was the Crimson Tide who actually led for Bosa early on in his process. With the offer total reaching 20, Bosa trimmed his focus to a few schools, including Alabama, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Florida. Everything changed though after a series of visits that took place during the spring after his junior season. Taking a closer look at Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan, Bosa finished these trips with a top four of Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Michigan. About a week later, Bosa suddenly decided to end his recruiting process with a commitment to the Buckeyes, which he stayed firm with to National Signing Day.
Bosa was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2013, the No. 4 ranked strongside defensive end nationally, the No. 9 ranked recruit in Florida and the No. 47 ranked overall recruit nationally. At his position, Bosa was only ranked behind Robert Nkemdiche, Chris Jones and Frank Herron, all five-stars, while in Florida he was ranked behind recruits like Vernon Hargreaves III, Matthew Thomas, Greg Bryant and Derrick Henry. It is obviously very early for the Class of 2013 when it comes to their college careers. However, nobody can question Bosa's performance to this point. His potential is through-the-roof and the NFL is already drooling about his talents. It should be fun to continue to watch Bosa's growth in the coming years. In high school he reminded me a bit of Chris Long, but didn't quite have the same athleticism or ability to change direction in pursuit. However, he's headed towards a similar NFL draft position if he keeps it up as Long was drafted No. 2 overall in 2008. It looks like Bosa should have earned that fifth star many fans were clamoring for.
Tony Jefferson
Four-star, class of 2010, signed with Oklahoma
Tony Jefferson has gone from undrafted free agent to starting safety.
Defensive back Tony Jefferson has helped the surprising Arizona Cardinals to the best record in the NFC at 6-1. In the win over Philadelphia on Sunday, Jefferson accounted for 12 tackles from his safety position.
Jefferson actually went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, but signed with Arizona as a free agent. During the 2013 season, he ended up playing all 16 games at safety and on special teams. He finished his rookie season with 24 tackles. This season, Jefferson has taken on a bigger role with the Cardinals, already starting five of the seven games. Through the seven games he has 50 tackles and one sack.
Jefferson played his college ball at Oklahoma, where he played in 40 games through three seasons. He immediately made an impact, where he was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year after collecting 65 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, two sacks and two interceptions. He finished off the season by returning an interception 22 yards for a touchdown and recording a sack in the Fiesta Bowl. As a sophomore, Jefferson led the team with four interceptions, while being third with 74 tackles. He saved his biggest season for 2012, when he led the team with 119 tackles, plus two interceptions and 3.5 tackles for a loss.
Playing his high school ball at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California, Jefferson excelled as a sophomore, junior and senior. After being named first-team All-State after his sophomore season, Jefferson had 77 tackles and three interceptions during his junior season. His senior season saw him finish with 88 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles, plus offensively he added 1,328 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns. He finished off his high school career by playing in the U.S Army All-American Bowl.
Recruiting for Jefferson was an interesting process, as he originally was a Stanford commit very early on in the process. However, a few months later early in 2009, Jefferson de-committed from the Cardinal after a flood of new offers came in. In the summer prior to his senior season, many assumed USC was his leader, but instead Jefferson named a top five of Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame and Florida, each of which were scheduled to receive an official visit. However, once again everything got turned upside down when Jefferson soon after committed to UCLA, saying that he cancelled all of the previously mentioned visits. By October, Jefferson was once again looking, scheduling official visits to Oklahoma, Arizona, Michigan and USC. Then after almost committing to Florida, which he didn't visit, Jefferson de-committed from UCLA after his last official visit, which was to USC. Now with Oklahoma, Michigan and USC as his final three, Jefferson committed to the Sooners a week before Christmas in 2009. This time he stuck with his commitment and signed with Oklahoma on National Signing Day.
Jefferson was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2010, the No. 4 ranked safety nationally, the No. 10 ranked recruit in California and the No. 62 overall recruit nationally. At his position, Jefferson was only ranked behind Keenan Allen, who is now a wide receiver with the San Diego Chargers, Matt Elam and Alec Ogletree, who is now a linebacker. Each of these three were drafted and have had varied levels of success in the NFL. In California, the recruits ranked ahead of Jefferson have had a smaller level of success, as only players such as Robert Woods and Anthony Barr have truly made a mark in the NFL to this point. Jefferson's story is an interesting one, as making an early impact in the NFL as an undrafted free agent is not an easy road. However, to this point he seems to be on the right path. Jefferson's performance at the college level has showed everyone why he received his high four-star ranking and if he should be able to prove it there too.
I think we got this one right. I remember watching Jefferson's film and see how violent a hitter he was and immediately recommending him to the Army Bowl. Jefferson was a great kid to follow and talk to and one of the more interesting recruiting stories that year. His hitter mentality was never questioned and it was simply a matter of flat out speed that kept him outside the top 50.
Jeremy Maclin
Four-star, class of 2006, signed with Missouri
Jeremy Maclin's two touchdowns against the Cardinals were not enough.
With the departure of Desean Jackson to Washington this past off-season, it was expected that Jeremy Maclin would step in as the top receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. Thus far Maclin has not disappointed. He had his best game of the season during a tough 24-20 loss at Arizona when he finished with 12 receptions for 187 yards and two touchdowns.
Maclin was drafted with the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Eagles. In 2009, he finished third among rookies in receptions with 56 and receiving yards with 773. In his second year, Maclin led the Eagles with 10 touchdown catches, and finished second on the team in both receptions and yards with 70 and 964. He again excelled in 2011 by leading the Eagles with 63 receptions for 859 yards and five touchdowns, and came back stronger in 2012 by leading the team in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns. However, Maclin tore his ACL in training camp leading up to the 2013 season which led him to miss the entire campaign. This season, through seven games, Maclin already has 39 receptions for 632 yards and six touchdowns.
Playing his college ball at Missouri, Maclin was a two-time All-American and scored a school record 33 touchdowns in 28 games after missing the 2006 season due to a torn ACL. Also a skilled return man at Missouri during his two years on the field, Maclin finished with 5,609 all-purpose yards. As a freshman, Maclin started 12 games and set the NCAA freshman single-season record with 2,776 all-purpose yards. He then started all 14 games in 2008 and set a single-season school record with 2,833 all-purpose yards, which is the fifth highest total in NCAA history.
Attending Kirkwood High School in St. Louis, Maclin finished his career with 55 touchdowns as a wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist. He began to come into his own as a sophomore at Kirkwood when he caught 33 passes for 356 yards and four interceptions. He then dominated the competition as a junior and senior, finishing with 58 receptions for 1,184 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2004 and then 41 receptions for 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2005. With recruiting, Missouri was the first school to offer Maclin early in 2005. Over the next couple of months, Maclin picked up additional offers from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Iowa and Louisville. Offers from Oklahoma and Texas Tech during the summer led to visits to both schools and a very soft commitment to the Sooners in August. Official visits followed to Oklahoma, Colorado and Missouri, but it was after his Missouri visit that he finally de-committed from the Sooners in early December. As offers continued to come in, Maclin ended his recruiting process with a commitment to Missouri a few days before Christmas.
Maclin was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2006, the No. 24 ranked wide receiver nationally and the No. 3 ranked recruit in Missouri. He was not ranked overall nationally. The only recruits that Maclin was ranked behind in Missouri were quarterback Josh Freeman and defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn, who both experienced a great deal of success in college and varied levels of success in the NFL after being first rounders. Nationally at his position, a few familiar names that were ranked ahead of Maclin and have made it into the NFL, include Percy Harvin, Preston Parker, Sam Shields and Kenny Britt. Overall though, the group ahead of Maclin did not perform up to their potential. While Maclin was already a four-star, an argument can be made that he should have been ranked higher in Missouri, at his position and nationally. He has proven himself to be one of the more consistent receivers in the league and continues to produce at an impressive level. I loved Maclin's potential beyond high school and I think he has surpassed even my best expectations for him. He's become an amazing talent and his college career was legendary at Mizzou.
Larry Fitzgerald
Four-star, class of 2002, signed with Pittsburgh
Larry Fitzgerald took this pass 80 yards to the end zone on Sunday.
Over the course of the last decade, Larry Fitzgerald has established himself as one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. On Sunday, he showed everyone that he can still play at that level after snatching seven receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown during a big victory over the Eagles.
Arizona chose Fitzgerald with the third overall pick of the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Fitzgerald's career in Arizona has been a star-studded one that has led him to seven Pro Bowls and numerous franchise and NFL records. For Arizona, he already has the record for most career receiving yards (11,810), receiving touchdowns (89) and receptions (876). In 2013, he became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards. To continue his stay in Arizona, in 2011 he signed an eight-year $120 million dollar deal, becoming one of the highest paid players in the league.
While Fitzgerald only spent two years at Pittsburgh, he left as one of the more accomplished wide receivers in Big East history. In just 26 games with the Panthers, Fitzgerald caught 161 passes for 2,677 yards and 34 touchdowns. In 2003 he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Jason White, but won the Walter Camp and Biletnikoff Awards. In 2013, the Panthers retired Fitzgerald's No. 1 jersey, becoming only the ninth player in school history to receive this honor.
Fitzgerald attended Holy Angels Academy in Minnesota, before making his move to Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania because of academic reasons. As a junior at Holy Angels, Fitzgerald finished with 54 receptions for 1,342 yards and 12 touchdowns. Then as a senior he totaled 73 receptions for 1,255 yards and 16 touchdowns. In his one year at Valley Forge, Fitzgerald finished with 35 receptions for 420 yards and seven touchdowns in only six games. With recruiting, Fitzgerald committed to Pittsburgh while at Holy Angels Academy, but then saw increased interest after his move to Valley Forge. He took official visits to Ohio State and Michigan State after this move, and considered other schools such as LSU and Wisconsin, but at the end of the day he stuck with his original commitment and signed with Pittsburgh.
Fitzgerald was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2002 and the No. 51 ranked prep school/junior college recruit nationally. Amazingly, a huge majority of the recruits ranked ahead of Fitzgerald nationally at that time did not pan out. Fitzgerald has shown himself to be a fantastic talent, both at Pittsburgh and in the NFL. While rankings were still pretty new back in 2002, especially for non-high school recruits, and our four-star ranking still is evidence that we saw his potential, Fitzgerald has proven to be an elite talent who deserved an even higher ranking. Back in the day, we used to get VHS tapes for film and didn't get to do as many in-person evals, but I remember hearing about Fitzgerald in Minnesota as he was putting up huge numbers but his short season at prep school didn't give us much to go on. We lowballed him a bit.
Mike Farrell
National Recruiting Director
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