football Edit

Super Bowl: Five players we were right about, and five we missed on

Every year when the Super Bowl rolls around people love to take a look back at the players participating and see how they stacked up as recruits. We did a full breakdown earlier in the week, but today we focus on five players whose high school rankings we nailed and five others who are the exception to the rule.

SUPER BOWL PHOTO GALLERIES: Patriots as HS prospects | Eagles as HS prospects

MORE SUPER BOWL: Where Super Bowl starters ranked in high school

CLASS OF '18 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | State | Position | JUCO



As a recruit: Brown had a national list of offers, but committed to Texas during the spring of his junior year and never wavered from that pledge.

What he’s done: Brown lived up to his ranking as a college player, winning Big 12 defensive player of the year and also earning All-American honors with the Longhorns. He went onto be a first-round pick of New England in 2015 and has been a major part of the team’s defense the last three seasons.

Farrell’s take: “An elite defensive tackle with excellent athleticism and the ability to shoot the gap, Brown was also excellent as a gap stuffer. There was a small debate between Brown and Mario Edwards, as to who was the best defensive lineman in the state that year and Edwards was considered No. 1 by some, so we felt very good about Brown.”

Stephon Gilmore
Stephon Gilmore (AP Images)

As a recruit: A standout player at Southe Pointe High School in South Carolina, Gilmore had his share of options, but his choice came down to Alabama and South Carolina. He elected to stay in-state with the Gamecocks and committed to the school after officially visiting Columbia and Tuscaloosa during his senior season.

What he’s done: Gilmore was a two-time all-SEC first-team selection and had a terrific career with the Gamecocks. He went on to be the No. 12 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Gilmore had a very productive five-year stint with the Bills, capped by a Pro Bowl season in 2016. He signed a $65 million contract with the Patriots prior to the 2017 season and has been a starter all season.

Farrell’s take: "Gilmore was an elite athlete who played quarterback in high school, among other things, and projected as a star on defense or offense. I still remember his Shrine Bowl Game where he dominated. He was the star at South Pointe before a guy named Jadeveon Clowney came around and became the nation’s No. 1."

LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount (AP Images)

As a recruit: Initially ranked as a two-star prospect as a high school player in the class of 2005, Blount was re-evaluated following a junior college stint. His decision came down to Florida State, which was very close to his native Perry, Fla., and Oregon. He committed to the Ducks following official visits to both schools during December 2007.

What he’s done: Blount’s career at Oregon will probably be best remembered for his postgame punch of a Boise State player during his senior year in 2009, but his time in Eugene was productive. During the 2008 season he set the then-team record for rushing touchdowns with 17. Blount went undrafted in the 2010 draft before working his way onto the Tampa Bay roster. He rushed for 1,000 yards as a rookie in 2010 and is probably best known for his production with the Patriots. Blount has won two Super Bowls with New England and in 2016 he led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18. He signed with Philadelphia prior to the 2017 season and led the Eagles in rushing this season.

Farrell’s take: "Blount was a huge and powerful running back out of JUCO in 2008 who nearly cracked our JUCO Top 10. I remember on film how light he was on his feet for such a big back, and that was one of the reasons we liked him so much. He ran with an edge as well, looking to run over opponents as much as around them."

Brandon Graham
Brandon Graham (AP Images)

As a recruit: Despite a national list of offers, the Michigan native committed to the in-state Wolverines nearly a year before signing day in February 2005.

What he’s done: Graham was a star at Michigan, winning Big Ten MVP honors in 2009 and also being named a first-team All-American that same season. He went on to be a first-round pick of the Eagles in 2010 and has had a very productive career with them, capped off by a second-team All-Pro selection in 2016. Graham led the team in sacks during the 2017 regular season with 9.5.

Farrell’s take: "Graham could have been ranked as a defensive end or a linebacker at his size and what stood out to me the most was his change of direction for such a large prospect standing up. He was also an offensive lineman and tight end at times, ran nearly a 4.4 40-yard dash at his size and was a leader of his high school team. He was pretty much a can’t-miss kid."

Rex Burkhead
Rex Burkhead (AP Images)

As a recruit: A versatile offensive weapon, Burkhead had offers from Auburn, Stanford, Texas A&M and several others. His recruitment came down to a battle between Nebraska and Texas A&M, and after visiting both schools during his senior season he committed to the Huskers in December 2008.

What he’s done: Burkhead had a terrific career in Lincoln, and it might have been even better if it weren’t for a few nagging injuries. He accounted for more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage as a junior in 2011, which helped him earn first-team all-conference honors. He went on to be a sixth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. Burkhead’s time with the Bengals saw its share of ups and downs, but he appears to have found a home after signing with the Patriots last offseason. In 10 regular season games he rushed for 264 yards while also catching 30 passes for 254 yards and playing on special teams.

Farrell’s take: "A terrific all-around athlete, Burkhead was a four-star, all-purpose back for us who was just inside the Rivals250 despite lacking great size. He was super quick, very evasive and sneaky strong, a kid who was hard to bring down. He could catch the ball, return kicks, run between the tackles and bounce things outside and never stopped churning his legs. He was fun to watch and a leader in high school that everyone looked up to."


Patrick Chung
Patrick Chung (AP Images)

As a recruit: A two-star prospect out of high school, Chung chose Oregon over Wyoming and Colorado State.

What he’s done: After redshirting his first year with the Ducks, Chung became an immediate force, earning Freshman All-American honors for his efforts in 2005. Chung went on to set a record for defensive starts with the Ducks (51) and was also a second team All-American in 2007. Chung was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft and has been a part of two different New England Super Bowl victories. He spent one year with the Eagles in 2013 before rejoining the Patriots in 2014. Chung finished second on the team in tackles during the 2017 regular season.

Farrell’s take: "With one big offer in the VHS tape days, we didn’t get to evaluate Chung aside from film. He was a very young senior, I remember, younger than most juniors at the time, and very small, so he was projected to be a project at cornerback and we worried about his size and strength. He’s carved out a great career and come a long way."

Devin McCourty
Devin McCourty (AP Images)

As a recruit: McCourty only received one major offer, courtesy of Rutgers, which also recruited and signed his brother, Jason.

What he’s done: McCourty redshirted his first season with the Scarlett Knights but quickly became a starter and a star as his career moved along. He capped things off with an All-Big East selection as a senior in 2009. He went on to be drafted by the Patriots in the first round in 2010, and has since been a three-time All-Pro, as well as a two-time Super Bowl champion.

Farrell’s take: "McCourty was the unwanted twin headed to FCS football before Rutgers decided to offer him to help land his brother, Jason McCourty, who was more highly coveted. Devin McCourty wasn’t very big, wasn’t strong at all and we wondered if he’d be able to hold up to FBS talent, especially in run support. He overcame all of that as well as the snubs from everyone except the Scarlet Knights to become an NFL star."

Brent Celek
Brent Celek (AP Images)

As a recruit: A two-star in the class of 2003, Celek’s profile lists just one offer, courtesy of Cincinnati, where he eventually signed.

What he’s done: Celek had a modest college career with the Bearcats in terms of total catches and yards, but he did enough to catch the eye of NFL scouts, eventually being drafted by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He has spent his entire career with Philadelphia and is just two yards shy of eclipsing the 5,000-yard mark for his career.

Farrell’s take: "Like Chung, Celek was evaluated in the days of VHS tape and never even had an article written about him, to my knowledge. He was all-district in high school but wasn’t considered an elite athlete, which is why everyone except Cincinnati passed on him. He had a solid college career but has blossomed as an NFL player."

Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis (AP Images)

As a recruit: Lewis garnered interest from several Power Five programs, including Stanford, Syracuse and Boston College. But he fell in love with Pitt early on in his recruitment and committed to the Panthers the summer prior to his senior season.

What he’s done: Lewis was an immediate star at Pitt, winning Big East Rookie of the Year and Big East Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman in 2009. He went on to be selected by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He bounced from there to Cleveland and Indianapolis before finding a home with the Patriots in 2015. This year, he emerged as the team’s No. 1 option in the backfield, rushing for a career-high 896 yards during the 2017 regular season.

Farrell’s take: "I’m actually not counting this as a miss, personally, because I remember Lewis very well, and he was so short that a high three-star ranking isn’t all that bad. We thought he’d have to be a scat back, slot receiver and return man to make an impact at Pitt, so his success there as a running back was a surprise. He’s carved out a nice NFL career."

Lane Johnson
Lane Johnson (AP Images)

As a recruit: Unranked as a quarterback prospect in the 2008 class, Johnson actually spent his first year of college at Kiglore College, a Texas JUCO, where he was identified by the Oklahoma staff as a tight end.

What he’s done: After playing tight end and defensive end with the Sooners he was eventually moved to offensive line, where he blossomed into a star. He went on to become a first-round pick of the Eagles in 2013 and had his best season as a pro in 2017, being named first team All-Pro.

Farrell’s take: "I have the perfect excuse for this one – Johnson was a quarterback when we evaluated him. That’s right: He was a tall and thin quarterback in high school who was very average and then went onto JUCO, where he emerged as a tight end and after a couple of years he moved to offensive tackle at Oklahoma. No one on Earth could have seen this one coming. It’s an amazing story."