football Edit

Unranked Checkup: Four former sleepers coming up big

Ryan Connelly
Ryan Connelly (AP Images)

Every Friday during the football season, we take a look back at some players who are performing well in either college football or the NFL despite the fact that they were unrated as high school prospects. Here’s our rundown from this past weekend, featuring four players that came up big in their teams victories.

MORE CHECKUPS: Five-star freshmen | Four-Star QBs | Three-star DL | Two-stars

As a recruit: Moore was a regular on the camp and combine circuit, and even drew praise for his performances at on-campus camps. But despite his relatively high profile, he never received any major offers. Rather than play at the FCS level, Moore accepted a chance to walk-on at LSU and joined the team in 2013.

What he did this week: After moving from tight end to fullback upon his arrival in Baton Rouge, Moore has gone from a walk-on to an important contributor over the years. He was awarded a scholarship in 2015 and spent that season and 2016 paving the way as the lead blocker for Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. This season Moore has seen his role increase more in the passing game and in Saturday’s blowout victory over Ole Miss, he hauled in three passes for 26 yards and a touchdown, all career-highs. A Louisiana native, Moore is living out his childhood dream of playing and contributing for the Tigers.

As a recruit: Connelly was a standout player at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota but that didn’t lead to much interest on the recruiting trail. Despite some interest from some lower level schools, Connelly accepted an offer as a preferred walk-on from Wisconsin.

What he did this week: After redshirting his first year on campus it didn’t take long for Connelly to prove to the Badgers' coaches he was deserving of a scholarship. Connelly was awarded one in 2015 and played in 12 games that season. After a very productive year in 2016, Connelly has taken another major step forward in 2017 and in Saturday’s victory over Maryland he led the Badgers in total tackles with nine. Wisconsin has had a ton of success turning walk-ons into contributors and Connelly is just the latest example.

As a recruit: Despite playing alongside five-star John “JuJu” Smith at powerhouse program Long Beach Poly and putting up more prolific numbers than Smith, Pabico didn’t receive much recruiting interest as a high school prospect. Initially he was set to enroll in junior college until UCLA came along with a late offer to join the team as a walk-on, which he accepted.

What he did this week: Pabico spent his first three years in the UCLA program as a virtual unknown, appearing in just one game during that span. But 2017 has been a different story as Pabico has become a surprise contributor for the Bruins. In Saturday’s victory over Oregon Pabico made several big plays, including a 31-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Pabico finished the game with four catches for 98 yards and one score, more than doubling his career total in receiving yards entering the game.

As a recruit: Adams was a regular on the camp and combine circuit but that didn’t translate to interest on the recruiting trail. In fact, on National Signing Day 2013 he signed with West Texas A&M, a Division II school. But a few weeks later interest came from Army and he flipped his commitment to the Black Knights.

What he did this week: As a wide receiver at Army, a run-heavy team, Adams opportunities to make big plays have been limited throughout the years as he recorded just two career catches headed into this weekend’s game against Temple. But with Army down late and needing to pass to get back into the game Adams made the biggest catch of his career, hauling in the game-tying 16-yard touchdown with just one second left on the clock in regulation. Adams finished the game with two catches for 25 yards, doubling his previous career totals. Army went on to win the game 31-28 in overtime.