A 10-Year History Of #1 Ranked High School Football Players By Rivals

By Dalton J. Johnson / @DaltonJ_Johnson

Christmas may be upon us, but for many high school football players, whatever good 'ol Saint Nick has in store for them under the tree is nothing compared to signing their names on Feb. 4, 2015. The significance of that date is high school football’s Christmas, aka National Signing Day.

The recruiting process has gone wild. There are loads of different All-Star games from the countywide to state varieties, and now two nationally televised All-American games. The U.S. Army All-American Bowl dates back to 2001, when just 6,300 fans watched the best from the East and West battle each other at Highlander Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Last year, the game was played at the Alamodome in San Antonio in front of 40,017 spectators. Performance wear giant Under Armour jumped into the fold in 2008, playing the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game at different locations in Florida. Attendance records have not been shown publicly.

Websites such as Rivals.com, ESPN and 24/7 Sports all rate and rank high school football recruits throughout the year, virtually determining which young prospects are destined for greatness at the college and professional levels. Rivals is the original innovators in rankings, and since 2002 to 2011 — the last class for a draft-eligible player — Rivals’ No. 1 overall ranked prospects have produced mixed results at both the college and NFL levels. Putting a stamp on any high school kid to be a future NFL star is a complete gamble, and these past top dogs show us why.

2002 No. 1 Ranked Player: Vince Young, Dual-Threat Quarterback

Collegiate Stats: 3 Years, 37 Games Played, 6,040 Passing Yards, 61.8 % Completion Percentage, 44 Passing TDs, 28 INTs, 3,127 Rushing Yards, 37 Rushing TDs, 81 Total TDs.

Collegiate Honors: 2005 All-American, 2nd in 2005 Heisman voting

NFL Stats: 2006-2011, 61 Games Played, 8,964 Passing Yards, 57.9% Completion Percentage, 46 Passing TDs, 51 INTs, 1,459 Rushing Yards, 12 Rushing TDs, 58 Total TDs.

NFL Honors: 2006 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2006 & 2009 Pro Bowl

Vince Young lived up to the hype in high school and college at the University of Texas, after being one of the most highly touted prospects to come out of Texas ever. He was electrifying, both with his arm and legs, leading Texas to the 2005 BCS National Championship over No. 1-ranked USC.

After going third in the 2006 draft to the Tennessee Titans, Young showed flashes of his tremendous athleticism as a rookie, winning the 2006 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, and punched his ticket to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. Young started 13 games, going 8-5, and threw for 2,199 yards and 12 touchdowns. On the ground, he rushed for 552 yards and seven more touchdowns. Another bright spot was Young’s winning blood, as he led the NFL in fourth-quarter comeback wins led by a quarterback, with four. There was one problem, however. Young’s accuracy and interception-prone passes were clear from that first season. His rookie year, Young threw 13 interceptions and followed that with 17 the next season. In his six-year career, Young threw more picks than touchdowns four different times.

Final Verdict: Bust

2003 No. 1 Ranked Player: Ernie Sims, Inside Linebacker

Collegiate Stats: 3 Years, 38 Games Played, 95 Solo Tackles, 200 Total Tackles, 7 Sacks, 1 Fumble Recovery, 1 Forced Fumble, 2 INTs, 1 Blocked Kick

Collegiate Honors: 2004 All-American

NFL Stats: 2006-2013, 109 Games Played, Solo Tackles 420, 623 Total Tackles, 5.5 Sacks, 3 Fumble Recoveries, 6 Forced Fumbles, 1 INT

NFL Honors: None

After Ernie Sims’ sophomore year at Florida State, his expectations were huge. In 12 games that season, Sims recorded 86 tackles, nine of those for loss, and also took the quarterback down four and a half times. He was named Second-Team All-ACC and an ESPN All-American. That junior year, however, was not as successful. In the summer of 2005, Sims was arrested on battery and resisting an officer. He started all 13 games, but the eye-popping stats weren’t there. Still, Sims was drafted ninth overall in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.

In his first three seasons for the Lions, Sims totaled 125, 134 and 113 tackles, but then the wheels fell off, never producing more than 61 tackles in a season again. Currently, he is still an unsigned free agent.

Final Verdict: Average NFL Player. Sims was far from a star but equally as far from a bust, lasting eight seasons as an NFL linebacker.

2004 No. 1 Ranked Player: Adrian Peterson, Running Back

Collegiate Stats: 3 Years, 31 Games Played, 4,041 Rushing Yards, 5.4 Yards Per Carry, 41 Rushing TDs, 198 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving TD, 42 Total TDs

Collegiate Honors: Finished 3rd in the 2002 Heisman Trophy Presentation, First Team All-American, 3-time First Team All Big-12

NFL Stats: 2007-2014 (1 game this season), 104 Games Played, 10,190 Rushing Yards, 5.0 Yards Per Carry, 86 Rushing TDs, 1,715 Receiving Yards, 5 Receiving TDs, 91 Total TDs

NFL Honors: 2007 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2012 NFL AP/PFWA MVP, 2012 NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year, Pro Bowls: 2007-10, 2012-13, First-Team All-Pro: 2008-09, 2012

Since Adrian Peterson entered the league in 2007, he has been hands down the best running back in the league. At 29 years old, and being suspended for the whole season after the first game of the year, Peterson is still ranked 28th all time for the most rushing yards in NFL history. He was a workhorse at Oklahoma when healthy and has proved to be the same in the NFL, even with subpar quarterbacks for most of his career.

Peterson’s career going forward is uncertain right now, but he has certainly fit the bill of a former No. 1 recruit. In this case, Rivals got it right after Peterson nearly ran for 3,000 yards his senior year of high school.

Final Verdict: Star

2005 No. 1 Ranked Player: Derrick Williams, Athlete

Collegiate Stats: 4 Years, 46 Games Played, 1,743 Receiving Yards, 9 Receiving TDs, 594 Rushing Yards, 8 Rushing TDs, 3 Punt Return TDs, 2 Kick Return TDs, 22 Total TDs

College Honors: 2008 First Team All-Big Ten

NFL Stats: 2009-2010, 18 Games Played, 82 Receiving Yards, 0 TDs, 4 Yards Rushing, 0 Rushing TDs

NFL Honors: None

Derrick Williams fit the bill of an athlete in his time at Penn State, playing a little bit of everything, but he was never a star at anything. Still, the ceiling was so high, plenty of people projected him to go in the first or second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Williams lasted all the way until the 82nd overall pick to the Lions. His NFL career was stuck to the floor, never being able to reach close to the ceiling, and lasted only two years with no touchdowns.

Final Verdict: Bust

2006 No. 1 Ranked Player: Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver

Collegiate Stats: 3 Years, 36 Games Played, 1,852 Rushing Yards, 9.5 Yards Per Carry, 19 Rushing TDs, 1,929 Receiving Yards, 13 Receiving TDs, 32 Total TDs

Collegiate Honors: 2009 First Team All-American

NFL Stats: 2009-14, 65 Games Played, 3,634 Receiving Yards, 20 Receiving TDs, 871 Rushing Yards, 5 Rushing TDs, 5 Kick Return TDs, 30 Total TDs

NFL Honors: 2009 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2009 Pro Bowl

From the day he came into the NFL, Percy Harvin fit the one word that Rivals recruiting experts described him as: explosive. His first three years with the Minnesota Vikings especially fit that word, scoring 24 touchdowns via catches, rushes or on returns in those years. Then, his health problems kicked in. Along with that, Harvin’s attitude has been publicly chronicled as the main reason he was traded by the Seattle Seahawks this season.

At just 26 years old, Harvin still has plenty of time to cement his No. 1 status and already has plenty of times in his career. The problem is, he also hasn’t lived up to the hype almost just as often.

Final Verdict: Incomplete. In his sixth season, Harvin is already on his third different team and can only hope to have a non-blind quarterback throwing him the ball in the future for the Jets. Time will still tell with Harvin, who as a former No. 1 ranked prospect is an Incomplete/Star/Bust/Who Knows NFL player so far.

2007 No. 1 Ranked Player: Jimmy Clausen, Pro-Style Quarterback

Collegiate Stats: 3 Years, 35 Games Played, 8,148 Passing Yards, 68% Completion Percentage, 60 TDs, 27 INTs, 5 Rushing TDs, 65 Total TDs

Collegiate Honors: 2009 Second Team All-American

NFL Stats: 2010-2014, 16 Games Played, 1,600 Passing Yards, 51.9 % Completion Percentage, 3 Passing TDs, 9 INTs, 3 Total TDs

NFL Honors: None

The clip up above is all you need to know about how Jimmy Clausen’s career has gone.

The first time I saw Jimmy Clausen play was in the California Division III state championship against Cardinal Newman High School, of Santa Rosa. Oaks Christian from Southern California had unbelievable talent, and it was clear that Clausen had talent. But he struggled in his team’s 27-20 overtime victory. On the day, Clausen only completed 11 of 22 passes for 94 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. What made matters worse, and concerned me, was Clausen’s constant whining, yelling and blaming his teammates. No matter what his ranking was, it spelled trouble in the future to me.

My gut feeling turned out to be right. Clausen slipped past the first round of the 2010 draft and was picked up by the Carolina Panthers. One year later, the Panthers made Cam Newton the No. 1 overall selection in the draft, ending Clausen’s future with the team. Today, he serves as Jay Cutler’s backup for the Chicago Bears, and getting no snaps the way Cutler’s playing basically shows Clausen’s NFL career in a nutshell.

Final Verdict: Bust

2008 No. 1 Ranked Player: Terrelle Pryor, Dual-Threat Quarterback

Collegiate Stats: 3 Years, 39 Games Played, 6,177 Passing Yards, 60.9% Completion Percentage, 57 Passing TDs, 26 INTs, 2,164 Rushing Yards, 17 Rushing TDs, 2 Receiving TDs, 76 Total TDs

Collegiate Honors: 2010 Rose Bowl MVP

NFL Stats: 2011-2013, 15 Games Played, 1,953 Passing Yards, 56.3% Completion Percentage, 9 Passing TDs, 12 INTs, 627 Rushing Yards, 3 Rushing TDs, 12 Total TDs

NFL Honors: Longest run in NFL history by a QB

Rivals compared Terrelle Pryor to Vince Young for his rare combination of speed and size at the quarterback position. Really, the comparison was pretty spot on as both players proved to be great athletes, but not great quarterbacks. Pryor’s senior-year stats in high school should have shown this. That season, he ran for 10 more yards than he threw for and also found the end zone with his legs 13 more times than his arm. Maybe that was based on the team’s offense, but still it’s always been clear Pryor was more of an athlete than a quarterback.

After Pryor’s famous tattoo incident, the Oakland Raiders made the most Raider move possible by selecting him in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft. He is currently a free agent after lasting only three seasons in Oakland.

Final Verdict: Bust, but still incomplete at only 25 years old and all the natural talent in the world. Dear Terrelle, BE A WIDE RECEIVER. That’s my dream Madden scenario, and one day he will thank me.

2009 No. 1 Ranked Player: Bryce Brown, Running Back

Collegiate Stats: 2 Years, 14 Games Played, 476 Rushing Yards, 4.6 Yards Per Carry, 3 Rushing TDs, 137 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving TD, 4 Total TDs

Collegiate Honors: None

NFL Stats: 2012-2014, 37 Games Played, 973 Rushing Yards, 4.4 Yards Per Carry, 6 Rushing TDs, 262 Receiving Yards, 0 Receiving TDs, 6 Total TDs

NFL Honors: None

Bryce Brown’s college football career was as bizarre as it gets. With the poor guidance of his “manager” Brian Butler, Brown verbally committed to Miami but wouldn’t sign a letter of intent until March 16th, 2009, at his one-man announcement. Eventually, he signed with Tennessee and Lane Kiffin, showing immediate promise as a freshman. Kiffin’s departure from the Volunteers changed everything. Brown left the team on the first practice of 2010, transferred to Kansas State to be with his brother Arthur, and left the Wildcats after just two carries.

Still, the Philadelphia Eagles took a shot on Brown in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. He showed talent his rookie year, yet has never come close to showing he was worth the hype of the best running back from Kansas since Barry Sanders.

Final Verdict: Bust

2010 No. 1 Ranked Player: Ronald Powell, Weak-Side Defensive End

Collegiate Stats: 3 Years, 55 Solo Tackles, 83 Total Tackles, 11 Sacks,1 Forced Fumble

Collegiate Honors: None

NFL Stats: 2014 (Rookie), 11 Games Played, 2 Total Tackles

NFL Honors: None

He was big. He was fast. He was strong. Ronald Powell fit the mold of a blue-chip prospect. Putting all that talent together simply never happened for him at Florida. The flashes were there, and the size, speed and strength combination was too, yet production didn’t follow. After tearing his ACL twice in 2012, Powell was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 draft by the New Orleans Saints.

Final Verdict: Incomplete/Bust. Powell is still only a rookie, so time will tell. As a former No. 1 recruit, the chances of him ever playing to those expectations are slim to none.

2011 No. 1 Ranked Player: Jadeveon Clowney, Strong-Side Defensive End

Collegiate Stats: 3 Years, 85 Solo Tackles, 130 Total Tackles, 47 Tackles for Loss, 24 Sacks, 1 Fumble Recovery, 9 Forced Fumbles

Collegiate Honors: 2012 All-American, 6th in 2012 Heisman voting

NFL Stats: 2014 (Rookie), 4 Games Played, 7 Total Tackles

NFL Honors: None

As far as a big, fast and strong combination goes, Clowney was seen as Ronald Powell 2.0 with no limits as to what he could do on a football field. Already, his career has been shortened. Clowney underwent season-ending knee surgery after only playing in four games this season. With his college production and beyond freakish natural talent, we cannot give up on Clowney yet. He should be worth the wait.

Final Verdict: Incomplete with Texas-sized hopes he and J.J. Watt can create the “Electric Circus” and terrorize quarterbacks for years.

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