Professional sports might generate more viewership, but high school football will always have a special place in sports fans hearts. In the past, colleges would stuff the mailboxes of the athletes they wanted to come play for their university and build up massive long-distance phone bills. These days, social media helps aid the public in seeing the whole process, from recruiting to the official offer, and lastly to where a player finally commits. Being a top prospect in high school is like being a star of a sports film. Each state has its own tale surrounding their most coveted player, so let’s dive in and learn about them.
Julio Jones – Alabama
Since his days at Foley High School in Alabama, Julio Jones has been a beast. He was the number one ranked wide receiver in the nation in 2008, and that would only foreshadow his days as the best in the NFL.
He also won multiple state titles in the high jump, long jump, and triple jump. None of those are easy, and participating in football only gives him less time to focus on one. That’s just how special Jones was and still is.
Everson Griffen – Arizona
Everson Griffen graduated from Agua Fria High School, in Arizona, in 2007. He was a USA Today High School All-American in 2006. In 2007, the high school phenom won the shot put and the discus state championship.
Griffen ended up selecting USC over Michigan, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Oregon. He performed well in college and decided to leave one year early for the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings drafted him, and he’s gone on three Pro Bowls and was second-team All-Pro in 2017.
Mitch Mustain – Arkansas
After graduating from Springdale High in 2006, Mitch Mustain went on to the University of Arkansas before transferring to USC. Mustain is the most heralded recruit to come out of the state of Arkansas. He even swept the 2006 National Player of the Year award voting.
If only his collegiate career were as promising as his days in high school. After an unsuccessful run with the USC Trojans, Mustain played one season of Single-A baseball, followed by two seasons of Arena Football.
Randy Moss – West Virginia
The catching machine that is Randy Moss attended DuPont High School in Belle, West Virginia. Not only did he excel in football, but he was a beast in track, basketball, and baseball. He had smarts too, as he was on the school’s debate team.
He led the school to back-to-back state championships in 1992 and 1993. He wasn’t only the star wide receiver, and played safety and acted as the team’s kicker and punter. Moss was a one-man show in high school.
John Elway – California
John Elway graduated from Granada Hills High in 1979. With so much great talent hailing from California, it’s only right that Elway is the best to come from there. He accumulated 5,711 passing yards to go along with 49 touchdowns during his high school days.
As the number one player in the nation, Elway also enjoyed success playing baseball. He chose to play his college ball at Stanford before becoming the top pick in the 1983 NFL draft. You might’ve heard, but he’s the one that refused to play for the team that drafted him and forced a trade to the Broncos.
Marcus Houston – Colorado
As a senior at Thomas Jefferson High, Marcus Houston ran for 1,743 yards and scored 23 touchdowns. He was the Denver Post Gold Helmet winner in 1999 as well. When it came time for college, the top running back in the country elected the Colorado Buffaloes over UCLA and Michigan.
He became the first true freshman in Colorado University history to run for more than 100 yards in his first two games. Sadly, he couldn’t keep up that torrid pace as injuries and conflicts with coaching loomed.
Kwame Harris – Delaware
Coming out of Newark High in Delaware we have Kwame Harris, an offensive lineman. He graduated in 2000 and was a USA Today High School All-American in 1999, as well as the Gatorade Player of the Year.
Upon leaving his mark in Delaware, Harris took his talents to California to play at Stanford. It’s not surprising that he would go play for a prestige school after every significant recruiting service labeled him the number one offensive lineman in the country.
Trevor Lawrence – Georgia
Trevor Lawrence, from Cartersville High in Georgia, put on a show during his high school career. Before graduating in 2018, he would win 41 straight games, secure two state titles, and become the USA Today Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.
Not only did he go above and beyond in high school, but things also didn’t change at Clemson. He earned starting privileges in week five and would go on to lead them to an undefeated season and a national title as a freshmen.
Manti Te’o – Hawaii
The biggest and toughest high school kid to come from Hawaii is none other than Manti Te’o. He attended Punahou School in Honolulu and graduated in 2009. He helped lead the team to a state title in 2008 and was also the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year.
Te’o was the first five-star recruit from Hawaii since 2002 and went with Notre Dame as his collegiate choice. Analysts said he was the best linebacker to play for Notre Dame in decades.
Jake Plummer – Idaho
Hailing from Capital High in Boise, Jake Plummer was Idaho’s best player from high school. He led the team to a state championship in 1991 and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in 1992.
During his final two seasons of high school, Plummer threw for 6,097 passing yards and had 68 touchdowns. Only a missed PAT prevented him from winning back-to-back state titles. Once he completed ruling high school, he went to Arizona State where he played all four years.
Bryce Brown – Kansas
The most dominant player to come from Kansas is an athlete who graduated in the past decade. Bryce Brown graduated from East high in 2009, but not before becoming a two-time USA Today All-American (2007- 2008). He was also the U.S. Army National Player of the Year in 2008.
Another impressive high school accomplishment was that he set the City League-record for career rushing yards at 7,209. Brown was a sight to see when he had the ball in his hands.
Tim Couch – Kentucky
The state of Kentucky has had some phenomenal players over the decades. Quarterback Tim Couch should feel a great deal of pleasure knowing he’s the best to do it from the state. He played his school ball at Leslie County High.
Couch was a USA Today All-American in 1995 and set national records for passing yardage, touchdowns, and pass completions. He also averaged 36 points per game during his junior season as a basketball player. He was a threat on the court and field.
Peyton Manning – Lousiana
NFL legend Peyton Manning was also a southern star during his high school days. He played at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans and had a litany of stellar accomplishments. He only lost five games in three years as a starter, was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 1993, and had 92 career touchdowns.
Perhaps it’s in the genes, as his father played in the NFL too. Manning was the consensus number one quarterback in the nation, and it wasn’t even close.
Joe Haden – Maryland
Joe Haden attended Friendly High in Fort Washington, but there was nothing friendly about his game. His propelled his team to win a state championship in 2006 and had a state-record 7,371 career passing yards with 80 touchdowns.
Haden was so good he had to be recruited as an “athlete” and not at his natural his position. He chose Florida over Ohio State where he continued his onslaught on the field. The Gators can thank him for leading them to the 2009 BCS National Championship.
Drew Henson – Michigan
Drew Henson is a Michigan boy that went to Brighton High and graduated in 1998. He was a USA Today All-American that recorded the state single-season record of 26 touchdown passes in 1997. As if being a football stud wasn’t enough, he also won USA Today High School Baseball Player of the Year award in 1998.
Scouts viewed Henson as the top recruit in football and baseball coming out of high school. He would go on to split time with Tom Brady at Michigan before landing a $17 million contract with the New York Yankees.
Joe Mauer – Minnesota
From Cretin-Durham Hall High rose Joe Mauer. Named USA Today High School Baseball Player of the Year in 2001 and High School Player of the Year in 2000, Mauer was another one of those exceptional two-sport athletes.
Mauer is the only high school athlete to earn national player of the year in both baseball and football. We’re sure Florida State wasn’t too happy after he chose to play football there, only to go straight to professional baseball instead.
Marcus Dupree – Mississippi
Marcus Dupree wasn’t to be messed with on the field. He attended Philadelphia High where he set the national record with 87 career touchdowns. Dupree also rushed for 2,955 yards and had 36 touchdowns his senior year. Did we mention he was incredibly fast, running a 4.2 40-yard dash?
There weren’t (and still aren’t) many athletic freaks like Dupree in the ’80s, as he went on to become the most coveted high school running back of all-time.
Tate Martell – Nevada
As a starter at Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, Tate Martell went 45-0. He graduated in 2017, but not before winning the Gatorade National Player of the Year award in 2016. He also won the USA Today Offensive Player of the Year that same year.
At only 14 years old, Martell committed to the University of Washington. That’s pretty incredible advanced scouting to pick up on a talent early on his career, but he lived up to the hype. Martell ultimately started his college career with Ohio State.
Jim Brown – New York
The legend Jim Brown attended Manhasset Secondary School and graduated from there in 1953. He was the Nassau County Football Player of the Year in 1952 and lettered 14 times across four years of playing football, lacrosse, basketball and running track.
Just think of him as the Paul Bunyan of high school athletics. His legend only grew the more he dominated in each sport. Lining up next to him on the track, guarding him in basketball, and having to tackle him on the football field must have been frightening.
Charles Woodson – Ohio
There aren’t many who could compete with Charles Woodson. Perhaps a few we’ve already mentioned on this list, but that’s about it. Woodson went to Ross High where he would become Ohio Mr. Football in 1994 and set school records. He rushed for 3,861 yards and scored 466 points as a running back, both of which are records.
Not only was he a monster on the field, but he ran the point guard position and competed on the track team.