Before each high school football season, The Tennessean releases its annual Dandy Dozen — a list of the top 12 college football prospects in Middle Tennessee — and last fall was no different.
As National Signing Day approaches on Wednesday, seven of the 2015 Dandy Dozen members appear bound for the Southeastern Conference, with three more Midstate prospects headed for Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12).
And while height, weight, 40-yard-dash times and high school statistics assist in the process, predicting how a player will pan out at the next level is anything but a science, so let’s see how The Tennessean has done in recent years.
Here’s a look at how the previous four Dandy Dozen selections have performed on the collegiate level:
1: DL Kyle Phillips, Fr., Tennessee (Hillsboro)
The Hillsboro product and U.S. Army All-American appeared in seven games during his injury-shortened true freshman campaign, registering eight tackles and one sack.
2: WR Jauan Jennings, Fr., Tennessee (Blackman)
The former Mr. Football hauled in 14 receptions for 149 yards as a freshman at Tennessee, and the converted QB also threw a 58-yard TD pass in the Volunteers’ 28-27 loss at Florida on Sept. 26.
3: WR Van Jefferson, Fr., Ole Miss (Ravenwood)
The U.S. Army All-American and Mr. Football finalist redshirted at Ole Miss in 2015.
4: DB Donovan Sheffield, Fr., Vanderbilt (Ensworth)
The 2014 All-Midstate first-teamer played in six games for the Commodores in 2015, tallying five total tackles, four solo stops and a pair of pass breakups.
5: LB Josh Smith, Fr., Vanderbilt (Oakland)
The 2014 All-Midstate first-teamer appeared in all 12 games for the Commodores, finishing the year with seven stops and one tackle for loss.
6: DB Cameron Ordway, Fr., Ole Miss (Giles County)
The 2014 All-Midstate first-teamer played in seven games for the Rebels in 2015, registering six tackles and a pair of pass breakups.
7: OL Jack Jones, Fr., Tennessee (Oakland)
The former Mr. Football appeared in nine games for Tennessee a season ago, making his lone start at right guard in the Volunteers’ Oct. 24 loss at eventual national champion Alabama.
8: DB Rico McGraw, Fr., Georgia (Ensworth)
The former U.S. Army All-American appeared in nine games for the Bulldog, cracking the starting lineup five times, and finished the year with 15 tackles, four pass breakups and three QB hurries.
9: TE Jackson Harris, Fr., Georgia (Columbia)
The 2014 All-Midstate first-teamer played in 12 games and made one start for the Bulldogs in 2015, hauling in four receptions for 50 yards.
10: OL Alex Givens, Fr., Ole Miss (Nashville Christian)
The Nashville Christian product and 2014 All-Midstate first-teamer redshirted at Ole Miss last season.
11: DB Ugo Amadi, Fr., Oregon (Overton)
The 2014 All-Midstate first-teamer appeared in 12 games for the Ducks, registering 25 total tackles, eight pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.
12: RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Fr., Illinois (Pearl-Cohn)
The 2014 Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year racked up a team-leading 723 yards rushing with six touchdowns for the Fighting Illini.
1: RB Jalen Hurd, So., Tennessee (Beech)
Through just two seasons in Knoxville, Hurd has amassed 2,187 yards rushing, bringing the former Mr. Football to within 1,000 yards of becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher.
2: WR Josh Malone, So., Tennessee (Station Camp)
The former U.S. Army All-American has made 44 catches for 636 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons at Tennessee, which includes a team-leading 405 yards receiving a season ago.
3: DE Derek Barnett, So., Tennessee (Brentwood Academy)
In two seasons at Tennessee, the former two-time Mr. Football has registered 20 sacks, tying Steve White (1992-95) for the eighth-most in school history.
4: DL Michael Sawyers (Ensworth)
After appearing in four games for Tennessee as a freshman in 2014, Sawyers was dismissed from the program last offseason after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge.
5: OL Alex Bars, RFr., Notre Dame (MBA)
After not seeing the field as a freshman in 2014, Bars appeared in six games a season ago, and he even cracked the starting lineup in games against Navy and USC before a broken ankle ended his season.
6: DB Emmanuel Smith, So., Vanderbilt (Oakland)
The former All-Midstate first-teamer played in 11 games for Vanderbilt in 2015, starting games against MTSU and Houston, and finished the year with 10 tackles and a pair of pass deflections.
7: DB RaShaan Gaulden, RFr., Tennessee (Independence)
Gaulden appeared in 11 games for the Vounteers as a freshman in 2014, but the former All-Midstate first-teamer suffered a foot injury last August and was sidelined for the entire 2015 campaign.
8: OL Jashon Roberton, So., Tennessee (MBA)
Aside from missing three games with an ankle injury last season, Robertson has been a mainstay along the Volunteers’ offensive front, starting 23 of 26 games since his arrival in Knoxville.
9: WR Thomas Richard, RFr., Chattanooga (CPA)
After making just one catch for 4 yards in his first two seasons at Missouri, the CPA product opted to transfer to FCS program Chattanooga in the offseason.
10: OL Paul Adams, RFr., Missouri (CPA)
After redshirting in 2014, the 6-foot-6, 290-pound former Mr. Football saw action in three games last season.
11: A.J. Long (Friendship Christian)
Long threw for 935 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman at Syracuse, but the former Mr. Football finalist was medically disqualified last season due to suffering multiple concussions.
12: Vic Wharton III, So., California (Independence)
The Independence product played in nine games for Tennessee in 2014, making five catches for 64 yards and a TD, but sat out in 2015 after transferring to California.
1: DB Corn Elder, Jr., Miami (Ensworth)
Elder enjoyed a very successful junior season at Miami, recording two interceptions, 11 pass breakups and a pair of TDs, and the former Ensworth star also capped the thrilling, eight-lateral kickoff return to beat Duke on Halloween.
2: Jamonte Graham, Jr., Cumberland (Father Ryan)
The former two-sport star at Father Ryan has attended three schools in three years, eventually landing at Cumberland, where he is playing basketball for the Phoenix and averaging 6.9 points.
3: Princeton Harlan (Mt. Pleasant)
During his senior year at Mt. Pleasant, Harlan was arrested and charged with the rape of a child. Harlan, who admitted to two sex acts with a 12-year-old girl and pleaded guilty to facilitation of child rape, is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
4: LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Jr., Tennessee (Northeast)
The 2012 all-state selection has started 26 straight games for the Volunteers, tallying 220 total tackles, 25 tackles for loss, eight sacks and an interception in his three-year career at Tennessee
5: QB Brent Stockstill, RFr., MTSU (Siegel)
The former Mr. Football finalist took over the starting quarterback duties at MTSU last fall, throwing for 4,005 yards and 30 touchdown passes with just nine interceptions in 2015.
6: DB Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State (Brentwood Academy)
Following a stellar three-year career at Florida State, Ramsey declared for the NFL Draft earlier this month, and the two-time All-American selection is expected to be an early first-round pick.
7: QB Albert Mitchell, So., Samford (CPA)
The former Christ Presbyterian Academy standout redshirted as a freshman in 2013 and has played sparingly the past two seasons
8: Jedediah Vivio (Goodpasture)
Vivio, who made 23 straight starts at left tackle before graduating from Goodpasture, played one season at Murray State.
9: Marquis Morton, So., College of DuPage (Shelbyville)
After originally signing with Murray State, Morton enrolled at College of DuPage, a two-year community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill., where he played for the Chaparrals last season.
10: Tae Martin, Jr., UT Martin (Siegel)
After redshirting as a freshman in 2013, the former Siegel standout has appeared in 19 games with two starts the past two seasons, registering 29 tackles, three pass breakups and a sack.
11: Max Staver, So., Houston Baptist (Brentwood Academy)
Staver has attended three schools in three years, making stops at Florida and Tyler Junior College before ending up at FBS program Houston Baptist, where he threw for 1,109 yards and five TDs last fall.
12: D’Montre Wade, So., Murray State (Brentwood Academy)
After redshirting as a freshman in 2013, the former Brentwood Academy standout has made 19 starts for Murray State the past two seasons, posting 93 tackles, 13 pass breakups and an interception.
1: RB I’Tavius Mathers, Jr., MTSU (Blackman)
Mathers, a former Mr. Football, amassed 1,061 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons at Ole Miss before transferring to MTSU, where, after sitting out the 2015 season, he has one season of eligibility remaining.
2: OL Graham Shuler, Jr., Stanford (Brentwood Academy)
The former U.S. Army All-American started the final 26 games for Stanford, helping lead the Cardinal to a 12-2 record and a 45-16 Rose Bowl victory over Iowa a season ago, but has decided to forgo his senior season to pursue “other opportunities.”
3: OL Blake Bars, Jr., Michigan (MBA)
After redshirting as a freshman in 2012, the 2015 Academic All-Big Ten honoree has appeared in just 16 games as a reserve offensive linemen for Michigan.
4: OL Andrew Jelks, Jr., Vanderbilt (Henry County)
The former Mr. Football Lineman’s 2015 campaign ended before it started as Jelks suffered a season-ending knee injury in preseason camp. However, the two-year starter is expected to be the leader along the Commodores’ offensive front this fall.
5: DL Woody Baron, Jr. Virginia Tech (Brentwood Academy)
Baron, a former Mr. Football finalist, has registered 43 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries during his three-year career at Virginia Tech.
6: DL Caleb Azubike, Sr., Vanderbilt (McGavock)
Azubike wrapped up his playing career last fall, totaling 120 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 15 sacks two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries in his four years at Vanderbilt.
7: QB C.J. Beathard, Jr., Iowa (BGA)
In his second season as the starter at Iowa, Beathard threw for 2,809 yards and 17 touchdowns while helping lead the Hawkeyes to their first 12-win season in program history.
8: DB Josh Shelton, So., Wingate (Mt. Juliet)
Shelton appeared in just one game in two seasons at Troy before transferring to Division II Wingate, where he registered 18 tackles and a pair of interceptions in 11 games last season.
9: Eric Belew (Columbia)
After making 19 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons at Tennessee Tech, Belew transferred to Division II North Alabama, where he played 1½ seasons his career was cut short due to concussions.
10: Cory Batey (Ensworth)
After redshirting at Vanderbilt in 2012, Batey, along with three other Commodore players, were dismissed from school after being charged with multiple counts of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery. He is awaiting a second trial in the case.
11: Al Thompson, Jr., Cumberland (Brentwood Academy)
The former Brentwood Academy standout has attended three schools in four years, starting out at Chattanooga and transferring to San Jacinto Junior College (Calif.) before ending up at Cumberland, where he made nine catches for 84 yards in 2015.
12: Matt Kuivinen (Franklin)
The former Rebels standout received a scholarship offer from Syracuse during his senior year at Franklin, but the three-star quarterback prospect elected not to pursue football in college.