On the eve of National Signing Day, you may have stars in your eyes.
Interestingly enough, the stars who will be playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl LI weren’t always seen as such. In fact, most were not blue-chip prospects.
Jon Solomon of CBS Sports took a deep dive into the Super Bowl rosters to see how they were viewed by the recruiting powers that be coming out of high school. The verdict? Of the projected starters on both the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, only nine were either four- or five-star recruits. Not only that, but 37 percent of the game’s prospective starters weren’t ranked in the top 1,000 players in their recruiting class.
(This doesn’t include four-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady who, as Solomon writes, “was overlooked for a while and got labeled as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming in 1995, which came before recruiting rankings blew up into a major industry.”)
For the Falcons, the prospect who has lived up to the rating in both college and the pros has been wide receiver Julio Jones, a five-star recruit and the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver (per the 247Sports Composite) coming out of Foley (Ala.). Falcons offensive tackle Jake Matthews, running back Devonta Freeman and safety Keanu Neal were all four-star recruits.
On the Patriots side, Texas natives Martellus Bennett (TE) and Malcom Brown (DT) were each five-star recruits, while running back LeGarrette Blount, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and kick returner/cornerback Cyrus Jones were all four-star players.
As for Falcons quarterback and potential 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan? He was a three-star recruit and ranked the No. 25 in his high school class (No. 34 once the 247Sports Composite rankings came out).
Just more evidence that it is not where you start, but where you finish that matters.
You can read Solomon’s well-researched piece here.