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Nearly half of top 50 NFL Draft prospects were 3-star high school recruits or worse

By MANNY NAVARRO
mnavarro@MiamiHerald.com

If you are a high school football recruit and you aren't considered a four- or five-star recruit there is no need to panic. Your chances of being a future NFL first round pick aren't impossible.

Don't believe me? I spent this afternoon looking up the recruiting backgrounds of the Top 50 NFL Draft Prospects according to ESPN and found some intriguing information on how many stars they were given in high school.

Of the top 50 players expected to be taken over the next three days, Rivals.com rated 26 either 4- or 5-star recruits and 24 were 3-star recruits or worse according to the scouting website.

Here's the breakdown: Six five-star recruits; 20 4-star recruits; 17 3-star recruits; six two-star recruits and 1-no star recruit.

Who is the player that didn't have any stars coming out of high school? Former Miami Central and Nebraska cornerback Stan Jean-Baptiste. He moved to North Carolina as a senior and ended up having to go to Fort Scott Community College in Kansas where eventually a couple of BCS programs offered him including the Cornhuskers. So it's safe to say he's the ultimate long shot entering tonight's draft.

Now, as my colleagues at @SBNRecruiting were quick to point out, there are far fewer 5- and 4-star recruits than 3-star recruits or less. So the elite talent usually rises to the top. But it's not impossible for 3-star recruits and others to climb to the top. Take a look at the examples below.

ESPN TOP 50 NFL PROSPECTS

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
- Rivals.com 5-star and No. 1 overall player in 2011 from Rock Hill, S.C. Visited Alabama and Clemson.

2. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
- Rivals.com 4-star and No. 90 overall player in 2011 from Thibodaux, La. Visited LSU.

3. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked from Fort Pierce Westwood, Fla. Only other offer was from Liberty.

4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
- Rivals.com 5-star, No. 15 overall player in 2011 from South Fort Myers. University of Miami was in the running.

5. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 48 overall player in 2011 from Missouri City, Tex. The son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, he committed to the Aggies in July before his junior year. USC was also in the mix.

6. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
- Rivals.com 3-star, No. 37 among DTs in 2010 from Pittsburgh, PA. He picked the Panthers over Toledo and Rutgers.

7. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked overall in 2011 from Galveston, Texas who was a basketball standout. Only other offers were Colorado State and Tulane.

8. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 194 overall player in 2009 from Scottsdale, Arizona. His only other official visit was to Minnesota. Lewan told Canesport in Oct. 2008 he got a surprise offer from UM out of the blue after they saw his highlights on the internet.

9. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 22 among offensive tackles in 2009 from Indianapolis. Notre Dame was his only official visit.

10. Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 43 overall in 2011 from New Orleans. Hurricanes were a finalist, but Rivals.com noted Beckham hadn’t talked much with the Hurricanes’ new coaching staff back in January 2011.

11. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
- Rivals.com 3-star, No. 21 among tight ends in 2011 from Greensboro, N.C. Committed to Butch Davis as a junior and stayed with them through an NCAA investigation.

12. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2010 from Jefferson, Georgia. Other offers were from Middle Tennessee State and Utah State.

13. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
- Rivals.com 5-star, ranked No. 7 overall in 2011 from Orlando Dr. Phillips High. Only other visit was to Michigan.

14. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked No. 56 overall in 2010 from Theodore, Ala. Only other visit was to Auburn.

15. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked in 2010 from Baltimore, Maryland. Followed older brother’s steps to Virginia Tech and picked Hokies over Maryland and Kansas.

16. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 49th overall in 2009 from Richmond, Va. Took visits to Tennesee, West Virginia and North Carolina.

17. Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 14th best outside linebacker in the country in 2011 out of Plantation, Fla. Made a late switch from Gators to Buckeyes after the retirement of Urban Meyer. LSU was also in the mix. Never received a UM offer.

18. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
- Rivals.com 3-star, ranked 44th overall as a pro-style quarterback in 2010 out of Oviedo, Fla. Took unofficial visits to Clemson, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Tennessee, but committed to UCF early and stuck with it.

19. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 240th overall in 2011 class out of Stockton, Calif. Once committed to UCLA, he switching to the Beavers after they crushed USC.

20. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 26th best athlete in 2010 out of Huntsville, Texas. Committed to Oklahoma State early and stuck with them. He didn’t take any other official visits.

21. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
- Rivals.com 3-star, ranked 31st among safeties in 2011 out of Port St. Joe, Fla. Committed to Charlie Strong in September of his senior year, visiting Maryland in October and stuck with the Cardinals.

22. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
- Rivals.com 3-star, ranked 14th among dual-threat QBs in 2011 out of Kerrville, Texas. Switched from being an Oregon commitment after receiving an offer from A&M in August of his senior year.

23. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked among 2011 JUCO recruits out of Santa Rosa, J.C. Didn’t get any scholarship offers coming out of high school in Fairfield, Calif.

24. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 36th overall in 2011 out of Gardena, Calif. Took a late visit to Miami after making previous visits to Florida and Oregon but decided to stay home.

25. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
- Rivals.com 4-star, ranked 50th overall in 2010 out of Los Angeles. Picked the hometown Bruins over Notre Dame and Florida State.

26. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked in 2010 out of Suwanee, Georgia. A previous Vanderbilt commitment, Roby decided to follow former Buckeye Cameron Heyward, a family friend, to Columbus.

27. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
- Rivals.com 5-star, 22nd overall in 2011 out of Monroe, Ga. Flipped his commitment from Notre Dame to Georgia Tech back to Notre Dame in mid January, a big victory for Brian Kelly.

28. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
- Rivals.com 4-star, 113th overall in 2011 out of Miami Northwestern. Was going to be a Hurricane before Randy Shannon was fired. Picked the Cardinals along with teammate and receiver Eli Rogers.

29. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
- Rivals.com 3-star, 62nd among outside linebackers in 2009 out of Odenville, Ala. Committed to Auburn and stuck with them even after Tommy Tuberville resigned and Gene Chizik was named his replacement.

30. Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked in 2010 out of Washington, D.C. Visited Illinois, Kansas State and Syracuse and ultimately picked the Yellow Jackets because of the previous relationship he had with Al Groh, who became Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator.

31. Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2009 out of Long Beach, Calif. Had no other offers other than Nevada. “I want (the players) to see that it doesn’t matter what Rivals.com or scouts say,” Bitonio told the Long Beach Press-Telegram a couple days ago. “That’s the high school myth. It’s about what you do on the field. Anyone can say anything they want. It’s your actions that matter.”

32. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
- Rivals.com 5-star, No. 4 overall in 2011 out of Hyattsville, Maryland. Had one of the most dramatic recruitments in recent memory. He committed to Auburn on Signing Day on ESPN only to have second thoughts moments later. After three days of indecision, he signed with Alabama.

33. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
- Rivals.com 4-star, No. 2 fullback in 2009 out of Naples, Fla. A Cincinnati native, Hyde was a slam dunk signee for Ohio State even after spending a year in prep school.

34. Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
- Rivals.com 4-star, 63rd overall in 2009 out of Provo, Utah. Finalists were BYU, Utah, LSU, UCLA and USC. His last visit was to see the Bruins.

35. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
- Rivals.com 3-star, 49th overall among receivers in 2011 out of Dayton, Ohio. Stuck with the Hooisers after the coaching change and picked them despite late visits to UConn and Western Kentucky. Only had two BCS offers.

36. Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
- Rivals.com 4-star, 85th overall regardless of position in 2010 out of Jacksonville, Fla. Was a University of Miami commitment for over a year and decided to switch to Notre Dame even after the Irish had just fired coach Charlie Weis.

37. Marcus Martin, C, USC
- Rivals.com 3-star, 28th overall among offensive guards in 2011 out of Los Angeles. Stuck to his eight-month commitment despite a late push from Arizona and a visit to Colorado.

38. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
- Rivals.com 4-star, 194th overall regardless of position in 2010 out of New Madrid, Missouri. Picked hometown Tigers in November of his senior year over offers from Georgia Tech, Illinois, Nebraska and Arkansas.

39. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
- Rivals.com 4-star, 29th overall regardless of position in 2011 out of Lake City Columbia, Fla. Made a Signing Day decision picking the Seminoles over LSU, Tennesse and Florida.

40. Stan Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
- Rivals.com no stars in 2009. Went to Miami Central and moved to North Carolina his senior year where he received no offers and eventually signed with Fort Scott Community College. Signed in Nebraska in June 2010 after getting offers from Colorado, South Florida, Iowa State, Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas State.

41. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
- Rivals.com 3-star, 6th overall among tight ends in 2009 out of Minneapolis, Minn. Decided to stick with the hometown Gophers and commit in November of his senior year after visits to Ohio State and Wisconsin.

42. Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
- Rivals.com 3-star, 45th overall among safeties in 2010 out of Fairfield, Calif. Chose the Cougars in September over offers from Army, Cal-Poly, Nevada and San Diego State.

43. Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked among JUCOs in 2012 out of Butler County Community College (Kansas). Grew up in Aiken. S.C. Picked Boise State after visits to Kansas State, USF and Tennessee.

44. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2011 out of Palo Alto, Calif. A basketball and football star in high school, Adams received only two football offers – the other was from San Diego State. He told Rivals in Aug. 2010 he ran routes like former Miami Hurricane Santana Moss.

45. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
- Rivals.com 4-star, 235th overall regardless of position in 2011 out of Spokane, Wash. Was committed to Washington State before switching to then-coach Steve Sarkisian a week before signing day.

46. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2010. Moved to Mobile, Ala. At the age of seven and was a star for Davidson High School. But he had only three FBS offers. The others: New Mexico and Louisiana-Monroe.

47. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
- Rivals.com 4-star, 52nd overall regardless of position in 2011 out of San Antonio, Texas. Committed to the Raiders in April of his junior year and didn’t visit elsewhere.

48. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
- Rivals.com 5-star, 18th overall in 2011 out of Lutcher, La. Committed to LSU coach Les Miles in January of his junior year and stayed committed.

49. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
- Rivals.com 3-star, unranked in 2010 out of Madison, Ala. Had only a couple of other BCS offers: Arkansas State, Kansas and Tulane.

50. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
- Rivals.com 2-star, unranked in 2010 out of Rolling Meadows, Ill. Had only two other offers: Montana State and Illinois State.

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