The Atlanta Falcons traded five draft picks for the opportunity to select
former Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones with the sixth
overall pick in 2011.
Before becoming a standout in college and a hot commodity to an NFL franchise,
Jones was one of 14 players to be ranked a five-star prospect from the
state of Alabama during his playing days at Foley (Ala.) High.
Following the summer evaluation period, the Rivals.com team of analysts is
meeting this week to discuss how to reshape the rankings for the class of 2014
Rivals100 presented by Under Armour. This presented a perfect opportunity to
look back at former five-star prospects and re-rank them among the other elite
prospects from their home states.
From 2002 -- when Rivals.com established the Rivals100 -- to 2013, there
have been 11 states that have produced 10 or more players who have earned five-star
rankings. Over the next five days, it will be time to turn back the clock and put
those players in order based on what they did in high school.
None of the players identified as midseason five-stars for the class of 2014
is considered for this ranking. Each ranking is subject to change
through the regular season and all-star game evaluations.
The state of Alabama barely made the cut with 14 prospects ranked as
five-stars, but Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said he
thinks this group may be among the best of any state.
"Talk about an impressive group for a state that doesn't produce nearly as many
five-stars as some other states," he said. "Jones was the choice here over
(Andre) Smith and (D.J.) Fluker despite being ranked lower overall in his
All three players elected to sign with Alabama, and each has been drafted
into the NFL.
Jones was part of an evaluation battle as he and Summerville (S.C.) High
receiver A.J. Green were in the class of 2008 together and each
put up gaudy numbers.
Jones burst onto the scene as a sophomore with 51 catches and 805 yards,
and he followed with a 75-catch junior season during which he added 1,306 yards
and 16 scores. His senior year ended with 68 catches and 1,181 yards and
another 16 scores.
Farrell said Jones is the best of the best right now, but offensive
players such as Jameis Winston and O.J. Howard could push the
issue as they develop.
"Jones was the No. 1 wide receiver in the best receiver class I've seen in my
long career, but (Andre) Smith is a close second with one of the best offensive
line tapes you'll ever see," Farrell said. "We still need to see how Winston,
(Reuben) Foster and Howard pan out, but all were amazing talents coming out of
"Top to bottom, this could be the list that has the fewest busts when we look
back in another few years."
While the Alabama five-star group may not have a high-profile bust, Farrell
said there was a whiff among the prospects who did not get a fifth star.
Decatur (Ala.) High linebacker Rolando McClain was ranked just outside the elite group, but his evaluation of the 6-foot-4, 240-pound player is one
Farrell wishes he could revisit.
"(He was) just outside the five-star group but obviously should have been
included," Farrell said. "Huge, SEC-sized linebacker and has become one of the
guys we compare others to since."