May 29, 2006

Five we got right

People say hindsight is 20-20, but Rivals.com's vision of the future was pretty clear in the past. Looking back over the years it's easy to see that Rivals.com analysts have hit some home runs when it comes to picking five-star rankings, and with the first set of five-star rankings scheduled to be released on Tuesday, here's a look back at five can't miss players that more than lived up to the hype.

Rudi Johnson, El Dorado (Kan.) Bulter County Community College, Class of 2000
Rivals.com star rating: Five stars
Rivals.com rankings: No. 1 JUCO prospect
NFL Draft: No. 100 overall by the Bengals in the 2001 draft

After rushing for 2,224 yards in 1999 and being named the most valuable player of the national title game, Johnson was tabbed by Rivals.com as the top junior college player in America and was a five-star prospect before heading off to Auburn for one exciting season. At Auburn, he was named the SEC coaches player of the year and earned Associated Press SEC offensive player of the year honors. He set the Auburn season record with 324 rushing attempts, and his 1,567 rushing yards were second only to Bo Jackson's 1,786 in Auburn's 1985 season. Johnson is heading into his sixth year with the Cincinnati Bengals and during his time has become one of the NFL's most consistent rushers — rushing for 2,912 yards over the past two seasons.

Kevin Jones, Springfield (Pa.) Cardinal O'Hara, Class of 2001
Rivals.com star rating: Five stars
Rivals.com rankings: Nation's No. 1 prospect
NFL Draft: No. 30 overall by the Lions in the 2004 draft

Jones was one of the players who brought recruiting into the mainstream of college athletics coverage. Jones was ranked as the nation's top player and the top running back in the class of 2001 by Rivals.com after rushing for 5,878 yards and 84 touchdowns in his high school career. The day he was slated to announce his decision between Penn State and Virginia Tech, hundreds of people crammed Rivals.com message boards and chat rooms to follow the press conference play-by-play — the first of its kind back in 2001. It was there that Jones revealed that he was going to Tech after first putting on a Penn State shirt. Jones went on to have a great career at Virginia Tech and was drafted in the first round by the Detroit Lions. He's started 27 games for the Lions and was named an alternate to the 2005 Pro Bowl.

Reggie Bush, San Diego Helix, Class of 2003
Rivals.com star rating: Five stars
Rivals.com rankings: Nation's No. 2 prospect, No. 1 running back
NFL Draft: No. 2 overall by the Saints in the 2006 draft

Bush did everything you want from an elite high school running back. He broke about every record in San Diego and proved to be an easy pick as the top running back in the nation back in the class of 2003. He was behind Ernie Sims as the No. 2 player selected in the 2006 NFL Draft, but he definitely proved his five-star status was well deserved over his three-year career at USC. Bush was one of the most dynamic college players in the past 10 years and his great frame, amazing hands and explosive running style should make him a great fit for the New Orleans Saints.
Click here for video of Bush in high school

Vince Young, Houston Madison, Class of 2002
Rivals.com star rating: Five stars
Rivals.com rankings: Nation's No. 1 prospect
NFL Draft: No. 3 overall by the Titans in the 2006 draft

Young was named the nation's No. 1 player by Rivals.com in 2002 after an amazing senior season that saw him lead his team deep in the state playoffs. At the time there was a heated debate between Texas and Texas A&M fans concerning which elite quarterback that season was the better prospect — Young or Lufkin, Texas, standout Reggie McNeal. Rivals.com ranked McNeal as an athlete and Young as the quarterback and both did have good college careers, but it was Young that led the Longhorns to the national championship in 2005 and finished as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Young was recently drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the No. 3 pick.
Click here for video of Young in high school

Adrian Peterson, Palestine (Texas), Class of 2004
Rivals.com star rating: Five stars
Rivals.com rankings: Nation's No. 1 prospect
Currently: All-American running back at OU, was 2004 Heisman runner-up

Peterson was ranked as the nation's No. 1 player overall, the top running back and the top player in Texas in the class of 2004 when he rushed for 2,960 yards on 252 attempts, an average of 11.7 yards per carry, and 32 touchdowns as a senior. After also visiting Arkansas, Miami, Southern Cal and UCLA, Peterson picked Oklahoma in one of the legendary recruiting battles between Big 12 rivals Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Peterson has been called by many college football analysts as the best running back to hit the game in 20 years. Peterson gobbled up enough yards as a freshman at Oklahoma to finish second in the Heisman Trophy voting. Played in only five games as a sophomore because of injury, but still rushed for 1,108 yards and 14 scores.
Click here for video of Peterson in high school




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