A dozen states have completed state football championships for the 2009 season, and the rest in the union are crowning winners shortly. A majority of upcoming All-Americans and college signees will have never won a state title. To those, we offer this: Join the group.
Through no fault of their own, here are 10 of the NFL’s hottest commodities to have never claimed their state's ultimate prize.
1. Tom Brady (Serra HS, San Mateo, Calif.): He may have won three Super Bowl rings, but Brady never even won a league championship. This is almost cheating because California didn’t have any form of state championship set up between 1927 and 2006. But what it did have in terms of team titles, Brady’s Padres didn’t come close to winning: the West Catholic Athletic League or Central Coast Section. He threw for 3,702 career passing yards and 31 touchdowns but the Padres were 11-9 in his two years as a starter and 4-6 in WCAL play. His better sport might have been baseball because he was drafted as a catcher by the Montreal Expos.
2. Adrian Peterson (Palestine HS, Texas): As good as the NFL's most imposing back was in high school – he gained 5,011 yards and rushed for 54 touchdowns in two seasons – he couldn’t carry the Wildcats anywhere near a state championship in the rugged regions of Texas. Instead of shooting for a team title, he had just personal glory to pursue; in his final game, his coach Jeff Harrell made sure he showcased Peterson’s awesome talent. He responded by going for 350 yards and six touchdowns.
3. Peyton Manning (Newman HS, New Orleans): A state crown looked promising for the future NFL Hall of Famer when he started at quarterback as a sophomore. He actually moved his brother Cooper from QB to receiver, even though the Greenies were the defending state 2A champions. Peyton led the team to a 12-2 season with 23 TD passes, but Newman lost in the state semifinals that year. Manning threw 69 touchdowns combined the next two seasons, but Newman would get no closer to a state crown.
4. Brett Favre (Hancock North Central HS, Miss.): Not only did the ageless and legendary quarterback never come close to winning a state title, he barely threw the ball. His dad Irvin was the coach and preferred to run the wishbone, so his son averaged about five passes per game. Favre did it all for his team, playing also strong safety, kicker, punter and even some line early in his career.
5. Chris Johnson (Olympia HS, Orlando, Fla.): The speedy Titans star and current leading rusher in the NFL was known more for track and weight-lifting than football in high school. He was only a two-star football recruit and picked East Carolina over Eastern Kentucky and Connecticut. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a junior but Johnson missed four games as a senior, and by the time of his return, it was almost too late for the Titans. Yes, he played for the Titans in high school, as well.
6. LaDanian Tomlinson (University HS, Waco, Texas): It was an excruciating close call for the future Hall of Fame running back, whose University squad went 12-2-1 and came within a game of a state championship. He rushed for 2,554 yards and scored 39 touchdowns, earning District 25-4A Most Valuable Player honors. Tomlinson, also a basketball and baseball standout, almost didn’t have a senior year at University because his mother changed jobs and moved out of Waco. After pleading with her to stay, Tomlinson lived with the family of a good friend in town.
7. Matt Schaub (East HS, West Chester, Pa.): The new cover boy in Houston was a three-sport star in high school and finished with 3,990 career yards and 35 touchdowns but no Pennsylvania state titles.
8. Joe Flacco (Audubon HS, N.J.): This rising star in Baltimore was a two-time All-South Jersey start and three-year starter at Audubon. He threw for 5,137 career yards, fourth best in New Jersey history, but again, no state crowns. Audubon is known for its baseball prowess, winning five state titles from 1994-2001.
9. Vincent Jackson (Widefield HS, Colorado Springs, Colo.): One of the West Coast's most spectacular receivers was known as “Frisbee” in high school for his smooth and remarkable speed. But a football champion he was not. He had 52 catches for 697 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior but Widefield wasn't a big football power. With a 22-48 record the last seven seasons it still isn't.
10. Miles Austin (Garfield HS, N.J.): The new receiving pal of Tony Romo in Big D was more known for his track and field prowess in high school, recording the second-longest javelin toss in Bergen County history at 214 feet, 8 inches. He was also a state medalist in the triple jump. He wasn’t too shabby in football or basketball either, earning All-State in those sports, as well.