Football is king in Mississippi and five all-time NFL greats head the MaxPreps list of the most dominant high school athletes from the state including the NFL's all-time receiving leader, rushing leader and passing leader.
Five most dominant high school athletes in Mississippi historyJerry Rice, Moor, 1981
Named the greatest NFL player of all-time by ESPN, Rice started out as a receiver at tiny Moor High School outside of Starkville. Rice was considered one of the top players for Moor, although he did not earn All-State honors as a senior. Rice became the focus of attention while at Mississippi Valley State where he set multiple NCAA receiving records and was a two-time All-American. In 20 seasons in the NFL, Rice finished as the league's all-time leading receiver 1,549 catches for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns (208 total touchdowns). He was a 13-time Pro Bowl pick and was All-Pro first team 10 times. He is a member of the NFL and College Halls of Fame.Walter Payton, Columbia, 1971
Payton didn't play varsity football until his junior year, but he finished his senior season as the league's leading scorer and earned a spot on the All-State and the Mississippi All-Star Game. Payton also starred in basketball, baseball, and track and field at Columbia. After a record-setting career at Jackson State, where he was named Black College Player of the Year, Payton was drafted No. 4 overall by the Chicago Bears in 1975. He played 13 seasons in Chicago and went to the Pro Bowl nine times while earning first team All-Pro seven times. He finished his career as the NFL's all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards. He is a member of the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame.Brett Favre, Hancock (Kiln), 1987
Even though his father was the coach of the Hancock Central football team, Favre rarely threw the ball during his three seasons as the quarterback. He still managed to secure a scholarship to Southern Miss, where he started 10 games as a freshman. Favre was a second round pick of the Atlanta Falcons coming out of college, but joined the Green Bay Packers the following year. He went to 11 Pro Bowls and was a three-time league MVP. He finished his career as the NFL's all-time leader in passing yardage with 71,838 yards. He is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.Lance Alworth, Brookhaven, 1958
A running back in high school, Alworth earned All-American honors while a Brookhaven. He went on to play at Arkansas where he also earned All-American honors. The No. 8 overall pick in the NFL Draft in 1962, Alworth joined the AFL with the San Diego Chargers. He finished his career as the No. 2 all-time leader in AFL history in receiving yards and receptions. He was a seven-time All-Star and a six-time first team All-AFL selection.Archie Manning, Drew, 1967
A standout in football and baseball in high school, Manning earned all-conference honors as a quarterback in football and was drafted in baseball following his senior year. He went to Ole Miss and was a first team All-American as a junior. He finished in the top four in the Heisman Trophy voting his junior and senior seasons. The No. 2 overall pick in the 1971 NFL Draft, Manning played 12 seasons with the New Orleans Saints and went to two Pro Bowls. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.Also considered:
Willie Brown, Yazoo City, football; Marcus Dupree, Philadelphia, football; Roy Oswalt, Weir, baseball; Ruthie Bolton, McLain, basketball; Victoria Vivians, Scott Central, basketball; Monta Ellis, Jackson, basketball; Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Gulfport; Al Jefferson, Monticello, basketball; Purvis Short, Hattiesburg, basketball; Frank Kinard, Pelahatchie, football; Jackie Slater, Jackson, football; L.C. Greenwood, Canton, football; Fletcher Cox, Yazoo City, football; Hugh Green, Natchez, football; Lem Barney, Gulfport.