MaxPreps/CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming has identified many NFL superstars and college standouts over the last 30 years.
From Peyton Manning to Randy Moss, Beanie Wells to Seantrel Henderson, Lemming has consistently highlighted future stars from the high school ranks.
However, Lemming's track record is not flawless, as he and others have missed some players who quietly developed from unheralded recruits to some of football's biggest stars.
1. Barry Sanders
Sanders attended North (Wichita, Kan.)
, where he closed his high school career with a strong senior season. Lemming thought he was solid but unspectacular. He lacked good size and top-level speed, and didn't catch the attention of many college coaches.
"Every school in the country turned him down. He visited Northwestern, and they turned him down. Oklahoma State took him mostly because they missed out on everyone else," he said.
Sanders' son, also named Barry, has had a totally different recruiting experience. He's currently the No. 10 player in Lemming's 2012 Top 100
.2. Drew Brees
One of the top quarterbacks in the NFL flew entirely under Lemming's radar as a prospect hailing from Westlake (Austin, Texas)
"I missed Drew Brees completely," Lemming said.
According to Lemming, Jim Chaney recruited the undersized Brees to Purdue after he was passed on by many bigger programs, including the Texas Longhorns.
"Nobody really went after him. He's from Austin and Texas turned him down," Lemming said.3. Brett Favre
Favre, one of the greatest players at his position ever, played in an offense at Hancock (Kiln, Miss.)
that was ill-suited to match his skill set, Lemming recalled.
"He could throw the ball through a brick wall, always could," he said. "His dad [and Hancoack North Central football coach] had him in an option offense. He didn't have the production," Lemming said.
The recently retired Favre made Lemming's magazine, but was not considered a future star.4. Kurt Warner
Beating the odds and outperforming expectations were a common theme in Kurt Warner's career, and it began in high school at now-defunct Regis (Cedar Falls, Iowa).
The future Super Bowl MVP did little to lead anyone to think he'd play on Sundays one day, nevermind reach the pinnacle of the sport. Lemming was one of the many talent evaluators who underestimated Warner.
"I didn't have him in my magazine. I completely missed him," Lemming said.
After Regis, Warner headed to Northern Iowa, where he started only as a senior.5. Terrell Owens
Now second in all-time receiving touchdowns, Terrell Owens was far from a ballyhooed prospect coming out of Russell (Alexander City, Ala.)
. Lemming wasn't sure how Owens' frame would project at the next level.
"He was very thin and didn't get recruited at all," he said. "He had to go to JuCo, and then he grew."
Owens, who would go on to become a third-round draft pick out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, never appeared in Lemming's magazine.6. Antonio Gates
One player that Lemming didn't miss because of his size was Gates. Rather, Gates was a prolific basketball player, leading Central (Detroit)
to a state title in 1998.
Lemming said that he missed on Gates "mainly because he was a basketball player."
Gates bounced around in college before landing at Kent State to finish his basketball career before signing as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers.7. Cam Newton
Lemming didn't entirely whiff on Newton, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, but he didn't peg him as the dominant force that he was during his brief career at Auburn.
"I had Cam Newton as a four-star guy," he said. "I had him come to the [U.S. Army All-American] combine and I liked him. He was big, athletic and he could throw."
Some schools thought the Westlake (Atlanta)
product might project better as a tight end, Lemming said. No one, Lemming included, thought Newton would have the type of impact he did at the college level, where he captured the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to a BCS title.8. Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger spent most of his high school career at Findlay (Ohio)
as a wide receiver and backup quarterback playing behind the head coach's son. However, when he got his crack as a senior, he made the most of it.
Roethlisberger threw for more than 4,000 yards as a senior, but he was still not a hot commodity with college coaches, or with Lemming.
"He came out as a prolific passer, but there were question marks about his foot speed and level of competition. I had him in the magazine as a three-star player, but that was a mistake," Lemming said. "He was better than I thought he was."9. Russell Maryland
One notable player Lemming missed was particularly close to home, Chicago product Russell Maryland.
Maryland attended Whitney Young (Chicago)
, where he was a 6-foot-1, 320-pound defensive tackle as a senior. According to Lemming, Maryland wanted to attend Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish were not interested. He was close to signing with Indiana State, but Miami swooped in after missing out on Mel Agee, who chose Illinois over the Hurricanes.
Like many colleges, Lemming also overlooked Maryland.
"He's right out of Chicago, and I didn't even rank him high," he said.10. Jeremy Shockey
Miami has done a good job through the years finding players that slipped through the cracks and past Lemming's watchful eye. Tight end Jeremy Shockey, out of Ada (Okla.)
, is another example.
"He came out of Oklahoma as a skinny tight end, I think weighing under 200 pounds," Lemming said. "Miami did a real good job of finding guys back then; Shockey was one of them."
It was Shockey's small frame that led Lemming to think he wasn't destined for football greatness.
Lemming feels that Shockey's story, as well as that of many others, could provide a valuable lesson to players currently going under-recruited.
"I think it's a testimony to the kids that are being a little overlooked now," Lemming said. "If you have the heart, willingness, and a little bit of luck in growing, no matter what you say you can make it to the NFL."