Friday is always a good day for fantasy football banter. Those discussing top receivers often mention inconsistency - it's hard to count on regular production from this position.
When we put together the current top-10 NFL pass-catchers, consistency was never an issue during their high school days. Well, with one exception: T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped out of high school.
Among other interesting facts and high school accomplishments among these receivers:
* One played basketball in the same backcourt as Lakers guard Jordan Farmar.
* Another earned 17 varsity letters.
* Another was an All-State quarterback.
* Another kicked a 57-yard field goal.
* Another won two state track titles and was state basketball Player of the Year.
Among this group, we rank them by their high school careers, considering not only their football prowess, but all-around credentials as well.
10. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Barstow HS, Calif.): There is little or nothing to report here because Houshmandzadeh dropped out and earned his GED before enrolling at Cerritos College. He made up for lost time in 1997-98 earning first team all-conference honors with 65 career catches and 1,152 yards and two returns for TDs. That drew the interest of Oregon State, where he played collegiately. His full first name is Touraj. (NFL rank: ninth, 50 catches, 582 yards, 3 TDs).
9. Larry Fitzgerald (Minnehaha Academy HS, Minneapolis, Minn./Academy of Holy Angels HS, Richfield, Minn./Valley Forge Military Academy, Wayne, Pa.): After starting on a very bad Minnehaha team as a freshman, Fitzgerald transferred to Holy Angels as a sophomore where he starred with future University of Wisconsin QB John Stocco for three seasons. Then to prepare him for college, he transferred to Valley Forge in January of his senior year. His prep days are difficult to pin down, but he actually started as a linebacker at Holy Angels before making his first career catch, something of legendary proportions, a spectacular one-handed diving catch for a TD. He told reporters before last year’s Super Bowl he wanted to be a Penn State linebacker but decided to go to Pittsburgh, where he was considered one of the greatest receivers in college football history with 161 catches for 2,677 yards and 34 TDs. (NFL rank: fourth, 63 catches, 705 yards, 4 TDs).
8. Reggie Wayne (Ehret HS, Marrero La.): Considered one of the top five recruits in the state, Wayne had 50 catches for 930 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior and also played safety, picking off eight passes, returning four for touchdowns. It earned the Colts No. 1 receiver honorable mention All-American honors by USA Today. He was even better offensively as a junior with 64 catches for 1,064 yards and 20 TDs. Wayne was also a sprinter on the track team. (NFL rank: first, 69 catches, 879 yards, 8 touchdowns).
7. Andre Johnson (Miami HS, Miami, Fla.): A Parade All-American, Johnson was first team All-State as a senior with only 31 catches, but 15 for touchdowns and 908 yards (29.2 average). He returned three kicks for touchdowns. As a junior, he had 25 catches for 618 yards and 12 scores. He also lettered two years in track and one year in basketball. (NFL rank: seventh, 54 catches, 800 yards, 4 TDs).
6. Brandon Marshall (Lake Howell HS, Winter Park, Fla.): Though born in Pittsburgh and raised in Georgia, Marshall and his family moved to Florida, where he started in football, basketball and track three seasons. In football he earned Seminole County Utility Player of the Year as a two-way player and returner. He was best known in track, where he won the state 3A championship as a senior with a leap of 48 feet, 6 ¾ inches. (NFL rank, 10th tied, 49 catches, 602 yards, 6 TDs).
5. Hines Ward (Forest Park HS, Ga.): Was a two-time Clayton County Offensive Player of the Year as a quarterback. Earned All-American honors by Super Prep and USA Today. His career numbers were 3,581 yards and 38 touchdowns passing and 2,500 yards and 29 TDs rushing. He was also a standout baseball player. (NFL rank: eighth, 53 catches, 670 yards, 4 TDs).
4. Wes Welker (Heritage Hall HS, Oklahoma City, Okla.): A tremendous all-around football star, he led Heritage Hall to a state 2A title his junior year with a spectacular championship game: 200 all-purpose yards, 47-yard field goal and an interception. USA Today named him the state Player of the Year. In his career he scored 80 touchdowns (53 rushing and 27 receiving), had a remarkable 581 tackles and 22 interceptions from his safety spot, and booted 35 field goals, with a long of – get this – 57 yards. He also kicked 165 extra points. (NFL rank: third, 64 catches, 662 yards, 4 TDs).
3. Steve Smith (Taft HS, Los Angeles): Was a record-breaking receiver, leading the Toreadors to two straight Los Angeles City Section championships. As of 2007, he was California’s career leader in receptions (271) and yards (4,486), according to the Cal-Hi Sports record book. He was also a standout basketball player and played alongside current Lakers’ guard Jordan Farmar. (NFL rank: fifth, 61 catches, 719 yards, five TDs).
2. Dallas Clark (Twin River Valley HS, Livermore, Iowa): A true all-around stud, Clark earned a remarkable 17 varsity letters – four each in football, basketball and track and five in baseball. After earning all-conference honors in football as a freshman and sophomore, he was All-State the next two years as a linebacker, recording a combined 300 tackles over two seasons. Two of his brothers, Derrik and Dan, played college football. (NFL rank: second, 64 catches, 768 yards, 3 TDs).
1. Randy Moss (DuPont HS, Belle, W.Va.): He led the now defunct Panthers to state titles in 1992 and 1993 as a receiver defensive back, returner and punter. In his senior year he was a Parade All-American. He was considered even a better basketball player, twice earning state Player of the Year honors. His teammate was current NBA point guard Jason Williams. He was also the state 100- and 200-meter track champion his sophomore year and never ran after that, instead starring as a center fielder on the baseball team. (NFL rank: sixth, 58 catches, 891 yards, 7 TDs).