Video: Serra's 2009 group of wide receivers
George Farmer, Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Paul Richardson led a stacked bunch of wideouts.
Which NFL team has the greatest defensive line of all time? Is it Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain, Minnesota's Purple People Eaters or the Rams' Fearsome Foursome? What about the greatest offensive backfield? Or the greatest group of receivers?
Debates like these are sports talk radio fodder and often the answer depends on where your allegiances lie. But what if you change the script a little bit and try to figure out the greatest offensive and defensive positional units at the high school level. The answers to those questions are even more difficult to solve, but MaxPreps is going to give it a shot.
After extensive research of the Pro-Football-Reference high school database for NFL players, here are the top positional groups to play at the prep level. We tried to look for players who competed on highly successful teams who also performed well at the high school level and above.High School Football's Greatest Position Units
A school might be fortunate to have one or two future NFL receivers on its roster at any given time. The Cavaliers had four on the roster during their 15-0 state championship season of 2009. All-American Robert Woods
was the top prospect with 66 catches for 1,112 yards and 15 touchdowns while George Farmer
caught 41 passes for 891 yards and 12 touchdowns. Paul Richardson
was the third-leading receiver with 31 catches for 552 yards and seven scores. Marqise Lee
, a junior, played sparingly on offense and had just three catches for 29 yards, but he did have six interceptions on defense. Farmer and Lee both were Parade All-Americans in 2010. Woods has been one of the NFL's top receivers the past seven seasons and he currently plays for the Los Angeles Rams. Richardson is in his sixth season, currently with the Washington Redskins. Farmer, who suffered a torn MCL and ACL in college at USC, only played two games in the NFL for the Seahawks while Lee is currently in his fifth year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In college, Woods, Lee and Richardson all earned All-Pac-12 honors with Lee earning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors and Woods making All-American.
During a three-season stretch in which Lakeland won three straight state championships, went 15-0 each season (2004 to 2006) and claimed a pair of national championships, Lakeland had one of the best offensive lines in the nation led by a pair of brothers. Maurkice
and Michael Pouncey
were both all-state linemen two seasons in a row. Maurkice went on to become a consensus All-American at Florida and has been to seven Pro Bowls for the Steelers. He is currently the highest-paid center in the NFL. Mike is a four-time Pro Bowl center and is currently with the Chargers. He also attended Florida and was a two-time All-American. They were not the only standout linemen on the 2006 Dreadnaught unit. John Hardy
was a three-year starter on the line and he earned second team all-state honors as a senior. Chris Kenney
was a two-year starter and earned honorable mention all-state honors as a senior.
Here's how good the Democrats were in 1958 (and 1957). They went undefeated those two seasons (23-0) and were ranked, in some circles, as the best team in the nation. They had a running back who broke a league touchdown record in 1958 and he wasn't they guy in the backfield who went on to become a Heisman Trophy winner, nor was he the guy who went on to an NFL Hall of Fame career. For good measure, they had a fourth backfield mate who ended up being the second all-time leading rusher in NAIA college history. Terry Baker was the future Heisman Trophy winner. He threw for 1,261 yards in 1958, small numbers by today's standards, but much better than average in the 1950s. Baker also played basketball at Oregon State, leading the team to the Final Four. Mel Renfro was the future NFL Hall of Fame player. He became an All-Pro as a defensive back with the Dallas Cowboys. His brother Raye Renfro set the league touchdown record with 24 in 1958. Then there is Mickey Hergert, who was an All-American at Lewis and Clark. Baker and Mel Renfro are both in the High School and College Halls of Fame while Hergert is in the Lewis and Clark Hall of Fame.Kickers
We fudged a little bit here since Dale Hatcher and Harry Newsome both ended up as punters in college and in the NFL, however the two did share placekicking duties at Cheraw, with Hatcher kicking extra points as a junior and Newsome doing so as a senior. Both ended up making the 1980 All-State team and were members of the 1979 Cheraw state championship team. Hatcher went on to a record-breaking career for the National Champion Clemson Tigers while Newsome was an All-ACC punter at Wake Forest. Hatcher was first team All-Pro with the Rams in 1985 while Newsome played nine seasons as a punter in the NFL.Defensive Line
Don Latimer and Eddie Edwards anchored the Fort Pierce Central defensive line for two seasons in a row, including a 13-0 state championship campaign in 1971. Both earned All-Space Coast honors in 1971 and 1972 with Latimer three-peating in 1973 after Edwards had graduated. We highlight the 1971 team, when Edwards was a junior and Latimer was a sophomore, because that squad also included All-Region defensive tackle Earl Richardson and All-Space Coast second team defensive line pick Phil Jenkins. Edwards was an All-American at Miami and was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1977 draft by the Bengals. He spent 12 seasons with the team and was All-Pro in 1981. Latimer also played at Miami and was a first-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 1978. He played six seasons with the team. Both Edwards and Latimer are members of the FHSAA's "100 Greatest Players of the first 100 years."Linebackers
The Cavaliers fielded a dynasty at the end of the 1960s, winning three straight national titles, according to the National Sports News Service, from 1967 to 1969. Two of the best players off the 1969 teams — linebackers Ralph Ortega and Glenn Cameron — also played on the 1970 team, which went 9-2. Ortega was an All-American candidate at linebacker and he finished the season with 160 tackles and All-City, All-County and All-State honors. Cameron played more at fullback, where he was second team All-County. Another linebacker, Craig Karpiak, was honorable mention All-County Ortega went on to All-American honors at the University of Florida and was a second round draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 1975. He played six NFL seasons and he is a member of the FHSAA's "100 Greatest Players of the first 100 years." Cameron was a third-team All-American as a linebacker while at Florida and he was a first-round pick of the Bengals in 1975.Defensive Backs
Always one of the most competitive programs in Northern Ohio, Glenville fielded a tremendous defensive backfield in the early 2000s. Donte Whitner was one of the top recruits in the state in 2002 and he earned special mention all-state as a senior before heading to Ohio State. Dareus Hiley was considered to be a spectacular all-around athlete and he, too, earned special mention all-state before accepting a scholarship with the Buckeyes. Ted Ginn Jr. was a junior on the team and one of the fastest players in the country. He went on to earn USA Today Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2003. Ginn Jr. also played at Ohio State, but was used more as a receiver. Whitner was All-Big 10 in college and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL. Hiley ran into academic problems in college and never played for the Buckeyes. Ginn Jr. was a three-time All-American at Ohio State and is in his 13th season in the NFL and ranks among the all-time leaders in career return touchdowns.