The Super Bowl is the biggest game in football. But every player in the game had to start somewhere. And most were recruited out of high school and evaluated by scouts.
With the help of the 247Sports Composite, we’ve got a time machine that tells us how almost every player in Super Bowl 52’s Eagles-Patriots game was rated coming out of high school. Not counting kickers and punters (who’ve rarely been rated), each team has a handful of starters who didn’t get ranked before college, either because they weren’t scouted well enough, developed late, or came through high school before the modern recruiting industry. Recruits have been ranked publicly only since the early 2000s.
How the Patriots’ starters rated as recruits
|WR Chris Hogan||0 or N/A||Monmouth|
|LT Trent Brown||3||Florida|
|LG Joe Thuney||2||NC State|
|C David Andrews||3||Georgia|
|RG Shaq Mason||3||Georgia Tech|
|RT Marcus Cannon||3||TCU|
|TE Rob Gronkowski||4||Arizona|
|WR Julian Edelman||3||Kent State|
|QB Tom Brady||4*||Michigan|
|RB Sony Michel||5||Georgia|
|RB James White||3||Wisconsin|
|DE Trey Flowers||3||Arkansas|
|DT Lawrence Guy||4||Arizona State|
|DT Malcolm Brown||5||Texas|
|DE Deatrich Wise Jr.||3||Arkansas|
|LB Dont'a Hightower||4||Alabama|
|LB Elandon Roberts||0 or N/A||Houston|
|LB Kyle Van Noy||4||BYU|
|CB Stephon Gilmore||4||South Carolina|
|CB Jason McCourty||0 or N/A||Rutgers|
|S Patrick Chung||2||Oregon|
|S Devin McCourty||2||Rutgers|
Though 17 out of 22 Patriots starters were rated at least three-stars, the Patriots average star rating sits at 2.7, thanks to five unrated recruits.
* Tom Brady was around before recruiting rankings, but we’ve retroactively made him a four-star with an asterisk. From California, he was a Michigan signee with plenty of offers from other national powers and attention in national media outlets. In today’s landscape, he would’ve unquestionably been a blue-chip.
*Chris Hogan was actually a lacrosse player in college, for Penn State. And he was a damn good one, being selected as a 2006 Under Armour High School All-American.
The Eagles are a much different story.
How the Rams’ starters rated as recruits
|QB Jared Goff||4||Cal|
|RB Todd Gurley||4||Georgia|
|WR Brandin Cooks||3||Oregon State|
|WR Robert Woods||5||USC|
|WR Josh Reynolds||3||Texas A&M|
|TE Tyler Higbee||2||WKU|
|LT Andrew Whitworth||5||LSU|
|LG Roger Saffold||2||Indiana|
|C John Sullivan||4||Notre Dame|
|RG Austin Blythe||4||Iowa|
|RT Rob Havenstein||3||Wisconsin|
|DE Michael Brockers||4||LSU|
|NT Ndamukong Suh||4||Nebraska|
|DT Aaron Donald||3||Pitt|
|WLB Dante Fowler Jr.||5||Florida|
|OLB Samson Ebukam||0 or N/A||Eastern Washington|
|ILB Corey Littleton||3||Washington|
|ILB Mark Barron||4||Alabama|
|CB Marcus Peters||3||Washington|
|CB Aqib Talib||2||Kansas|
|S John Johnson III||2||Boston College|
|S Lamarcus Joyner||5||Florida State|
The Eagles on the other hand, skew much, much higher, with an average star rating of 3.5. Recruiting fans scanning the Eagles’ roster will be familiar with those like Nelson Agholor, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Nigel Bradham, Ronald Darby, and Alshon Jeffery.
Perhaps the most interesting story on the Eagles is Lane Johnson. In high school, Johnson was 6’5 and 202 pounds. He went to junior college and just kept growing. And growing. And growing.
Eventually, Johnson wound up as a 6’6, 317-pounder. He went from a QB to a left tackle. That is rather unheard of:
“He was starving himself to play at 270 (pounds) to play D-end,” coach Bob Stoops said. “I asked (strength) Coach (Jerry) Schmidt how long it would take him to get to 300 pounds. He said, ‘About a week and a cheeseburger.’
Let’s get nerdy
- Five-stars: The Patriots have one, while the Eagles have five.
- Four-stars: The Patriots have four, while the Eagles have seven.
- Three-stars: The Patriots have 12, while the Eagles have seven.
- Two-stars or lower: The Patriots have five, while the Eagles have three.
Thirty-nine percent of the Super Bowl starters were four- or five-star recruits. To put it another way, about two in every five Super Bowl starters were four- or five-star recruits, but only about one in every 770 recruits are rated as such. So yes, your odds of starting in the Super Bowl are, unsurprisingly, much higher if you were a superstar recruit in high school.