QB Josh Rosen (USA Today)

18 of College Football's Brightest Stars had Memorable Moments in High School

Sep. 19 -- Scout takes a look at some of today's brightest stars in college football and remembers some heroic moments from the times they lined up under the 'Friday Night Lights'...

College football is full of players who solidified their star-status with major performances on the prep gridirons across the country.

Here's some of the most memorable in-person performances, witnessed by Scout's team of national analysts, from some of today's brightest college football stars. 

SOUTHEAST

- Written and edited by Scout National Analyst Chad Simmons -  

Alabama OT Cameron Robinson vs. Shreveport (La.) Airline

Cam Robinson at Under Armour All-America Game (© USA Today / Kim Klement)

A specific play I remember from that game like it was yesterday was a screen play where Robinson got down the field, pancaked a linebacker and then literally ran with the running back for about 40 yards to the end zone.  He dominated this game showing his was a five star as a run blocker and in pass protection.  

Alabama LB Reuben Foster vs. Columbus (Ga.) Shaw

It was Foster's junior year — he put on a show like he always did. On the first possession, Foster put a hit on the tight end breaking a facemask and popping off the helmet.  He finished the game with over a dozen tackles and he had numerous big shots that had the crowd into the game.  

Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara  vs. Lovejoy (Ga.)

It was the state championship game and Kamara put his team on his back late in the contest.  His team was down 14-3 in the fourth quarter, then Kamara took over.  He scored on a 10 yard run, then he caught a 61-yard touchdown pass.  He played big in big games and in his biggest game of his high school career, he shined bright.


MIDLANDS

- Written and edited by Scout National Analyst Greg Powers -  

Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes vs. Mesquite (Texas) Poteet

QB Patrick Mahomes vs. Mesquite Poteet (© Greg Powers)

This was an absolute wild game, and one of the best games I have watched in person. Mahomes has always been known to be the type of player to put up monster numbers and in this game for Whitehouse (Texas) he had one of the most remarkable quarterback performances in TXHSFB history. He passed for 605 yards and scored seven touchdowns in a 65-60 Regional Championship loss. The defense did not hold up its end of the bargain in this game, but Mahomes was unreal. It was also one of our first looks at Texas LB Malik Jefferson, who was named the No. 1 player in the state not long after. 

Stanford DE Solomon Thomas vs. Mesquite (Texas) Horn

I would wager that the former five-star from Coppell (Texas) had better all-around games in his high school career, but it will be that first game that he stepped onto the field as a sophomore that always stands out to me. He was warrior-like in his approach to competing and was the best player on the field, despite being the youngest. It was one of the first times I would look at a such a young prospect -- who was not listed on any websites at that time -- and know I was looking at a future five-star talent.  

Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. vs. Frisco (Texas) 

Back at the time this game was played Scout did not rank players in an 'Athlete' category so the multi-talented Ward Jr. was actually rated as a cornerback. But in the game he was able to score four touchdowns to help secure a Tyler (Texas) John Tyler regional championship. The three-star showed a high acumen as a passer going 21-of-25 for 288 yards and two touchdowns and he added two rushing scores as well.    

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield vs. Waco (Texas) Midway

Scout was the only online prospect ranking site to list Mayfield in it's QB rankings and his play in the 2011 Lake Travis (Texas) state championship victory that had a lot to do with it. In the game Mayfield showed the first hint of what makes him special in college. In the first half he dodged defenders, alluded the rush, and rolled right to extend a play and find an open receiver in the back of the end zone. It was the first of many spectacularly similar game breaking plays on the big stage for Mayfield, who finished as the No. 39-rated QB nationally. 


EAST

- Written and edited by Scout National Analyst Brian Dohn - 

Penn State RB Saquon Barkley vs. Bethlehem (Pa) Liberty

Word filtered to me about a running back entering his junior season at Whitehall (Pa.) High in the Lehigh Valley area, so I went to see him play on Sept. 6, 2013. My true motivation was to see then four-star receiver K.J. Williams, who was looking hard at Syracuse. It did not take long for Barkley to become the main attraction. He was dazzling, yet complete as a running back He had vision, speed, burst, toughness and the ability to catch the ball. He carried 13 times for 213 yards in a 28-19 win. He scored on touchdown runs of 37, 41, 50 and 51 yards, and within a few days he was a four-star prospect. He announced his commitment to Rutgers the day after the game, but flipped to Penn State and is now one of the top college running backs in the nation. 

Michigan ATH Jabrill Peppers vs. Mission Viejo (Calif.)

Everyone knows what Jabrill Peppers became at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic, and what he means to Michigan, but not many people knew about him early in the 2011 season. On Sept. 10, when Peppers was still at Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco, he set himself apart. On a team with five-star defensive tackle Darius Hamilton (Rutgers) four-star cornerback Yuri Wright (Colorado), four-star receiver Leonte Carroo (Rutgers) and four-star safety Elijah Shumate (Notre Dame), three-star defensive end Michael Strizak (Boston College), Peppers was the best player on the field. Peppers scored twice as a running back, and his physical play, speed, drive and change of direction as a defensive back was astonishing. It was evident he would be one of the top players in the 2014 class.

Alabama CB Minkah Fitzpatrick vs. Union City (N.J.)

I met Minkah Fitzpatrick in the spring of 2013 after a workout at his school. He had some interest, but recruiting was yet to take off, and I remember explaining how every school in the nation would be after him. He signed with Alabama in the 2015 class and won a national championship as a freshman, and it was easy to see he would have a huge impact. I watched him dominate the 7-on-7 scene before he made his huge impact in high school. The first time I saw him live was Oct. 11, 2013, and he was electric. He made five tackles, had two pass break-ups and shut down eventually Penn State commit Daiquan Kelly. Fitzpatrick was physical and his ability to change direction and accelerate was off the charts, but it was his willingness to compete that stodd out the most. He was also a factor on offense with four catches for 70 yards and he ran twice for seven yards in a 48-12 win.


MIDWEST

- Written and edited by Scout National Analyst Allen Trieu -  

Ohio State RB Mike Weber vs. Detroit (Mich.) King 

Mike Weber Following Championship Win (© Josh Newkirk)

Cass Tech was facing their rival inside Ford Field for the city championship and both teams were undefeated. It was a supposed heavyweight showdown, part of what has been a contentious rivalry in recent years. Weber, who had had a good senior season, really established himself as elite in that game. He had 250 all purposed yards and showed his speed, consistently outrunning a fast King team. Funny enough, he was committed to Michigan at that time, but later decommitted for the Buckeyes, where he is now the starter.

Michigan State DT Malik McDowell vs. Elite Big Man Camp

Michigan State This was not a game, but camp, the Elite Big Man Camp, but it was where I first saw a kid who is slated to be a top ten pick and it was evident then that he was special. Watching a kid that big warm up and go through drills and do speed ladders, it was obvious immediately he was a big time prospect. Then he took rep after rep at a camp which really can test your mettle as far as competition and doing numerous 1-1s and even some 2 on 2, and he dominated. At the time, he had no offers, but following that camp, he received several the next week. I'll always remember seeing a kid not many knew yet tear through that camp.

Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer vs. Warren (Mich.) De La Salle

He came up to Michigan and played De La Salle in the Prep Kickoff Classic and De La Salle had a really good team that year. He did not light up the stat sheet, but every time we saw him, he always seemed in such command. He was always smart, made great decisions and never ever seemed rattled or nervous. His intangibles stood out greatly, so seeing him handle the big stage against Texas as well as he did to start this season was not a huge surprise. As a pure passer, however, he has improved greatly since we first started scouting him in high school.


WEST

- Written and edited by Scout National Analyst Brandon Huffman -  

Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey vs. Broomfield (Colo.) Legacy

It was during McCaffrey’s junior season and the playoffs had just started when I went out to Colorado to watch Valor, with McCaffrey and current Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio. And McCaffrey didn’t disappoint. With then-Stanford running backs coach Mike Sanford looking on, McCaffrey dazzled, with four touchdowns in the first 1.5 quarters, and a fifth called back because of a penalty away from the ball. Valor Christian had a 42-point lead midway through the second quarter and went running clock the rest of the way, thanks to the dominant evening by the eventual Heisman Finalist.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen vs. Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic

In a game that featured two underclass quarterbacks who’d eventually be playing in the Pac-12, then junior Josh Rosen beat Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello and Santa Margarita handily. Rosen would lead Bosco to a state title this season, but it was in this Trinity League opener that Rosen showed the Braves were a legitimate national championship caliber program. Rosen was 21-for-26 for 245 yards and a touchdown (to his future UCLA teammate, Jaleel Wadood) and ran for 61 yards on nine carries, but reached the end zone four times on the ground, to help the Braves cruise past the Eagles.

Washington RB Myles Gaskin vs. Marysville-Pilchuck (Wash.)

In a matchup featuring a pair of in-state four-star running backs, Gaskin, now the starter at Washington and an All-American candidate was playing second fiddle to running back Austin Joyner when it came to in-state backs. While the two are teammates now at Washington, on this night, Gaskin was the lone Husky commit, with Joyner then a pledge to Washington State. And when Joyner ended up being sidelined in pregame with a hip injury, Gaskin took the headlines all to himself, scoring four touchdowns, three on the ground and one on a punt return and giving the Husky fans in attendance a sneak peak at what he’d provide when he got to Washington, which included a 1,000-yard rushing season as a freshman.


- Written and edited by Scout National Analyst Greg Biggins -  

 USC CB Adoree Jackson vs. Chaminade (Calif.)

Adoree Jackson at Under Armour All-America Game (© Danny Parker)

 Jackson was an electric two-way player and was always good for at least 2-3 explosive, highlight reel plays every game he played in high school. Jackson's Serra team was loaded, undefeated and nationally ranked when they took on a Chaminade team they had beaten earlier in the year 36-0 in a CIF Championship game. Jackson didn't practice all week due to a high ankle sprain that sidelined him in the team's semi-final game the week before and wasn't expected to play. Not only did Jackson play, he was the best player on the field scoring on a 93 yard kickoff return and a 93 yard punt return. He made several plays in the secondary including a ridiculous interception but it wasn't enough as Chaminade shocked the Cavaliers, winning on a last second field goal. Jackson has made a ton of plays at USC and is expected to be taken early in this upcoming draft if he chooses to declare.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen vs. Concord (Calif.) De La Salle

I had a chance to see Rosen in action multiple times over his high school career but the game that stood out most was easily the Braves state championship win over legendary powerhouse in his junior season. For years, SoCal's top team would look like world beaters all year only to be humbled when they took on the Spartans in the final game of the season. This year was different, mostly because Rosen was so different. He played with a confidence level of a college junior, not a H.S junior and led the Braves to a 20-14 win. He completed 12-17 passes for 200 yards and two scores including a memorable 60 yard TD throw off his back foot in the face of an all out blitz that proved to be the game winner. He also rushed for 69 yards on seven carries and showed the kind of poise, command and talent that has many calling hm a potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft whenever he decides to come out.

Miami (FL) QB Brad Kaaya vs. Redding (Calif.) Enterprise

Kaaya was a late bloomer who just kept getting better and better over the course of his senior season. I had a chance to see Kaaya multiple times as a senior but maybe his most efficient performance came in the Eagles state championship game win over . West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade dominated the game winning 41-9 with Kaaya completing 16-22 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn't just the numbers that impressed, Kaaya just looked like a college quarterback already. His decision making, ability to go through his progressions and make quick, smart decisions was next level. He earned the starting job as a true freshman the following year at Miami is a projected 1st round draft pick if he decides to come out for the Draft following his junior season this year.


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