Before, they were five-stars (cont.)
16. Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State
If not for the distance, Wells might have chosen USC, where he would have taken his place among a legendary collection of backs. Of course, the Akron native had a fair program in his own backyard, and he helped the Buckeyes to two BCS title-game appearances.
17. Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Freeman wasn't even considering Kansas State until the Wildcats hired Ron Prince, who had been trying to convince the Grandview, Mo., native to come to Virginia. Shortly after Prince was hired, Freeman decommitted from Nebraska and set a course for the Little Apple.
18. Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
Practically every school on the eastern seaboard wanted Maybin, a 6-3, 211-pounder from Ellicot City, Md. In October 2005, Penn State coach Joe Paterno canceled all official visits the weekend of the Ohio State game so his players could concentrate. Maybin watched the Nittany Lions' upset win anyway, and he came away impressed.
19. Clay Matthews, LB, USC
Matthews, whose father, Clay, was an All-America linebacker at USC, received only one scholarship offer. From Idaho. So he walked on where his father and uncle (offensive lineman Bruce Matthews) starred, earned a scholarship and played his way into the first round.
20. Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
While at Hargrave Military Academy in 2004, Jerry played alongside 2008 first-rounder Branden Albert and current Alabama linebacker Brandon Fanney. Expect Jerry to be joined in the NFL next year by brother John, an Ole Miss offensive lineman.
21. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Even though Moreno is from New Jersey, two of the SEC's biggest rivals wound up vying for his services. He chose Georgia over Florida, then burst on the national stage as a redshirt freshman by gaining 188 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 2007 win against the Gators in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
22. Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Though Tebow gets most of the credit for Florida's high-powered offense, Harvin was the X factor defenses couldn't contain. Durability issues have hurt Harvin's draft stock, but his 11.6-yard average from scrimmage -- with many of those touches coming as straight handoffs from the tailback spot -- made him college football's most dangerous weapon.
23. Darius Butler, CB, UConn
This diamond in the rough started for four seasons after redshirting in 2004. Judging by this YouTube clip, he should have gotten some playing time alongside A.J. Price and Hasheem Thabeet.
24. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
A knee injury suffered during Pettigrew's junior season at Tyler (Texas) Lee High threw college coaches off his scent, but he drew plenty of interest going into his senior season.
25. Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Britt appeared set to sign with Illinois, but the speedster from Bayonne, N.J., decided on Signing Day he wanted to play closer to home.
26. Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
The rich got richer in January 2005. During the broadcast of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, this Eureka, Calif., star picked defending national champ USC over Oregon.
27. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
This speedy receiver from Owing Mills, Md., considered heading south to Alabama, but just before his senior season at McDonogh High, he decided to stay home and play for the Terrapins.
28. Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
Much of the Pac-10 offered this giant from Burbank, Calif., but he considered Arizona a perfect fit.
29. Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
Nicks caught passes at Independence (Charlotte, N.C.) High, from Joe Cox, Stafford's likely successor at Georgia. Few schools knew about him because, as a junior, he played in the shadow of future Bulldog Mohamed Massaquoi. After Nicks racked up 1,524 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, several schools probably wished they had noticed Nicks as early as the Tar Heels did.
30. Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Davis, from Dunbar High in Washington, had a tough time choosing between Illinois and Maryland. In the end, the brother of San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis picked the Illini because he felt he had a better chance to play early. He was correct; Davis was named a freshman All-America in 2006.
31. Donald Brown, RB, UConn
UConn's program has begun to produce NFL talent, but in 2005, Storrs wasn't a sexy destination in the eyes of recruiting analysts. Brown, who gained 2,036 yards and scored 27 touchdowns as a senior at Catholic (Red Bank, N.J.) High, never stopped finding the end zone.
32. Max Unger, C, Oregon
The two Oregon schools were the only programs to offer Unger, then a 6-5, 280-pounder from Kamuela, Hawaii. The Ducks were the lucky winners of a brainy, athletic lineman. Unger started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore and moved to center in 2007.
More College Football
College Football Truth & Rumors