How draft prospects rated as recruits (cont.)
21. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Just imagine the joy in the Oklahoma football office on National Signing Day in 2006. On that Wednesday, the Sooners learned they had landed McCoy and Gresham, the 6-7 former basketball player who was considered the nation's top tight end after catching 67 passes for 1,170 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior at Ardmore High.
22. Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State
Odrick came close to committing to Georgia during an official visit in November 2005, but he held back. Eventually, Odrick chose the Nittany Lions over the Bulldogs as well as Florida, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
23. Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
It came down to Ohio State and Rutgers for Davis, who even in high school was knocked for relying too much on his size and natural strength and not working hard enough on his technique. Davis chose to stay close to home, marking the first time in a long time that the top-ranked player in New Jersey had picked the Scarlet Knights.
24. Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
Jackson was a star tailback at Westside High, and he received scholarship offers from Alabama-Birmingham, Central Michigan, Tulane and other non-BCS programs. He elected to play a postgraduate year at Fork Union Military Academy, and he originally committed to Vanderbilt before a visit to Tuscaloosa changed his mind.
25. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
The 6-4, 210-pound Thomas might have had more options coming out of high school had he been willing to play tight end, but he insisted that he wanted to play receiver. South Carolina jumped in with a late offer, but Thomas stuck with his original decision to sign with Georgia Tech.
26. Mike Iupati, OL, Idaho
The massive Samoan attracted interest from Arizona and others, but his grades made signing with a BCS program almost impossible. Iupati planned to attend junior college, and he would have if not for a chance meeting with an Idaho assistant who was visiting a friend at a barbecue thrown for the members of Iupati's older brother's team at Golden West Junior College. Because non-qualifiers aren't eligible for scholarships, Iupati's parents took out a loan so he could pay for his first year at Idaho. He'll be able to pay them back -- plus interest -- when he receives his signing bonus.
27. Charles Brown, OT, USC
Not every player who signs with the Trojans is a five-star recruit. During Pete Carroll's tenure, USC signed plenty of superstar recruits, but the Trojans also built a juggernaut with players who didn't get a ton of recruiting hype. USC and UCLA each wanted Brown, a 250-pound Diamond Ranch High star who excelled on the offensive and defensive lines and occasionally played tight end.
28. Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
Mathews led the nation with 3,396 rushing yards and scored 44 touchdowns as a senior at West High, but colleges weren't in a hurry to sign him. Arizona State wanted him to play linebacker. Colorado coaches told him they had enough backs in their class. USC called less than a week before National Signing Day and asked Mathews to send a transcript, but he chose to stick with his commitment to Fresno State. Mathews' grades probably scared away many schools; as late as June 2007, he still hadn't qualified academically. An extra history course put Mathews over the top, and the Bulldogs reaped the rewards.
29. Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Recruiting analysts and college coaches loved the same things in Griffen that NFL scouts love. As a star at Agua Fria High, Griffen was nicknamed "Super Freak." At 6-4 and 265 pounds, he ran an electronically timed 4.56-second 40-yard dash. He played defensive end, but he also played running back, rushing for 22 touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards as a senior. Griffen picked the Trojans over Notre Dame and Michigan.
30. Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
McCourty and his twin brother, Jason, began the recruiting process as a package deal, but by the time the brothers made their college decisions, they had other options. New Hampshire and Rutgers wanted Devin. Boston College and Rutgers wanted Jason. Devin pulled the trigger first, committing to Rutgers on Dec. 13, 2004. A few days later, Jason followed suit. Jason beat Devin to the NFL, going to the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round last year.
31. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
Like McCourty, Pouncey is a twin. He and brother Mike signed with Florida in 2007 after helping Lakeland High to a national title as seniors. As late as December, the brothers said they intended to both go pro or both stay in school, but Mike, who started at guard in 2008 and 2009, learned he could improve his draft stock by staying at Florida. Maurkice, who started at guard as a freshman and moved to center as a sophomore, couldn't improve his stock much more.
32. Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU
Hughes grew up a Texas fan, but as a 6-2, 215-pound defensive end/tailback, he wasn't going to get an offer from the Longhorns. Hughes picked TCU over Iowa State and North Texas, and he grew into one of the nation's most dominant pass rushers.
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