By MaxPreps' Stephen Spiewak
MaxPreps/CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming has identified many NFL superstars and college standouts over the last 30 years.
From Peyton Manning to Randy Moss, Beanie Wells to Seantrel Henderson, Lemming has consistently highlighted future stars from the high school ranks.
However, Lemming's track record is not flawless, as he and others have missed some players who quietly developed from unheralded recruits to some of football's biggest stars.
1. Barry Sanders
Sanders attended North (Wichita, Kan.), where he closed his high school career with a strong senior season. Lemming thought he was solid but unspectacular. He lacked good size and top-level speed, and didn't catch the attention of many college coaches.
"Every school in the country turned him down. He visited Northwestern, and they turned him down. Oklahoma State took him mostly because they missed out on everyone else," he said.
Sanders' son, also named Barry, has had a totally different recruiting experience. He's currently the No. 10 player in Lemming's 2012 Top 100.
2. Drew Brees
One of the top quarterbacks in the NFL flew entirely under Lemming's radar as a prospect hailing from Westlake (Austin, Texas).
"I missed Drew Brees completely," Lemming said.
According to Lemming, Jim Chaney recruited the undersized Brees to Purdue after he was passed on by many bigger programs, including the Texas Longhorns.
"Nobody really went after him. He's from Austin and Texas turned him down," Lemming said.
3. Brett Favre
Favre, one of the greatest players at his position ever, played in an offense at Hancock (Kiln, Miss.) that was ill-suited to match his skill set, Lemming recalled.
"He could throw the ball through a brick wall, always could," he said. "His dad [and Hancoack North Central football coach] had him in an option offense. He didn't have the production," Lemming said.
The recently retired Favre made Lemming's magazine, but was not considered a future star.
4. Kurt Warner
Beating the odds and outperforming expectations were a common theme in Kurt Warner's career, and it began in high school at now-defunct Regis (Cedar Falls, Iowa).
The future Super Bowl MVP did little to lead anyone to think he'd play on Sundays one day, nevermind reach the pinnacle of the sport. Lemming was one of the many talent evaluators who underestimated Warner.
"I didn't have him in my magazine. I completely missed him," Lemming said.
After Regis, Warner headed to Northern Iowa, where he started only as a senior.
5. Terrell Owens
Now second in all-time receiving touchdowns, Terrell Owens was far from a ballyhooed prospect coming out of Russell (Alexander City, Ala.). Lemming wasn't sure how Owens' frame would project at the next level.
"He was very thin and didn't get recruited at all," he said. "He had to go to JuCo, and then he grew."
Owens, who would go on to become a third-round draft pick out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, never appeared in Lemming's magazine.
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