The Number Ones: How Have Top-Ranked Recruits Fared in the Rivals.com Era

USA TODAY Sports

A look back at the nation's top high school tackles, defensive ends, and wide receivers.

Last week, Ole Miss signed an historic recruiting class which included strongside defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, and offensive tackle Leremy Tunsil, all of which are number one overall at their respective positions per Rivals.com's recruiting rankings. Additionally, Nkemdiche is ranked as the top overall high school player in the country regardless of position.

Expectedly, we Rebel fans are just tickled pink by this. It has caused such an excitement here and elsewhere that we've virtually forgotten about Ole Miss basketball and baseball (but not for long - hot, juicy content on both is forthcoming). "Finally," we're telling ourselves, "we've got the incoming talent necessary to build this program into a contendor."

This is all fine and good, and certainly not at all surprising, but how true are these premonitions? How often do the the top players at these four positions (I'm including "overall" as a position here for the sake of discussion) succeed and live up to their expectations? Are such rankings truly a reliable indicator of a player's potential?

To answer this, I've gone as far back as the Rivals.com data will let me (Why Rivals.com? Their data goes back to 2002, is easily obtained, and is reliable enough for this type of discussion.) and looked at the top receivers, ends, tackles, and overall players per their rankings system and how their college and, if applicable and to a lesser extent, NFL careers panned out.

A lot of these will be players with which you are already very familiar. Some of them are even household names. In those cases, I will not go into too much detail as to their college careers as their reputations surely speak for themselves. Others though, they've got some interesting stories. As you'll soon see, many top recruits surely live up to their billings, while many others fizzle out, fail to meet expectations, and even fall the victims of poor circumstances.

2002

#1 Overall - Vince Young - Well, we're off to a good start, aren't we? Vince Young most certainly lived up to his hype in college, arguably earning Texas its 2005 BCS National Championship on his own. His NFL career has been less than ideal, to be polite, but it's not as if that's going to undo Texas' crystal football.

#1 SDE - DelJuan Robinson - Robinson was from the Memphis area, but did not commit to the "hometown" Rebels, instead opting to sign with Mississippi State where he was moved to defensive tackle. He had a decent but unremarkable college career before being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans. During his career in the maroon and white, Robinson finished with 104 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. He now coaches at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

#1 OT - Nathan Rhodes - Rhodes signed with Washington, but had a congenital back problem that ended his career before it began. He never played a down of football in college.

#1 WR - Ryan Moore - Committed and played for Miami, but had a very unremarkable career marked by suspensions and disciplinary issues. He plays receiver for the Nebraska Danger of the Indoor Football League.

2003

#1 Overall - Ernie Sims - The top linebacker prospect signed with Florida State, had three great seasons in Tallahassee, becoming an All-American as a junior. He was drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft by Detroit. He now plays for Dallas.

#1 SDE - Joe Cohen - Signed with Florida and wound up at D Tackle where he was a contributor to Florida's stifling 2006 BCS championship winning defense. Was drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 draft by the Lions and is now in the CFL.

#1 OT Jorrie Adams - Adams signed with Texas A&M, where he was moved to defensive end as a freshman. He had some success as a freshman, but was arrested before his sophomore season began on felony drug charges and booted from school.

#1 WR - Andre Caldwell - The Florida signee would become the all-time receptions leader at UF with 185 and contribute mightily to Florida's 2006 BCS championship. Was drafted by Cincy in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft, and now plays for Denver.

2004

#1 Overall - Adrian Peterson - You all know damn well how incredible a football player Adrian Peterson is.

#1 SDE - Rhyan Anderson - The top end of 2004 signed with Miami, redshirted, saw limited action in the 2005 and 2006 seasons as a backup end, transferred to New Mexico State (?), and then never made it to the NFL.

#1 OT - Thomas Herring - Signed with USC but was academically ineligible to play until 2005. He suffered a knee injury and never recovered well enough to cement a starting spot at tackle. Was moved to guard in a reserve role and saw some action at tight end, but continued to battle injuries and never lived up to his potential.

#1 WR - Early Doucet - Played at LSU, earning right around 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns for his career. Was drafted in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft by Arizona and has been playing there since.

2005

#1 Overall - Derrick Williams - The top player in 2005 was an athlete out of Maryland who signed with Penn State and saw action at quarterback, wide receiver, and halfback for the Nittany Lions. Williams became the first player at Penn State to score a touchdown receiving, rushing, and returning in the same game, doing so against Illinois in 2008. He was drafted by Detroit in the third round of the 2009 draft. He is now playing wideout for Pittsburgh

#1 SDE - Melvin Alaeze - The big time defensive lineman out of Maryland signed with the Terrapins, but was academically ineligible. He went to Hargrave, then was signed the play for Illinois. But, before he could even make it to campus, he was arrested and convicted on felony assault charges. He is currently in prison serving out an eight-year sentence.

#1 OT - Eugene Monroe - This behemoth signed with UVA and played immediately at guard for the Cavs. He worked his way over to left tackle by his sophomore year where he would play the remainder of his career. He was an all-ACC selection at left tackle and was drafted eighth overall in the 2008 NFL draft by Jacksonville. He's still with the Jags at tackle.

#1 WR - Patrick Turner - The first of a few to do so, the top receiver this year signed with USC. He shared an offense with Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, so his yards were pretty limited despite his potential and abilities. His senior year, he had 569 receiving yards. He was drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Dolphins who cut him in the preseason. He played for the Jets for a while before becoming a free agent.

2006

#1 Overall and #1 WR - Percy Harvin, who I'm sure you're all familiar with, was a huge cog in the Florida Gators' national championship-winning offensive machine. He's now with the Minnesota Vikings, where he won rookie of the year in 2009.

#1 SDE - Robert Rose - The Ohio native signed with Ohio State and had a pretty lackluster career, picking up only 6 sacks during his four years in Columbus. He was an undrafted free agent picked up by Seattle out of college, but is now in the CFL.

#1 OT - Sam Young - Signed with Notre Dame and became first true freshman to start the season opener on the offensive line at Notre Dame. Young started 50 games, mostly at right tackle. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 draft by the Cowboys, and is now with Buffalo.

2007

#1 Overall - Jimmy Clausen - Remember this guy? Just another in a long line of underwhelming quarterback recruits to sign with Notre Dame. Isn't he Cam Newton's backup or something now?

#1 SDE - Everson Griffin - Griffin signed with USC and had a good career, especially early, where he was named a freshman all-American. He is now with the Minnesota Vikings who picked him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.

#1 OT - Josh Oglesby - The Wisconsin native signed with the hometown Badgers and was redshirted before starting four years at tackle. He has endured many knee injuries but, in spite of that, has played well enough to be named a 2012 first team all-B1G selection. He was recently signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington.

#1 WR - Ronald Johnson - Signed with USC and, as with many Trojan receivers, never really took the spotlight in a stacked offense. Had just under 700 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. He was picked by the 49ers in sixth round of the 2011 draft, but is now with the Eagles.

2008

#1 Overall - Terrelle Pryor - Considered by many to be one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks ever, Pryor gained notoriety at Ohio State where he had a slow start before a very successful sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior, Pryor threw for 2772 yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 754 more yards with four scores. He then became the focus of an NCAA investigation into improper player benefits (including the free tattoos for which he would become infamous). This led to Jim Tressel's resignation and Pryor's withdrawl from the school. He's now with the Oakland Raiders.

#1 SDE - Da'Quan Bowers - Bowers, who signed with Clemson, was Jadeveon Clowney before we all knew who Jadeveon Clowney was. He had a monster season in 2010, with 74 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, and 20 quarterback pressures. His 15.5 sacks led the nation that season. Expectedly, he was a first-team All-ACC selection, a unanimous first-team All-American, honored as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and was the winner of the Nagurski award. He was picked in the second round of the 2011 draft by Tampa Bay.

#1 OT - Mike Adams - Adams had a successful career at Ohio State, where he was named all-B1G as a junior at left tackle, was picked up by the Steelers in the second round of 2011 NFL Draft

#1 WR - Julio Jones - Julio Jones is arguably the best receiver to play in the SEC in the past decade, where he contributed mightily to Alabama's conference and BCS successes. He was picked sixth overall by Atlanta in the 2011 draft where he has been very successful since.

2009

#1 Overall - Bryce Brown - The top halfback in the nation for 2009 sgned with Tennessee and had a disappointing freshman season. He left Tennessee and transferred to Kansas State, where, after sitting out for a year, only carried the ball three times. He then left Kansas State early, went out for the 2012 NFL Draft, and was selected by the Eagles in the final round.

#1 SDE - Alex Okafor - The Pflugerville, Texas native signed with the Longhorns, and has been an excellent defensive end for them since. You'll recall his sacking Bo Wallace twice this past year in Oxford, I'm sure.

#1 OT - D.J. Fluker - A now-projected first rounder in this year's draft, Fluker has started at tackle for Alabama for several seasons since signing with the Tide out of high school.

#1 WR - Rueben Randle - Signed with LSU, as you're well aware, and had a particularly good junior season where he received for just under 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. He was drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2012 draft, and caught three touchdown passes in his rookie year.

2010

#1 Overall - Ronald Powell - A weakside defensive end who signed with Florida, Powerll had a decent 2011 season with 6 sacks before suffering a knee injury. He's expected to be a major contributor to the Gators this fall.

#1 SDE - Jackson Jeffcoat - The top strongside defensive end in 2010 signed with Texas, became a freshman all-American, and even had a sack against our Rebs this past year in Oxford. He ruptured a pectoral muscle against Oklahoma this season and missed what could have been a promising second half of the season as a result.

#1 OT - Seantrel Henderson - In a much publicized twist, Henderson, who signed initially with USC, eventually found his way to Miami after being let out of his commitment to the Trojans. He has had some discipline issues in Coral Gables and missed time due to a concussion resulting from a car accident off campus, but was an honorable mention all-ACC player last season.

#1 WR - Kyle Prater - Again, a top wide receiver signs with USC, and again he does not perform as expected. Prater was redshirted his freshman season due to injury before transferring to Northwestern where he only had 10 catches for 54 yards last season.

2011

#1 Overall and SDE - Jadeveon Clowney - Oh, you know, this guy.

#1 OT - Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama - Currently the starting left tackle of the reigning BCS champs, Kouandjio has ideal size and athleticism for the NFL.

#1 WR - George Farmer - How does Southern Cal do it? Farmer is yet another top wide receiver who signed with USC. Over the past two seasons, he has had five receptions for 49 yards.

2012

#1 Overall and WR - Dorial Green-Beckham, who fell victim to an underwhelming Missouri offense and some off-field issues, had only 28 receptions, 395 yards and 5 touchdowns during his freshman year.

#1 SDE - Jonathan Bullard - The Florida Gator had 27 tackles, five tackles for a loss, one-and-a-half sacks and a pass broken up this past season.

#1 OT - DJ Humphries - Humphries also signed with Florida. He is currently in the Gators tackle rotation but not a starter.

2013

#1 Overall and SDE - Robert Nkemdiche - Signed with Ole Miss

#1 OT - Leremy Tunsil - Signed with Ole Miss

#1 WR - Laquon Treadwell - Signed with Ole Miss

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