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Some high school players have the potential to be great late



Holy Cross (New Orleans) wide receiver and LSU signee Kevin Spears has the potential to blossom into a top player. / 247Sports

Kevin Spears is fully aware that he sounds wildly typical.

Yes, he knows that the football-sized chip that’s formed on his shoulder as a result of not being considered “elite” by recruiting rankings is cliché since the hard truth is that every player not ranked No. 1 at their position thinks they should be ranked higher.

Spears, a senior wide receiver at Holy Cross (New Orleans), is ranked No. 43 at his position in the Rivals150.

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“I know that I should be higher than that,” Spears said. “But I understand that I got on the scene later than most guys, and I wasn’t ranked before, so this is an improvement. But I still feels like, skill-wise, I’m gonna have a major impact. I’m confident in that.”

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell shares those sentiments.

Farrell said that Spears was “as late of a bloomer as you’re gonna get.”

“I’m telling you this kid could be extremely special,” Farrell said. “He came out of nowhere. We got his film in early January and I was amazed. Everything turned around for him after an amazing senior year.”

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Spears represents a growing number of high school players who point to countless example of players who blossomed after high school in college and the NFL.

“Better late than never,” said Spears, who posted 65 receptions to go along with 1,115 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns this past season. “This is high school and we’ve got a lot of football after this. This isn’t the last word, so I don’t worry about it as much when I think about it like that. Things can turn around for the better quick.”

Spears would know.

Over the course of three weeks in January, he went from having just two offers from Louisiana Tech and San Diego State to committing to Louisiana Tech. Then he received a last minute offer from LSU, went to visit the Tigers and flipped his commitment on the spot.

“The last kid that I know of that has a similar situation like this was the ‘Honey Badger,” Farell said of former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. “The only BCS offer Tyrann had in high school was from LSU and the only BCS offer Kevin has is from LSU too.”

Spears said being overlooked by so many colleges only fuels his motivation.

He’s quick to point to the fact that “a lot of stars in the NFL weren’t exactly No. 1 in their class in high school. That’s why I’m not worried about it at all.”

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Take New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston.

In high school, he turned down a scholarship offer from Missouri to play at Hofstra and ended his career as the Pride’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,834). Colston was drafted by the Saints in 2006 and three years later had seven receptions for 83 yards to help the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV, 31-17, over the Indianapolis Colts in 2009.

Farrell recalled a similar scenario for Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji.

“He wasn’t this big time guy in high school,” Farrell said of Raji. “He wasn’t that good as a junior then had a really good senior year and now he’s a guy that does State Farm commercials. Late bloomers definitely happen.”

Here are a handful of other players from the class of 2013 that aren’t five-star recruits now, but have the potential to make major noise later in their careers.

Durham Smythe, Belton (Belton, Texas), TE

Signed with: Notre Dame

Star Rating: ***

Farrell’s Take: “He could be one of those guys that end up making a big impact.”

Parker McLeod, Walton (Marietta, Ga.), QB

Signed with: Alabama

Star Rating: ***

Farrell’s Take: “It wouldn’t shock me if, in a few years, I saw him turn out to be the starting quarterback on a national championship Alabama team.”

Lewis Neal, Hunt (Wilson, N.C.), DE

Signed with: LSU

Star Rating: ***

Farrell’s Take: “He could end up being a poor man’s Sam Montgomery there at LSU and turn into a great player.” 

Eddie Jackson, Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.), WR

Signed with: Alabama

Star Rating: ***

Farrell’s Take: “He’s a superior athlete; he’s just a little raw. Wouldn’t shock me if, down the line, we’re talking about how we ranked him way too low.”

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter @JayJayUSATODAY.

 

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