OT, Buffalo Bills
Cretin-Derham High School (St. Paul, MN), 2010
It’s been a few years since he was the talk of high school football, but if I recall correctly, the book on Henderson read something like this: He could stand in front of a tidal wave and prevent his quarterback from getting wet. He didn’t just create holes big enough for a Mack truck to drive through; he could use his 6-7, 310-pound body to move another Mack truck out of the way to create those holes.
The hype was that strong for Henderson, the O-lineman every college wanted (also a basketball and track star) who would’ve had more support than any player in the past decade had he tried to go to the NFL straight from high school.
Henderson became the first lineman to win USA Today’s national Offensive Player of the Year award, and the first lineman to win Minnesota state Player of the Year. Injuries and disciplinary issues marred his college career at Miami, but he’s managed to turn a seventh-round draft selection into a starting right tackle job for the Bills.
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QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Nease High School (Ponte Verda, FL), 2010
In Florida, it’s known as the Tim Tebow Law. No, it’s not the one that dictates all sports media must overreact to everything Tim Tebow does; but instead it’s the ruling that allows home-schooled students to compete in sports for the high school nearest to them.
The biggest winner in that ruling was Nease HS, who hit the jackpot by landing Tebow. He was a two-time Florida state Player of the Year, led Nease to a state title, earned All-America recognition, and was featured by ESPN and Sports Illustrated before moving on to the University of Florida. One Heisman, two national titles, one unforgettable NFL playoff run, and “Tebowmania” have since come to define the legend of Tebow, but it really started for him in high school.
10 of 10
Of the three million or so athletes around the world playing organized American football, only a select 2,800 or so get the honor each year of officially being on an NFL training camp roster. Which means that every single NFL player–even the guys who will be getting cut between now and the regular season opener–can rightfully and deservedly be described as one of the best football players in the world.
It makes sense, then, that every NFL player who played college football was a star in college. And every NFL player who played high school football was a superstar in high school. As we often have to repeat to the uneducated around the country: Listen, even the worst player that you see playing on TV isn’t bad. In fact, the last guy to make the roster or the last guy in off the bench could go anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world, and completely dominate.
But among these superstars is an exclusive class of men who are high school football legends. Not just in the halls of their alma maters, or in the towns and cities they called home, or in the states in which they competed for titles. They are legends known across the U.S., the source of mythical tales and viral highlight clips shared by the scouts who ranked them, the coaches who recruited them, and the fans who admired them.
Some of these players might eventually become legends in the NFL. Here are 10 NFL Players That Were Already Legends in High School.
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