Recruiting rankings aren’t an exact science, so every year, as prospects make their way through the college ranks, we see a few surprise stars pop up. These players weren’t highly touted in high school but have now made names for themselves at their respective colleges.
Here is a look at a few of those surprise stars from the 2015 recruiting class.
RB Josh Adams
Adams was a three-star from Pennsylvania who didn’t have much fanfare to his recruitment. He had offers from Penn State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Boston College, among others, but wound up choosing the Irish. Adams had productive 2015 and 2016 seasons but came on strong in 2017, rushing for 1,430 yards and nine touchdowns. He ran himself into the Heisman conversation at one point in the season and eventually declared early for the NFL draft. Going from the No. 87-ranked running back to early entrant in the NFL draft is a big leap.
WR David Sills
Sills entered the recruiting scene early, when he was offered by USC’s Lane Kiffin as a 13-year-old quarterback. Sills committed to the Trojans at the time but eventually decommitted and wound up with West Virginia and Dana Holgorsen. He started his career as a quarterback for the Mountaineers but switched to wide receiver. He showed promise in the 2016 season and took off in 2017, recording 980 yards and 18 touchdowns and making it into the list of finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s best wide receiver. His going from the No. 26-ranked pocket-passing quarterback to one of the best receivers in college football was certainly a surprise.
Jackson had a good number of offers in high school but was only a three-star recruit and the No. 17 dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 class. He took visits to Nebraska, Louisville, Florida and Mississippi State, among others, and of course chose the Cardinals. Since then, all he has done is win a Heisman trophy and accumulate 9,043 career passing yards and 4,132 rushing yards to go with 119 total touchdowns. He declared for the NFL draft and left his stamp on the college football world as one of its most prolific quarterbacks.
Barkley was an ESPN 300 prospect in the 2015 class, but he was ranked No. 291 overall and the No. 24-ranked running back. He was a sought-after recruit, but he has turned himself into a first-round draft pick with big-play ability. At Penn State, Barkley had 3,843 career rushing yards and 43 rushing touchdowns. He continued to show his versatility by racking up more and more receiving yards, tallying 1,195 yards and eight touchdowns. Barkley is likely to go early in this year’s NFL draft. Although he was a ranked prospect, there weren’t many who thought he was the best back in his class out of high school.
Reid was a 6-foot-2, 193-pound safety out of Louisiana in high school, ranked as the No. 73 safety in the country. As a three-star recruit, Reid had some bigger offers, including LSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and TCU to go with Stanford. He entertained LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Texas Tech but ultimately chose to play for the Cardinal. During his time at Stanford, Reid turned himself into a first-team All-Pac-12, a second-team All-American and a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award. He had five interceptions this season, as well as 94 total tackles and six pass breakups. Reid was one of the best safeties in the country and declared early for the NFL draft, following in his brother Eric’s footsteps.