The 20 highest-rated high school football recruits since 2000

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  • Adrian Peterson
    Adrian Peterson
  • Cyrus Kouandjio
    Cyrus Kouandjio

In 2020, USA TODAY High School Sports looked at the top-rated recruits since 2000, per 247Sports composite averages. Since then there has been new name added to the impressive list, one that comes with a perfect rating— which now makes six total in that unique category.

As we has said before, these players weren’t just one example of high school dominance; they were “The” example of high school football dominance. However, these are the football legends since 2000. That means the historical hierarchy with the likes of Bo Jackson, Marcus Dupree, John Elway, Peyton Manning, Randy Moss, and more, are not included. (Had the rating system been in place “back in the day” … well, it’s safe to assume there would be a lot more than six players with a perfect composite average.)

With that in mind, let’s check out the unmatched talents that took on almost legend-like lore under the lights on Friday night since 2000…

Cyrus Kouandjio | OT | DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), Class of 2011

(Via MerlinFTP Drop)

More than a few schools (over 60 total) wanted Cyrus Kouandjio, the 6-foot-7 offensive tackle from Cameroon, who was ranked the fourth-best prospect in 2011. In a well-publicized switcheroo, Kouandjio originally signed with Auburn, only to flip-flop three days later to rival Alabama, where he’d play with his brother, Arie. Rating: 0.9994/1.0000

Bryan Bresee | DT | Damascus (Damascus, Md.), Class of 2020

(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Images)

The talented defensive tackle out of Maryland headed to Clemson in 2020. The 6-foot-5 Bresee ranked No. 3 on ESPN’s Top 100, and became an internet sensation when his Senior highlights tape that displayed some unreal athleticism—on both sides of the ball—hit YouTube. Rating: 0.9995/1.0000

Mario Edwards | DT | Ryan (Denton, Texas), Class of 2012

(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

Providing uncanny athletic ability in a 280-pound frame, Edwards was the highest-rated DT in the 2011 class, and ranked third overall—which hadn’t been achieved at the position since Haloti Ngata hit No. 2 in 2002. The 2011 USA Today Defenseman of the Year had offers to several top schools—LSU, Oklahoma and in-state Texas—but chose Florida State. He currently plays in the NFL for the Chicago Bears. Rating: 0.9995/1.0000

Adrian Peterson | RB | Palestine (Palestine, Texas), Class of 2004

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Peterson hit legendary status back in 2003, rushing for jaw-dropping 11.7 yards per carrying on his way to 2,960 total—40 yards shy of 3,000! No wonder he was signing autographs well before his Oklahoma Sooners or NFL days. Peterson ranked No. 5 on ESPN’s Top 100 and was the highest-rated RB heading into the 2004 signing period. Rating: 0.9996/1.0000

Leonard Fournette | RB | St. Augustine (New Orleans, La.), Class of 2014

(USA TODAY Network)

A decade after Adrian Peterson’s reign in the high school backfield, another dominant force was tearing up the running game east of Texas, in New Orleans. Leonard Fournette earned all the hardware in 2003, including USA Today’s Offensive Player of the Year. Not only was he the No. 1 RB in 2014 but he also ranked as the top overall prospect. Like Peterson, his choice of colleges was practically endless. But the Louisiana man stayed in-state and headed to LSU. Rating: 0.9996/1.0000

Da'Quan Bowers | DE | Bamberg-Ehrhardt (Bamberg, S.C.), Class of 2008

(USA TODAY Network)

When your name is mentioned along with Reggie White’s and Bruce Smith’s during the scouting process, there should be zero doubt about where the recruit lands on the charts. Bowers was the top talent in 2008, with offers to schools such as Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio State, and Penn State. The big-bodied talent—who also rushed for over 1000 yards his senior year—wound up at Clemson. It was the program’s first-ever top recruit. Rating: 0.9997/1.0000

Terrelle Pryor | DUAL | Jeannette (Jeannette, Pa.), Class of 2008

(Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

Few high school athletes were as heavily recruited as Terrelle Pryor—in either basketball or football. The 6-foot-4 dual-threat ended his football career with 4000 yards passing and 4000 yards rushing, and a pick of top programs from the East coast to the West coast. Ohio State would get the nod, where he would earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. Rating: 0.9997/1.0000

Joe McKnight | RB | John Curtis (New Orleans, La.), Class of 2007

(USA TODAY Network)

The late Joe McKnight faced harrowing challenges during his high school football career, mainly stemming from the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, making the on-field accolades even more impressive. Following the destruction of his hometown, the five-star recruit briefly relocated to Shreveport and enrolled at Evangel Christian Academy. He played two games there before returning to his hometown for the remainder of 2005. McKnight’s 2006 campaign was electric. Ranked No. 2 overall in the recruiting class, McKnight chose USC over in-state LSU, which caused a barrage of backlash. Rating: 0.9997/1.0000

D.J. Williams | LB | De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), Class of 2000

(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

On the defensive side of the ball, the class of 2000’s top-ranked prospect was De La Salle’s D.J. Williams. The athletic linebacker was a force on offense, too, setting a record at the perennial football powerhouse for touchdowns in a season (42). He earned USA Today Defensive Player of the Year honors and went on to play at Miami (Fla.), where he would be part of the 2001 National Championship team. Rating: 0.9998/1.0000

Brock Berlin | PRO | Evangel Christian Academy (Shreveport, La.), Class of 2000

(USA TODAY Network)

At the turn of the millennium, the high school recruiting world belonged to Brock Berlin. The QB out of Shreveport led his team to three consecutive state titles and would have his pick of schools as the top passer in the 2000 class. Berlin chose Steve Spurrier’s Floria Gators, where he would lose the job to Rex Grossman, before transferring to Miami (FL). Rating: 0.9998/1.0000

Dorial Green-Beckham | WR | Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.), Class of 2012

(Peter G. Aiken, USA TODAY Sports)

One of the top prospects in the class of 2012, Green-Beckham briefly held the all-time high school receiving yards record and was the first-ever WR to earn the Hall Trophy as the nation’s best high school player. The USA Today Offensive Player of the Year had his pick of top schools but chose to stay in-state and play at the University of Missouri. Rating: 0.9998/1.0000

Justin Fields | DUAL | Harrison (Kennesaw, Ga.), Class of 2018

(USA TODAY Network)

The class of 2018 had two incredibly stellar QBs—with different styles—at the top of the charts. Fields was the top-rated dual-threat QB and landed as ESPN’s top overall prospect. His numbers in only two years under center were almost unbelievable—4,187 passing yards, 41 passing touchdowns, 2,096 rushing yards, and 28 rushing touchdowns. He was named Mr. Georgia Football his senior year and had several schools after his increasingly coveted style of play at the next level. He signed with Georgia, but in 2019, he transferred to Ohio State. Rating: 0.9998/1.0000

Ronald Powell | DE | Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley, Cailf.), Class of 2010

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Powell was the top-ranked prospect in 2010, on either side of the ball, and earned All-American honors from Parade, USA TODAY, and EA Sports. The 6-foot-3 talent capped off his high school resume with an MVP nod at the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, before heading off to Florida to play for coach Urban Meyer. Rating: 0.9999/1.0000

Trevor Lawrence | PRO | Cartersville (Cartersville, Ga.), Class of 2018

(USA TODAY Network)

The football world has been watching Lawrence’s progression for several years, including his high school days, where he was nearly unbeatable. He led Carterville to 41 straight victories and two state titles, raking up passing statistics and accolades while rocketing up the ranking charts. One of the most highly touted QBs ever, Lawrence was named USA TODAY’s High School Football Player of the Year in 2017, he won the Hall Trophy, and was an All-American. It’s hard to believe that he isn’t one of the six recruits who hold the distinction of a perfect rating. Rating: 0.9999/1.0000

Vince Young | DUAL | Madison (Houston, Texas), Class of 2002

(Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Network)

Before setting the college world ablaze and providing a historic one-man takedown of USC at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Vince Young was a top prospect coming out of the Houston area. Young, as it would manifest in college, was able to disrupt defenses on the ground and through the air. During his senior year, he totaled 3,819 yards and 59 touchdowns. Rating: 1.0000/1.0000

Ernie Sims | LB | North Florida Christian (Tallahassee, Fla.), Class of 2003

(Photo By Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Sims first lettered in high school football…when he was in the eighth grade! The versatile talent only grew from there, with Sims earning All-American honors and ranking above big names like Reggie Bush on the recruiting charts. Rivals listed him as the top prospect in 2003, a first for the linebacker position, with big-time programs like Miami (Fla.), Georgia and Auburn vying for his services. He chose to stay close to home, though, signing with the Florida State Seminoles. Rating: 1.0000/1.0000

Robert Nkemdiche | DE | Grayson (Loganville, Ga.), Class of 2013

(Photo: Jason Getz, AP)

No matter what site you followed back in 2012, Robert Nkemdiche was listed as the No. 1 overall high school prospect. The 6-foot-4 defensive end was a two-time All-American and had earned Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Gwinnett Daily. He had the stats that could’ve wowed the NFL combine, too: 350-pound bench press, 500-pound squat, and a 4.56-second 40-yard dash time. Nkemdiche originally surprised the recruiting world (and his family) when he chose Clemson over Ole Miss, where his brother played. Eventually, he de-committed from the Tigers and headed to Oxford to play for Hugh Freeze and the Runnin’ Rebels. Rating: 1.0000/1.0000

Rashan Gary | DT | Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.), Class of 2016

(Adam Hunger USA TODAY Sports Images)

Like Nkemdiche, defensive tackle Rashan Gary holds rank as one of only three players ever to be listed as the top prospect on the four major sites:,,, and After transferring for his junior and senior years, Gary gained national recognition as a 6-foot-5 force that any college program would want lining up on the defensive side of the ball. He earned USA TODAY Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as an All-America nod. With a choice of colleges from coast to coast, Gary chose the Big Ten and signed with Michigan. Rating: 1.0000/1.0000

Quinn Ewers | PRO | Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas), Class of 2021

(USA TODAY Network)

Welcome to the rare rankings territory, Quinn Ewers. During his two seasons under center for the Southlake Dragons (Texas), the talented quarterback was a dynamic force, passing for 6,445 yards and 73 touchdowns. So it’s no surprise that he was scouted with such high praise. But Ewers adds an interesting aspect beyond the perfect rating, too, in that the 6-foot-3 play-caller enrolled at Ohio State in the spring of 2021, which made him eligible for this year. Part of the reasoning? Ewers, who was originally pinned as the top QB in the Class of 2022, saw the NIL opportunities—something unheard of before the major ruling—and decided to enroll early. Rating: 1.0000/1.0000

Jadeveon Clowney | DE | South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.), Class of 2011

(USA TODAY Network)

And then, there is (still) Jadeveon Clowney. At 13—13!—he was giving high school offensive lines headaches. And by the time Clowney was a senior, the five-star prospect was ranked No. 1 on all major tracking sites. It was said that he would have been the top prospect in other classes from previous years, too. Not many recruits can claim such transcending domination. Rating: 1.0000/1.0000

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