When the 2017 Heisman finalists were young(er)

It wasn’t so long ago that the three 2017 Heisman finalists were tearing it up in high school. 

But Lamar Jackson, Bryce Love and Baker Mayfield made it to New York this week by very different routes. Mayfield might be among the least-recruited high school players ever to become a Heisman finalist, while Jackson and Love were overlooked by some schools because of questions about whether they could play their current positions.

Lamar Jackson

Jackson was a highly sought after prospect from Boynton Beach (Fla.) High, but not many schools were set on letting him play quarterback in college.  As a result, he was only rated a 3-star by most recruiting services and rarely showed up in national player rankings. He finished his 2014 senior season with 1,293 passing yards and 20 touchdowns and 1,039 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. Because of his outstanding athletic ability, he was named to the Florida Class 6A all-state first team as a utility player. Jackson eventually committed to Louisville in August of 2014, picking the Cardinals over Florida, Florida State, Auburn, South Carolina, Ohio State, Nebraska, West Virginia, Georgia and UCF.

Here’s a collection of his highlights at Boynton Beach:

Here’s a breakdown of how the internet recuiting services regarded Jackson in high school:

Recruiting ServiceRatingPosition RankOverall RankEval Quote
ESPN3 star 17NRN/A
Rivals4 star17th (DT QB)NRN/A
Scout3 star30thNR“Jackson has very good size, speed and quickness. He’s a legit runner and brilliant running the zone read. He has home run speed and is tough to handle in space because of his short area quickness.”
2473 star13 (DT QB)401“Jackson is one of he nation’s elite dual-threats. He throws a better ball than most realize and explosive on the zone read. He has elite quickness and live arm.”

(DT=Dual Threat)

Bryce Love

Love prepped at Wake Forest (NC) High, where he earned four varsity letters in football and three in track and field. He was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals.com and Cout/247Sports.com, but didn’t crack the top 100 lists of any of those services. He was classified as an “all-purpose” back as opposed to the type of back he eventually became at Stanford — a back who could tote the ball 20-plus times per game in a throwback offense. He had 2,259 rushing yards with 38 touchdowns as a high school senior to go with 6,425 career all-purpose yards. The speedy Love still holds the record for fastest 100-meter dashes by an American13/14 year old (10.73) and 11/12 year-old (11.64).  Love was offered scholarships by over two dozen schools, but too just three official visits and chose Stanford over North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Here’s Love at Wake Forest High:

Here’s a breakdown of how the recuiting services regarded Love in high school:

Recruiting ServiceRatingPosition RankOverall RankEval Quote
ESPN4 star 18th215th“Love is a back who gets downhill quickly, is decisive for his size and has the athleticism to make plays. This is an interesting prospect who should draw attention at the next level from spread teams and raise his stock with added size. May not be an elite player in any one category.”
Rivals4 star6th134th“Love is best known for his speed – he clocked an electronic 4.4 40-yard dash time at The Opening this summer – and should be a versatile addition to Stanford’s offense. He’s capable of contributing on special teams, as a traditional running back, and as a dynamic receiver out of the backfield.”
247/Scout.com4 star7th227th“Love is a back with blinding speed on the football field. He is a national track guy and that speed shows when the pads are on. He accelerates well when he gets the ball and he has that second gear to run away from defenders. His size is on the smaller side, so he will be used in different ways on the next level. He is best when running on the perimeter. Love can get yards after initial contact and he shows good balance.”

Baker Mayfield

Mayfield wasn’t a highly-recruited quarterback coming out of Austin’s Lake Travis High despite leading his team to a 25-2 record during his two seasons as the starting quarterback. He completed 182 of 288 passes for 2,467 yards with 22 touchdowns and just three interceptions as a senior and was named the 15-5A District MVP. As a junior, he helped lead Lake Travis to an undefeated 16-0 season on the way to a 4A State Championship. He passed for 3,788 yards that first season as a starting quarterback with 45 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. Mayfield had offers from Rice, New Mexico and Washington State, but chose to walk-on at Texas Tech, where he started his first game as a true freshman, before moving on to Oklahoma.

Here are highlights of Mayfield at Lake Travis:

Here’s a breakdown of how the recuiting services regarded Mayfield in high school:

Recruiting ServiceRatingPosition RankOverall RankEval Quote
ESPN3 star 69thNR“Mayfield possesses just adequate height, but with a sturdy frame. He is a fairly efficient passer and is at his best when on time and anticipating the throw.”
Rivals3 starNRNRN/A 
Scout3 star39thNR“He has a good, but not great, arm, but it’s his sense of timing, his spiral and his accuracy that stands out. He made several deep out-type throws on the sideline, and put the ball where it needed to be with the requisite velocity.”
2473 star98940N/A