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December 20, 2012

Rankings of Yore: Scott finishes in fine fashion

(Matt Scott vs. Matt Barkley - in high school)

MORE RANKINGS OF YORE: Dec. 15 | Dec. 6 | Nov. 28

Each week, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell will take a look at what we got right -- and what we got wrong -- in our past player evaluations. We call it Rankings of Yore.

Great Scott!

Senior quarterback Matt Scott ended his college career in style on Saturday, leading Arizona to an improbable come-from-behind victory over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl.

Scott threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including two in the final 46 seconds, to pull out the victory.

Scott finished the game with 387 yards and three touchdowns, while earning the game's Offensive MVP. For the season, Scott totaled 3,625 yards and 27 touchdowns. Just as improbable as the victory on Saturday, Scott has had to show the same resilience throughout his career in Tucson.

Since arriving at Arizona in 2008, Scott has repeatedly battled for the starting job, dealt with a coaching change, fought through injuries and sat while watching Nick Foles become an NFL Draft pick.

Before picking Arizona, Scott made it a priority to not drag out his recruiting process. He received his first offer from California during the spring of his junior year, and soon after more offers began to roll in from schools such as Minnesota, Utah, San Diego State, Boise State and the Wildcats.

After an impressive performance at the Palo Alto Nike Camp, Scott hit the road for several visits, and named a top four of Arizona, Minnesota, Boise State and Washington. When making his decision in June 2007, it finally came down to Arizona and Minnesota, with the Wildcats obviously winning out at the end.

Scott arrived at Arizona as a four-star, dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2008. He was ranked as the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 36 player in California. Scott was part of a loaded dual-threat quarterback class, and was ranked behind Terrelle Pryor, E.J. Manuel and Robert Griffin. A few players ranked below Scott also made their mark at the college level, including Darron Thomas at Oregon, B.J. Daniels at South Florida and Nick Florence at Baylor. One of Scott's more memorable performances -- as you can see in the above video -- came against another highly ranked quarterback, Matt Barkley, who would be the top quarterback in the 2009 class.

[ Watch: Looking back: More Matt Scott prospect video ]

All relative

When Kirk Cousins was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, many people wondered why the Redskins would grab the Michigan State quarterback only three rounds after drafting Robert Griffin III. Now, after a Griffin injury, the Redskins' decision is paying dividends. Cousins completed 26 of 37 passes for 329 and two touchdowns in a 38-21 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

This performance follows an impressive showing the previous week against Baltimore, when Cousins was rushed into service late in the game after Griffin got hurt. Cousins threw a touchdown pass and ran for a two-point conversion that tied the game, and led the Redskins to an overtime victory.

At Michigan State, after being redshirted in 2007 and seeing minimal backup duty in 2008, Cousins won the starting job for the 2009 season. He finished that season with 2,680 yards and 19 touchdowns. Cousins really began to hit his stride during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, when he led the Spartans to a combined 22-5 record, a Big Ten championship and a berth in the first ever Big Ten championship game.

Cousins finished his high school days at Holland (Mich.) Christian as a three-star prospect and the No. 27-ranked player in Michigan. Recruiting was slowed a bit for Cousins after he broke his ankle during his junior season. In fact, he did not receive his first offer until August right before the start of his senior season from Northern Illinois. Offers from Western Michigan and Toledo followed in the fall, but for Cousins everything changed when coach Mark Dantonio took the job at Michigan State. An offer followed in January and after taking an official visit later that month he committed two weeks before National Signing Day. Colorado also offered but only as a gray-shirt.

Cousins was the No. 5 quarterback in Michigan. Missing a portion of his junior season definitely cost Cousins and it is safe to assume that a full season would have helped his ranking and recruiting process. However, because of the injury, Cousins finished behind players such as Keith Nichol, Steven Threet and Justin Siller. They say your junior year is the most important year for recruiting and that's clearly true, but for Cousins his best football was still ahead of him despite the setback and Dantonio was the only BCS coach to see it.

[ Watch: Looking back: Kirk Cousins prospect video ]

My Favorite Marshawn

Now in his seventh season in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks has continued to prove himself as one of the top running backs in the league.

During Seattle's 50-17 thrashing of Buffalo, which happened to be Lynch's original team, he rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on only 10 carries.

With the game quickly out of reach, Lynch had a chance for an abbreviated day in the office, which will come in handy with a huge game this Sunday night against San Francisco. For the season, Lynch has rushed for 1,379 yards and 10 touchdowns. His rushing total currently placing him second in the league, behind Adrian Peterson.

As a true freshman at California in 2004, Lynch rushed for 628 yards and eight touchdowns on only 71 carries, which proved to be a sign of things to come. With the running back job to himself in 2005, Lynch rushed for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns. During his final season in Berkeley, Lynch rushed for 1,356 yards and 11 touchdowns, which earned him the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award. After his junior season, Lynch declared for the 2007 NFL Draft, in which he was chosen with the 12th pick of the first round.

Lynch arrived at California as a four-star running back in the Class of 2004. Early on in his recruiting process, most of the top programs on the West Coast had already offered Lynch, including USC, UCLA, Oregon and Cal. As his process progressed, it became known that Lynch would be a package deal with Virdell Larkins, his cousin.

This seemed to turn a few schools off, but by November 2003, Lynch had a solid top two of California and Oregon. In early January 2004, the duo decided to take their talents to Berkeley.

Playing his high school ball at Oakland (Calif.) Tech, Lynch graduated as the No. 28-ranked overall player in the country and the No. 2 running back. As mentioned earlier, Lynch is currently second in the NFL in rushing yards, a coincidence considering in 2004, the only running back he was ranked behind nationally was Peterson. I think we hit the nail right on the head with that Nos. 1-2 punch at running back that year.

[ Watch: Looking back: Marshawn Lynch prospect video ]

Unquestioned talent

Defensive end Everson Griffen of the Minnesota Vikings continued his solid season on Sunday with an interception return for a touchdown, which made the score 21-7 and led the Vikings to a vital 36-22 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

Griffen is in his third season in the NFL and has gradually seen his role increase with the Vikings. Now an important part of an underrated defense that has carried Minnesota throughout the season, Griffen has also chipped in with 21 tackles, five sacks, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

Griffen was drafted in the fourth round, with the 100th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Vikings out of USC. As a Trojan, Griffen made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2007 with 21 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He followed that up with two more impressive seasons before deciding to declare for the NFL Draft after his junior season.

Coming out of Avondale (Ariz.) Agua Fria, Griffen was a national recruit and ranked as the No. 6 overall player in the country, the No. 1 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 1 player in Arizona during the Class of 2007. By the time April 2006 rolled around, Griffen already held offers from schools such as USC, UCLA, Oregon, Kansas State, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon State. With his offers approaching 50, Griffen took official visits to Notre Dame, Michigan, USC and Oregon during the fall, with the hopes of closing out his recruiting process by Christmas.

True to his word, Griffen committed to USC over Michigan and Notre Dame on Dec. 20. Despite a late push from Florida and an official visit in January, Griffen signed his Letter of Intent on National Signing Day and officially became a Trojan.

As the No. 6 player in the country, Griffen was ranked behind Jimmy Clausen, Joe McKnight, Eric Berry, Ryan Mallett and Carlos Dunlap. He was part of a defensive line group that boasted Dunlap, Marvin Austin, Martez Wilson and others currently in the NFL. Griffen can be considered a bit of a disappointment with his fourth-round status and a college career that didn't live up to expectations, but his talent is still unquestioned.

[ Watch: Looking back: Everson Griffen prospect video ]

Growing (Crab)tree

Now in his fourth season in the NFL, wide receiver Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers has seen his production grow every year.

After his seven-reception, 107-yard, two-touchdown performance against New England on Sunday night during a 41-34 victory, Crabtree is now 14th in the league with 73 receptions, which goes along with 868 yards and seven touchdowns.

Crabtree was drafted with the 10th overall pick in the first round in 2009 out of Texas Tech, and his time as a Red Raider was a memorable one. After being redshirted during his freshman season, Crabtree took college football by storm in 2007 and finished with an amazing 134 receptions for 1,962 yards and 22 touchdowns. Receiving Heisman Trophy-hype heading into the 2008 season, along with his quarterback Graham Harrell, Crabtree finished his final season in Lubbock with 97 receptions for 1,165 yards and 19 touchdowns.

His two years on the field at Texas Tech produced a number of memorable accomplishments, which resulted in Crabtree being named a two-time unanimous first-team All-American and winning the Biletnikoff Award twice.

Coming out of Dallas (Texas) Carter, Crabtree was regarded as an athlete and was actually recruited as a defensive back and even a quarterback by some schools. His athleticism and versatility helped pile up the offers, and by the spring of 2005 schools such as Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Colorado, Wisconsin and Kansas State had joined the chase. As his process continued, Crabtree remained rather open heading into the fall and winter. At this time, Texas Tech, Kansas and Illinois began to distance themselves from the pack. After his first attempt of an official visit to Texas Tech was rescheduled, he ended up taking visits to Kansas and then Lubbock in January 2006. In late January, he committed to Texas Tech.

Crabtree was a four-star athlete in the Class of 2006, and listed as the No. 16 athlete in the country and the No. 22 player in Texas. Nationally, there were only a handful of other athletes in his group that have made their mark in the NFL and/or college, including Riley Cooper, Dorin Dickerson, Taylor Mays and Myron Rolle, who was the top-rated athlete in the country. The Texas Longhorns wanted Crabtree as a defensive back and Bobby Knight wanted him as a guard on the Texas Tech basketball team, but he clearly made the right decision catching footballs.

Underrated? Yes, by quite a bit, but it's safe to say no one would have predicted what Crabtree would do in the Big 12 as a receiver back during his high school days.

(Video from 2010- Where did Everson Griffen rank?)



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