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August 12, 2013

Ranking the all-time five-stars: California

MORE: Re-ranking the five-stars: Alabama

Winning a Heisman Trophy, a BCS national title and a Super Bowl are all accolades that will forever be the second part of the sentence when Reggie Bush's legacy is discussed because of his involvement in an improper benefits scandal that rocked USC in the late 2000s.

Prior to becoming a two-time consensus All-American in college -- and a 2008 All-Pro selection in the NFL -- Bush was a five-star talent at La Mesa (Calif.) Helix. Then a 6-foot, 180-pound speedster, he was ranked as the No. 2 player in the country. He is one of 42 players from California to be ranked a five-star prospect.

Following the summer evaluation period, the Rivals.com team of analysts is meeting this week to discuss how to reshape the rankings for the class of 2014 Rivals100 presented by Under Armour. This presented a perfect opportunity to look back at former five-star prospects and re-rank them among the other elite prospects from their home states.

Name Year/Rank
1 Reggie Bush 2003 No. 2
2 Jimmy Clausen 2007 No. 1
3 Ronald Powell 2010 No. 1
4 Lorenzo Booker 2002 No. 3
5 Whitney Lewis 2003 No. 3
6 George Farmer 2011 No. 3
7 Ben Olson 2002 No. 4
8 Shaq Thompson 2012 No. 4
9 Rey Maualuga 2005 No. 5
10 De'Anthony Thomas 2011 No. 5

We Missed On...
Marshawn Lynch 2004 No. 28
From 2002 -- when Rivals.com established the Rivals100 -- to 2013, there have been 11 states that have produced 10 or more players who have earned five-star rankings. Over the next five days, it will be time to turn back the clock and put those players in order based on what they did in high school.

None of the players identified as midseason five-stars for the class of 2014 is considered for this ranking. Each ranking is subject to change through the regular season and all-star game evaluations.

The state of California has the population base to consistently have multiple prospects ranked among the nation's elite, but Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said this group may be among the most confounding of any state.

"This list has some very good players but is loaded with guys who just didn't or haven't lived up to their talent out of high school," Farrell said. "How does Reggie Bush rank No. 1 here if there's no hindsight involved over two players who were No. 1 in the country overall?"

Farrell put Bush ahead of former Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian quarterback Jimmy Clausen and Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde defensive end Ronald Powell. Both were top players in the country for their classes.

"It's a tough choice, but Bush was essentially 1B behind Ernie Sims his year and he has one of the top five highlight tapes you'll ever see, so we could easily make the case for him as an overall No. 1," Farrell said. "Clausen had a very good college career and was a different breed of quarterback coming out of high school despite the haters, but after him there is a run of players who never lived up to the billing."

Below that top group are two relative busts in Lorenzo Booker and Whitney Lewis, with former UCLA quarterback Ben Olson just below at No. 7.

Players such as George Farmer, Shaq Thompson, Rey Maualuga and De'Anthony Thomas still have time to prove their worth.

"Thompson at No. 8 is still a work in progress and Maualuga had a very good career and Thomas is dynamic," Farrell said. "But the middle of this group busted out when you consider their rankings."

Many others have gone on to bigger and better things, but limiting the re-rank to just their high school attributes leaves DeSean Jackson, Marcedes Lewis, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, Trent Edwards, Tyron Smith and Vontaze Burfict on the outside of the top 10.

Another player who didn't earn a fifth star has also gone onto be a factor at the next level -- and to haunt Farrell.

"We are kicking ourselves for this one," he said. "Marshawn Lynch has gone from a trivia question -- who was the No. 2 running back in the country behind Adrian Peterson coming out of high school? -- to an NFL beast."



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