HOUSTON (NEXSTAR MEDIA) — For college football fans, National Signing Day is a holiday of sorts.
For most recruits, the day can feel like the end of a long road, but in reality, it’s only the start… with the Super Bowl the ideal final destination.
For the players taking the field on Sunday, their road to Houston started back in high school on National Signing Day.
“It was one of the most exciting days of my life. National Signing Day was amazing. [It] was so cool [and] was super fun,” recalled Patrick DiMarco, fullback for the Atlanta Falcons.
“It seems like it was a long time ago. It’s just crazy thinking about it. I never would’ve thought it’d be in the position I am coming out of high school,” Falcons safety Keanu Neal added.
“[Playing in the Super Bowl] was probably the last thing I was thinking,” Brook Reed, linebacker for the Falcons, joked. “I was probably thinking: ‘How am I going to be facing 350-pound linemen?’ When I signed for the [Univ. of Arizona], I wasn’t huge five-star guy coming out.”
Reed was a three-star recruit, to be exact. And he was far more recruited than his teammate Patrick DiMarco, who was only a two-star prospect.
But far and away the biggest recruit on the Falcons’ roster was Julio Jones.
“There was a lot of media. It was good, though, just to have my family there who’s been supporting me at the beginning of my career,” said Jones, Falcons receiver and five-star recruit.
However, recruiting rankings are not the best indicator of NFL success. The average star ranking for the two teams is about 2.75 stars out of five.
Only three five-star prospects are expected to start on Sunday: Jones and New England Patriots’ Martellus Bennett and Malcom Brown.
Whatever their ranking, or school, their different journeys all brought them to football’s biggest stage.