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National Signing Day: A look at Packers as blue chip recruits

18 Packers were four- or five-star recruits before they signed on with college programs.

Syndication: NorthJersey file photo

Today marks national signing day, the day when the recruiting cycle for college football is (mostly) finalized. According to 247 Sports’ rankings, the top 2023 class in the nation belongs to the Alabama Crimson Tide, to no one’s surprise, with the Georgia Bulldogs right behind them, to no one’s surprise.

Which Green Bay Packers were touted by their schools as big-time recruiting, though? We know that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was famously overlooked coming out of high school and ended up going the junior college route before landing at California, but what’s the inverse? Per 247 Sports, 18 current Packers were either four- or five-star recruits before they signed with college programs, including two from the junior college level and one from a post-graduate prep school. Let’s take a look at them.

Rashan Gary, OLB

It’s hard to top what Rashan Gary was as a recruit. Per 247 Sports, Gary wasn’t just the top recruit and defensive tackle in his high school class but is the third-best prospect since 2000, ranking behind just Jadeveon Clowney and Robert Nkemdiche. He committed to Michigan on national signing day and also took visits to Auburn, Clemson, Ole Miss and USC during his process.

Marcedes Lewis, TE

Big Dog was the number one tight end in the country in 2002 and was listed as the 37th overall prospect in America. The Parade All-American played at Long Beach Poly, a southern California powerhouse that developed the likes of DeSean Jackson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jurrell Casey and Willie McGinest. Lewis signed with UCLA, where he would become a three-year starter and win the John Mackey Award as the top tight end in college football before being selected in the first round in the 2006 draft.

Quay Walker, ILB

One of the more dramatic recruits on the Packers’ roster was Quay Walker, who committed to Alabama the summer before his senior year only to flip to Georgia on national signing day. In the week leading up to signing day, Walker visited Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee. He was ranked the second outside linebacker and the 31st overall player in his high school class.

Josh Myers, C

Unlike Walker, Josh Myers’ recruitment was the opposite of dramatic. Myers committed to Ohio State after his sophomore season of football and was Buckeyes all the way. Ranked as the 53rd player nationally and the second guard in his class, he early enrolled at Ohio State before national signing day.

TJ Slaton, DL

TJ Slaton played football at American Heritage in Fort Lauderdale, the powerhouse that produced Brian Burns, Tyson Campbell, Khalil Herbert, Sony Michel and Patrick Surtain Jr. On a loaded defense, Slaton actually was nearly fully focused on the offensive side of the ball during his high school career. He was offered a scholarship in December of his freshman year by LSU and was recognized as an All-American guard, despite playing on defense during his college career. On national signing day, the 69th recruit nationally and the third-ranked guard committed to Florida.

Rasheed Walker, T

After visiting Penn State, Virginia Tech and Ohio State during the recruiting process, Rasheed Walker signed with the Nittany Lions on national signing day. He was ranked the 65th prospect nationally and the sixth-ranked tackle in his class.

Sean Rhyan, G

Despite holding offers from the likes of USC, Stanford, Oregon, Notre Dame and even Alabama, Sean Rhyan was an early signing day pickup for the UCLA Bruins. Rhyan was an All-American offensive lineman and won his section in shot put as a high school athlete. Nationally, he was the 74th recruit and second guard in his class.

Allen Lazard, WR

Allen Lazard’s first scholarship offer came after his sophomore season when his father’s alma mater, Iowa State, extended both him and his brother Anthony a scholarship. They would both eventually follow their father’s footsteps, though, Notre Dame was in the mix for Lazard late as the Fighting Irish were able to bring him in on a visit after his senior season. He was ranked the 10th receiver and the 78th prospect in 2014 and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Krys Barnes, ILB

It wasn’t future first-round pick Jordan Love, who only received a single FBS offer, but linebacker Krys Barnes who was the highest-recruited player on the Liberty (Bakersfield) team. Barnes, despite having offers to LSU, Oklahoma and USC, committed to UCLA before his senior season. He was the eighth inside linebacker and 144th overall player in his high school class.

Bo Melton, WR

Green Bay’s practice squad poach Bo Melton was something in between a receiver and a running back as a prep. He was also a Jersey boy all the way. While he held offers from much bigger programs like Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon and Penn State, Melton committed to the in-state Rutgers before his senior season and didn’t waiver. He was the 252nd player nationally and the 37th receiver in his class.

Devonte Wyatt, DL

There was some drama involved in the recruitment of defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt. The Packers’ 2022 first-round pick originally committed to South Carolina in 2016, only to flip to Georgia two months later. Ultimately, he ended up taking visits to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida down the stretch and early enrolled with the Bulldogs in 2017. He was ranked 278th in the nation and 17th as a defensive tackle.

Kingsley Enagbare, OLB

Kingsley Engabare, unlike Devonte Wyatt, committed to South Carolina and actually went to the school. Despite holding offers to Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame and Tennessee, the pass-rusher early enrolled with the Gamecocks. He was the 269th player nationally and the 10th-ranked strongside defensive end. The Atlanta product was also named the Defensive Player of the Year by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jonathan Garvin, OLB

Jonathan Garvin, a south Florida product, was a Miami Hurricane all the way. The 195th player nationally and ninth-ranked strongside defensive end committed to Miami before his senior season and only took visits to Miami and Tennessee.

Kenny Clark, DL

The third UCLA Bruin on our list is Pro Bowler Kenny Clark, who committed to UCLA before his senior season. He had offers to the likes of Miami, Nebraska and Washington but the Inland Empire product decided to stay in state with the Bruins at the end of the day. He was ranked the 23rd defensive tackle and 275th overall player in his high school class.

Jarran Reed, DL

No one had a crazier recruiting process on the Packers than Jarran Reed. Reed first went to a post-graduate prep school after his high school career, which led to a spot on the East Mississippi Community College team. There, he was the 13th junior college player and the second junior college defensive tackle in his class. He originally committed to North Carolina, then Ole Miss, then Florida before landing with Alabama. He also took visits to Kentucky, Mississippi State and Tennessee.

Yosh Nijman, T

It may come as a surprise to some that right tackle Yosh Nijman was actually recruited as a defensive tackle coming out of prep school. Despite being unrecruited from the high school level, he quickly earned the top defensive tackle and second overall ranking from the prep school level. He landed with Virginia Tech but also visited Temple and was offered by Miami.

Rasul Douglas, CB

This is our second blue-chip junior college product. Unrecruited out of high school, Rasul Douglas began his college football career at Nassau Community College. There, he was the 15th overall junior college recruit and third-ranked cornerback in his class. He took visits to West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers and was also offered by Florida State and Tennessee. Eventually, he would sign with the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Rudy Ford, S

The final Packer on our list is Rudy Ford, who was ranked the 306th player nationally and the 22nd running back in his class. He originally committed to Vanderbilt to play running back but recommitted the week before signing day to sign with Auburn. Ford also took a visit to Tennessee and had offers to Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss and Stanford. He was an early enrollee with the Tigers.

If you’re wondering who the lowest-ranked recruits on the Packers’ squad are, it’s not surprising that they generally came from small schools. The only no-star recruits on Green Bay’s 2022 active roster are cornerback Corey Ballentine (Washburn), tight end Robert Tonyan (Indiana State), receiver Christian Watson (North Dakota State) and long snapper Jack Coco (Georgia Tech).

All recruiting information comes from 247 Sports and their composite rankings.