Wednesday was National Signing Day, the day when high school football players sign their letters of intent and announce their decisions on what school they will play college football at. Many of them are ranked through various services nationwide and each college's "class" of incoming players is ranked. Rankings of players is debated because the players have yet to do anything at the college level and it's much like grading draft classes at the professional level.
Although the rankings often prove to be inaccurate for many reasons, high school recruiting continues to be a very popular aspect of college football.
Ever wonder where some of your favorite Falcons were ranked coming out of high school? Some may surprise you.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan committed to Boston College in 2003 and that season he was the No. 25 prostyle QB in the country (according to Rivals.com). Notable quarterbacks ranked ahead of him included Matt Flynn (No. 16), Brady Quinn (No. 10) and JaMarcus Russell (No. 6). Former University of Miami QB Kyle Wright was the top-ranked QB in the country that year. Now out of football, he spent the 2008 season on the Vikings and 49ers practice squads.
Pro Bowl safety Thomas DeCoud was not ranked in the top 100 at safety or cornerback in 2002 but became a third-round pick following his career at California. That recruiting season, former Atlanta Brave Jeff Francoeur was the No. 11 defensive back in the country.
DeCoud's teammate at safety, William Moore, was part of the 2004 recruiting class of Missouri, but not as a defensive back. He was the No. 64 wide receiver in the country that year, behind the likes of Eddie Royal (No. 13), Calvin Johnson (No. 6) and Early Doucet, the top-ranked wide receiver that season, now a receiver with the Arizona Cardinals. Moore's teammate at Missouri, 2010 first-round pick Sean Weatherspoon, was not among the top players at inside or outside linebacker as a recruit in 2006.
Last season's top pick, guard Peter Konz, was originally an offensive tackle as he entered Wisconsin in 2008. He was the No. 30 tackle in the country that season behind Cordy Glenn (No. 16), Tyron Smith (No. 6), Matt Kalil (No. 3) and Mike Adams (No. 1).
Left tackle Sam Baker entered USC in 2003, but not at his current offensive line position. He was ranked as the No. 4 guard nationally behind three players that never reached the level Baker has at either guard or tackle. One season before, Falcons left guard Justin Blalock was the top-rated guard in the nation.
Corey Peters, a third-round pick in 2010, committed to Kentucky in 2006 and he was the No. 24 defensive tackle that year. First-round picks in that same draft, Gerald McCoy and Jared Odrick, were the No. 1 and No. 3 players at DT that year.
After his first two seasons in the NFL for the Falcons, most believe Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the NFL. An incredibly gifted player, his talent has been in the spotlight ever since he committed to Alabama in 2008. He was a "five-star" recruit that season and the top-rated WR in the country, ahead of draft-class mate A.J. Green at No. 2. Former first-round picks Jonathan Baldwin and Michael Floyd were Nos. 5 and 6 that season.