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August 13, 2013

Ranking the all-time five-stars: Florida

MORE RE-RANKED FIVE-STARS: Alabama - California

Coming out of high school at Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian, Ernie Sims was so sought after that Florida State received permission from Ron Sellers to allow Sims to wear the retired No. 34.

After earning a varsity letter as an eighth-grader and leading his high school team to four consecutive state titles, Sims went to Florida State and was a force from his first game. He earned playing time in every game as a freshman and finished ninth on the team in tackles before cementing his place as a starter.

Name Year/Rank
1 Ernie Sims 2003 No. 1
2 Vernon Hargreaves III 2013 No. 2
3 Patrick Johnson 2008 No. 5
4 Andre Caldwell 2003 No. 4
5 Keith Rivers 2004 No. 5
6 Trent Richardson 2009 No. 6
7 Willie Williams 2004 No. 6
8 C.J. Spiller 2006 No. 8
9 Hasean Clinton-Dix 2011 No. 7
10 Ryan Moore 2002 No. 7

We Missed On...
Antonio Cromartie 2003 No. 40
His selection by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 2006 draft was validation of Sims' place atop the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour coming out of high school. He returns to the top of the list as Rivals.com re-ranks the five-star prospects.

From the class of 2002 -- when Rivals.com established the Rivals100 -- to the class of 2013, there have been 11 states to have double-digit players earn five-star rankings. This week, it is 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 is subject to change through the regular season and all-star game evaluations.

Florida has had 56 players from the previously completed classes evaluated as five-star players, but only Sims was the No. 1 overall player in the country and he will start atop the list of the state's best from high school.

Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said the collection of talent is impressive but it is easy to make mistakes in dealing with high school players.

"Obviously you'd think the Florida list would be loaded with guys who dominated in college and are off to the NFL, and there are many like Patrick Johnson (now Patrick Peterson), Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller, Ernie Sims and Keith Rivers, but there are two colossal busts as well in Willie Williams and Ryan Moore," he said. "If Vernon Hargreaves III pans out, however, you have a very strong top six here, and Hasean Clinton-Dix could add to an amazing overall 10 despite the two failures.

"If Tim Tebow doesn't come close to making the top 10, this is pretty strong."

Tebow won the Heisman Trophy and led Florida to a national title. He contributed as a freshman on another championship.

He is not alone in a group of players that did not crack the top 10.

Andre Caldwell, Devin Hester, Duke Johnson, John Theus, Kenny Phillips, Leon Washington, Matt Elam, Noel Devine and Sam Young were very good on the college level, and some have made it to the NFL.

As is the case with any state with this much talent, there are misses. Farrell said Antonio Cromartie stands out as a highly ranked player who should have been given a fifth star.

"He was one of the best natural athletes in the history of high school football," Farrell said. "Despite being ranked very high at No. 40, we missed on this one, plain and simple. Even though his college career was cut short, he was still a first-rounder and he is one of those guys who can make you jump out of your seat at any moment."

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