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Recognizing Washington's NFL Longshots On National Signing Day


Contrary to popular belief, not every NFL player was a heralded high school recruit. There are variety of paths to the league, some of which are more unconventional than others.

In honor of the early signing period beginning Wednesday -- this is the first day football prospects can sign their National Letters of Intent -- here are five Washington Football Team contributors who seemed like NFL longshots coming out of high school.

(NOTE: All recruiting information is courtesy of

Ranking: 2-star QB

High School: Helix (La Mesa, California)

Skinny: Long before starting in 166 NFL games and making three Pro Bowls, Smith was the No. 39 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 137 recruit in his own state. It was not until he went to Utah -- his only FBS scholarship offer -- that he burst onto the national scene, winning Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year and finishing fourth in Heisman Trophy voting as a junior. The San Francisco 49ers ended up selecting Smith No. 1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, and Smith has thrown for more than 35,488 yards and 197 touchdowns in 16 seasons.

Ranking: 3-star SDE

High School: Muncie Central (Muncie, Indiana)

Skinny: Kerrigan was the fourth-best recruit in Indiana, but he ranked 43rd in a position group led by fellow Pro Bowlers Everson Griffen and Carlos Dunlap. Of his five FBS offers -- Ball State, Cincinnati, Indiana, Northern Illinois and Purdue -- Kerrigan committed to the Boilermakers and starred as a senior, winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and becoming a unanimous All-American. Washington used a first-round pick on Kerrigan in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he has rewarded the organization by becoming the franchise's all-time official sack leader.

Ranking: 2-star WR

High School: Central (Phenix City, Alabama)

Skinny: McKissic is used to proving talent evaluators wrong. Despite starring as a wide receiver and running back at Arkansas State -- his only FBS offer -- he went undrafted in 2016. And despite averaging 5.8 yards per touch entering 2020, both the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions chose to let him go. That allowed Washington to sign McKissic this offseason, and he's having by far his best professional season with career-highs in nearly every statistical category. He currently ranks second among running backs in receptions (58) and receiving yards (426).

Ranking: 0-star S

High School: New Smyrna Beach (New Smyrna Beach, Florida)

Skinny: A self-proclaimed "late bloomer" -- he was 5-foot-6 and 115 pounds as a freshman -- Holcomb's only FBS scholarship offer was from the Air Force. But having grown three inches and gained 85 pounds, Holcomb wanted to play for a more prominent football program, so his high school coach helped him earn a walk-on spot at North Carolina. Since then, Holcomb has been a tackling machine. He led the Tar Heels in tackles for three straight seasons, and he ranks second on Washington in tackles since the organization used a fifth-round pick on him in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Ranking: 0-star WR

High School: Eagle's Landing (McDonough, Georgia)

Skinny: Gibson is the only player on this list to take the junior college route to the NFL. Despite being an all-state wide receiver, Gibson did not receive Division I scholarship offers because of his poor grades. He ended up at East Central Community College in Mississippi for two seasons before committing to Memphis to finish out his college career. And as a senior, he was one of the most dynamic players in all of college football with 12 touchdowns on just 71 touches. His playmaking ability prompted Washington to select him in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he has been one of the best rookies in the NFL this season. He currently leads Washington with 659 rushing yards and is tied for third in the league with 11 rushing touchdowns.