Now & Then – NFL Week 3

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by Jeff Fisher

It’s Monday at that means it’s time for Now & Then, a look back at the top NFL performers for Week 3 through the lens of their time in high school. Obviously, Monday Night Football isn’t used for this feature.

We start with Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones, who played at Foley High School in Alabama.  Jones led the league in receiving yards in Week 3 with 161 yards on nine catches with two touchdowns on Thursday against Tampa Bay.

Jones had an outstanding high school career finishing with 194 career catches for 3,287 yards and 43 touchdowns. During his senior season, before moving on to the University of Alabama, Jones was named a Parade Magazine All-America and USA Today All-American.  He was also named Alabama’s Mr. Football after the 2007 season.

Jones won three gold medals in the long jump, triple jump and high jump at the Alabama state Track & Field championships.  He finished second in the 100 meters.

Gatorade named Jones Alabama’s Football Player of the Year and its Alabama’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings led the league in rushing yards with 176 in the team’s win over Houston on Sunday.

Jennings, who played at Lynchburg Christian Academy in Virginia, averaged 10.3 yards per carry during his senior year. Jennings rushed for 1,978 yards with 28 touchdowns. As a junior he averaged 9.2 yards a carry, gaining 1,309 yards and scoring 23 touchdowns.

Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins, who is trying to plug the hole caused by Robert Griffin III‘s injury. Sunday, was the league’s leading passer with 427 yards in the team’s 37-34 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles while subbing for Griffin and his dislocated ankle.

Cousins played his high school ball at small Holland Christian High School in Holland, Michigan.  Cousins, who went-on to Michigan State after being mostly recruited by the Mid-American Conference (MAC) teams. Ironically, Cousins, who is filling-in for Griffin because of his ankle injury, suffered a broken ankle during his junior year.

Cousins, who also played baseball and basketball at Holland Christian, ended his high school career with over 3,200 yards passing with 40 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

At the start of his Michigan State career, Cousins, who carried a 4.0 GPA in high school, was listed behind future NFL quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Nic Foles on the depth chart. Foles eventually transferred to Arizona. Cousins won the starting QB job for the Spartans as a sophomore.  He finished his career as a three-time captain of the Spartans and left as the school’s winningest quarterback.

Unfortunately, we could find any video of Cousins from his high school days.

On defense, linebacker Brian Cushing of the Houston Texas returned to his home state of New Jersey Sunday, and even though his team lost to the Giants, Cushing led the league with 17 tackles – 8 of them solo.

Cushing played high school ball at Bergen Catholic.  As a linebacker and tight end, Cushing led the Crusaders to the 2004 New Jersey Group IV Non-Public state championship.  Throughout Cushing’s football career there has been plenty of discussions about his possible use of performance-enhancing substances. In 2010, he was suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s performance-enhancing policy. Cushing has always denied that he has ingested or injected performance enhancing drugs.

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.