Pro Football Hall of Fame Contenders in High School

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by Jeff Fisher

Pro Football Hall of FameSince we’ll find-out Saturday, the newest members heading into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, we thought it would be fun to look back at the high school football careers of the 18 finalists in alphabetical order.

Morten Andersen only played one year of high school football after leaving his native Denmark to be a foreign exchange student at Ben Davis High School in Indiana.  While I couldn’t find any true high school stats on the NFL’s all-time points leader, one published interview with the left-footed kicker talked about his ability to kick a couple of 50 yard field goals during his tryout.  Andersen and his teammates finished 11-1 that year, losing in the state championship game.

Jerome Bettis attended Mckenzie High School in Detroit where he played running back and linebacker.  His senior year he was rated the best player in Michigan by the Detroit Free Press after rushing for 1,325 yards and 14 touchdowns, while recording 157 tackles with nine batted-down passes.

Tim Brown started his high school career not on the football field, but the band at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas.  His mother wouldn’t allow Brown to play football, but as a sophomore decided to sneak his way into football without telling his mom. Wilson wasn’t the greatest program in the world, going 4-25-1 during Brown’s three years as a starter, but he did amass over 4,000 all-purpose yards during his high school career.  Brown, who also played basketball and was a member of the school’s track team, was voted an All-American in 1983.

Woodrow Wilson and Mater Dei in Southern California are the only two high schools that have produced two Heisman Trophy winners.  Brown won the Heisman in 1987, while fellow alum Davey O’Brien won the award in 1938.

While we couldn’t find any facts on Don Coryell‘s high school football playing career, we do know he graduated from Lincoln High School in Seattle.  His first coaching job was at Farrington High School in Hawaii in 1952 for one year before moving-on to the college rankings.

During his junior year, Terrell Davis transferred from Morse to Lincoln High School in San Diego where, as a senior, he was switched from nose guard to fullback in a three-back formation.  He only played five full games at running back before being hurt, but his #7 jersey is retired along side Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen, who also graduated from Lincoln.  Allen wore jersey #9 during his high school career.

Tony Dungy played at Jackson-Parkside High School in Michigan where he was an all-state quarterback, while also starring in baseball and basketball, plus being a part of the school’s track team.

Kevin Greene was a two-year starter at Granite City South High School in Illinois. He had an average high school career, being named All-Conference Honorable Mention as a senior before walking-on at Auburn.

Charles Haley, who has won the most Super Bowl rings all-time (five), played at William Campbell High School in Virginia.

Marvin Harrison honed his receiving skills at Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia, but not before beginning his career as a running back. His idol was Tony Dorsett.

Jimmy Johnson played his high school football at Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, Texas, the school has since been renamed Memorial High School.  Johnson was an All-State performer as a two-way lineman.  His coaching career includes a stop as an assistant coach at Picayune Memorial High School in Mississippi in 1966.

Like Davis, John Lynch played his high school football in the San Diego area.  Lynch attended Torrey Pines High School. The school didn’t have a home field when Lynch began playing.  His father, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969, led a fundraiser that brought the school $2.5 million to build the school a field in time for John’s senior season. Lynch played quarterback in high school.

Orlando Pace was a two-sport athlete at Sandusky High School in Ohio.  As a two-way starter in football, Pace was named to USA Today’s All-America Team as a defensive lineman and a Parade All-American as an offensive lineman.

Not a lot of info on Bill Polian‘s high school career.  He attended Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx, New York.  He then played safety on the NYU football team in college.

Junior Seau played linebacker and tight end at Oceanside High School in California.  Seau was named to the Parade Magazine All-America team as a senior.  He was also a very good basketball player and made California’s All-Academic Team with a 3.6 Grade Point Average.

Will Shields was an all-stater in Oklahoma at Lawton High.  Shields was a three-year starter at offensive guard and defensive tackle.  He also participated in Jazz & Assembly Choir, earning a perfect score in his first state solo.

Mick Tingelhoff played all four years at Lexington High School in Nebraska.  During his senior year, Tingelhoff was an All-American, all-state and all-conference center.

Kurt Warner played quarterback for two years at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  His high school coach said that Warner was good enough to call his own plays on occasion.

Ron Wolf played football and baseball for Susquehannock High School in Pennsylvania.


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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.