Patriots starters who were lightly recruited heading into college

Generally, the thought is the best team is made up of the best players.

Coaching matters, of course, but sheer talent always is needed.

That school of thought is what makes this exercise interesting: We looked at the 22 players who started for New England in Sunday's Super Bowl to see how they ranked as high school prospects. Just three would've been considered truly hot prospects: TE Rob Gronkowski (four-star TE in 2007 recruiting class), LB Dont'a Hightower (four-star LB in 2008 recruiting class) and RB Shane Vereen (four-star RB in 2007 recruiting class).

Three Patriots starters -- QB Tom Brady, G Dan Connolly and DT Vince Wilfork -- played high school football before any of the big recruiting services were formed. Eight Pats starters, including Darrelle Revis, were three-star prospects.

Incredibly, that means that eight Patriots starters were considered two-star prospects or were unranked recruits coming out of high school. With National Signing Day set for Wednesday, we look at those Patriots players who were unheralded heading into college.

CB Kyle Arrington

Ranking: Unranked DB in 2004 recruiting class
Buzz: Arrington is from the Baltimore area and played FCS-level football at Hofstra. He was a three-year starter in college.

S Patrick Chung

Ranking: 2-star S in 2004 recruiting class
Buzz: Chung is from the Los Angeles area and made recruiting visits to Colorado State and Wyoming in addition to Oregon. He redshirted as a true freshman, then started 51 consecutive games for the Ducks.

WR Julian Edelman

Ranking: 2-star QB in 2006 recruiting class
Buzz: Edelman, who is a California native, was a lightly regarded junior college quarterback from the College of San Mateo (Calif.) when he signed with Kent State. He started for three seasons at quarterback with the Golden Flashes.

DE Chandler Jones

Ranking: 2-star TE in 2008 recruiting class
Buzz: Jones was a high school tight end/defensive end in upstate New York who also was recruited by Buffalo and Connecticut. He redshirted as a true freshman at Syracuse, then started at defensive end for three seasons before leaving for the NFL after his junior campaign.

CB Devin McCourty

Ranking: 2-star S in 2005 recruiting class
Buzz: He and his twin, Jason, were lightly regarded New Jersey players, though Jason also received some recruiting attention from Boston College. Devin ended up being a three-year starter at cornerback for Rutgers.

DT Sealver Siliga

Ranking: 2-star DT in 2008 recruiting class
Buzz: Siliga, a Utah native, chose the Utes over BYU. He was a backup as a true freshman, then started as a sophomore and junior before turning pro. He went undrafted in 2011.

OT Sebastian Vollmer

Ranking: Unranked in 2004 recruiting class
Buzz: Vollmer went to high school in Germany and was "discovered" by college recruiters when he played in an international event in San Diego. He arrived at Houston in 2004 projected to play tight end. He started at left tackle in his final two seasons with the Cougars.

G Ryan Wendell

Ranking: 2-star C in 2004 recruiting class
Buzz: Wendell went to high school in the San Diego area and received recruiting attention -- but not scholarship offers -- from the likes of USC, Washington and Colorado State. His only offer was from Fresno State and he signed with the Bulldogs. Wendell never redshirted and was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs at center and guard.

Patriots CB Malcolm Butler, who had the game-clinching interception, also was an unranked recruit coming out of high school; he went to a Mississippi junior college before moving on to a Division II school (West Alabama), and it's obvious that more than just the recruiting analysts missed on him.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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