Christian McCaffrey may not have been as highly regarded coming out of high school but he wound up being one of the best players the '14 class had to offer
Versatility was everywhere to be found in college football's recruiting class of 2014 with a handful of special players capable of breaking big plays on offense, defense and special teams. Of course, this group also served up a healthy dose of running backs, a national title-winning quarterback and perhaps some of the top linemen turning pro.
Let's take a look back at the recruiting class from 2014 and see which players ended up being better than expected and what others may have fallen off.
Note: This list references the 247 Sports composite rankings.
1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
No. 1 Defensive End, No. 2 Nationally
The experts were not far off at all on Garrett, who is arguably the top player heading to the 2017 NFL Draft. The ferocious beast on the defensive line lived up to the hype with the Aggies and may have proven to be more valuable of a player than anyone he was ranked behind.
Who was No. 1: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
No. 2 Quarterback, No. 41 Nationally
It is hard to argue the value of Watson after going 28-2 in the last two years and leading Clemson to back-to-back championship game appearances and ending a national title drought. Watson passed for more than 10,000 yards and accounted for 116 touchdowns during a brilliant career.
Who was No. 2: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
3. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
No. 2 Running Back, No. 13 Nationally
Cook turned in three straight seasons with at least 1,000 rushing yards and scored 48 touchdowns for Florida State. The Miami product was a model of consistency and was often the best player on the field at any given moment.
Who was No. 3: Jabrill Peppers, ATH, Michigan
4. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
No. 1 Running Back, No. 1 Nationally
There are not many running backs built to play in the NFL the way Fournette is. A mix of power and speed, Fournette tore up the field in his first two seasons at LSU before injuries sidetracked the momentum in 2016. Getting shut down by Alabama hurt a little bit, but Fournette will still be worthy of being some lucky NFL team's franchise ball carrier.
Who was No. 4: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
5. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
No. 11 Running Back, No. 91 Nationally
Who knew at the time McCaffrey would have the college career he did? The Denver product exploded on the scene at Stanford and showed off the ability to break big plays at any moment on offense and special teams.
Who was No. 5: Da'Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama
6. Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC
No. 1 Cornerback, No. 7 Nationally
Jackson was expected to be an explosive playmaker, but he still managed to impress during his run at USC. The Jim Thorpe Award winner and a Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Jackson also recorded eight special teams touchdowns, proving to be a deadly weapon any time he stepped on the field.
Who was No. 6: Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
7. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
No. 1 Offensive Tackle, No. 4 Nationally
A mainstay on Alabama's offensive line, Robinson was difficult to slip by for just about any player lining up opposite him. Robinson came to Alabama with big expectations to lock things down on the end of the line, and he did just that.
Who was No. 7: Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC
8. Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
No. 4 Running Back, No. 21 Nationally
The five-star recruit may have had some distractions along the way, but as far as his football production goes, there were few who eclipsed his body of work. Mixon was capable of carrying the load if needed and shined in a split role with the Sooners.
Who was No. 8: Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M
9. Jabrill Peppers, ATH, Michigan
No. 1 Athlete, No. 3 Nationally
Recruited by Brady Hoke, Peppers battled injury concerns early on but flourished under Jim Harbaugh. Capable of playing multiple roles, Peppers did just about everything very well. Few players proved to be as versatile as Peppers.
Who was No. 9: Tony Brown, CB, Alabama
10. Nick Chubb, Running Back, Georgia
No. 6 Running Back., No. 33 Nationally
Another running back that has proven to be a great addition to his program has been Chubb. Fresh off a 1,130-yard season, Chubb has been a key cog in the Bulldogs’ offensive efforts.
Who was No. 10: Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M
The Best of the Rest:
Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M
No. 1 QB, No. 10 Nationally
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
No. 1 S, No. 6 Nationally
Tony Brown, CB, Alabama
No. 2 CB, No. 9 Nationally
KD Cannon, WR, Baylor
No. 4 WR, No. 30 Nationally
Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
No. 2 WR, No. 17 Nationally
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
No. 1 OLB, No. 15 Nationally
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
No. 6 TE, No. 213 Nationally
Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
No. 25 WR, No. 168 Nationally
Da'Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama
No. 2 DE, No. 5 Nationally
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
No. 3 CB, No. 12 Nationally
Jalen Hurd, RB, Tennessee
No. 4 ATH, No. 40 Nationally
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
No. 10 QB, No. 141 Nationally
DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
No. 17 QB, No. 232 Nationally
Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
No. 11 WR, No. 83 Nationally
Malik McDowell, DE, Michigan State
No. 3 SDE, No. 32 Nationally
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
No. 1 ILB, No. 22 Nationally
Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M
No. 1 WR, No. 8 Nationally
Curtis Samuel, ATH, Ohio State
No. 8 ATH, No. 59 Nationally
Bo Scarbrough, ATH, Alabama
No. 2 ATH, No. 16 Nationally
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
No. 3 ATH, No. 20 Nationally
Jalen “Teez” Tabor, CB, Florida
No. 4 CB, No. 14 Nationally
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.