Recruits, and even coaches, get their ESPN start during high school games

College Football kicks off one week from today, but the pigskin starts flying for future college all-stars tomorrow. High school football begins this weekend with the ESPN High School Kickoff and the glow of Friday night lights from nine states across the country. Seventeen teams are playing in the series for the first time and six of the featured teams are nationally ranked in the Top 25.

For college fans, it’s a chance to see the raw talent coaches have been scouting from the ESPN 300 and an opportunity to highlight the nation’s passion for the start of the football season. Some of the biggest names in college football in the last 10 years first played on ESPN in high school games – Jadeveon Clowney, Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley to name three. Notable college head coaches, such as Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, have appeared, too.

Gus Malzahn, head coach of Auburn University Tigers during the 2013 SEC Coaches on Campus Car Wash (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn on the set of SportsCenter. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

In 2005, Malzahn was head coach at Springdale High School (Ark.) when the team appeared on ESPNU for a home win against Jenks (Okla.). Five players from Malzahn’s team that year went on to play in the SEC or for Notre Dame, including Damian Williams, a wide receiver who was the 77th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Now a first-year head coach in the SEC for the team that has the most game appearances of all time on ESPN, Malzahn, in the video above, reflects on the experience of first being on the network as a high school coach.

Video produced by Tonya Malinowski

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