Josh Norman

College football's top recruits can keep their star ratings and televised commitment ceremonies. Josh Norman would rather have his NFL career and his Super Bowl 50 appearance.

All of that seemed far away when Norman went off to play college football. As he tells For The Win, he only had one scholarship offer, from Coastal Carolina.

"Shoot, I wasn't even a one star. I was a wandering willow, man," Norman says. "I wanted to go Division I, but it wasn't in God's plan for me to go there.

"If I could say anything [to these recruits] is, if you have a dream, keep driving. … Be who you are and be who you want to be. Don't be something other than that, because otherwise you're gonna fail. And if you look at statistics, you're gonna fail. Put all your chips in on it, cash in."

Norman isn't the only prominent NFL name that barely made it on the college level. DeMarcus Ware played high school ball before the days of prospect star-ratings, but he only got an offer from Troy, despite playing in Auburn's backyard.

Broncos center Matt Paradis was a zero-star walk-on at Boise State. Denver safety T.J. Ward was also a zero-star recruit who went to Oregon.

Emmanuel Sanders was a two-star. Demaryius Thomas, Luke Kuechly and Von Miller? All unspectacular three-stars.

In fact, while six Panthers starters were five-star recruits in high school, not a single Broncos starter earned that distinction, although Manning likely would have if such rankings had existed. It's a great reminder for young football players entering college without bright lights and big cameras on them.

"We started from the bottom," Miller told For The Win. "Now look at us."

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