When NFL players finally make it into the league, there are a variety of ways and backgrounds each player has to get there. Many players do not grow up just playing one position their entire lives. As potential or future NFL players continue playing football, a variety of position changes can occur before playing on Sundays.
There are many players we have seen on our screens that have maned the game's toughest position, quarterback, before reaching the pros and sometimes college ranks. For some reason or another, this happens often, whether it be injuries, necessity, or just the fact that the best player on the team can be asked to play the hardest role.
This list will be taking a look at present or previous NFL players who played quarterback in high school that people may be unaware of. Before the ages of the internet, there were not sites that constantly keeping track of high school players such as Rivals or MaxPreps. Knowledge of these players being former high school quarterbacks is accessible now more than ever. These NFL players are just some of the names who had to play quarterback in high school, with some making position switches before college, and a few who played QB at the NCAA level before switching in the pros.
15 Kam Chancellor
Chancellor is by far the most relevant active player on this list, and one of the most surprising. He still showed the dominance on the defensive end in high school that he is known for in Seattle, but like many players in the NFL today, played on both sides of the ball in high school.
Chancellor was ranked as the 27th best pro-style QB in the nation before committing to Virginia Tech as a safety in 2005.
Before the 2014 NFL season, there was talk about the Seahawks only carrying two active quarterbacks on the roster. This would have been a tricky situation should Russell Wilson and backup Tarvaris Jackson had gone down with an injury. Chancellor came out and said that he was the quarterback if that was the case, citing that he knows five or six plays of the playbook.
14 Randall Cobb
When Cobb was a high school quarterback at Alcoa High School, his team won the Tennesse Class AA State Championship all four years. The Packers wide receiver did not know how to lose, as it was a rare occurrence.
His stellar play made him a three-star recruit and he accepted an offer from the University of Kentucky.
He played very little at the position once with the Wildcats, having just 99 attempts his freshman year before moving to play wide receiver and running back. He was the back up before Kentucky benched the starter to see what Cobb could do as a freshman. Apparently in 2008, many Wildcat fans were calling for the switch to be made. After that season, he made the permanent switch to wide receiver. Lucky for Cobb and Kentucky fans, he excelled there before leaving for the NFL after his junior season.
13 Jerick McKinnon
In high school, McKinnon played every position asked of him. During his junior year at Sprayberry High School, he played wide receiver, helping the team with a regional title in Georgia.
The following season, he was asked to go back under centre and lit opposing defences on fire.
He showed ability as a passer, posting 1,500 passing yards, but was lethal in the running game. On the ground, the future NFL running back totalled over 1,300 yards. His dual-threat ability and versatility landed him offers from triple option programs to play QB. Offers from Georgia State, Navy, and Army were all on the table, but McKinnon opted for playing for the smaller, closer to home, Georgia Southern on his path to the NFL.
12 Anquan Boldin
There has been a variety of legends that have played high school football in Florida. Whether it is Emmitt Smith or Tim Tebow, the state is known for producing top-level athletes. According to Steve Dorsey, Anquan Boldin is by far the best high school player to set foot on a high school field in the state's history. The first time Boldin played at Pahokee High School, many people thought that it was a mistake that he was listed as a freshman.
After four years of dominance, he gathered over 11,400 yards of total offence.
During his senior season, he passed for 2,842 yards, rushed for another 1,497 yards, and had 56 total touchdowns. Once he got to Florida State, it was clear that the depth chart at QB was too crowded, so he naturally became a future hall of fame receiver after making the switch.
11 Joshua Cribbs
Cribbs was one of the scariest return men in the league at one point. But during his time in high school, he was one of the most fearsome quarterbacks in the D.C. area. During his final season in 2000, he lead Dunbar High School to the state championship. In the second half of that game, Cribbs tossed a TD to sophomore Vernon Davis, with both players going on to have pro-bowl careers. Once his time at Dunbar was over, he took over almost every record imaginable at Kent State. He is currently the all-time leader in offensive yards, passing yards and touchdowns, as well as rushing touchdowns. Cribbs' records were almost in jeopardy when another converted QB turned position player, Julian Edelman, had similar success at Kent State.
10 Lane Johnson
If this name does not stand out to you, it is because he is an offensive lineman currently playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. Surprisingly, he was the QB at Groveton High School in Texas. There, he was an All-state honorable mention quarterback. His journey from a lightly recruited signal caller to NFL lineman was a strange one. After not finding a big program, he switched positions to tight end once enrolling into a junior college. Then, his role became a matter of circumstance, as Johnson was willing to do whatever needed to get more playing time. Eventually, he landed a spot as the starting offensive tackle for the University. During the 2013 combine, Johnson was the hot topic of conversation, as he ran a 4.72 40 yard dash. Johnson was happy with his time, but stated that it easily would have been faster had he not changed his body type.
9 Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman will forever be remembered for "The Catch". The famous catch that was part of the New England Patriots' unprecedented comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. And that makes perfect sense, considering that Edelman is one of the league's best receivers.
However, Edelman got his start as a QB. We saw a glimpse of this in a playoff game against the Ravens when he threw a game-changing pass. It's pretty incredible to think how skilled he is, and we're sure Bill Belichick was drawn to the idea that he could be such a versatile asset. While he's had some injury trouble, it hasn't slowed his production. It's also nice he gets to receive from one of the best QB's of all time in Tom Brady.
8 Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson's role in the NFL is drastically different than what he was asked to do while attending Varina High School in Virginia. He was the starting quarterback as a freshman, and lead the team to four regional titles. His team made the state championship game twice, but suffered defeats both opportunities. Robinson received All-State QB honours both of those seasons as well. When it was time to go to college, he had totalled 3,046 rushing yards to combine with 2,409 passing as well as 37 touchdowns. Once he enrolled at Penn State, he did whatever was needed to see the field. During his sophomore season, he started three games behind centre. During those games, he passed for 892 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions. Soon, Robinson found a home as a running back and blocker, eventually finding a spot in the NFL as a fullback before retiring in 2013.
7 Cole Beasley
Once Tony Romo was injured in a week two game against the Eagles in 2015, Cole Beasley became the second string quarterback for that game. He would have had to play had Brandon Weeden gotten hurt. Beasley hasn't thrown a pass in a game since he played in high school. When he did play QB, he helped lead an option attack offence to the playoffs all four years. During his final season, he went airborne for 1,570 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. Beasley would have a really rough time playing the position if he ever had to in the NFL, as he only stands at 5'8", which would make him the shortest quarterback in the entire league. Luckily for Cowboys fans, the franchise has not had to worry about any lengthy injuries with Dak Prescott not missing any large time since taking over for Romo in 2016.
6 Brian Hartline
Brian Hartline made his impact as a wideout felt during the 2012 season, where he caught 74 passes for 1,083 yards. He was told to make the switch from playing quarterback to wide receiver during his sophomore year of high school. Four games into the season, he was benched at QB, with his brother Mike, replacing him as the starter. Coincidently, when his brother went to play at Kentucky, he was benched so that previously mentioned Randall Cobb could have the job. Brian has not thrown a pass in a regulation game since being benched for his sibling but had to wear a wristband with the playbook on it at times for the Cleveland Browns. Former coach, Mike Pettine, said that Hartline was always relieved when the team's third-string QB Austin Davis was active so that there was no chance he'd line up behind centre.
5 Peter Warrick
Warrick was never able to make a smooth transition into the NFL, but that was not because he was a lifelong quarterback turned position player like many on this list. In high school, Warrick was one of the country's best wide receiver prospects but was given the task of playing QB his senior year of high school due to necessity. He did not set the world on fire while taking snaps, rushing for 673 yards and passing for another 1,109, but was already the 7th best recruit in the country by then. He decided to go to Florida State, where his experience under centre was an asset to the team, as Warrick was used as a passer on multiple trick plays that went for long touchdowns. In 2000, Warrick was selected fourth overall in the NFL Draft, but was out of the league after just six seasons.
4 Brian Mitchell
Mitchell is on this list because of how interesting is career path was once leaving college. After growing up playing quarterback, and showing his ability as a dual threat at Palquemine High School, he was lightly recruited to play at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He was a pioneer for dual-threat quarterbacks by the time he graduated. Mitchell became the first player in NCAA history to have over 5,000 passing yards and rush for another 3,000. Another record that was held by him was career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, with 47. Mitchell's ability to lead a team under centre was not what got him drafted, as the Redskins selected him in the fourth round to be a kick returner. Although Mitchell had zero experience at this, he adapted quickly, carving out a career that had him second all-time in purpose yards when he retired, only behind Jerry Rice.
3 Michael Crabtree
When Crabtree was on the 49ers, the team's social media account posted a highlight of the wide receiver playing QB in Texas. The play had him dropping back, avoiding defenders, and breaking off for a huge touchdown run. Crabtree made sure then-starting QB Colin Kaepernick was aware, tweeting the link at him with the comment "Too real" aimed at him. When he was playing his senior year of high school football in Dallas, Crabtree had a knack for finding the end zone. Crabtree had a total of 20 touchdowns and became a four-star recruit as an athlete in the process. He was sought after at Texas to play defence but opted to go to Texas Tech stating that he wanted to play on offence. Michael has not thrown a pass in the NFL, but often shows off his long arm with the Raiders in practice.
2 Nick Marshall
During his senior year in high school, Marshall was one of the best players in the state on Georgia. After deciding to just focus on football during his senior season, Marshall destroyed everything in his path. Passing for 41 touchdowns, and running for another 9, it was clear that Marshall could succeed as a dual threat QB once going off the college. After a couple of problems at the University of Georgia, and after transferring to a junior college, Marshall finally found a home at Auburn. There, he achieved something no person on this list did at the QB position, play in the national championship game. Since his collegiate career came to an end, he has been trying to find a role in the NFL as a cornerback, most recently with the New York Jets.
1 Hines Ward
This Steeler legend basically could do it all in his younger years. During Ward's high school career in Georgia, he showed his superior athleticism while running the offense at quarterback. His play lead him to multiple post-season awards, including two time Clayton County Offensive Player of the Year. Once he joined the University of Georgia Bulldogs, Ward was still used sparingly at QB. In the 1995 Peach Bowl, during Ward's sophomore season, he started the game against Virginia. The Cavaliers got out to a 24-6 lead, but Ward battled back, totalling a Peach Bowl record 469 total yards but still came up short. The Bulldogs lost 34-27. Once his collegiate career was done, he was drafted both by the NFL and MLB, luckily for Steelers fans the choice was clear.