Any football fan who takes a quick glance at On3’s 2023 Top 100 will notice a familiar name at the top in quarterback Arch Manning. Everyone knows the Manning family’s rich college football and NFL history. What you may not recognize is the other highly-rated prospects with NFL fathers.
In combing through the backgrounds of our Top 100, we noticed a disproportionately high number of prospects with parents who played in the NFL, in addition to FBS college football and Division I basketball.
By our count, at least 10 of the Top 100 have NFL bloodlines. At least 15 more have a parent or brother who played high-level collegiate football or basketball. Over one-fourth of the Top 100 having those connections is the highest we’ve seen.
We’ve seen the sons of professional athletes begin to pop up at higher rates. Several starting quarterbacks in the NFL had fathers who spent at least some time as a pro. That group includes Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Jared Goff and Russell Wilson.
The 2021 NFL Draft saw four cornerbacks taken in the top 100 picks who had NFL fathers. First-round offensive tackle Ra’Shawn Slater is the son of a former NBA player. The 2021 recruiting cycle also featured the namesakes of Pro Bowlers and sons of former top picks.
If the 2023 recruiting cycle is any indication, this trend should not slow down anytime soon.
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Five-star NFL pedigree
QB Arch Manning, No. 1
Father Cooper Manning played wide receiver at Ole Miss before a career-ending spinal condition. Grandfather Archie Manning had a legendary college career as a quarterback at Ole Miss. He was drafted No. 2 overall in 1971 by the New Orleans Saints and made two Pro Bowls. Uncles Peyton and Eli were No. 1 picks out of Tennessee and Ole Miss, respectively. Peyton was a five-time NFL MVP and was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Eli led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl victories.
ATH Sonny Styles, No. 3
Father Lorenzo Styles Sr. was a linebacker at Ohio State and was selected in the third round of the 1995 NFL Draft. He spent five seasons in the league with the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams. Older brother Lorenzo Styles Jr. was On3’s No. 33 prospect in the 2021 cycle and is a freshman wide receiver at Notre Dame.
DL David Hicks, No. 8
Father David Hicks Sr. played linebacker at Grambling State before spending time with the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals. He also played in the CFL for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
More NFL connections
S Caleb Downs, No. 15
Father Gary Downs was a running back at NC State and a third-round pick in the 1994 NFL draft. He spent seven years in the NFL with the Giants, Broncos and Falcons. Older brother Joshua Downs is a sophomore receiver at North Carolina and was a four-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
LB Raylen Wilson, No. 42
Father Robert Wilson was an undrafted wide receiver out of Florida A&M in 1997. He spent five years in the NFL between the Seahawks and Saints. Robert Wilson passed away in 2020 due to complications resulting from a stroke.
RB Justice Haynes, No. 66
Father Verron Haynes was a fifth-round pick out of Georgia in the 2002 Draft. He spent five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning Super Bowl XL. The elder Haynes also spent one season with the Falcons.
TE Jaxon Howard, No. 76
Father Willie Howard was a defensive end at Stanford, winning the Morris Award for the Pac-10’s top lineman in 1999. He was picked in the second round of the 2001 draft and played two seasons before a career-ending injury.
EDGE Joshua Mickens, No. 80
Father Arnold Mickens was a two-time All-American running back at Butler University after transferring from Indiana. He was undrafted in 1996 and spent one year with the Colts.
LB Troy Bowles, No. 83
Father Todd Bowles was an undrafted safety out of Temple in 1986. He spent eight seasons with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers, winning Super Bowl LV with Washington. Bowles is currently the defensive coordinator of the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
CB Jordan Matthews, No. 96
Father Roshaun Matthews played defensive line at LSU and Southern University. He spent time with the Ravens, Saints and Bears.
U.S. Men’s National Team
In addition to all of the NFL and college football connections, we also have a soccer legacy in the 2023 Top 100. EDGE prospect Nyckoles Harbor’s father Jean Harbor was a professional soccer player in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The elder Harbor came to the United States from Nigeria and played for Alabama A&M from 1983 to 1986. He then spent several years in professional soccer leagues that pre-dated the MLS. Perhaps most notably, Harbor made 15 appearances for the US Men’s National Team after becoming a United States citizen in 1992.
Nyckoles Harbor certainly takes after his father athletically and presents one of the more unique combinations of size and athleticism that we’ve seen from a prospect at this stage. The No.11 overall prospect is 6-foot-5, 235 pounds with a 34-plus inch arm and ran the 100 meters in 10.38 seconds – as a 15-year-old. That’s truly remarkable stuff.
College football fathers
EDGE Lebbeus Overton, No. 6
Father Milton Overton played on the offensive line at Oklahoma in the early 1990’s. His mother, Eunice Thomas, also played volleyball at Kentucky.
WR Shelton Sampson Jr., No. 10
Father Shelton Sampson Sr. was a standout running back at Northwestern State.
WR Zachariah Branch, No. 13
Father Shéva Branch played football at San Jose State. Additionally, Zachariah’s brother, Zion Branch, is a top-100 prospect in the 2022 cycle.
CB Marcus Washington, No. 14
Father Marcus Washington Sr. was a four-star linebacker who signed with Georgia in the 2005 cycle. The elder Washington was on Georgia’s teams from 2005 to 2009.
EDGE Damon Wilson, No. 19
Father Damon Wilson Sr. was a running back at East Carolina from 1991 to 1994.
TE Duce Robinson, No. 28
Father Dominic Robinson was a five-star wide receiver who signed with Florida State in the 2001 cycle. He played for the Seminoles from 2001 to 2004.
IOL Alex Birchmeier, No. 39, Penn State commit
Father Matt Birchmeier played offensive line at Ohio in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
DL Jordan Renaud, No. 53
Father Joel Renaud was an offensive tackle who signed with East Carolina out of junior college in the 2004 cycle.
IOL Francis Mauigoa, No. 56
Older brother Frederick Mauigoa was a three-year starter at center for Washington State.
LB Jaiden Ausberry, No. 64
Father Verge Ausberry was a middle linebacker at LSU in the late 1980’s. He was the Tigers’ leading tackler for two seasons. Additionally, older brother Austin Ausberry is a cornerback prospect in the 2022 cycle.
OT Luke Montgomery, No. 69
Father Mike Montgomery was a linebacker at Miami of Ohio from 1996 to 2000.
RB Treyaun Webb, No. 92, Oklahoma commit
Grandfather Reggie Webb played wide receiver at Florida State in the 1980’s.
College hoops heritage
DL Kelby Collins, No. 38
Father Andrew played basketball at New Mexico State in the mid 1980’s.
WR Deandre Moore Jr., No. 50
Father Deandre Moore Sr. began his career as a point guard at Vanderbilt before transferring to San Diego State to finish out his career.
S Elliot Washington, No. 78
Father Elliot Washington Sr. began his career at Manatee Community College before transferring to Alabama. He subsequently played the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 seasons for the Crimson Tide.