Commentary

Then & Now: Byrd, Johnson, Orakpo

Updated: December 16, 2009, 11:30 AM ET
By Brian Stumpf | ESPN RISE

Each week, ESPNRISE.com's Then & Now features three top performers from the past weekend's college and NFL games and takes a look back at their high school careers.

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Brett Davis/US PresswireAndre Johnson continues his brilliant NFL career and could be headed to another Pro Bowl appearance.

Buffalo Bills FS Jairus Byrd

Then: The son of former NFLer Gill Byrd, Jairus, was not a top recruit despite accounting for 39 scores as a QB and seven interceptions as a DB and winning Missouri 4A Player of the Year honors as a senior at Clayton High (Clayton, Mo.). Byrd did show promise at the Oregon Nike Camp that year clocking a solid 4.63 40 and a super-quick 4.02 shuttle. Byrd went on to star for the Oregon Ducks, intercepting 17 passes in three years before declaring early for the 2009 NFL Draft.

Now: Byrd currently leads the league in interceptions after picking off his ninth pass of the year in the Bills' 16-10 win over the Chiefs.

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson

Then: Johnson was one of the nation's top prospects in the Class of 1999 out of Miami Senior (Miami, Fla.) and was one of the first players to propel himself to promience through a standout Nike Camp performance, dominating one of the first Nike Camps in Miami in the spring of 1998. Johnson moved onto Miami, where he was a three-year star for the Canes, totaling 1,831 yards and 20 TDs catches in three seasons and playing a key role on the 2001 national championship.

Brian Orakpo
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com Brian Orakpo was an all-district player as a junior and senior at Lamar (Houston, Texas).

Now: Now in his seventh season with the Texans, Johnson continues to dominate. He posted monster numbers in Sunday's 34-7 win over Seattle, with 11 receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson leads the NFL with 1,237 receiving yards through 13 games.

Washington Redskins LB/DE Brian Orakpo

Then: Orakpo racked up 18 sacks and was an all-district selection at Lamar (Houston, Texas) during his junior and senior seasons. An undersized defensive end at 6-3, 215 pounds, Orakpo shined at the '03 Texas A&M Nike Camp, clocking a 4.56 40 and jumping 36.6 inches in the vertical, and earned a Longhorn offer shortly thereafter. Orakpo blossomed as a senior at Texas earning the Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award and Hendricks Award after totaling 42 tackles and 11.5 sacks.

Now: Orakpo finally broke through in his young NFL career, registering four sacks and five tackles in the Redskins' 34-13 victory over the Raiders. Orakpo has totaled 11 sacks so far, which is currently tied for fourth in the NFL.

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