For many of the top prospects in this year’s NFL draft, the path to stardom didn’t begin in college. Instead, it started at the US Army All-American Bowl, an annual high-school all-star game that’s been remarkably good at spotting future NFL talent. Since 2005, 69 participants have reached the pros; this year, 28 are expected to go, with seven projected as first-rounders.
All of this is handled by SportsLink, a small company started in 2000 by an unlikely pair of former polticial operatives in New Jersey. The company, one of many trying to find a way to make big money off high-school sports, relies on a long-time scout who logs 60,000 miles a year evaluating prospects, a tricky prospect for players so young. "A kid can dominate, and then they stop growing," he said. (Read more football stories.)