The New Mixtape: Football's YouTube Legends

By John Harris
July 28, 2014

YouTube is a football film geek's treasure trove where the public speaks with the views. The Sideline View's John Harris finds the best of the black hole of YouTube.

As I was preparing for our Houston Texans All-Access radio show a few weeks ago, I was combing, looking for any good nuggets of information. In my search, I stumbled upon a short article on a high school player.

It didn't make a ton of sense why a high school highlight clip would be on But, y'all know how much I love and respect the high school game, so I hit play. It was a video of Emmanuel Greene, a high school prospect from Coconut Creek, Florida, in a 7-on-7 contest at a football camp. I'm not sure there are words for what he "did" to those poor defenders, so you can just see for yourself.

(And, just so we're clear, turn down the volume before you watch any videos. Thank you, Signed, The Management.)

There are nearly 800,000 views of the video at this time and it's not a stretch to say that it garnered so much attention that the University of Miami, his dream school, offered him a scholarship.

That video got me thinking about the power of Youtube and the high school football legends that emerged from that media. After seeing Greene's video, I tweeted my twitter followers, asking who they thought were High School Football YouTube Legends. Now, I did give them a caveat; I claimed Reggie Bush, Noel Devine, Speedy Noil and Jadeveon Clowney. Those were just too easy and I knew I'd get those submissions 100x.  As such, those four are the gold standard for YouTube Legend status.

Reggie Bush

Helix HS, San Diego, CA

After Bush made it big at USC, this video made its way to the internets. There are three or four different posts of it, but the jist is the same. Reggie was just flat out sick with the ball in his hands.

Noel Devine

North Fort Myers HS, Fort Myers, FL

I remember sitting in an audit room in 2005 when one of my team members asked if I'd seen this Devine kid video. I wasn't totally sure what he meant, nor did I know who Devine was so he sent me the link. I, along with a few hundred thousand, would never forget him. This video, I believe, was from his freshman season at North Fort Myers and it made him a viral hero.

Speedy Noil

Edna Karr HS, New Orleans, LA

I first saw Noil at a Houston-based football camp in the spring of 2013. He and his fellow Karr players came to Houston to dominate and they did. Noil, though, with his gold cleats and rocked up physique, got most of the attention that day. Later that summer, Adam Kramer (Bleacher Report/Kegs N Eggs blog) got a hold of the Speedy Noil highlight tape and sent it out to the masses. Noil was a hot commodity in the recruiting community but when Kramer, a national CFB writer, wrote about him, he went viral.

Jadeveon Clowney

South Pointe HS, Rock Hill, SC

Just watch the first play and you'll know why.

Okay, so those were the four that were almost "too easy" to answer. I left plenty on the plate for others to find. These are a few more hidden gems, some whose careers panned out exactly as these high schools vids predicted they would.

Tavon Austin

Dunbar HS, Baltimore, MD

Austin's video has garnered nearly 1.8M views since it was put online last year. The 2013 NFL Draft first rounder's West Virginia film is fairly jaw dropping, but I'm sticking with the HS Youtube legend theme.

Adrian Peterson

Palestine HS, Palestine, TX

This isn't the best quality tape, with low field shots and the sort, but over 2.2M views tell you that people just don't care. He was Paul Bunyan among boys and it wasn't until I wrote "Palestine, TEXAS" that it hit me how crushing it must have been for Longhorns fans to see a Texan play for that school up north, as they say.

Leonard Fournette

St. Augustine HS, New Orleans, LA

Many in the recruiting world have said he's the closest thing to Adrian Peterson since AD graduated HS. After watching the power, the speed, the size and the feet, it's hard to argue with that belief.

Vince Young

Madison HS, Houston, TX

Of course, in Houston, one name came up more than many others. Ironically, his Youtube views are under 100k, but people asked for it.

A lot of people asked for it.

Chris Borland

Alter HS, Kettering, OH

The description for the video tells the whole story about Borland, an All-American linebacker at Wisconsin. Not too many defensive players are going to make it on this list, but this was definitely worthy of mention.

Allen Iverson

Bethel HS, Hampton, VA

THAT Allen Iverson? AI? Yep, the one and only. I just wish we could've seen what he could do on a football field.

Sam McGuffie

Cypress Fairbanks HS, Cypress, TX

The quality of this video isn't great and there's an issue with the one that everyone's seen (3.2M views). But, again, being in Houston, McGuffie was a name that followers threw my way. A lot.

Kyler Murray

Allen HS, Allen TX

The class of 2015 star has two state championships under his belt and is looking to make it three in his senior year. He committed to Texas A&M, following his father's footsteps. Kevin was a former baseball playing, gunslinging Aggie QB in the mid-1980s, but his son is a different breed with the ball in his hands. Many Aggies will tell you he's another Johnny Manziel. Watching the highlight video, it's not hard to note the resemblance, playing style-wise that is.

Sean Taylor

Gulliver Prep School, Miami, FL

I can remember the very first time I saw the late great from South Florida. I was in my kitchen with my wife watching the Florida HS football highlight show after one of our big wins. I thought just maybe they'd show our win that captured our first playoff berth in the history of our school. So, as I'm waiting to see our highlights (and they did show them later), the broadcaster says let's go down to Gulliver Prep for the hit of the night. He said the words "Sean Taylor" and I never forgot them after seeing him nearly decapitate a running back. Then, the announcer says he's also got a gazillion touchdowns on the year too. The video is grainy and indicative of old school FHSAA football on VHS, but this one brought back some incredible memories.

R.I.P. Sean.

AJ Green

Summerville HS, Summerville, SC

The former All-Pro Cincinnati Bengal has been on the national radar for a while. It started with his play for legendary HS coach John McKissick. Wow. I would've put his basketball highlight reel too, but I'm keeping this Youtube Legends article straight football.

Derrick Henry

Yulee HS, Yulee, FL

Henry finished his career as the all-time leading rusher in High School football history, surpassing Sugar Land (TX)'s Ken Hall. The Texan held the mark for over 60 years before Henry surpassed that mark in 2012. It's amazing to see how much bigger he was than the other 21 players on the field, but then again, he was bigger than most of Oklahoma's linebackers and secondary in the 2014 Sugar Bowl too.

Percy Harvin

Landstown HS, Virginia Beach

There wasn't a position the mercurial Harvin couldn't play. As a junior, he led Landstown to the Group AAA Division 6 state championship. All he did that day was register 476 all purpose yards - rushing, receiving, kick returns and interception returns - and five touchdowns. He was known for his enigmatic behavior throughout high school, but the visual evidence of his greatness definitely went viral.

Chris Rainey

Lakeland HS, Lakeland, FL

Lew on twitter says: "Chris Rainey's was pretty good". Uh yeah. Now, Rainey was electric with the ball in his hands but the first three highlight clips are of Rainey dropping the hammer. That said, his runs are jawdropping, although he did get some help from the Pouncey twins. Either way, Lew was right.

Bralon Addison

Hightower HS, Missouri City, TX

Richard suggested Addison and I'm glad that he did. It's so unfortunate that he tore up his knee this spring at Oregon as this highlight reel is a reminder of what he can do with the ball in his hands. Dy. Nam. Ic. Wow.

Hall of Fame

Then, there was the viral video of all viral highlights videos. The name Cody Paul doesn't register for many, but you'll know the video. Fat Joe track. Mighty mite 12-year old Pop Warner football. Oh, you'll remember. His family put his 12-year old highlight tape on YouTube and it went insane. It has over 10M views today, nearly eight years later.

Okay, his YouTube Legend championship crown comes with an asterisk, but it's hard to deny that the viral nature of his video.

Well, I think I've accomplished my goal. You got no work done over the past hour and you forwarded this article to everyone you know. Job well done, me. If I missed anyone, let me know, I'll do this again sometime soon. It's not like I hate looking at tape/film/video all day, ya know?