The Best Former TXHSFB Star on Each 2023 NFL Playoff Team

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Sure, there are a select bunch of powerhouse high school programs from sea to shining sea. IMG Academy in Florida, Bishop Gorman in Nevada, Mater Dei in California. But pound-for-pound, the best football is played in Texas. The Lone Star State produced 187 rostered players in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season, the most in the country. Here's a list of the top former TXHSFB star that we can watch on each playoff team to ease us through the Friday night withdrawals in January. 

Note, since there are more than one TXHSFB star on most of the teams, these selections are based on how valuable they are to their NFL team and not a comparison of their high school feats.

Houston Texans - safety Jalen Pitre (Stafford)

Pitre's 2023 regular season mirrored his alma mater Baylor - a trying time. A second-round pick in 2022, he started the full season and led all rookies with 147 tackles, adding five interceptions. This year he's notched 84 tackles with only one takeaway, was briefly hospitalized with a bruised lung and momentarily benched in the second half against the Cleveland Browns. He's got a chance for revenge against the Browns on Saturday afternoon. Pitre was an All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for Baylor's 2021 conference championship team after starring at defensive back for Stafford High School southwest of Houston.

Cleveland Browns - DE Myles Garrett (Arlington Martin)

The Browns are playoff bound despite having to start four different quarterbacks this season because of Garrett's leadership on a surging defense. The defensive end has racked up 14 quarterback sacks, his sixth-consecutive double-digit sack season, and is in the running to repeat as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. Cleveland's defense has allowed a score on just 23.8 percent of drives this season, first in the NFL, and they'll need a similar effort against Texans' rookie phenom CJ Stroud. Garrett was an All-American at Texas A&M who compiled 31 sacks in three seasons after earning Texas Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year at Arlington Martin.

Miami Dolphins - RB De'Von Achane (Fort Bend Marshall)

Ok, in a battle between Achane and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, another former Texas A&M star gets the nod because Waddle is likely sidelined with injury. Achane, on the other hand, figures to step into the lead role if Raheem Mostert is ruled out. Achane's been a lightning rod on perhaps the NFL's fastest offense with 800 yards on 7.8 yards per attempt. The professinoal world is finding out what fans in College Station long knew. Achane rushed for 2,012 yards in his final two years at Texas A&M. At Fort Bend Marshall, he and quarterback Malik Hornsby guided the program to its only two state championship appearances.

Kansas City Chiefs - QB Patrick Mahomes (Whitehouse)

There's not a signature TXHSFB alum in Kansas City so I just defaulted to the quarterback. He's alright.

Despite leading Whithouse High School to its first-ever district championship as a senior with 4,619 yards and 50 touchdowns, earning 2013 Texas APSE Football Player of the Year and getting selected by the Detroit Tigers in 2014 MLB Draft, Mahomes slid slightly under the radar as a three-star prospect by most major recruiting services. In three seasons at Texas Tech, he finished third in school history in passing yards with 11,252 and touchdown passes with 93. 

Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Elandon Roberts (Port Arthur Memorial)

The Steelers crashed the playoffs when most had written them off after three turnovers in a Week 15 loss to Indianapolis left them with a 7–7 record. A lot of people probably wrote off their leading tackler Elandon Roberts's hopes at a professional career at some point. Lightly recruited out of Port Arthr Memorial, Roberts signed with Morgan State for the 2012 season and finished with 107 tackles, second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He then transferred to Houston, where he blossomed into a team captain and led the nation with 88 solo tackles in 2015. Roberts is seeking his third Super Bowl victory after winning two early in his career with the New England Patriots.

Buffalo Bills - LB Terrel Bernard  (La Porte)

Another lynchpin on Baylor's 2021 defense sees action in the playoffs with Bernard set to make his 19th career start at linebacker when the Bills face the Steelers at noon on Sunday. Bernard's racked up 143 combined tackles and been a takeaway machine with three fumble recoveries and three interceptions. Bernard was a First Team All-Big 12 selection and deemed DCTF's Best Linebacker in 2021. He was a three-time all-district selection at La Porte High School.

Green Bay Pckers - RB Aaron Jones (El Paso Burges)

The Packers are the youngest team to make the playoffs since the 1974 Buffalo Bills with an average age of 25.58 years. Jones is only 29 years old, but he's the grisled veteran in the room. UTEP's all-time leading rusher (4,114 yards) has had a down year, with his lowest rushyardage total (656) since his rookie year. But he's still a dangerous part of Green Bay's backfield duo with AJ Dillon, and has caught 30 passes out of the backfield for 233 yards. Jones was El Paso Times All-City MVP in 2012 after amassing 1,800 yards and accounting for 30 touchdowns in his senior 2012 season at El Paso Burges.

Baltimore Ravens - DT Justin Madubuike (McKinney North)

The Aggies are filling up this list, and there's still more to come. Madubuike was a solid contributor for Texas A&M, leading the team as a junior in 2019 with 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, earning Second Team All-SEC honors. But he's blossomed into a Pro Bowler for the Ravens. He's notched 13 sacks this season for the AFC's 1-seed. Madubuike was an all-state selection in 2016 at McKinney North.

Dallas Cowboys - WR CeeDee Lamb (Richmond Foster)

The next Cowboy great to don the No.88, Lamb has entrenched himself in offensive player of the year consideration with 135 receptions for 1,749 yards and 12 touchdowns. It's his third-consecutive 1,000-yard season, and he'll look to continue the hot streak in the playoffs as the Cowboys seek their first NFC Championship berth since 1996 - three years before Lamb was born. Lamb recorded 2,098 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior at Richmond Foster before blossoming into an All-American at Oklahoma.

Los Angeles Rams - QB Matthew Stafford (Highland Park) 

Hey, did you know Stafford and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw both attended Highland Park High School? If you didn't, I don't know what book club you were at during the Super Bowl two years ago. Stafford's set for a reunion with the Detroit Lions, the team he quarterbacked for 12 seasons, in the Wild Card round. The Lions and Rams swapped quarterbacks in a March 2021 trade. Stafford led the Rams to a Super Bowl in Year One, and now Jared Goff's led Detroit to its first NFC North title in 30 years. Oh, the storylines in this game, a sportswriter's dream!

Detroit Lions - WR Josh Reynolds (San Antonio John Jay) 

Stafford's reunion will take up most of the headlines, but Reynolds is hosting his former team this weekend as well. The receiver spent his first four years in the league in Los Angeles and was traded away just before Stafford joined. This season, he's fallen back into a rhythm with quarterback Goff and put up 608 receiving yards, the second-most in his carer. Reynolds was Texas A&M's leading receiver in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons after earning San Antonio Express-News's Class 5A "Super Team" honors as a senior at John Jay High School. 

Philadelphia Eagles - LT Lane Johnson (Groveton)

Perhaps the toughest call on the list considering quarterback Jalen Hurts played at Channelview, Johnson gets the nod due to his career achievements with the Eagles, including two all-pro selections and five pro bowls. Johnson was actually a high school quarterback at Groveton and then continued as a signal caller at Kilgore College before transferring to Oklahoma. The path to NFL stardom wasn’t so straight even when he got to Division I. He began as a practice squad quarterback, transitioned to tight end, switched the defensive line and finally settled at offensive line due to injuries. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - WR Mike Evans (Galveston Ball)

Evans is the first player in NFL history to open a career with ten 1,000-yard seasons. He’s got the second-longest streak of century marks, trailing Jerry Rice’s 11. Whether he attains that record or not, Evans will surely join Rice in the Hall of Fame whenever he decides to hang up the cleats, which could be far in the future considering the juice he still has. Evans put up 1,105 yards and 1,394 yards, respectively, in two electric years at Texas A&M after competing in both football and basketball at Galveston Ball. 

San Francisco 49ers - LT Trent Williams (Longview) 

Just how valuable is Williams to the 49ers? San Francisco’s 12–3 with him and 0–2 without him. The 11-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer is the lynchpin of the NFC’s No.1-seed. Williams teamed up with future NFL players Chris Ivory, Malcolm Kelly and Robert Henson for a 10–0 season at Longview in 2005 before becoming an All-American at Oklahoma.

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