LOS ANGELES -- One was signed as a kicker and turned into an All-American wide receiver. Another was signed because a respected uncle thought he could compete at USC's level. Still another originally came in as a walk-on and was selected to his third consecutive NFL Pro Bowl while already sporting a Super Bowl ring.
It's hard to fathom that Erik Affholter, Troy Polamalu, and a former walk-on named Clay Matthews, were once considered afterthoughts on signing day, and they certainly didn't generate Cardinal and Gold excitement like Wednesday's signatures of All-America prep linemen Zach Banner, Max Tuerk, and Jordan Simmons.
No, Affholter, Polamalu, and Matthews didn't headline their classes on national signing day, but they embodied the concept of "upside" and elevated their game to heights normally reserved for those heralded five-star signees.