College football programs, especially ones in the SEC, have built a practical cottage industry of picking up some of the highest-rated recruits in the country. High school players with 4 and 5 stars are spread out among rosters, with many going on to successful NFL careers.

Sometimes, though, stars aren’t everything: There are countless examples of players rated with 3 stars or fewer, and even walk-ons, making major impacts. So we decided to take a look at the SEC’s top 10 “overachievers” from the past few years.

The only criteria is that every player on this list had to have played this season and ranked with 3 stars or fewer by 247Sports’ composite rankings. While transfers may be considered, there’s a bias toward those that have had their most productive seasons in the conference.

10. Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia, 2015-2019

If anything, Blankenship, a former walk-on later placed on scholarship, will go down as one of the program’s all-time favorite players. But he’ll also be looked upon as its best kickers: his 82.1 percent mark on field goals puts him at the top of the program’s record books, while he sits at a perfect 198-of-198 on extra points. He earned his first all-conference 1st team nod thanks to his efforts in 2019 while being named the Lou Groza Award Winner as the top kicker in the country.

9. Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State, 2016-

One of the top defensive backs in the country, Dantzler was a 3-star recruit out of Louisiana when he signed with the Bulldogs. He’s put together an impressive career as he’s tallied 20 passes defended thus far, with his play earning him preseason All-American honors as well as landing him on the Bednarik, Nagurski and Thorpe Award watch lists before the 2019 season.

8. Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri, 2018-

Bolton is well on his way to becoming the next great linebacker out of Missouri. The sophomore recorded 103 tackles and 8.5 tackles for a loss this year in his 1st season as a starter in the ILB corps, landing on the All-SEC 1st-team on defense. While Eliah Drinkwitz has built his résumé as an offensive coach, he’ll have a key weapon on defense at his disposal in his first season as the head man in Columbia.

7. J.R. Reed, Georgia, S, 2017-2019

Reed signed with Tulsa as a 3-star but transferred to Georgia after the 2015 season. He’s turned into one of the country’s top safeties as he was named to the Thorpe, Nagurski and Bednarik watch lists before this season while earning preseason All-SEC 1st-team and All-American 2nd-team nods. He had 54 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble (a scoop-and-score touchdown against Murray State) in 2019 as he landed on the conference’s 1st team.

6. Boobie Whitlow, RB, Auburn, 2018-

The redshirt sophomore was hampered a bit by injury this season, which hurt the Tigers as he has proven to be a key part of their rushing and receiving game. He made the all-freshman team last season after rushing for 787 yards and 6 touchdown. This season, he added 739 yards and 9 touchdowns and would have gone over 1,000 yards rushing if not for his injury.

5. Lloyd Cushenberry, OC, LSU, 2016-2019

Recruited as a 3-star guard, Cushenberry was named an All-SEC 1st-team member thanks to his efforts on the Tigers’ offensive line this season. In his 2 years as a starter, he has built a reputation as one of the best offensive linemen in the country. Will he add a national championship in a few weeks?

4. De’Jon Harris, LB, Arkansas, 2016-2019

The Razorbacks struggled during the Chad Morris era, but they found a steady and reliable linebacker in Harris. He registered 100-plus tackles in 2017, 2018 and 2019. He totaled 371 tackles and 26.5 tackles for a loss throughout his career in Fayetteville.

3. Rakeem Boyd, RB, Arkansas, 2018-

Originally a Texas A&M recruit under Kevin Sumlin, Boyd transferred to Independence Community College, of “Last Chance U” fame, to get himself ironed out academically and athletically. He landed at Arkansas and made an immediate impact, rushing for 734 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2018. His 2019 campaign was even better as he ran for 1,133 yards, 5th-best in the conference, and scored 8 times.

2. Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri, 2017-

Mizzou has a rich history of great defensive players, but Rountree has staked his claim as one of the better running backs in the SEC. His 2018 season has been his best thus far as he put up 1,216 rushing yards, 4th in the conference, while adding 11 touchdowns. Despite a dip in production that saw him run for 829 yards this season, he still found the end zone 9 times.

1. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU, 2017-

The New Orleans-area product received only 4 offers in high school: LSU, Northwestern, Tulane and FCS in-state program Nicholls. And he’s been the very definition of a diamond in the rough.

After redshirting in 2017, Jefferson burst on to the scene last year with 54 catches for 875 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s been even better in 2019, sitting at 88 catches, over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns as the No. 2 target behind Ja’Marr Chase for his Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Joe Burrow.

In a major oversight, he was left off the All-SEC team this year, but he can get the last laugh if he and LSU end up celebrating a title at the Superdome in January.