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Recruiting Rankings - Some Reflections

  • Around this time of year, people cheer and jeer the rankings of their classes. Those who are on top of the rankings love to tout it, and the rest talk about what an inexact science recruiting is and how the rankings are meaningless. I like to get to the truth of the matter, and be able to talk some sense into the senseless.

    I think several threads on this board have talked about some of the high profile busts, and the decent jobs that unranked or lower ranked players have done in their college careers. What I think is missing in everyone's analysis is one major fact - a players' success is not solely based on their ability, rather, it is more likely based on those around them.

    Here's what I mean. If you are the 5 star stud running back in high school, and you end up playing for old miss ( Enrique Davis or whatever his name was), if you are a bust, is that a knock on your ability or poor scouting, or is it that ole miss has a bad team that can't block for you? Or that you don't run the ball much in your offense?

    We never analyze that aspect of it, yet we know how important having great lineman are to a running backs success. You look at the best backs that have faced us - lattimore, James, Ingram - they didn't look like studs after they were held to 50 yards. The team played a role in their ability to succeed or fail.

    Likewise, a chris Todd can set records when given good coaching and a solid line to protect him.

    All that being said, I think we all should want the biggest, strongest, fastest players we can get. If you get enough of them and add some good coaching, they may all be able to reach their scouted potential.

    This post was edited by realist 3 years ago

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  • realist said... (original post)

    Around this time of year, people cheer and jeer the rankings of their classes. Those who are on top of the rankings love to tout it, and the rest talk about what an inexact science recruiting is and how the rankings are meaningless. I like to get to the truth of the matter, and be able to talk some sense into the senseless.

    I think several threads on this board have talked about some of the high profile busts, and the decent jobs that unranked or lower ranked players have done in their college careers. What I think is missing in everyone's analysis is one major fact - a players' success is not solely based on their ability, rather, it is more likely based on those around them.

    Here's what I mean. If you are the 5 star stud running back in high school, and you end up playing for old miss ( Enrique Davis or whatever his name was), if you are a bust, is that a knock on your ability or poor scouting, or is it that ole miss has a bad team that can't block for you? Or that you don't run the ball much in your offense?

    We never analyze that aspect of it, yet we know how important having great lineman are to a running backs success. You look at the best backs that have faced us - lattimore, James, Ingram - they didn't look like studs after they were held to 50 yards. The team played a role in their ability to succeed or fail.

    Likewise, a chris Todd can set records when given good coaching and a solid line to protect him.

    All that being said, I think we all should want the biggest, strongest, fastest players we can get. If you get enough of them and add some good coaching, they may all b's able to reach their scouted potential.

    I think that's a great point. But I also think that usually over the course of four years, if a guy can play, he'll get a chance to show something. Not always, but typically.

    Like the example of Davis, which is a good one because he was the #3 5-star running back in 2007. I don't consider him a bust just because he's not an All-SEC running back. I think that because he hasn't even managed to be an All-Ole Miss running back. He's been passed over by 4 or 5 other guys on the roster in the last two years.

    In 2009 McCluster ran for over 1,100 yards and Bolden ran for over 600.
    In 2010 Bolden had almost 1,000 (6 ypc), Masoli had over 500, and Jeff Scott had over 400 (6.5 ypc). Davis had just over 300, and only 4.1 yards per carry.

    I know your point is still true....where you play and who plays around you matters. But like Davis, I feel like most guys get a shot at some point in their career to at least be the #1 guy at their position on the team they're on. The team may not be great, but at least you're the best guy on that bad team.

    All I think recruiting rankings do is give you a probability factor for each recruit. The % of all the 5-stars that become impact players is a higher % than that of the 3-star players that become impact players.

    Maybe 1 out of 3 5-stars becomes a difference maker?
    Maybe 1 out of 10 4-star players?
    Maybe 1 out of 25 3-star players?

    I just made that up, obviously, but I think that's the idea. It think that's about all you can do with the recruiting rankings. Let them be a guide to probable future success on average. You certainly can't set your expectations specifically down to the individual players.

    And like you said, the circumstances also play a role in which ones make it and which ones don't.

    This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by jadennis 3 years ago

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  • The question is:

    Are the website rankings just following the coaches? Are they ranking kids based on how many big name offers he has and how much attention he is getting? Or are they really reviewing and ranking thousands of kids?

    Sigler is a 3-star kid that we offered back in June at a camp. Coaches obviously think he is more than a 3-star kid or they never would have offered him that early. There were a lot of 3-star kids on the 2004 team. Will Hering, Courtney Taylor, Pat Lee, Ben Grubs, Anthony Mix, were all 3-star kids from that team that made NFL rosters. DT and Dansby both were practically unranked recruits and now Karlos Dansby is one of the highest paid LBs in the NFL. How many times did Kevin Greene try to walk on at Auburn and get cut? Twice I believe.

    Nick Fairley was a pretty much off the radar. What about kids like Rudi Johnson who coaches found by luck. Health Evans was a 3-star RB out of Florida and I think he now has 2 Super Bowl rings.

    Where is Tony Bell, Lemarcus Rowell, Leon Hart, Mike Harness, Rex Sharpe, Raven Grey, Chris Slaughter, Lee Tilley???? I can make a really long list of 4-star guys just at Auburn that never made an impact.

  • auman365

    First off, how many high school football players are there? A zillion right? Out of those zillion, some become popular because of the attention they receive. A lot of small towns have great football players that simply do not get recognized or even a grade. The ones who do receive grades are the ones the coaches are chasing or know about. This is obviously how Scouts, Rivals work as there is no way they could go from campus to campus evaluating talent. Besides, people only want to know about the ones that there own team recruits. That said, do the grading systems follow the coaches? Sure, only way it is interesting. It would be to much information any other way.....

    Now, when it comes to stars or grades, i agree for the most part with all of the comments above. One of the things that has yet to be pointed out is this:

    The skill positions are the easiest to grade. I mean it doesn't take a doctorate to discern who can run fast or throw hard. That is why I think it is most important to obtain the skill position guys with high rankings as this translates more then at any other position. Does that mean the OL or DL guys can not or will not represent a high ranking? Not true. They can still be super athletes, I just personally think that it is easier to tell who is going to be the stud at the skill type positions.

    Besides, when it comes to the OL or DL, it is almost impossible to tell who will hold up or be durable. Who can pack the pounds on and still be effective? Who has reached their max potential? That is more of a roll of the dice then anything else. That is why it is such a big deal when you get a sure thing in a OL or DL prospect. A 300lb 6' 6" high school-er is about as sure as you are gonna get.....

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  • Recruiting is much more than some analyst placing a number of stars on trying to determine how good a high school player will be in college. For example, Bo Jackson was not rated top in the state. Coach Jordan once said some players reach their potential in high school and never get any better, others reach it in college and never make it in the pros, and some actually don't reach their potential until the pros. I think the key to good recruiting is how well the coaches can measure the intangibles. Such as the desire to excel, work ethic, character, etc. because these are the things that seperate the the great and successful players from the others. In the past, the core of most Auburn teams were over achieving 3 star players. I have been impressed with the quality this coaching staffs recruits because of the high retention and high morale of the young players. This bodes well for the future.

  • Winder said... (original post)

    The question is:

    Are the website rankings just following the coaches? Are they ranking kids based on how many big name offers he has and how much attention he is getting? Or are they really reviewing and ranking thousands of kids?

    Sigler is a 3-star kid that we offered back in June at a camp. Coaches obviously think he is more than a 3-star kid or they never would have offered him that early. There were a lot of 3-star kids on the 2004 team. Will Hering, Courtney Taylor, Pat Lee, Ben Grubs, Anthony Mix, were all 3-star kids from that team that made NFL rosters. DT and Dansby both were practically unranked recruits and now Karlos Dansby is one of the highest paid LBs in the NFL. How many times did Kevin Greene try to walk on at Auburn and get cut? Twice I believe.

    Nick Fairley was a pretty much off the radar. What about kids like Rudi Johnson who coaches found by luck. Health Evans was a 3-star RB out of Florida and I think he now has 2 Super Bowl rings.

    Where is Tony Bell, Lemarcus Rowell, Leon Hart, Mike Harness, Rex Sharpe, Raven Grey, Chris Slaughter, Lee Tilley???? I can make a really long list of 4-star guys just at Auburn that never made an impact.

    I think the services do both. They do watch tons and tons of film, and often disagree with what coaches seem to think. It's not unusual to find guys rated high that don't have many big-time offers, and it's not too unusual to find guys not ranked as high that have quite a few big-time offers. Take Bishop Sankey. Rivals has him as the #18 RB in the country, but he's going to Washington and his offers are from Maryland, Bowling Green, Hawaii, etc. Then they have Marlin Lane at #23, and he has offers from Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida State, etc.

    One thing that makes it a lot different these days is that recruiting is big business. So the services go to games, go to camps, watch summer-time 7 on 7 tournaments, and attend the many, many all-star games. They are much more on top of things than they were 10 years ago, simply because there is more to see than ever before (all of the things listed above, PLUS the film that is readily available on the internet for any kid that thinks he even has a shot at playing at even a junior college).

    Your point about 3-star guys being successful is true....but how many 3-star recruits are there? 1,000? 2,000? And how many 5-star recruits are there? 25 maybe? There will be more 3-star guys, by total number, that end up in the NFL, but you have to wade through thousands to find the ones that will make it.

    Another way to look at is like this...

    25 5-star recruits might produce 5 All-conference players and 2 NFL studs.
    125 3-star recruits might produce 5 All-conference players and 2 NFL studs.

    So yeah, there are 3-star recruits that turn out to be great, but the odds aren't very good considering how many there are. If we stocked our roster with only 3-star recruits for the next 4 years, we would likely be mid-pack in the SEC for the years that followed. In other words, we'd be Kentucky.

    If you stock our roster with 4-star and 5-star recruits for 4 years, we'd compete for the SEC title in the following years.

    Of course there are exceptions from time to time, as Texas and Florida reminded us last year. But those same programs went 115-18 combined the 5 years before that and played in 4 BCS title games. A big reason is because they stocked up on 4 and 5-star recruits.

    This post was edited by jadennis 3 years ago

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  • AUSal said... (original post)

    Recruiting is much more than some analyst placing a number of stars on trying to determine how good a high school player will be in college. For example, Bo Jackson was not rated top in the state. Coach Jordan once said some players reach their potential in high school and never get any better, others reach it in college and never make it in the pros, and some actually don't reach their potential until the pros. I think the key to good recruiting is how well the coaches can measure the intangibles. Such as the desire to excel, work ethic, character, etc. because these are the things that seperate the the great and successful players from the others. In the past, the core of most Auburn teams were over achieving 3 star players. I have been impressed with the quality this coaching staffs recruits because of the high retention and high morale of the young players. This bodes well for the future.

    Great points +1

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  • Also, you look at how some great college players never excel in the NFL. I think a lot of it has to do with teammates and coaches there are well. Jason Campbell, for instance, might have had a different NFL story if he had been drafted by the green bay packers rather than the redskins. I love how all the redskin fans blamed Jason for not being able to take them to the next level, but then they get a Mcnabb and they end up just as medicore.

    So much of a player's success comes from who you are playing with, and the right opportunity at the right time.

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