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First off, this post in no way is meant to disrespect those that have spent many years watching high school players and have deep base of knowledge with ranking talented players. I appreciate the time you spend evaluating these players to give the average fan, like me, information about the talent that is out there and where they might be headed to begin their college career. That being said, I think there's a very big X factor in evaluating some of these players and how their star rankings are used to rate a team's recruiting class.
First, why do some highly ranked players fail on the college level? When evaluating a player in high school, the talented ones usually stand out but there are many variables on how that translates at the next level. One is the level of talent they play against. I'm sure the recruiting gurus take that into consideration but I think it's very difficult to tell how much that will affect their effectiveness when they're matched against the speed of the SEC (this applies to other conferences but I'm focusing on ours). This applies not only to their talent but their being mentally prepared for the difference.
Second is the coaching ability of their high school coaches - not only their head coach but their position coaches. I would be willing to go out on a limb here and say that the majority of them are average at best. The odds of all high school coaches being the absolute best coaches in the country are not that great. Great players in great systems thrive but potentially great players in subpar programs, not so much. I think that's one of the reasons that many freshmen spend a lot of time at the beginning relearning fundamentals.
Third and not the least important, is I think it is hard to evaluate a players "heart". Again, some of those same underrated players have the work ethic, mental mindset and the "want to" to work hard to become the best at their position. With the right coaching and mentoring, these are your breakout from nowhere stars. These are the ones that are on only a few people's radar. The ones that schools take a chance on and it pays big dividends. Not all of them work out but the ones that do tend to end up being a key part of a team's success.. That's why I don't discount those recruits who aren't that highly rated.
As far as a team's recruiting rating, is it more important to recruit highly rated players no matter the position or to recruit players that fill the actual needs of the team. Of course, the ideal situation for some would be to fill those holes only with 4* and 5* players. We've seen first hand over the past couple of years that that approach doesn't always work. I think the sign of a great coach is recognizing not only talent but the ability of the player to fit in to the coach's scheme and how they will mesh with the current payers. Team chemistry is almost as important as talent - see the 2004 team. The great coaching comes in the ability to help ALL of these players, highly rated or not, reach their full potential.
All of this is to say that while high star ratings and high recruiting rankings are nice, they are not the definitive predictor of a team's success. The X factor always comes into play. It is the responsibility of the coaches to turn that X factor into a W (win) factor that ultimately determines success.
“they ain't got nothing but people...Alabama mystique...Georgia mystique...they’ve done it with people. Hell, we’ve got people, too.”Pat Dye
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"I've seen some coaches lose with good players. I haven't seen anybody win without them." Rhett Lashlee
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