Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recruiting stars, do they really make a difference?

By Kshell

The 2011 NFL Draft has come and gone which is time for NFL draft experts to break down who did what in the draft. Well before they were ever drafted they were evaluated by recruiting sites all across the country when they signed on to play for their schools. I always like to look back at previous NFL draft's and national championship recruits to see just how accurate this recruiting guys are. I'm here to settle the myth that recruiting stars don't make a difference. In fact recruiting stars do make a difference as you'll find out in this upcoming post. In this upcoming post I'll talk about the entire first round of the NFL draft this season breaking down the stars of each recruit. I'll also go over the top 10 picks of the 2010 NFL draft as well, then go over the national championship teams recruiting classes, and talk about how this is good for the Washington Huskies who landed two five star recruits this past season. Hopefully at the end of this post you'll be convinced that yes these stars attached to a kids name in fact do make a difference.

When LOI day comes and goes every fan base whose school didn't recruit well always quotes that one kid who was a two star recruit who was a stud. For Washington Huskies fans like myself you always hear about Steve Emtman and now Mason Foster both NFL players who were two star recruits. What the fans don't bring up are the hundreds of two star recruits who never saw the field for their school and ultimately washed out. I'm all for a kid trying to work his butt off and I know you can't measure a football players heart either. Look at the recruiting rankings the schools that depend on the overachieving athlete never win anything big. You always hear about how Oregon State Beavers win despite low recruiting numbers but I know at a school like Washington aspiring to be like Oregon State isn't an option. Oregon State hasn't even played in a Holiday Bowl and hasn't had a season where they lost fewer than four games since Mike Riley has taken over. While USC lands all the top recruits and guess what? USC has controlled the Pac-10 this past decade.

The recruiting game is very huge which is why you should listen to these recruiting sites. Recently I discussed the NFL draft and recruiting stars with site creator Kim Grinolds. Grinolds told me on average 2,500 players sign per recruiting class throughout America. Of those recruits only 50 are five star recruits, 250 are four star recruits, 1,000 are three star recruits and 1,200 are two star recruits. Of the five star recruits about 10% or 10-1 odds they are drafted in the first round. Four star recruits about an average of 5.2% which is 20-1 odds of being drafted in the first round. Then there is a huge dropoff as three star recruits are only 0.9% which is 111-1 odds of being a first round pick. Then a two star recruit is really low at 0.4% at 240-1 odds. This draft was no different especially the top 10 picks from the past two years.

I brought up those numbers because often you see more two star recruits drafted in the NFL draft than five star recruits. That isn't because these sites don't know what they are talking about. That is because as Grinolds of pointed out you have only 50 five star recruits a year compared to 1,200 two star recruits. In the 2011 NFL draft this past year in the top 10 you saw four guys who were awarded a five star drafted in the first round. Of those guys you saw A.J. Green who was the second ranked receiver behind Julio Jones who was the top ranked receiver. Both guys went in the top six along with other five star recruit Patrick Peterson who was the number one ranked corner. The other five star was Tyron Smith who went ninth and was rated as the number one offensive tackle out of highschool. Then you saw five guys drafted in the top 10 who were four star recruits while only Aldon Smith was the only top 10 pick who was a three star recruit. Overall the 2011 draft saw five guys drafted in the first round who were five star recruits, 14 guys who were four star recruits, eight who were three star recruits and five who were two star recruits. Then last year in the top 10 of the 2010 NFL draft you saw three guys who were five star recruits, five guys who were four star recruits and two guys who were three star recruits. As you can clearly see these guys aren't just throwing darts at a board they actually know what they are talking about.

Now getting guys to the NFL is great but ultimately every school's main goal is to win a national title. Well if you look at the recruiting rankings of the past national champions it will start to make sense to you why they are champions. I'll let you guys in on a secret the team full of hard working two star recruits they aren't winning national championships. Now I'll post the year of the national champion then talk about the rankings of their fifth year, fourth year and third year classes. First let's start off with 2010 Auburn Tigers whose fifth year class was ranked 9th in recruiting, fourth year players 6th and third year players 18th. That doesn't include two four star recruits Cam Newton and Nick Fairley( were part of the 6th ranked 2010 class) who are playing on Sunday's this upcoming season. The next national champ is Alabama who actually scored the lowest but still had ranked classes. Alabama's fifth year players were ranked 16th, fourth year guys 18th and third year guys 22nd. Alabama did have the 1st ranked recruiting class amongst their second year players and 2nd ranked recruiting class for their first year players. The next team is the 2008 Florida Gators whose fifth year class was ranked 8th, fourth year class was ranked 11th and third year class was ranked 2nd. The 2007 LSU Tigers fifth year class was ranked 2nd in the nation, fourth year class 2nd in the nation and third year class was ranked 19th. Then Florida again won in 2006 which saw their fifth year class ranked 20th, fourth year class 4th and third year class 8th. Then my final champion is the 2005 Texas Longhorns whose fourth year players were ranked 1st in the nation and third year players were ranked 14th. Recruiting rankings only go back to 2002 so I had no data on their fifth year classes.

For those who want to bring up Boise State well Boise State hasn't finished lower than second in their conference in recruiting since 2003. From 2004-2009 they have been first or second in their conference in recruiting. Like I said recruiting certainly matters and anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.

If you are a Washington Huskies fan you have to be excited reading this post knowing that the Huskies are bringing in two five star recruits. The Huskies are bringing in five star recruits such as wide receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Huskies also brought in three four star recruits and only three two star recruits is the key. The Huskies were ranked 23rd by for the year 2011. Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian did even better in 2010 when he brought in nine four star recruits and just five two star recruits. That class is ranked 11th in the nation by Unlike the Tyrone Willingham era or even at some other schools the Huskies are bringing in top talent. As you saw in my previous post there is a positive correlation between recruiting and winning. So when I see Sarkisian bringing in top recruits unlike the naysayers who say "recruiting stars don't matter" I just laugh as the statistics show otherwise. So if you are excited about Huskies football just remember in the last two years Sarkisian has brought in two five star recruits, 12 four star recruits, 31 three star recruits and only eight two star recruits. Sarkisian will improve as a head coach in the next few years simply by having better players out there.

In conclusion, I'm hoping this post can finally answer the question of do recruiting stars really make a difference? I think it is pretty clear thanks to the help of Kim Grinolds of dawgman(who does a terrific job by the way) for giving me the statistics to back up my point. I think when you break down the first round picks, the percentage of each stars that become first round picks and the national championships you'd be a fool to think recruiting stars don't mean anything. These guys aren't just wasting their time as they actually know what they are doing. There is a reason why people pay money for subscriptions to these sites because recruiting does make a huge difference. Take a look at the Huskies for an example we finally have a pretty good offense. Well examine that offense and you'll notice Jake Locker, Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, and Chris Polk were all four star recruits. So hopefully this post did three things which is hopefully you appreciate the efforts of recruiting sites such as dawgman, the other is hopefully this makes you realize when your school signs a four star recruit or especially a five star recruit there is reason to be excited and finally hopefully this gets you excited for the Sarkisian era as he is bringing in top recruits. So next time someone tells you that recruiting stars don't make a difference link them to this post that will set them straight.

First Picture is of Cam Newton at his JC school. He was a four star recruit out of high school and out of his JC school. He was the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. He also led Auburn to a national championship.

Second Picture is of Steve Emtman who was the #1 pick overall despite being a two star recruit. He is the poster boy for all two star recruits at the University of Washington. He led the Huskies to a 1991 National Championship.

The Fourth Picture is of Kasen Williams. Williams is a five star recruit Wide Receiver hoping to be like A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Both were five star WR's in 2008 who were picked in the top six of the NFL draft three years after committing to their school.

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