Star Gazing with a Grain of Salt

Gazing for the next five-star prospect.

We’re closing in on one of the most exciting days on the college football calandar: National Signing Day. The day all high school players who will graduate this year can sign letters of intent to play for their college of choice. National Signing Day is the first day of an approximate two-month period, this year running from February 3 to April 1, 2010.

Every year, Division I FBS schools can add up to 25 new scholarship players to their rosters so long as the total number of scholarship players does not exceed 85.

We are inundated by stars. Not only by the players themselves, but by the rating system. Scouts, Inc. has their famous grading system, from one-star to five-star players. We’re bombarded by news reports of what team has this five-star player visiting this weekend and what team has three four-star players with verbal commitments, and so on.

It’s worth a read of the definitions of each of the quintiles (and there are also many links describing how Scouts, Inc. evaluates each position). For example, a current high-school senior that is ranked as a five-star recruit is deemed to have the potential to be (1) a potential all-conference player as a freshman and (2) a future all-american; whereas a four-star recruit is deemed to have the potential to be (1) a 3- or 4-year starter, (2) see early playing time, and (3) make a significant impact during his career.

Pretty speculative stuff. But, we fans live and die at this time of year over whether our school has any potential recruits with the highest number of stars. And we hang on the rankings that Scouts, Inc. publishes. As of January 22, 2010, Tennessee’s recruiting class (remember it’s before National Signing Day and a lot will change, for better or for worse), is ranked 26th in the nation, with no five-star recruits, 7 four-star recruits, and 9 three-star recruits.

What does this mean? Worth a study, and I’m sure somewhere somebody at some institution has done an exhaustive one. I haven’t.

So, here’s a simple look. If you look at this season’s national champions, Alabama, their squad comprised five recruiting classes (because of red-shirting). Here are the Scouts, Inc. recruiting class rankings for the Crimson Tide compared with the Vols’ rankings.

YEAR: ALA / TENN
2009: 2nd / 8th
2008: 1st / 35th
2007: 22nd / 4th
2006: 18th / 24th
2005: 16th / 1st

You might look at Alabama’s 2008 class and say, yep, that’s when they got Ingram. That’s what put them over the top. But that’s misleading. Ingram was a three-star recruit according to Scouts, Inc. in 2008. A three-star recruit is defined as “A player with the skills to develop into a solid starter at the major college level. Potential high-ceiling prospect with the ability to make an impact during his career.”

Only the second player ever to win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore.

A great recruiting class for Alabama in 2008? Indeed. Have a look. But their biggest impact player only had three stars.

And Tennessee’s great recruiting class of 2005, rated Number One in the nation, was lead by their five-star recruit from Waynesville, NC: Jonathan Crompton.

Now go have a nice weekend and quit fretting about those recruits and their star ratings, OK?

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4 responses to “Star Gazing with a Grain of Salt”

  1. TK says :

    GREAT STUFF FREDDY. AND ITS MY EXACT REASON FOR NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE RECRUITING SIDE OF THE SHOW. AS BIG OF A FAN AS I AM, I COULD NEVER GET MY INTEREST UP IN THE RECRUITING WARS. IM CONTENT TO JUST WAIT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS AND WATCH THE GAMES DEVELOP

  2. DW says :

    Fred — Always a good read — and you have again shown me the ignorance (and bliss) of my collective college football knowledge. But it appears that that scouts don’t always get it right either. I hear a few of them flunked out of weatherman school.

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