POWERED BY

Miscellany

Signing Day: Does Bringing in a Top Five Class or Five-Star Recruits Really Matter?

Signing Day. Top teams will be scrambling to assemble the top class and the most five-star prospects. But, does it really matter? I looked at Rivals’ data from 2002 to 2007, the classes that have completed a four-year cycle. I ran the data for the top five classes and every five-star recruit after the jump. Bringing in the top talent is helpful, but it does not guarantee success.

Here are the records for the top five classes each year, as well as the five-star recruits who became elite college players.

Texas (2002) [6 - 5*, 15 - 4*] 11-2, 10-3, 11-1 (Rose), 13-0 (BCS) [45-6]
Tennessee (2002) [5-5*, 16-4*] 8-5, 10-3, 10-3, 5-6, [33-17]
Georgia (2002) [1-5*, 18-4*] 13-1 (Sugar), 11-3, 10-2. 10-3, [44-9]
Florida State (2002) [6-5*, 14-4*] 9-5, 10-3, 9-3, 8-5, [37-16]
Ohio State (2002) [3-5*, 14-4*] 14-0 (BCS), 11-2 (Fiesta), 8-4, 10-2 (Fiesta) [43-8]
Five Stars: Vince Young (Tex), Justin Blalock (Tex), Maurice Clarett (OSU), Devin Hester (Mia), Marcedes Lewis (UCLA), [5/58]

LSU (2003) [1-5*,17-4*] 13-1 (Sugar), 9-3, 11-2, 11-2 (Sugar) [44-8]
Florida (2003) [5-5*, 9-4*] 8-5, 7-5, 9-3, 13-1 (BCS) [37-14]
USC (2003) [2-5*, 10-4*] 12-1 (Rose), 13-0 (BCS), 12-1, 11-2 (Rose) [48-4]
Oklahoma (2003) [0-5*, 16-4*] 12-2, 12-1, 8-4, 11-3 [43-10]
Miami (2003) [3-5*, 10-4*] 11-2 (Orange), 9-3, 9-3, 7-6 [36-14]
Five Stars: Jarvis Moss (Fla), Chad Jackson (Fla), Reggie Bush (USC), Greg Olsen (Mia), Ernie Sims (FSU), LaMarr Woodley (Mich) [6/25]

USC (2004) [8-5*, 7-4*] 13-0 (BCS), 12-1, 11-2 (Rose), 11-2 (Rose) [47-5]
LSU (2004) [3-5*, 12-4*] 9-3, 11-2, 11-2 (Sugar), 12-2 (BCS) [43-9]
Florida State (2004) [1-5*, 16-4*] 9-3, 8-5, 7-6, 7-6 [31-20]
Miami (2004) [3-5*, 10-4*] 9-3, 9-3, 7-6, 5-7 [30-19]
Michigan (2004) [1-5*, 12-4*] 9-3, 7-5, 11-2, 9-4 [36-14]
Five Stars: Deuce Lutui (USC), Keith Rivers (USC), Chad Henne (Mich), Adrian Peterson (OK), Ted Ginn (OSU), [5/25]

USC (2005) [4-5*, 11-4*] 12-1, 11-2 (Rose), 11-2 (Rose), 12-1 (Rose) [46-6]
Florida State (2005) [3-5*, 13-4*] 8-5, 7-6, 7-6, 9-4 [31-21]
Oklahoma (2005) [2-5*, 14-4*] 8-4, 11-3, 11-3, 12-2 [42-12]
Tennessee (2005) [1-5*, 16-4*] 5-6, 9-4, 10-4, 5-7 [29-21]
Nebraska (2005) [2-5*, 11-4*] 8-4, 9-5, 5-7, 9-4 [31-20]
Five Stars: Rey Maualuga (USC), Mark Sanchez (USC), Eugene Monroe (VA), Jonathan Stewart (Ore), DeSean Jackson (Cal), Darren McFadden (Ark) [6/28]

USC (2006) [5-5*, 14-4*] 11-2 (Rose), 11-2 (Rose), 12-1 (Rose), 9-4 [43-9]
Florida (2006) [4-4*, 17-4*] 13-1 (BCS), 9-4, 13-1 (BCS), 13-1 (Sugar) [48-7]
Florida State (2006) [2-5*, 18-4*] 7-6, 7-6, 9-4, 7-6 [30-22]
Georgia (2006) [2-5*, 14-4*] 9-4, 11-2 (Sugar), 10-3, 8-5 [38-14]
Texas (2006) [2-5*, 11-4*] 10-3, 10-3, 12-1 (Fiesta), 13-1 [45-8]
Five Stars: Taylor Mays (USC), Percy Harvin (Fla), Brandon Spikes (Fla), Tim Tebow (Fla), Matthew Stafford (Geo), Sergio Kindle (Tex), Andre Smith (Ala), Chris Wells (OSU), Gerald McCoy (Okla), C.J. Spiller (Clem), Brandon Graham (Mich), [11/28]

Florida (2007) [4-5*, 16-4*] 9-4, 13-1 (BCS), 13-1, 8-5 [43-10]
USC (2007) [6-5*, 10-4*] 11-2 (Rose), 12-1 (Rose), 9-4, 8-5 [40-12]
Tennessee (2007) [5-5*, 11-4*] 10-4, 5-7, 7-6, 6-7 [28-24]
LSU (2007) [2-5*, 19-4*] 12-2 (BCS), 8-5, 9-4, 11-2 [40-13]
Texas (2007) [2-5*, 16-4*] 10-3, 12-1 (Fiesta), 13-1, 5-7 [40-12]
Five Stars: Carlos Dunlap (Fla), Eric Berry (Tenn), Cam Newton(Fla), Jimmy Clausen (ND), Ryan Mallett (Mich), Marvin Austin (UNC), [6/29]

Coaching is More Important. One class does not carry a program. Bringing in a top-class every year helps. Talent and depth aren’t bad things, but Florida State had top-three classes in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Not one of them won ten games. USC brought in similar-rated talent those three years. Only one of USC’s classes won less than ten games in a season.  Pete Carroll was a better coach than late-era Bobby Bowden.  FSU may be on its way back, but it’s not because they have the top 2011 class. It will be because Jimbo Fisher has his hand on the tiller.

Five Star Recruits Aren’t Necessarily Awesome. Looking at the data since 2003, because Rivals appears to have stiffened their standards for a five-star recruit, 34/135 (about 25 percent) of them lived up to the hype and became elite college players.  They aren’t finished products.  They are 18-year-old kids who fit the mold.  I was an idiot at 18.  I was an idiot at 22.  These players still need to develop.

Your school could get Vince Young or Tim Tebow.  It could also get Xavier Lee or Kyle Wright.  Ohio State had two five-stars in the 2002 class, including Maurice Clarett, but two of the best players were A.J. Hawk and Santonio Holmes who were three-stars. Troy Smith and Nick Mangold were four-stars.

How to Assess This? Get excited about the potential.  Don’t start penciling in BCS Titles.  Tom Luginbill can tell you how good players are now, but projecting them is far more tricky.

blog comments powered by Disqus