How much do recruiting star ratings really mean?

Georgia signee T.J. Stripling. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Georgia signee T.J. Stripling. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Recruiting isn’t the primary focus here (there are plenty of other outlets for that), but in my continuing effort to try to talk some of you down off the ledge in the face of what’s generally being perceived as a disappointing signing day for UGA, here’s a reminder that all this five-star and four-star ranking business isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

Back in August, we ran an article by Ken Sugiura and Tim Ellerbee under the headline “Are recruiting services overrated?” It included the following about a recruit who today has become one of Georgia’s signees:

“An odd thing happened in the world of college football recruiting last week, and T.J. Stripling, the talented player from Southwest DeKalb, certainly benefited. Stripling, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound defensive end, had gone somewhat unnoticed by the nation’s top recruiting services until word circulated that he was close to choosing among Georgia and several other top college programs. Then his stock skyrocketed. About 24 hours before committing to Georgia, Stripling made a move on the Rivals board that was interesting — jumping from not being ranked on the nation’s top 250 players list all the way to No. 28. And he suddenly became the fourth-best weakside defensive end in the nation, instead of the 16th.”

Ken’s article asked the question: “When it comes to college football recruiting, should anyone really put stock in the 3-star, 4-star and 5-star ratings handed out by the recruiting services?”

Answered the diplomatic Mark Richt: “I just think [fans] need to take everything with a grain of salt. These are just young kids who have to come and prove themselves wherever they go. There’s so many differences in the programs they come from, and it’s just very difficult to judge kids across the country and give them stars. I mean, I know the people who do [the rankings] are very diligent and do their best, but it’s nearly impossible to be really accurate on those things. … I think it’s a very inexact science, and I think the people who do it wouldn’t disagree.”

Tech’s Paul Johnson typically was a bit more blunt in assessing the worth of the recruting services: “None. Zero. Because it’s a joke. How can anybody look and even come across to say these are the top 100 players in the country. They don’t have a clue. Like they’ve looked at every high school running back and they’re going to be able rank this guy as a 4, and this guy as a 5. And if you’ll notice, the teams that have the biggest subscriptions [among fans], their guys are always the 4- and 5-star athletes. That’s the way it is.”

A longtime observer of college recruiting also points out that often the kids who commit early remain static in their ratings, not improving no matter how they perform during their senior seasons in high school, while others who keep everyone guessing till the very end can see their number of stars grow.

Just something to keep in mind amid all the wailing and breast-beating over UGA possibly breaking its string of eight consecutive Top 10-ranked recruiting classes. …

BULLDOG BITES

Former UGA and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Tim Worley is scheduled to be a call-in guest at 8 tonight on “The Final Word,” an Internet sports talk radio show. You can listen here. …  Why would a guy willingly cover himself in peanut butter? Drake Scott, the UGA junior from Dacula who attracted national attention when he did just that for the basketball Dogs’ win over Tennessee in Athens, talks about his offbeat brand of superfandom in the Athens Banner-Herald and The Red and Black.

159 comments Add your comment

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

February 3rd, 2010
11:00 am

Paul H

February 3rd, 2010
11:07 am

Not much. UGA will have a great class as always.

Without-a-clue

February 3rd, 2010
11:08 am

I’m glad I’m not ….!

L-Dawg

February 3rd, 2010
11:11 am

GLORY GORY TO OLE’ GEORGIA!!!!

WELL, SINCE PAUL JOHNSON SAYS IT MEANS NOTHING….. I GUESS HIS BLIND CONGREGATION OF TECHIE FANS CANNOT SAY CRAP ABOUT UGA’S RECRUITMENT CLASS HUH??

Whats Da word?

February 3rd, 2010
11:12 am

Any news on Telvin Smith??? heard that he wasnt solid on the noles yet ….is this so???

Herschel Talker

February 3rd, 2010
11:13 am

Two words: Jasper Sanks
Two words: Mudcat Elmore

Nuff said

dawgerbrown

February 3rd, 2010
11:13 am

You’re right on. Remember Tim Jennings, a last minute offer from UGA to fill an open slot. He was a 2 star with only one offer from South Carolina State. Now, he is playing in his second Super Bowl. David Pollack was a 3 star. There is little difference between 3 and 4 stars, if it is accurate at all.

L-Dawg

February 3rd, 2010
11:15 am

WELCOME MICHAEL THORNTON!!!!!!!!!

GT51

February 3rd, 2010
11:17 am

funny how all of a sudden stars don’t matter. does this have anything to do with uga not having a top ten class? uga alwsys does less with more. now they have less to do less with.

The Real YellowJacket

February 3rd, 2010
11:18 am

I bet if UGA had what was called a top-ranked class you all would be crowing. Sour grapes from a homer.

Clay

February 3rd, 2010
11:18 am

I agree that they don’t mean a whole lot; but, UGA fans have always been very quick to point out how high the class ranks each year. When you have a “down” year, you can’t jump up and say the rankings don’t matter. If they don’t matter now, they can’t matter next year if things work out better in the end.

King Jericho

February 3rd, 2010
11:20 am

1) They’re not totally arbitrary numbers. They’re based on something, but no, it’s not an exact science like CMR says. Take them with a grain of salt, but they’re still the best we have.

2) Passion, commitment, work ethic, etc should factor into the mix as well. These intangibles are not easily quantified by outsiders that have no real knowledge of these kids. How does a 2-star become an All-American? Hard work, dedication, and drive. Talent out of high school is just a starting point. If you can’t put in the work, you’re going to be left in the dust.

gb

February 3rd, 2010
11:22 am

Its what I’ve always said, take a look at the class rankings nationaly. Do you really think the SEC should have 5 or 6 of the top 10 spots each year? Yea right. Ohio State, Texas, Penn State, Oklahoma, USC, they don’t get good players too! The rankings are a joke and here in the south where college football is a religion, the rankings are just beyond any belief. Most of all, like Richt said, players develop at different rates, kids grow up at different rates. I’ve seen kids cut 2 or 3 tenths of a second off their 40 time after having some real training time in college. You got to just wait and see what happens!

Denny Laine

February 3rd, 2010
11:23 am

Bill, what happens to all those great players once they get to Athens?

TommyP

February 3rd, 2010
11:25 am

It sure beats coming to this blog and finding out how good our recruits are.

Inexact? Absolutely. But so is the NFL draft.

It’s a system that keeps improving each year.

jellybeandawg

February 3rd, 2010
11:26 am

Instead of great recruiting classes and no BCS, lets sign a bad class and see what happens…. I am convinced CMR can’t coach up these kids no matter how many stars they came in with so we might as well try it the other way this year.

ToccoaDawg

February 3rd, 2010
11:27 am

How many of these so called stars actually get into school?

DawgsForever

February 3rd, 2010
11:35 am

Funny article! Florida has dominated us in both recruiting and on the field over the past decade. We have owned GT on the field and certainly in recruiting over the last decade. We have always dominated Kentucky in both recruiting and on the field. Same goes for Vandy and South Carolina.

So of course the recruiting has some merit of validity!!!! My goodness our greatest recruit of all time led to our only consensus national title (Associated Press and UPI – the other was not awarded by the major polls) the recruit was obviously Hershel Walker.

Thus….having the 20th ranked class, #7 class in the SEC….is very worrisome when we are accustomed to top 5 classes. I can’t help but wonder what the future holds. If we have dominated teams but we have superior talent….what will happen when we no longer have superior talent and depth??? This coupled with the last two seasons and the trouble getting a DC makes me worried we are on a downward spiral that will only end in the next year or two with a new coach.

mcdaviddawg

February 3rd, 2010
11:40 am

The class rankings mean a lot and we have been less than great with top classes, so what will we do with less than top class. Richt coaches down which is why our top classes haven’t shown what we expected. Things look very dark in Athens. We’ll need major changes soon. The program is going down in record time. The bad vibes are why we had trouble getting our coaching openings filled and why so many of our native sons are going out of state.

Paul H

February 3rd, 2010
11:43 am

We will always run this state. Don’t forget it Techies.

Bob Dylan

February 3rd, 2010
11:43 am

southernfootball

February 3rd, 2010
11:46 am

DawgsForever, by some publications UGA has outrecruited Florida. Especially in the recruiting rankings over the previois 5 years.

southernfootball

February 3rd, 2010
11:49 am

Paul H, do you have some insight on UGA’s targets for 2011 since you must work for the football program.

ceph

February 3rd, 2010
11:50 am

Bill, I thought you were above it but you are falling in line just like ev eryone else, QUIT MAKING EXCUSES FOR RICHT!!!!! These kids had rather be playing than praying. Richt needs to take his can to the missionary field and get him and the water girl out of town. If he looks anything at all like he does in his Dalton carpet ads when he goes into these homes I would make him come in the back door, he looks like a used car salesman on the back lot. Grantham said we could be better than anyone by just closing the gates to the state but he forgot to mention that Richt doesn’t have a clue how to do it. I can see some of the top programs coming and getting a top player occassionally but Auburn, FSU, Tenn. etc at this point in time when they are in a comatose state it shouldn’t happen. There is only one person responsible for this, RICHT!!!!!

Whats Da word?

February 3rd, 2010
11:52 am

Telvin is now a nole ! Bummer

robodawg

February 3rd, 2010
11:52 am

Recruiting obviously makes a difference, but stars and rating services can get pretty silly. CPJ says it well. Even so, some guys are freaks of nature and you just know they will be great in college. When Florida loads up, for example, on the most dominating players in the all star games, yeah, that’s worrying.

As long as this is a one-year blip and as long as we develop the players we’ve got, we’ll be okay and stay competitive. Just hope this isn’t the start of a trend. Bama, Auburn and UT have really stepped up their recruiting efforts in our state.

robodawg

February 3rd, 2010
11:58 am

You know what? You look at those pictures of the Ogletrees, best clothes on, proud Georgia hats, and huge smiles, you just know they were meant to be Dawgs. There are enough guys like that out there that we should always get the players we need.

It’s disappointing though when it seems like we could’ve signed more of those guys who grew up dreaming of being a Dawg, like Blake Sims going to Bama b/c we were late in offering.

todd

February 3rd, 2010
12:01 pm

Come on Bill don’t make us look lame with the “what does 4 start, 5 star take when we got hit at the end”
Last yr. you could’ve worked for Rivals.com

Bottom line is DaRick Rogers better not come back to haunt us up at UT. There in the East the last time I checked and we’ve already experienced at UGA Tenn. plucking prime Ga talent and whippirng our ass on a consistent basis.

IF MR and Bobo and his dip in his mouth sat around and signed Hutson Mason, knowing they needed to offer Nash, so be it.

Only time will tell.

Hunting Dawg

February 3rd, 2010
12:01 pm

It is comical how many Dawg fans howl at the moon when we have 4-5 star recruits and then rationalize the daylights of a recruiting year that by ’star’ count, is not so good.

It comes down to the kid’s desire to learn & to play their hearts out and excellent coaching.

I am going to stand by CMR and hope that the coaching of this year’s recruiting class will translate into excellent college football players two years down the road.

It does seem that we have had the talent in past years and that was lost in translation on the playing field.

We need fire and attitude in Athens and with the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise we might just get it with the new defensive coaching staff.

Good Luck Dawgs and THWGT!

Ozzy

February 3rd, 2010
12:06 pm

Easy enough.

When Georgia has a good class – stars mean everything.

When they don’t – stars mean nothing.

Next question.

Paul's Johnson

February 3rd, 2010
12:09 pm

Ozzy nailed it. Nothing else to add.

Tailback U

February 3rd, 2010
12:20 pm

Here’s a clue for the big dumbazz club out there (mostly Tech fans)
who say “well your take would be different had the class been better”
No freakin duh ? And why would that be ? Because of two things.
Number one is most people will try to look at the positive side of
things instead of the negative if there is any reason at all to do
so. Given that there is only one team that Georgia has not been
able to defeat and hold there own against in the last 10 yrs only
a fool would say there does not exist a reason. So first it’s
a human reaction but the more important reason and Bill you have
done a good job on this, fans in general are coming to the realities
of college football. Top ten classes are great because they look
good on paper but you win football games on the field. For me personally it is not just bout projecting how these kids might
contribute to a championship. But also the enjoyment in knowing that
I will have an opportunity to cheer on a super skilled athlete
representing my school. For a hardcore football junkie like myself
that’s cool indeed. So I will not lie and say I am not disappointed
to lose a player like Rogers who is obviously very talented. But
at the same time realization has set in for me about what recruiting
really is , and that is a far cry from what I thought it once was.
But hey if you like drama there are enough queens out there to keep
things interesting that’s for sure.

jaglaw

February 3rd, 2010
12:25 pm

I do agree that the star rating can use a kids speed and size to project his upside, but in no way does that make him a star.
Also, the AJC spends so much attention on GA players around Atlanta and giving then high ratings, failing to truely acknowledge the number of talented players in SOUTH GA , and adaquately rating them. UF and FSU do pay attention to these SOUTH GA players and thats where they end up.
Funny, SOUTH GA, schools win most of the state championships in football, but never have as many “star” players as the north ga schools????? DOESNT ADD UP.
AND,,,,, UF and FSU continues to recruit these SOUTHERN GA kids, and UF contintues to kick our butts.

RIC FLAIR

February 3rd, 2010
12:28 pm

You know Im tired of seeing these young punks treated like celebrities. Most end up not playing well or kicked out of school for misconduct. As for the Rogers kid that changed his mind to go to Tenn who was commited for past 8 months. What does an 18 year old from the guetto with no father in the home know about commitment? Hes never seen an example of commitment in his life. This recruiting business is nothing but pandering around a bunch of half literate failures.

Tailback U

February 3rd, 2010
12:39 pm

Jaglaw
Good point on the south Ga. kids.
It is a much needed area of focus by CMR going forward.

Bill King

February 3rd, 2010
12:40 pm

Anyone who’s read this blog for the past few years knows that my view of the recruiting services and ratings and the whole hoopla surrounding signing day is not something I’ve just arrived at this year in reaction to Georgia’s showing. I’ve always thought the obsession many fans and much of the media have with ranking recruiting classes and assigning star ratings to 18-year-olds is overdone. As I said yesterday, I recognize that if you’re signing players everyone else wants, that’s generally a good thing. But fretting over whether you’re ranked Top 10 by recruiting services is ridiculous. If you win, it doesn’t matter how your players were ranked coming out of high school. That was my belief even during UGA’s run of eight consecutive Top 10 recruiting classes, and so nothing’s changed.

SR

February 3rd, 2010
12:41 pm

To all the North Avenue Trade School fans who’ve been posting on this blog, let’s forget the annual recruting rankings and look at head-to-head competition. Let’s see now. . . .The Dogs have beaten the Jackets 9 out of the last 10 games. The best you can say if you’re a Tech fan is that Johnson is 1-1 against Richt.

Crisp County Coon Hunter

February 3rd, 2010
12:41 pm

Hey folks, we got this here kid down in Cordele that can run like a scalded dog. Yessirree Bob-tail, he’s better’n Hershell Welker was when he’s playin ball at Washington County or wherever he played. He’s got high grades in all his special ed classes and he’s a good boy that goes to church. So tell are coach mr mark richt to come down here to Cordele and ask about Runnell Wannamaker. Here’s one a them utoob videos about him at church. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lHHQu4CIos

collegeballfan

February 3rd, 2010
12:44 pm

Bill this is two columns in a row that I agree with you. Must be something in the water. Seriously, this is an important column you just inked.

Another example, the Perkins kid Tech signed was a one star, committed to Tech last January, was a 3 star the next day, looked at no other schools and remained a 3 star. Some of the rankings are accurate and some are not. Ranking 17 & 18 year olds is not a science and is far from an art.

Many years ago Dooley signed the top offensive lineman in the SE. He came to UGA, could not get off the Scout team and transferred to an NAIA school. Got there and could not start. But he was highly rated!

gatorman770

February 3rd, 2010
12:52 pm

Small recruting class equals little chance to be in the top 10, even with the majority of the players rated at 4 & 5 star. Example: Gators 2009 class had a average class rating of 11th, had the first or second highest APR, but they had a small class of just 16 recruits (due to available scholarships)so they ended up out of the top 10.
UGA has less scholarships available this year, thus a smaller class resulting in very little chance of a top 10 class. It’s nothing to get your shorts and panties all contorted like Pelosi’s face!
UGA probably received a big blessing in disguise when Du’Rick switched to the Vols just as the Gators were blessed when Nu’Keese (for the big convenience store money Kiffin promised him) did the same last year at the last minute.

hotbobby

February 3rd, 2010
12:55 pm

Hopefully, our new D-co can coach up these boys, for a change. I got a bad feeling about this program and the direction we’re heading. We lost too many good players to other programs. Anybody wonder why a kid from GA would want to leave family, friends, and UGA to go to other schools? Did we not recruit them? Are there parents afraid to send the Athens? Do THEY read the writing on the wall? One thing is for sure-there is nothing we can do about it, now. We’ll see-

JK Pierce

February 3rd, 2010
1:09 pm

You are right. A recruit is like a newborn baby. You never know what you have.

Cuz

February 3rd, 2010
1:17 pm

Bags fly free.

chipperdawg

February 3rd, 2010
1:17 pm

ESPN syas UGA’s class ranks No.9. They’re probably just as qualified as these other services, would’nt you think? Looks like a solid bunch to me, when you get to reading up on them. I think we filled alot of needs of the future on defense. The thing is you not gonna get them all. I think CMR has done a great job in getting it done on the recruiting trail and we seem to get our share of the best of the best… just sayin’.

jaglaw

February 3rd, 2010
1:17 pm

Hotbobby,

Did you read my earlier post. Auburn got a lot of kids from South GA. AU, UF, FSU pay attention to these kids and they read about themselves in local headlines……thats why they leave GA!

CvilleDawg

February 3rd, 2010
1:22 pm

ATTENTION! Georgia signs big 6′6 201 lb wide receiver lonnie outlaw out of wilcox county, scout has him as only a 2 star but this guy must be special for georgia to sign a 2 star wide receiver!

Bremen Dawg

February 3rd, 2010
1:22 pm

I think we still got the players we needed and just look at Jimmy Johnson at Miami and how many times he played and won the NC at Miami. He did not even look at the rankings, he went after talent and not stars and we need to do the same thing. A player is a no star player and UGA offers them and all of sudden here comes the other schools after the same player. That still shows the respect for UGA that other schools have.

BTW, since Atlanta the happiest (synonym) city then does that make Georgia Tech the happiest (synonym) college, bwahahahahahah

Roll Tider

February 3rd, 2010
1:24 pm

Star ratings by national websites may not mean much, but local recruiting rankings do. Link below shows that UGA missed on the top 2, landed only 4 of the top 10, and 5 of the top 20 recruits in the state of Georgia. Considering the number of these kids UGA used to get, that has to be troubling. Sugarcoat away…

http://gavarsity.rivals.com/viewrank.asp?ra_key=2467

kauai dawg

February 3rd, 2010
1:24 pm

I am one fan who is thankful “Da’dramamess” went to rocky top. The “Me” first attitude in kids these days is troubling. I am thankful for the kids who wanted to attend GA. Go DAWGS! 30-24

Roll Tider

February 3rd, 2010
1:30 pm

Further, compare and contrast the link above to this one. Bama landed the top 3 and 4 of the top 5 in-state recruits. Also, Alabama and Auburn combined to keep 9 of the Top 10 in-state. Again, HAS to be troubling…

http://bamavarsity.rivals.com/viewrank.asp?ra_key=2458