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. …


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


February 4th, 2010
10:05 am

well it goes either way Percy harvin was a 5 star recruit and he played like one probably like 7 stars and you have 2 star recruit like Tim Jennings who performed like 5 stars but the bottom line is its all about coaching and preparation.


February 4th, 2010
10:09 am

On Mark Richt:

Richt’s strength first and foremost lies in his ability to build trust and confidence in his players. I have seen him put true freshmen in crucial situations with no doubt that they will succeed, and they ususally do. Ocasionally, it could be argued that he is too caring of his players. Personally, I think it is better to err in that direction. All of you who want to see Richt behave like a depraved drill seargent really don’t understand the psychology involved. BTW, I have yet to see Saban ridicule and belittle a player in public. It is just bad practice.

Richt’s other strength is his ability to learn and take new approaches. When he came to UGA, it was all about the pass and no huddle. The no huddle created fast turns; he got away from it. Tubberville tells him you got to have horses, and Richt unleashed the tailbacks. In my humble opinion, having no access to Richt personally, I would say a new phase is under way. Look for a new emphasis on agressive D and a more profound running game.

The Martinez plan was a bend don’t break attitude. Make the other team eat up the clock. They also started recruiting speedy small guys in an effort to combat the spread (this is conjecture on my part). This didn’t work. Richt now brings in a new scheme. He has shown his willingness to make tough decisions about staff. I fully accept the argument that he may have waited a season too long. I don’t think, however, that his being a good coach to work and play for is going to hurt the program in recruiting players and assitants at any rate.

The rapid fire and hire era is over. Richt is just beginning. He is at the advent of his career, not a downward spiral. It is laughable that the doomsayers look to one mediocre season after losing all fire power as evidence of this imagined downward turn. I know. I know. There is a list of stats and big game victories and SEC championships and National Titles. Save your breath. He took over a program that was poorly managed for years, and he began to manage it well. Richt now has the ability to match gameplans with players, to find the best combinations and strategies. A coach simply can’t get to this point in a short period of time. Not taking anything away from Saban’s or Meyers’ ability, but the NCs didn’t come in a single season. Things were coming together before they ever got there. It takes time for the right chemistry and the right strategy and schedule to come together. They are both excellent coaches that stepped in at incredibly opportune times.

I am looking forward to the 2010 season. With a new QB and Defense, I am not going to get carried away predicting championships. I am willing to say that this team will surprise some folks. So, let ‘em think the dawgs suck. Please, please, please take UGA lightly.

Saint Richt

February 4th, 2010
10:15 am

They don’t matter at all when Georgia doesn’t have a top 10 recruiting class. When Georgia does have a top 10 class, the star system is flawless.

Saint Richt

February 4th, 2010
10:18 am

Zander Ogletree is Georgia’s equivalent of Nash Nance.


February 4th, 2010
10:28 am

Saint Richt,

No. They don’t matter at all ever. these rankings are as worthless and senseless as the polls and predictions that will come out midsummer. It is fun to hypothsize (and in some cases gamble), but it doesn’t mean a thing.

Saint Richt

February 4th, 2010
10:36 am

chazzo, you don’t get what I’m saying, do you? Georgia fans are all about the recruiting rankings when they are in the top 10. Its funny how they change their tune when they drop to 21st. I agree with what you are saying 100%. But go back to these blogs in years past when Georgia has a top rated recruiting class and you’ll see that people were singing a different tune back then. Its the primary reason why most Georgia fans have been predicting National Titles almost every year since 2000.


February 4th, 2010
6:49 pm

St. Richt,

I got you loud and clear. I even thought it was funny with a little truth behind it. All this crap just kind of hits a nerve.


February 5th, 2010
9:39 pm

The ratings mean a lot. The ratings are pretty accurate. These guys know what they are talking about. When you have a not so good recruiting year people like to say the ratings really don’t mean that much or don’t really know how good a kids going to be. Don’t be a damn fool. Georgia stunk it up this February and they are going to pay for it in a few years. Its all relative. If you think there is any way this class can be as good as Florida’s class in four years then you are living in a fantasy world. Oklahoma had a rough recruiting year last year but they had more than enough stockpiled to buffer it out. Georgia’s talent pool is drained and we pull in a lemon of a class. Forget about it. This is the worst class I have seen in decades.


February 9th, 2010
2:08 pm

What was the rankings of the former DAWGS?”
Trippi, Stanfill, Scott (Jake and Lindsey), Belue,
Lastinger, Terrell Davis, Worley, Henderson,
and on and on, all winners.
Oh I forgot, this was before the internet and Scout
and Rivals.