Old coaches often say; “Film, doesn’t lie, but highlights never tell bad stories either. You better check it out.” Recruiting services are not right all the time, but are right far more often than wrong. But because the system is not perfect, you better check it out because simply talent by itself is not always the answer. Does this player fit our program? Will he fit our locker room? You also need to try and find out those things too. There is a concerted effort because of so many behavioral problems in college sports to not only find the good player, but hope he’s a good person too. That’s the combination everybody wishes for. Who did that this football recruiting season? Mostly the same programs, but just a bit of change. Here’s your recruiting wrap-up.
If it had been the Daytona 500 Georgia would have blown their doors off. Kirby Smart just landed what may the all-time best recruiting class in the history of college football. Georgia landed eight, 5-star recruits last week, and 18, 4-stars. Just when some power programs thought they had positioned themselves to close fast and move up in the rankings, it was Georgia that solidified their top ranked class with two more five stars and two more fours on the final day.
Ohio State, Texas, and Penn State, all had impressive efforts, but likely the second best class was ranked a bit lower at five. Clemson because it’s program is so young and its top players chose not leave school early for the NFL Draft (refreshing), could not sign but 17 recruits. However, five of them are 5-stars and all are the best players from five different states. The quarterback room at Clemson next year will be filled with quarterbacks who were regarded as the top or second best quarterbacks in the country for the past four years. The Tigers also landed the top two defensive ends in the country so expect no drop off on defense.
USC closed well and also with a small class finished 6th, Miami was a strong seven, Oklahoma eight, Notre Dame nine, Florida State 10, Auburn 11, Alabama 12.
Virginia Tech landed maybe its best commitment on the final day when 4-star linebacker Dax Hollifield of Greensboro picked the Hokies. Tech finished with the 22rd rated class, and for the past month looked to be a mid-20s finisher. West Virginia finished with the 28th rated class and Virginia 62.
There are four major recruiting services that rank players; Rivals (the one I chart the most), Scout, 247Sports, and ESPN. When you’re talking about the top rated classes in the country there is usually not a lot of debate, but after you leave the top 10 or so, there is more movement as services attempt to rank players who may be four star recruits, three, or even a two. These days, 90 percent of the two star recruits and virtually none of the one stars are offered by Power Five Conference programs.
Tech and Nebraska are good examples of how the process works. The two classes are much different personnel wise because the program needs were different. For instance, Nebraska needed to add as much speed and skill to its program as possible. The Hokies did not have that sort of need. Tech just recruited to its positions needs.
The eventual final ranking for the two programs was Nebraska 21, and Tech 22 which means there is little or no difference in the quality of the two, and low 20s is a good recruiting class. And as always, how do the new guys fit? Here’s how it worked. ESPN had the Cornhuskers rated 21, Rivals 21, 247Sports 22, and Scout 24. Rivals had the Hokies at 22, 247Sports placed Tech at 24, Scout 21, and ESPN 22.
When you have a good class in the low 20s, and that’s a quality effort, there is still much more debate because some of the recruits are four stars, most are threes, and Tech and Nebraska did not land a five star. So you try to get an average, but many times there’s no way to say one is better than the other, but then along comes Georgia, and Clemson and so forth. But there are about 80 schools rated underneath Tech that would love to have the Hokies’ class.
But without question, the rich got richer. When it all ended last season most felt the four best teams in the nation were Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Clemson. That’s not likely to change. They have the best players and more of them. You can toss Oklahoma, Penn State, USC and maybe Miami and Florida State, and a couple others into the mix, maybe Texas is on the road back, maybe Auburn can hang, and Notre Dame is battling to keep contact with the top, but the list doesn’t get much deeper than that, if it does at all. Next week I’ll give you some information that will thrill you. The gap is more than likely going to widen for 2019. The “haves” are about to have more. The rest……………less.
People like to rank positions and this will tell you all you need to know about domination. The number one rated class for running backs is Georgia, two five stars. The number one rated offensive line is Georgia, two fives and three fours. Penn State has the best group of wide receivers. Best quarterbacks, gee whiz, it’s Georgia and Clemson.
How about the defense? Best defensive tackles, likely Penn State. Best defensive ends. Clemson signed the best two. Best group of linebackers? Just might be Notre Dame. Best defensive back recruits. I’ll go with Texas.
The best classes in the ACC? Miami rates 1 because it’s good and was rated top five much of the process. Clemson is two, but according to per player quality, it’s the best class. The Tigers’ program is so stocked, but still so young, they are losing little from last year’s national title game squad, and really adding to it. Florida State did not have a highlight finish, but a good one, and pulled out another strong overall class. Virginia Tech would be four, improved its receiving corps, got some needed linebackers, but came up a bit short again in the running back and offensive line departments, losing out on some quality players down the stretch. Carolina likely has the 5th best class, and the rest is likely little more than the rest. Virginia’s 62nd finish is disappointing. Linebacker Noah Taylor and Ohio duel threat quarterback Brennan Armstrong are maybe the best recruits.
The home front once again does not look good for Virginia Tech. The Hokies did really well in certain areas, and for the first time Tech got its 26 players from 10 different states. You could say regional recruiting has branched out. It’s a new world. Some of that is good, some of it maybe not so good. I enjoyed seeing regional competition in my earlier years. You knew when Alabama played the team was going to have a lot of the “Jim Bob’s” from Bama on the team. Penn State would have almost exclusively a squad from Pennsylvania. Ohio State was Ohio, and most of Notre Dame came from the Midwest. No more.
Alabama recruits players from California and Hawaii, and the Tide signed only two from Alabama this time. Penn State, FSU, Bama at times, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Tennessee actively recruit Virginia. Ohio State gets top players from Florida and Georgia. Clemson signed the best player from Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. At least that is regional, but if you are looking for local recruiting you need to focus on Texas and Georgia. Georgia is the fastest growing state in producing blue chip football prospects and Texas has always been one of the best places to get good talent.
But Virginia Tech needs to do a better job on the home front. For the fifth consecutive year, the best players left Virginia. Five star linebacker Teradjia Mitchell from Bishop Sullivan went to Ohio State. The number two rated player Ricky Slade, a tailback from CD Hylton went to Penn State. The third rated player from the Old Dominion, Dinwiddie linebacker K’Vaughn Pope, went to Ohio State. The fourth rated player, Nona Asiedu of North Stafford, an offensive tackle, when to Penn State. So the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions made hay in Virginia. If the Hokies are ever going to be able to compete at the highest level nationally, that must change.
By Dan Callahan, The Patriot