Recruiting databases have evolved to a level that allow fans to gather any information they wish about their respected teams prospects. While the change is a good thing for interested parties, it has allowed fans to develop a stigma that is taking away from the recruiting front. Fans in today’s age are getting caught up with landing a 5 star recruit or bust persona and that’s the part that is bad about the evolving databases. Let’s dig deeper into the issue and take a look at the prime example back in the 2011 class.
The 2011 class was filled with many playmakers that we were able to see up to this past season when Marcus Mariota took home the Heisman Trophy. Mariota was a 3 star prospect that seemed to be more flawed than anything but Oregon saw a promising player. Mariota’s career is well documented as the quarterback finished with 134 career touchdowns, a Heisman Trophy, and a National Championship game appearance. The quarterback was also able to turn all that success into being selected #2 overall in this past NFL Draft.
Now let’s take a look at the quarterbacks that were more regarded in high school than Mariota. 5 star quarterback Jeff Driskel was the can’t miss quarterback prospect in the 2011 class and would commit to Florida to become the next great Gators quarterback. Driskel accounted for 32 total touchdowns in 4 seasons at Florida and has since left for LA Tech or his final season. 4 star prospects Kiehl Frazier (Auburn), Max Wittek (USC), Christian Lemay (Georgia), and Jerrard Randall (LSU), have accounted for 6 total touchdowns between all 4 combined. Now there were some prospects that panned out for their respected teams including Braxton Miller (Ohio State), Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Brett Hundley (UCLA), and Cody Kessler (USC).
There were also a few prospects that were like Mariota and exceeded their expectations coming out of high school. QB Cardale Jones (Ohio State) was rated a 3 star prospect and just led the Buckeyes to a National Championship over Mariota’s Oregon Ducks this past season. Jones is currently projected to be a Top 5 pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Connor Cook (Michigan State) was right below Jones in the rankings and has the look of a future NFL quarterback after leading Michigan State to Big 10 relevance. Rated just below Mariota in the rankings was quarterback Johnny Manziel, who despite all the NFL drama, had one of the most memorable college careers in recent memory.
Look at Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin and his 2 star ranking coming out of high school. He had flaws headed to TCU but now has transformed TCU into an offensive powerhouse and has the Horned Frogs looking for a National Championship heading into season.
Mountaineer fans can recall the commit of top RB Jason Gwaltney and how he was going to change the fortune of the WVU football program. Well how about the 3 star RB Steve Slaton that came in the same year that nobody knew about before we took over and had over 4,700 yards and 55 touchdowns during his career? What about the unheralded 3 star quarterback Pat White and his 103 career touchdowns and WVU records he now holds?
Let’s take a look at one of the top players in the NFL and his recruiting process. JJ Watt is rated a 2 star DE that many scouts weren’t sure if he’d play in a major conference. Watt just wrapped up an unbelievable NFL season where he was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year Award and has become the face of Houston Texans franchise.
As you can tell there are flaws to the ranking system and I understand that problems do emerge when kids step foot on a college campus but why are fans getting discouraged when they land a 3 star prospect that has flaws? Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel, and Cardale Jones all had flaws to their respected game and they have succeed against the top competition in college football.
The final piece to this argument we can look at this past year’s Super Bowl which featured not a single five star recruit on either team. I understand that 5 star recruits have the potential to take you to the next level in college football but let’s give the lower ranked kids with flaws a chance to prove themselves because TCU, Oregon, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Texas A&M have reaped the benefits of these prospects.
photo courtesy ESPN