One more time: why stars matter.

It’s a common fallacy repeated on message boards and blogs ad nauseam:  recruiting ratings are worthless because this two-star prospect succeeded and that five-star kid was a flop.  I call it the micro approach to recruiting.

It’s the bigger picture that’s far more relevant, though.  Talking about this year’s NFL draft, Matt Hinton observes,

… Six of the top 10 were accorded five-star status as recruits, which is even more impressive when you consider just how few players make up the upper crust in recruiting rankings. Using Rivals’ ratings, five-star players make up a little more than one percent of all Division I-A signees every year, and four-star players less than 12 percent; a full 87 percent of incoming players are rated three stars or lower. (In Rivals’ system, all DI-A signees are automatically granted two-star status; walk-ons are usually unranked.) But that group produced a grand total of 13 picks Thursday night from a cast of more than 10,000 last year.

Missing out on a particular kid tells you nothing about a program’s talent level.  Signing decent numbers of four and five-star recruits on a consistent basis, on the other hand, is an indication of success.  As Hinton summarizes how the math works out, “The four and five-star players, a group that makes up a little under 13 percent of the entire population of college players, accounts for just shy of 60 percent of first-rounders.”  I’ll take my chances with a program that steadily cranks out first-round draftees, thank you very much.



Filed under Recruiting

16 responses to “One more time: why stars matter.

  1. Senator, great analysis, as usual. While I think the recruiting services slant the team rankings to generate hits, most of the time their analysis of individual players is pretty good. Thomas Davis was a 2-star prospect because he played at a small high school in the middle of nowhere with no football tradition (Randolph-Clay). If he had played at Lowndes, he would have been a 4+ star prospect because of exposure. I’ll take a team of blue-chippers per the services and take my chances. Does anyone really think Jim Grobe wants to take 2- and 3-star guys and try to develop them 2 or 3 years later into a team at Wake? Mack Brown sure doesn’t try to do that at Texas.


    • shane#1

      Or Sanford Seay. Randolph Clay is Valdosta High compared to Lee County.


      • That’s right. Growing up in that part of the world, I remember Lee County getting their brains beaten in by Valdosta, Lowndes, Tift County, Cairo, Worth County (my HS alma mater), etc. I hope you’re implying that you think Seay has a chance to be as good as Malcolm Mitchell appears to be.


        • shane#1

          That is exactly what I am implying. I live in Lee County and I am so proud of those kids. They won more games last year than that school won in the last five years, totaled! Lee has had six winning seasons in their history, including last year. Lee has always been about baseball. Many baseball coaches would not let their kids play football and they play baseball year round here. For the first time in my memory crowds were larger at football games than baseball games this year. People are going crazy over football. Now if Deerfield and Sherwood Christian don’t recruit our best players we should be okay for next year.


  2. Go Dawgs!

    Exactly. Some five stars turn out to be busts. Some two stars become legends. But discounting the value of the rankings based on a small handfull on anomalies makes about as much sense as seein one guy win the lottery and then assuming every ticket you buy will be a winner.


  3. Biggus Rickus

    Something occurred to me when the Falcons traded up, probably stupidly, to draft Julio Jones. AJ Green and Julio Jones were essentially 1a and 1b coming out of high school and three years later were 1a and 1b in the draft. I wonder how many times that’s happened with any position.


  4. Normaltown Mike

    Thomas Davis, Pollack, Stafford, Knowshon, AJ are Richt signees that became firsth rounders (am I missing some?)

    Derrick Morgan, Bay-Bay Thomas and Calvin Johnson are Chan Gailey signees that became first rounders.

    Any guesses as to how many “4 and 5 star” recruits CMR has signed vs signed by Chan?

    Sometimes the tail wags the dog, er dawg.


  5. The other Doug

    Stars matter, but so does fit.

    UGA might pass on a 5 star corner who is a midget because they need taller corners for example.


  6. Cojones

    The star system is used as well to compare one player to another. We know that differing competition in different game circumstances may make or break a 3 becoming a 4 becoming a 5. It would be naive to place the system into effect once they have joined the Div-1 school. In a differing milieu under now differing circumstances, that levels the stars out; their competitiveness is the prime factor. If their competitiveness was a deciding factor for the extra star in high school, then the advantage is usually pronounced in Div-1.

    Senator, sometimes we have differing naivetes about this game and it would be refreshing to see a naive confession article. I’ll go first. Last week I predicted that Tressel would be gone before this Monday. Looks like I was naive, not about Tressel resigning, but that The OSU could be stupid enough not to fire him when the NCAA gave the charges. I was naive enough to believe that the University would protect the integrity of it’s name. I was naive.

    Do you get the drift that these confessions could be more convoluted than I write? There. You have been given the setup for a one-liner reply.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      The real problem with the “stars” system is that it really is only somebody’s opinion. Thomas Davis wasn’t a 2 star recruit. He was a 5 star recruit that some idiot labeled as a 2 star. The system is run by people and people make mistakes–a lot of mistakes, going each way. there are plenty of guys who are overclassified, too. You can’t base your recruiting decisions on what some pencilneck who never wore a jockstap thinks.


  7. Gern Blanski

    I thought that Pollack was a Donnan signee?