Chasing blue chips, a reminder why

Brian Cook summarizes the math nicely here:

Recruiting is important, part infinity. PFF released a list of the top 101 players in college football that we mentioned in this space because it has five different Michigan defenders on it. Some dude on 247 ran it through some statistical analysis. Results:

Minimum: 1 ~ 1.000
First Quartile: 31.5 ~ 98.40
Median: 238 ~ 90.90
Third Quartile: 1000 ~ 84.19
Maximum: 3000

Over 25% of players listed in PPFs player rankings were rated as 5* players coming out of high school by the composite. Over 50% were rated as 4* players. While recruiting rankings aren’t perfect they are a strong correlate of future success.

Five star players are approximately 1-3% of the pool and four-stars about 10%. This is in line with findings about the NFL draft; applying this analysis to PFF’s rankings of college players based on their performance right now is even stronger evidence that recruiting rankings matter.

Yes, there are many three-stars and two-stars who defy the odds and go on to playing success.  But that’s the point.  Those odds aren’t in a coach’s favor.

Three-quarters of the top players are blue chippers who make up under 15% of the total pool of recruits.  So if you’re looking for great players, either you find a way to separate the wheat from the chaff consistently, or you chase the kids at the top.  There’s no mystery why the best recruiters go after the most highly ranked high school kids.  That’s where the odds are.


Filed under Recruiting

15 responses to “Chasing blue chips, a reminder why

  1. That’s why Trevor Lawrence have to come to Georgia. His reported recent score is 1.000, perfect, LOL.


  2. I'm right, you're wrong

    Wait, you mean the most highly ranked recruits usually turn out to be the best players? What? Man, that’s fascinating.


  3. Macallanlover

    The logic here is unescapable, athletes who perform at the highest levels for years at the HS level tend to be the best players at the next level. Shocking. But the “bust” level for that Top 15% club has to be higher, percentage wise, if such stats were kept. That isn’t to say you don’t go for the elite athletes because the odds are better they will contribute, but teams cannot be made up of those guys alone.

    I would bet more three and four star athletes play to their expected levels than 5 star athletes do. It is such an inexact science that teams who can do that “wheat form the chaff” analysis best are the real winners here. I really enjoy the success teams like Boise, Houston, Stanford, Iowa, Michigan State, etc. have periodically with recruiting classes that never make the Top 25.


    • Mac, I agree with your premise, but I would suggest Boise and Houston play in leagues where they don’t need to have 4 and 5-star athletes to win week in and week out. Sure, Houston beat F$U last year in what amounted to a meaningless bowl game to the Noles.

      Stanford recruits good players who just happen also to be smart, and then Shaw develops those guys into a team (it’s why he was my #1 choice to replace CMR). IMO, McCaffrey should have won the Heisman last year over Derrick Henry. I think Davis Mills from Greater Atlanta Christian is going to be a future starter at QB for the Cardinal once he’s in the Stanford S&C program.

      Iowa got absolutely steamrolled by Stanford in Pasadena and would have been crushed by tOSU if Corch had made it back to the B1G championship. Of course, Michigan State got absolutely embarrassed by their opposite (Alabama) in Dallas in a game that wasn’t as close as the 38-0 score indicated.


      • Macallanlover

        Stanford over performs relative to the recruiting rankings, as does Boise. Iowa has been pretty good at it too but really only used them because last year they became a threat again. Just making the point that making wise choices of 2 and 3 star guys can allow you to compete with, and sometime whip those teams filled with 4 and 5 star guys. Again, not against having them but more of them fall short of expectations for one of several different reasons (starting with being over rated initially.)


        • Totally agree about Stanford – they overperform against the recruiting rankings, but I would imagine they get a good percentage of blue chips they recruit because they don’t offer until they know you are able to handle the academic rigor of Palo Alto. I would also suggest that David Shaw (and Harbaugh before him) is the main reason the program overperforms.

          Somewhat agree about Boise – they outrecruit their mid-major peers and because of their strength of schedule their final ranking would indicate they outperform their recruiting ranking. Sure, they can beat a UGA or OU in a 1-game scenario, but could they run the gauntlet of an SEC or Big XII schedule with a bunch of 2 and 3 star players?

          The player and team recruiting rankings are more accurate now than they were when Ray Goff was signing a “#1” ranked recruiting class (although it’s still a lot more art than science). I would rather look at a player’s claimed offers to gauge his ability rather than the gurus’ view of the same player at a combine or camp.

          I guess I would say I’ll take my chances with Alabama’s roster of blue chips over Iowa’s roster of 2 and 3 star players over a 12-15 game season in a P5 conference.


    • DawgPhan

      “The Logic here is unescapable(sic)”.

      How can the odds be better that blue chip players will contribute, all the while those players having a higher propensity to be a bust?

      And this is after reading that no more than 13% of the NFL is made up of blue chip players, but those players account for 75% of the top players.

      And to sum it all up nicely, “teams cannot be made up of those guys

      Mostly because there arent enough of them to build a team of just 5 star players, but damn is Alabama isnt trying to do just that. 77% of their team last year was blue chip players.


  4. Speaking of 5-star prospects, it looks like the IMG Academy pipeline to UGA is wide open … Robert Beal committed to Smart & Sherrer this morning over Bama, F$U and ND. It definitely helped that he went to Norcross HS with Zo Carter.

    Take that, Harbaugh.


  5. W Cobb Dawg

    A quick check of our roster shows 6 5-star and at least 35 4-star players, albeit the vast majority were 2015 and 2016 recruits. A few thoughts:
    – I wonder if any of our 2016 opponents can top that talent level.
    – Of course, we haven’t had trouble landing players in the nfl. It’s their UGA production that’s been the issue. So if it’s been a coaching issue, why do many pundits believe we’ll struggle with a first time HC?
    – IF the math is correct, and noting that most of our top recruits were in 15/16 classes, it bodes well for our immediate future. It would appear we need more productivity from players we already have.
    – It’s not a wholesale rebuilding job. A 40-deep roster of 4+ star players isn’t a bad starting point for Kirby’s first year.
    – Even our much maligned OL has at least 6 players rated 4-star. The DL has at least 7 4-star players plus Trent Thompson’s 5-star.


  6. I believe there is a strong argument to made for not putting a 5 star label on a 18 year old kid . 4 stars still have something to prove and 5 stars can easily convince themselves that they are already, “the Man”. Happily it appears Eason is not falling into that trap. We should never forget Keith Marshall was a 5 star and Gurley was a four star followed by the 5 star Sony Michel and the 4 star Nick Chubb. I like motivated 4 stars in both cases.


  7. 69Dawg

    I grant you that the recruiting services are getting better at not getting hoodwinked into thinking a kid playing against air in high school is a 5*. The notion that the level of competition has nothing to do with a kids abilities can only be overcome if the kid, like Herschel totally destroys his competition in high school. I watched Eason play in high school games via ESPN and he looked great but his competition, except in the playoffs would have been hard pressed to win a game against AAA schools in Florida or Georgia. He was performing 7 on 7 most of the time. He and his father are smart enough to know this and I think they don’t want to get him killed. Maybe UGA is just snake bit enough to have gotten a lot of under performing 4 & 5 stars and Kirby is Saban enough to kick their butts and make them great, we’ll see.