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
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.