Over at The Athletic, Max Olson ($$) has a piece up re-ranking the 2016 recruiting classes, based on the following metric:
The point system we’re using for this is no different than in past years. Much like the recruiting industry’s five-star rating metric, we’re using a basic 0-to-5 scale.
5 points: All-American, award winner, top-50 NFL draft pick
4: Multiyear starter, all-conference honors
3: One-year starter or key reserve
2: Career backup
0: Left the program, minor or no contribution
In doing the math, he includes walk-ons and transfers who joined a particular program in 2016.
I’m not going to bore you with listing out the entire piece (for what it’s worth, Georgia finished fifth with a 75% hit rate, which ain’t bad at all for a transitional class). Instead, I just wanted to mention a couple of top finishers.
As acclaimed as Alabama’s class that year was — and it’s amazing — the Tide finished second to Clemson. That class ranked 11th at the time, but finished with an astounding 96% hit rate. Say what you will about Dabo and Clemson’s scheduling, but somebody there knows how to recognize talent, maybe better than any other program in the country.
And you’ll never guess who finished third.
Adjusted average: 3.19
Hit rate: 89%
Class rank in 2016: 12th
Four-year record: 34-16
Top signees: DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson, OL Jawaan Taylor, RB Lamical Perine, LB David Reese II, DE Jachai Polite
The top two classes in this revised ranking were extremely predictable. But the No. 3 spot? Here’s a little bit of a surprise. The first full recruiting class of the Jim McElwain era ended up being way more productive than expected. The players who signed in 2016 went through a coaching change during their second year in the program, but nearly all of them stayed on board. Only three signees — Jordan Smith, McArthur Burnett and Antonneous Clayton — ended up transferring prior to graduating.
In hindsight, maybe this ranking does kind of make sense? Dan Mullen inherited a group with a lot of potential and found immediate success, winning 21 games in their first two years together. The 2017 season was an abject disaster, no question, but this class played an important role in helping get the Gators back on track. This class hasn’t had any All-Americans but did produce 16 future starters, three of whom — Taylor, Polite and Gardner-Johnson — were drafted in 2019.
Didn’t think I’d see “Mullen won with McElwain’s classes” as a valid observation, but there you are. He’s actually recruiting a little better now than McElwain did, so we’ll see how/if this continues.