Category Archives: Recruiting

“Teens pick brands, pros pick contracts.”

This post is one of the more fascinating things I’ve read lately.  It’s an examination of what leads recruits to the schools they choose.

College athletics provide a unique, albeit contentious, dynamic in which players base their college decisions on a radically different criteria than professional players, who often opt to play for whichever franchise will pay the most.  Stadium size, uniforms (read our article Fashion Wars on the influences of uniforms and apparel companies in recruiting), program prestige, coach prestige, coach persona, location, media exposure, fan sentiment, playing style, and academics are only a handful of the endless factors that play a role in an athlete’s decision.  The net sum of all these influences becomes the program’s brand, which is then evaluated by millions of high school athletes.  Each athlete is sure to perceive each school uniquely, but the masses will come to a general sentiment on which school is better than the next.  It is absolutely critical for a college football program’s brand to be perceived ahead of its competition by the majority of high school athletesor at the very least, the majority of high school athletes in a desired segment of the high school athlete population.  Jeremy Darlow spoke to us about this dynamic, and shared: “Few brands reach omnipresent levels in which they can be all things to all people, which plays into a team’s favor. If you can identify the brand space that is genuinely unique to your program, you are instantly #1 in the country for that idea.”

Two huge points there.  One, what you or I may perceive as being critical to a program’s brand ain’t the same thing as what a recruit perceives.  And since you or I aren’t the ones suiting up, it perhaps behooves us to keep our mouths shut about things like Oregon’s revolving wardrobe, which appears to resonate with high schoolers.  The second point is that it’s a big deal for schools to find a unique aspect about themselves they in turn can market successfully to these kids.

The authors of the piece surveyed more than 200 recruits to get a picture of D-1 schools’ marketing success.  Here’s what the top 85  results look like:

And here’s how that tracked with this year’s recruiting.

How do these brand rankings get translated to signing day results?  Since the beginning of the recruiting service era (1999-2000), every national champion has had at least one recruiting class on its roster with multiple five star recruits.  On average, there are only 7.7 teams—never less than five or more than nine—each year with multiple five star players.  Only Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia, USC, Alabama, and Texas landed multiple five stars in this year’s 2018 class. The first five schools all reside in the top 5 of the brand rankings while Alabama and Texas still have two of the most notable brands in the country.  Why is this significant?  Because most of our respondents have never been recruited by these top-tier colleges.  Yet, despite all the phone calls, letters, text messages, unofficial visits, or any other obscure recruiting tactics that coaches deploy to attract elite talent, the final recruiting rankings align precisely with the high school demographic’s perceived brand rankings.  The actual act of recruiting, apparently, is one giant charade.  Is it necessary?  Sure.  Will marginally better recruiting execution lead to better results?  No.

This distribution leads us to identify different tiers of brands within the rankings.  Each year, the top 7.7 teams are therefore the teams that recruit at the highest level and give their team a statistical chance to win the national championship over the next four years while that recruiting class is in college.  We will call this ‘Tier One’, which is comprised of the brands that are capable of winning recruiting battles against any other brand in the country since five star recruits, more often than not, have offers from virtually every school.  [Emphasis added.]

You can argue that there’s some overstatement there, as evidenced by some individual jockeying over key recruits, but the post isn’t about micro-level recruiting.  I read all that and thought about the job Kirby’s done selling Georgia as a destination to kids and their parents, enhanced by the team’s recent meteoric rise to the CFP finals, and how that played into the class he just signed.

Read the whole thing and tell me what you think.



Filed under Recruiting

“Georgia is your new recruiting overlord…”

Trust me, you’ll enjoy reading Bill Connelly’s new multi-year recruiting rankings.  Once you get past basking in the glow of Georgia’s numbers, though, I’d like to return to a theme I’ve hit on earlier this week.

Here’s the trend line for the fourteen SEC schools, comparing their five-year rankings against their current two-year rankings, in order of how they stand now:

  • Georgia +3
  • Alabama -3
  • Auburn -2
  • LSU -1
  • Florida -5
  • Texas A&M -1
  • South Carolina +2
  • Tennessee -7
  • Mississippi State +5
  • Ole Miss -10
  • Kentucky +1
  • Missouri +5
  • Vanderbilt +5
  • Arkansas -14

Again, Georgia is getting some separation in the East; the question is how long that trend will last.

The other interesting thing to note is that from a talent standpoint, the bottom of the West is heading towards being as bad as the bottom of the East has been, and rather quickly at that.


Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

You know you’ve had a good signing day when…

Gotta love Jason Butt’s opener to this piece about Georgia’s 2018 class:

Georgia didn’t exactly sign any player in this class who could be classified as a sleeper.

1 Comment

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

This could be the start of something big: 2018 recruiting and the SEC balance of power

I get this, Coach Smart, I really do.

Obviously, I’m excited about the class, and I know all you guys want to talk about the ranking. That really does not float my boat or this staff’s boat. I don’t think that’s what’s important. What’s more important is the quality of kids we were able to get, both academically and athletically.

It’s what I expect a head coach to say after any signing day.  For all I know, you really believe it.

While I would never suggest that recruiting rankings are an absolute science, they are a decent road map to show where the talent in any given season is heading.  And from that standpoint, the ranking matters, particularly in comparison with the rest of the conference.

Here’s the link to the current 247Sports composite team rankings for the SEC.  The gap between #1 Georgia and #3 Auburn is larger than the gap between Auburn and the conference’s eleventh-ranked team, Kentucky.  Beyond that, notice a significant trend to this year’s results.

There are two SEC teams in the first list.  There are five in the second.  And, sure, while a little of the second result can be explained by transitional staffs at Tennessee and Arkansas, the fact remains that those programs have to play football with the rosters they’ve assembled.

The discrepancy is even more apparent when you look at the élite talent assembled in this year’s classes.

SEC’s 5-star signees

  • Alabama — Eyabi Anoma (6-5, 235), DE, Baltimore, Md.
  • Alabama – Patrick Surtain Jr. (6-1.25, 199), CB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Georgia — Justin Fields (6-3, 221), QB, Kennesaw, Ga.
  • Georgia — Zamir White (6-1, 220), RB, Laurinburg, N.C.
  • Georgia — Jamaree Salyer (6-4, 342), G, Atlanta
  • Georgia — Adam Anderson (6-4, 214), OLB, Rome, Ga.
  • Georgia — Cade Mays (6-6, 318), T, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Georgia — Brenton Cox (6-4.5, 247), DE, Stockbridge, Ga.
  • Georgia – Tyson Campbell (6-2.5, 180), CB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • LSU — Terrace Marshall (6-2.5, 192), WR, Bossier City, La.

4-star signees: Auburn 16, Georgia 14, Alabama 11, LSU 11, Florida 10, Texas A&M 10, South Carolina 8, Tennessee 7, Mississippi State 6, Ole Miss 3, Vanderbilt 3, Kentucky 3, Arkansas 2

It’s hard to deny there is a growing talent gap between the very top of the conference and the rest.

Now, one great class does not a behemoth make.  Just ask Dan Mullen.  You can say Georgia isn’t Alabama until it puts together a similar run of dominance at the top of the recruiting rankings, and you’d be right.  (You can also make the point about developing the talent once it arrives on campus, but I’ll give Georgia’s staff the benefit of the doubt on that one after last season.)  But you have to start somewhere to make such a run, and the Dawgs appear to have taken those steps.

The point here is that when Saban started his run, Florida was a dominant, talented program and LSU was hitting its stride, too.  The SEC’s upper echelon, which included Georgia, regularly had multiple teams in the national top ten recruiting classes.  This year, there are only two.  (It should be noted that there are five more in the top twenty.)

My point here isn’t that we’ve just seen game, set, match.  It’s that we need to watch and see if a few years later, this is nothing but an outlier, or the start of a significant shift in the balance of conference power.  In that regard,


Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

Today, in “damn, son, I don’t think I would have said that”

Patrick Surtain Jr.’s decision to sign with Alabama blew a hole in LSU’s recruiting plans, one that it didn’t recover from yesterday, as the Tigers failed to sign a cornerback in its 2018 class.  The social media reaction from LSU fans to the way things went hasn’t been kind, to say the least.  I doubt this is going to make those folks any more understanding.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron says he already has considered ways to adjust his recruiting approach based on the new calendar. He wants to make sure he still has enough scholarships available for the prospects who are waiting until February.

“We will be more selective in the beginning of the recruiting period next year,” Orgeron said. “We will be more selective with our scholarships at that time. We will fill specific needs then.”

This has not been the world’s greatest offseason for Orgeron, who parted ways with a highly paid offensive coordinator after only one year on the job, at the cost of a huge buyout.  Quarterback is a serious question.  LSU went 9-4, 6-2 last season, numbers not much different from what Miles was putting up at the end of his tenure there.  Admitting that you have to up your recruiting game, something that is generally regarded to be his greatest strength, isn’t a great way to reassure the faithful that better times are ahead.


Filed under Coach O Needs Another Red Bull, Recruiting

Relax. Kirby can count.

I saw a few questions yesterday about how Georgia wound up signing more than 25 in the 2018 class.  We don’t know for sure at this moment if there are any academic question marks in the bunch that would affect the final edition, so that may be one possibility.  Another, and more likely, is back-counting.  Seth Emerson explains.

Think of it this way: A program can sign 125 players over a five-year span. That’s a fairly hard number. But within those five years you can play with the numbers, mainly by back-counting early enrollees, so that in some years you can sign more than 25 players. (And as a result in future years, you will have to sign less than 25.)

What is back-counting? That’s the process by which an early enrollee counts toward the previous year, assuming there is room to do so. Justin Fields, for instance, can count toward Georgia’s 2017 class.

There’s some danger that my numbers are off here – journalism majors are not known for math – but follow me here: Georgia signed 21 players in 2016, which would leave four spots open, but six enrolled early. That potentially could leave room for 10 to back-count to 2016. Georgia then signed 26 last year, six of whom enrolled early. So if you back-counted those six, that left room to sign up to 31 players this year … at least under my interpretation of the rules.

One change: The NCAA tweaked the signing rules last year to limit programs to only five back-counters. But even assuming that, UGA still had room to go up to 30 this year, again, by my interpretation of the rules.

Bottom line:  don’t sweat the 25-man limit.

The bigger issue is the overall 85-scholarship player ceiling, and there, Georgia is over.  For now.

Here’s what I do know: A program can only have 85 players on scholarship at one time. That’s a hard number. And Georgia has been near the limit and will be again in 2018.

My numbers, after the early departures of Roquan Smith and Trenton Thompson, the transfer of Jacob Eason, and the medical disqualification for Rashad Roundtree, had Georgia at 63 scholarships. (Here’s my most recent look at Georgia’s scholarship numbers, back in December.)

So if Georgia signs 26 players, then that puts it four over the limit. But with plenty of time to reach 85. Georgia was just over the limit last spring too.

Can you say roster management?  I thought you could.  This is one area I can definitely say Kirby Smart is on the mother.  Georgia will be fine when crunch time arrives.


Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

The weirdest signing day take

… goes to ESPN, who came up with this gem:

The classes are full, and the grades are out. Alabama, Ohio State and Texas impressed and earned the only three A-plus marks.


And, yes, just to make sure, I checked and Georgia finished first in ESPN’s class rankings.

I guess Mickey grades on the curve.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Recruiting