I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Note: I edited this since my original post to better utilize the ESPN data. Apologies if this makes some of the comments confusing.
Never having contributed anything of value to this site, I thought I’d take a shot at combining the Scout, Rivals, 247, and ESPN player rankings into one. The goal is to come up with a straightforward way to compare elite recruits’ status with the ranking services (i.e. without forcing people to juggle rankings and star ratings from four different sites in their heads).
Aggregating across the sites is not easy, partly because of data availability and especially because of the different methods used by different sites. There are countless ways to do this, with most requiring some kind of data imputation. Since no data imputation strategy would be liked by all, I’m proposing a different method that requires no imputation. Let’s call it the Veto-Based Aggregate Recruiting (V-BAR?) Rankings. (Crappy name & acronym? Check.)
The basic idea is that we restrict the rankings to players who appear in every site’s top X list (i.e. no one was unimpressed with the recruit) and then order them based on their average rankings across the sites. It’s “veto-based” because any site can prevent a player from appearing on the aggregated list.
I see two primary objections to this:
(1) It eliminates highly regarded prospects when only one outlier site is unsold on them.
(2) It gives excessive veto power to ESPN (and eliminates a lot of players) just because the ESPN 150 only ranks 150 prospects while the other services rank 247-300.
First, for (1). This is just the design of this ranking. Basically, to get on this list, there is consensus that you’re outstanding, and the average rankings tease apart just how highly you’re regarded. Interestingly, for each recruiting service, one guy stands out, rankings-wise, as a glaring omission. For Rivals, it’s Sheldon Day (#65 to Scout, #80 to 247, #144 to ESPN). For Scout, it’s Amos Leggett (#104 to Rivals, #75 to 247, #95 to ESPN). For 247, it’s Avery Young (#38 to Rivals, #13 to Scout, #119 to ESPN). For ESPN, it’s Zeke Pike (#72 to Rivals, #33 to Scout, #18 to 247). In general, though, there aren't too many really serious outliers.
Now for (2). Giving ESPN excessive veto power seems problematic, especially since ESPN’s rankings are often questioned for their quality and objectivity. Therefore, in addition to using the ESPN 150, I grabbed the next 150 players from ESPN’s recruiting rankings (link: http://espn.go.com/college-football/recruiting/prospects). So we have rankings for 300 players from ESPN.
By my count, 147 players appear in Rivals’ top 250, Scout’s top 300, 247’s top 247, and ESPN’s top 300. Here they are in order of average ranking across these four sites:
VETO-BASED AGGREGATE RECRUITING RANKINGS (as of 6/19/11)
(incorporates Rivals, Scout, 247, and ESPN)
|3||Mario Edwards||6.25||DE||Florida State|
|28||Dante Fowler||41.75||DE||Florida State|
|39||Jarron Jones||49.75||DT||Penn State|
|40||Trey Williams||50.5||RB||Texas A&M|
|44||Ronald Darby||57.5||CB||Notre Dame|
|45||Kyle Kalis||57.75||OT||Ohio State|
|49||Chris Casher||61.5||DE||Florida State|
|60||Tee Shepard||83.5||CB||Notre Dame|
|67||Brock Stadnik||91.25||OT||South Carolina|
|72||Mario Pender||98||RB||Florida State|
|80||Se'von Pittman||109.25||DE||Michigan State|
|86||Kendall Sanders||115||CB||Oklahoma State|
|90||Michael Starts||116.5||OG||Texas Tech|
|93||Angelo Jean-Louis||119||WR||Miami (FL)|
|102||Matt Davis||131.25||QB||Texas A&M|
|103||Brionte Dunn||131.75||RB||Ohio State|
|105||P.J. Williams||134.5||S||Florida State|
|109||Bralon Addison||137||WR||Texas A&M|
|132||J.J. Denman||173.5||OT||Penn State|
|134||John Michael McGee||173.75||C|
|138||Camren Williams||185.25||OLB||Penn State|
|143||Joshua Perry||194.75||OLB||Ohio State|
|145||Dalvon Stuckey||207.25||DT||Florida State|
Arizona offensive lineman Andrus Peat (6'7", 305 lbs) is one of the top prospects in the nation, a five star to most sites. Peat decided to take a trip up to Ann Arbor this weekend and I caught up with him to see how the visit went. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say.
TOM: What was the reason that you decided to visit Michigan?
ANDRUS: Right now I'm just trying to get out to all the schools that I'm seriously interested in. I've been to Florida State, USC, and Stanford. I just wanted to get out to Michigan because they have a great tradition for winning and getting linemen to the NFL. I'm also going to Notre Dame tomorrow and then going back home.
TOM: Once these visits are done are you going to try to narrow things down based off of what you saw?
ANDRUS: Yeah, I'm going to cut my list to probably around 5 to 8 after I get out to these schools. By the end of the summer I'll make that cut.
TOM: To get to this visit to Ann Arbor specifically, what did you do once you first got there?
ANDRUS: When I got there I got to meet with the coaches, we toured the campus, and then saw the facilities. It was good to see everything, I was really impressed by the campus and the college atmosphere. It was a lot better than I expected.
TOM: I'm assuming you got to meet with Coach Funk, what did you talk about with him?
ANDRUS: He was saying that there's a great opportunity for linemen because they only have like 8 on scholarship, I think. It's a great opportunity to play early and they said they really like me. I definitely want to give them a good look.
TOM: Do you think this visit helped you get more comfortable with the coaches? Since you live in Arizona did this help make a better connection with the coaches?
ANDRUS: I think it helped me a lot to get to know the coaches better. Coach Funk was at my school a couple times so I'm familiar with him. It was good for me to get on campus though and see everything.
TOM: You said you have been out to places like Florida State and USC, how did this visit compare to those?
ANDRUS: It's definitely way up there. It was the biggest stadium I've ever seen, and I had a really good feeling about it. The whole atmosphere, the college town which I like, and the area was good. Talking to all the coaches and seeing the opportunity to play there, it was really good.
TOM: I know Michigan fans are curious, now that Nebraska is in the Big Ten, your brother Todd signed with the Cornhusker in last year's class. Is that going affect on you at all?
ANDRUS: I'm going to give them a look, but just because he's there doesn't mean that's where I'll go. I want to find the right opportunity for me and take a look at all these schools.
TOM: Do you think this visit helped Michigan at all, and when do you plan on making your final decision?
ANDRUS: For sure, I was really impressed with everything. I could definitely see myself playing there. I don't know when I'll make my decision, just whenever I feel right. I will probably take official visits and then decide after my senior season.
Rivals has updated most of their 3-stars, so that update is reflected in these rankings. Action since last rankings:
6-8-11 Indiana gains commitment(!) from Alex Todd.
6-12-11 Ohio State gains commitment from Najee Murray.
6-13-11 Wisconsin gains commitment from Kyle Dodson.
6-14-11 Northwestern gains commitments from Connor Mahoney and Mike McHugh. Illinois gains commitment from Cody Quinn.
6-15-11 Illinois gains commitment from Tajarvis Fuller.
6-16-11 Indiana gains commitment from Nick Mangieri.
6-17-11 Minnesota gains commitment from Scott Ekpe.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg|
ESPN's initial rankings are finally out, so their numbers in the table above have switched to star averages, rather than 150 Watchlist prospects.
Full data after the jump.
|#1 Michigan - 16 Commits|
Mario Ojemudia, despite being one of only two future Wolverines already committed to the US Army All-American Bowl, is the lowest-rated recruit to Rivals. They're tweener-haters.
|#2 Ohio State - 9 Commits|
Buckeyes add low-rated DB Najee Murray to the class.
|#3 Penn State - 8 Commits|
No change for Penn State.
|#4 Notre Dame - 10 Commits|
Irish holding steady. Their averages may be slightly dinged by the fact that they have a long-snapper committed.
|#5 Wisconsin - 5 Commits|
Big pull for the Badgers, as Kyle Dodson got his long-awaited Ohio State offer - and picked Wisconsin instead.
The Wildcats pick up a couple low-rated guys, but their comparable averages and greater volume in comparison to Minnesota move them past the Gophers.
|#7 Minnesota - 7 Commits|
Minnesota picks up another sleeper prospect. I get the vibe that they'll shoot down the rankings once other teams start getting caught up in volume.
|#8 Michigan State - 5 Commits|
No change for Michigan State. If they start getting camp commits, they're very upwardly mobile. They're just about even with Minnesota as-is.
Illinois picks up a couple of commits, and they move past Nebraska on volume alone.
|#10 Nebraska - 2 Commits|
No change for the Huskers.
|#11 Indiana - 2 Commits|
Not only do the Hoosier have commits(!), they're good enough prospects to move IU out of last place in the conference, as well.
|#12 Purdue - 1 Commit|
No change for the Boilers.
|#13 Iowa - 1 Commit|
No change for Iowa. Now at the rear of the pack, thanks to Indiana's newfound competence.
Georgia wide receiver Jason Croom (6'5", 215 lbs) is fresh off of receiving a Michigan offer just yesterday. The Wolverine staff had great timing because Croom's mom just happened to be in the state of Michigan. She got a chance to check out campus and meet the coaching staff today. Jason wasn't with her, but here's what she had to say.
TOM: You told me that you were visiting with the coaches, was that over the phone or did you go check everything out in person?
MRS. CROOM: I went over to campus and met everyone. We are originally from Detroit, and our older daughter got married up here yesterday so we are here. We just happened to be here when they made the offer. Jason didn't come because he was doing a 7 on 7 tournament. Since we were already up here we decided to check it out. I was able to talk to some of the coaches, we didn't get to meet Brady [Hoke] because he was in a meeting.
TOM: Do you think Jason will make it back up to see everything you just did?
MRS. CROOM: Yes, we will be back up in August for unofficial visit with Jason. We'll be up the last week of July to the first week in August to see Michigan and Michigan State with Jason. He won't be taking official visits probably until December.
TOM: Since you're originally from Detroit does that mean you all are Michigan fans?
MRS. CROOM: Yes, we are Michigan fans. We've only been away from Michigan for six years. Jason isn't as familiar with the program as we are though.
TOM: I know Jason said that he had a top three of Tennessee, Miami, and Mississippi State recently. Is that final, or where is he at?
MRS. CROOM: Those are just the three schools that he hears the most from. Those coaches have taken the time to get to know us as a family, that's all.
TOM: I know this is all early and happening fast, but does Michigan have a chance to get in that group?
MRS. CROOM: From a parent stand point this is home, from an academic stand point it's great, and distance wouldn't matter because he would be surrounded by family. It's convenient. One of the [Michigan] coaches actually grew up in the same neighborhood as me and we didn't know it. We had a good conversation, we knew a lot of the same people. The other coaches are all new to campus so they don't really know us yet.
TOM: It's tough to really gain a comfort level with someone in such short time, but what are you and Jason really looking for out of a program or coach?
MRS. CROOM: With him it's going to be a coach that he can truly relate to. It's someone that is going to deal with him being a direct person, somebody that's open, and can create plays around him. It's going to have to be a coach that's very creative. Most schools, including Michigan, are recruiting him as a Z receiver.
TOM: What other visits have you taken so far?
MRS. CROOM: We are actually on tour this week. Last weekend we visited Mississippi State and Alabama. My husband took him to Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, FSU, Florida, and we just got back from Miami and Tennessee. This won't be a snap decision. We have a lot of SEC schools, but things are starting to branch out so we'll look at everything. We have a spread sheet with pro's and con's of each school. We'll begin to narrow things down and go from there. It's definitely an honor to get a scholarship offer from a high institution like Michigan.
Tennessee offensive lineman Blake Bars [6'5", 275 lbs, 4 Star] is on his way up to Ann Arbor for his visit that will take place tomorrow [Saturday the 18th]. Bars' name hasn't been thrown around as much as some of the other prospects Michigan is after, but that doesn't mean he's wanted any less. Blake told me about his recruitment and what lead to a slow start in his process. Here's a look at his film then the answers.
TOM: The fans aren't as familiar with you as they are for some of the other prospects. It seems like your name has shot to the top very quickly though, is there any reason for that?
BLAKE: Yeah, we didn't get any of our game film until late in February. Our coach just didn't give them to us until after the season in fear that we would focus too much on recruiting and not the program. We got it in late February and put together a highlight film, sent them out the schools and got really positive feedback. That's why it took so long.
TOM: That makes sense. Since you got somewhat of a late start, at least compared to the rest of the crop, where are you at in the process? Do you have a top group yet?
BLAKE: My top schools are probably Penn State, Florida, Vanderbilt, LSU, and Michigan. There are some other schools I would maybe want to consider, but that's my top group right now. We're focusing on visiting the top schools right now, and we really wanted to visit Michigan. We're headed down there right now.
TOM: Ok, and to talk more specifically about Michigan how familiar are you with the program?
BLAKE: We lived in Trenton [Michigan] for around 12 years. I went to a Lloyd Carr camp in Wyandotte once, but I can't really tell you much more than that, I was pretty young. We did go up to Michigan last year and took a brief visit. We have relatives in Ann Arbor and we wanted to look around the stadium. We're excited to go back up and meet the coaches and go on a tour.
TOM: Does Michigan have any advantage with all this since you have family there and you've lived there before?
BLAKE: I think my Aunt who lives in Ann Arbor is a pretty good recruiter. She always says that if I come to Michigan she'll have special things for me. She'll bake me cookies and cook for me. I like the fact that my family is there, and my mom's uncle actually played for Michigan, but I'm not sure how much it will factor in.
TOM: What coach from Michigan are you mainly in contact with?
BLAKE: Coach Smith is recruiting our area. He came out to watch me practice and he said he was pretty impressed. The offer came after that. He's a great guy and I'm excited to meet him. When I talked to him on the phone we got to talk to Coach Hoke which was pretty cool.
TOM: With this visit what are you looking to get out of it? Are there any specific questions you want answered?
BLAKE: Right now I'm just keeping an open mind about each school. When we see it tomorrow I don't know that I have a specific questions other than just hearing what the coaches have to say. I want to find out about the academic side of everything. I think I'm looking for a school that's well balanced, good academics and good athletics as well.
TOM: You said you want to visit your top schools, so how do you think this whole process is going to play out for you?
BLAKE: I think I'm looking to get everything done sooner than later. I want to make a decision before our season starts. We have a really good team this year and we have a good shot at states. Getting that decision out of the way will help that. We have the top five right now and we'll try to get it down from there.
So the coaching change.
This off-season has had two main points of contention.
- Whether or not Denard can still Denard people under center and in the pocket
- Whether Mattison will turn our ramshackle defense of 2010 into a warrior manbear.
I tend to focus on the defense [insert joke of how watching tape time and again of last year's defense is akin to watching a sport about kicking puppies] and in that regard I feel that it was folly to look at our defense last year as a whole, mostly because we were so small. So I look at tackling technique.
That is an incredibly depressing starting point. Can it improve? Has it already? Let's head down to the spring game from this year, with the same equations as before:
Tackling Efficiency = (Made tackles – Missed Tackles) / (Bad Form Tackles + 1)
- Bad form tackles account for terrible form (bad angles, too high, getting shook etc)
Tackling % = Made tackles / Made + Missed
And Hope. We tackled. Well at times even. Against a prolific offense (I will assume a 75% production level from last year which still makes it a prolific offense).
Now to the comparison. Included are season averages for any returning players I had reliable numbers on.
Spring Game in Blue and 2010 Season in Red
- This is one small data set to derive from. Our offense was still learning the system and we probably had not instituted a lot of coverage packages or blitz packages
- That being said, you can easily see improvement in technique and ability. We came in in good form, and more often than not made the tackle.
- If Jake Ryan can produce at that level against our 1s, he should start over Cam Gordon. That kid was absolutely everywhere. My best takeaway message from this was that sending him off the edge on a blitz was a matchup problem if he was being blocked by a [Ed-M: 3rd string] TE or even a T. He was good in coverage, and filled holes on the run. I cannot stress enough how impressed I was by his play.
- I don’t think Kovacs had a very good day. I can’t say at this point that I would rather have Marvin Robinson start, but based on the fact that he provided minimal run support here and little coverage support last year, I think his athleticism, or lack thereof, might be a net negative if he's in a starting role. However tackling hasn't been a problem for him before, so a platoon role with Robinson inside the M 30 might make use of his strengths without exposing his weaknesses so much, provided that...
- Marvin Robinson is a good football player. He might have made a bad read on that long TD, but he was there in coverage and made some nice plays on run support. I would like to see him spell Kovacs in lesser games to build confidence and play reading ability.
- I am REALLY excited about Richard Ash. Had good hands and solid footwork coming off the edge and held up against single teams.
- Marell Evans is a solid option. I'm interested to see how the fall competition between him and Demens plays out. I also don’t know who our starting LBs will be, as Ryan, Jones, Gordon, Demens, and Evans all have upside... finally some depth.
- Will Campbell was Will Campbell. Made some good plays, and just didn’t get moved some plays. I feel like he still loses aggression every so often, but if he finds out how to turn it on every play he can be a manbeast.
- Carvin Johnson is [metaphorically a male horse used for breeding]. Enough said.
- I did not notice Mike Martin too often, which is good and bad. Jibreel Black might be the player I'm most excited to watch develop this year. He is going to be a MONSTER.
- Finally, Courtney Avery will be a starter come September. Good coverage, good run support. Also, I liked Greg Brown.