FWIW. Michigan doesn't seem inclined to get re-involved.
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|
Looking at the ESPN class rankings, I am trying to figure out what asinine methodology they must use to come up with their results. Michigan is currently #19, with 1 five star, 6 four stars, 18 three stars, and 2 two stars. South Carolina, ranked one spot ahead, has 5 four stars, 11 three stars, a couple JC transfers, and a bunch of two stars and unrated players*. Similar comparisons exist in Michigan's favor for #15 Stanford, #16 Texas A&M, and #17 Clemson (Michigan also seems to be about equal in quality to #13 Miami and #14 Ohio State, but the numbers are less clear there).
Anyway, I just can't make heads nor tails of it. The only thing that could possibly make sense to me is if ESPN evaluates classes by the average player ranking, in which case signing a greater quantity of 3-stars might have hurt Michigan.
*This includes players who didn't qualify in 2009 and are making another go at it. ESPN did not count them on their class rankings page.
UPDATE: Well, about 5 seconds after posting this, ESPN updated their rankings. Michigan is now #14, and beat now-#16 OSU.
Ok, out on a limb here, but a quick eyeball perusal of the various metrics used in recruiting rankings seemed to reveal that the best predictor of success at the college level was position ranking. I was curious if anyone has done a more serious analysis to see if that correlation holds up.
The database I looked at was narrow (M recruits, 2002-2007, Rivals position rank data), but I was taken immediately that, overall, recruits ranked in the top 10-15 at their positions became strong contributors in their college careers at a high percentage, that there was an inflection point below 15, and another for everyone except O-line at about 30 -- ranked nationally below 30 for anything but O-line said that a player wasn't going to be a contributor, but more like a depth guy.
The O-line thing makes sense because there are more of them on the field, and they are probably more interchangeable than any other position.
The other thing that stood out to me was the number of top 10-15 position rank players committed so far this year to Michigan. With (likely) a couple more Top-Tenners to come, this class would be superior to any in the 2002-2008 period.
UFR, the correlation makes sense to me, since the forced rankings are the product of multiple observers of multiple players' relative impact on the games they play. More than the numerical ratings, which can be influenced more subjectively, the forced ranking at least differentiates the dominant from the good from the meh.
This also seems to support a correlation I've used since coaching kids in soccer, baseball and football starting in the mid-80's -- your success on the field is determined by your top 2-3 on the field and your bottom 2-3 on the field. If that set of 4-6 is better than your opponents', you rock. If not, you get rocked. The middle 3-5 in baseball, 5-7 in soccer and 16-18 in football are going to be a push. That may seem obvious, but it really shows how much happens at the margins, and how much match-ups matter. My monster on your meh: my advantage.
Michigan seems to be setting itself up these last couple of classes for some pretty good match-up situations. I'm especially intrigued by the slot-dots and hybrid safety-LBs.
A further musing is on how the spread is a great equalizer for quarterbacks -- it seems to take merely adequate to be good, and the good can become great due to the reduced demands on pre-snap read and ability to deliver spot-on throws over miles of field with correct trajectory, speed and timing. Data: HS position rankings for a selection of this year's QB performers -- McCoy (15), Bradford (12), Daniel (6), Herrell (7) -- oh yeah, and some guy named Tebow (1) to provide an outlier.
Anyway, Sunday morning coffee musings, FWIW. I'd really be interested if anyone has done any broader stats work on position rank as predictor.