alternate headline: man does job
recruiting is legit yo
Like my friend Captain Foresight said, you should have taken at least a QB in 2012.
It's been four classes since I played the Captain Hindsight game, where we go over a list of Michigan recruits going back as far as I can find crutin information (Lemming and Parade All-Americans and Sandeep's old page), and then pulling from stats and starts and awards and draft position and memory to give each guy a "results" star rating.
But this time instead of just 1-5 stars, I quartered that to fit the same ranking system I came up with last week as a composite rating. That is…
Seth's Rating System:
|Rating||Meaning as recruit||Meaning as player|
|Consensus top 25||Star by end 1st year, generational talent|
|4.75||Top 50ish. 5-star to 3/4 sites||Star by year two, 1st rounder or denard|
|4.50||Top 75ish. 5-star to 2/4 sites||Star by year three or long-term very good|
|4.25||Top 150ish. 5-star to 1 site.||Really good, UFR heroes, senior stars|
|Top 250, nationally ranked.||Very good, all-B1G, draftable|
|3.75||4-star not always ranked||Good, all-B1G upperclassman|
|3.5||High 3-star, some 4th stars||Mostly good, sometimes frustrating|
|3.25||Better than average 3-star||Better than okay, but frustrating|
|Consensus 3-star||Usable as upperclassman starter.|
|2.75||Low 3-stars||Serviceable backup, iffy starter|
|2.5||2-/3-star tweener.||Backup, can play a few series w/o disaster|
|2.25||High 2-star (by pos rank)||Depth, can steal a few snaps w/ him|
|1.75||Below 2-star||Can't play on this level.|
And here's the results of my re-ranking survey. Please (and I'm serious about this) lodge all questions and complaints about rankings in the comments. I plan to take them all into account and adjust. Or if you want to download it and make your own rankings I'd be happy to take that. This is a feels thing so the more input the better our information. That said, unless you think I'm way off with the bulk of guys, please preserve my fragile ego, since I'm putting the sum total of my Michigan fan knowledge into those numbers and would like to continue thinking all that attention over the years hasn't been for naught.
Notes on these: Since this is just judging talent scouting, anyone I could possibly rank (including the transfers) I did so. Those not ranked were injured before we got a chance to see them on the field or compare them with players ahead of them on the depth chart.
Also to handicap things for scouts this is not about who ended up being the best PLAYER but accurately representing a guy's talent and ability to convert it to footballing. This is NOT to say every 5.0 was better than every 4.25, because some truly great players who went on to long NFL careers weren't able to help out until they were upperclassmen. I did it that way because I know the ranking systems themselves judge a player by how college-ready he is, necessarily underrating ceiling. There's no skill that would let you see a 220-pound tight end and predict he'll be the NFL Draft's first OT taken in five years. Long careers therefore can catch up to loftier ones, and the top overall groups are guys who had both.
I'll repeat that just so we can shame the guys who didn't read it in the comments: it's not about who's BEST but how accurately he was scouted.
[After the jump: we compare services, and find fun things like best class ever, most underrated guys, etc.]
Taco-ranked starters are far more likely than Glasgows [Fuller]
Every year, as college football recruiting becomes the only football thing left to pay attention to until spring, we are suddenly struck by an army of pundits so arrogantly attached to their "recruiting stars don't matter" narratives that they don't bother to care that math is against them.
Michigan typically gets taken to the woodshed in these articles for recurrently not matching recruiting expectations with on-field results. This discrepancy does exist beyond the normal J.T. Turners that everybody gets, and for various interrelated reasons: attrition spikes, spottily shoddy coaching, program instability, recruiting shortfalls. Anecdotally, there are examples I can point to, especially in the early aughts, when an otherwise two-star athlete was bumped to a three-star because Michigan offered. That explains less about how Wisconsin and Michigan State thrive on 2- and 3-stars, and more about how Michigan has recruited very few guys under a consensus 3-star.
However every time we find a new way to compare recruiting data to performance data, we consistently discover that recruiting stars handed out by the services correlate to better players. No, a 5-star isn't an instant superstar, but the 25-30 five-stars each season are consistently found to be about twice as likely to meet some performance metric (NFL draft, All-conference, team success, etc.) as the pool of 200-odd four-stars, who are consistently more likely to meet performance thresholds of the 400-odd three-stars, etc.
Today I present a new metric for proving it: starts.
|Example of raw data, via UM Bentley Library.|
ALL the Starts
My project over Christmas was to take the data from Bentley's team pages (example at right), scrub the hell out of it, and produce a database of who started what years, at what positions, at what age, with what recruiting hype, etc.
A few weeks back I released the initial results of my starts data. We noticed there were a lot of problems in that. I went back and did a lot of fixing, mostly just finding more weird errors in the Bentley pages I'd culled the data from, sometimes emailing the guys themselves to ask things like "Was there a game in 2001 that either you or B.J. didn't start?"
I think I've got it cleaned up now; at least the total number of starts for each season matches 22 players per game.
Recruiting By Starts
Starting in 1996 we start getting relatively uniform star rankings for recruits, though I had to translate Lemming rankings and such into stars (he had position rankings and national lists that line up with what we call recruits today). So I took the average of available star ratings of all players to appear on Michigan's Bentley rosters from the Class of 1996 through the Class of 2010, and put 'em against the number of starts generated. Guess what: recruiting actually matters.
|2- or 2.5-stars||29||271||9.3|
Even with Michigan's notorious luck, the 5-stars were expected to give you about two seasons of starts, compared to the 8 or 9 games you'll get out of a 2- or 3-star. That is significant, and offers a bit more evidence toward the general statement about recruiting stars: the higher the star rating, the more likely he is to be a good college football player, though at best you're at 50-50.
As for walk-ons, I've linked to the list of the 217 guys in that time period who made the Bentley rosters and weren't special teamers, in case you doubt me. The Order of St. Kovacs have accomplished great things for Michigan, but turning up one of those guys anywhere other than fullback has been rare indeed.
I'm going to try to use the starts data above to get predictive. The scatter plot of the 1996-2010 group was pretty linear so I'm just going to plug in a linear equation:
Expected Starts on Avg M Team = Stars x 5.30 - 6.35
And that gives us a reasonable expectation of Michigan starts to expect from a class based on their rankings:
click big makes
For the Class of 2011-2014 projections, I just guessed by hand, so those projections are going to be increasingly inaccurate once I'm predicting 2017 starters and whatnot.
The chart above has two stories to tell: 1) The strength of a recruiting class is strongly correlated to the value that class will produce in starters, and 2) the damage done by attrition to the 2005 and 2010 classes created ripple effects for several classes afterwards.
An Average Michigan Team:
By some quick averages I was able to get an average makeup of a starting 22. I took the average number of starts by experience (i.e. year in the program) for the classes of 1995-2010, adjusted those numbers for a 13-game schedule, then divided by 13 games to get an idea of what the starters ought to be against years of interest.
|Senior / RS Jr||7||5||4||8||8||6||8||9|
|Junior / RS So||6||10||5||4||7||7||5||6|
|Soph / RS Fr||3||3||6||2||1||2||3||4|
|AVG starter age||3.55||3.27||3.18||3.82||3.50||3.27||3.77||3.50|
By this the last two teams look extraordinarily young—about as young as the 2008 team or younger. The 2012 team by contrast seems like a wasted opportunity. FWIW I counted Devin, not Denard, as the quarterback, or it would have been even older. That fits the narrative: 2012 was a wasted opportunity, as a line with three 5th year seniors (two of whom were long-term productive starters) plus Lewan and Schofield was coached into one of the worst offensive lines in memory.
Meta: Hokepoints is now alternating bi-weekly features. Jimmystats is the one where we play with Excel, H4 is the one where we play with Playmaker or get misty-eyed. Thank you readers who submitted name ideas.
Not all upperclassmen are good, but having upperclassmen is good. [Fuller]
I keep a few different databases on Michigan players for various uses, and Bosch's transfer initiated a two-day time sink into updating the big roster one. It now includes number of starts each guy since the 1993 class had in his career, along with the recruiting profile and career summary. Have at it, diarists:
Some stuff I generated with it:
The Holy Balls 2010 attrition chart:
Bigging it makes it clicker.
The retention rate isn't the number of players who stuck, it's the number of total eligible seasons the class would have produced if every freshman played four (and every junior transfer played two, etc.). If somebody ever says there was nothing good about the Hoke era, point at the 2012-2014 classes. I do expect the transition costs and other levies of time will reduce those triple towers eventually, but that is a very good start, especially the 2012 group who came in after 11-2 and got not that since.
The flipside of course is that 2010 class, which spent exactly half of its eligibility not on Michigan's roster. And that was followed by the 2011 "process" class, which more on that in a minute. I also tracked the reasons for losses:
[Jump for that a bunch more charts and tables you can use to wow your friends, like the average number of starts for a 5-star recruit]
There won't be another one after. Not for Gardner. Not for Jake. Not for Hoke, for whom the accumulated effects of progressively worse seasons will mean the end. Not for a Michigan team that has less talent than their star ratings gave them, but far more than their record demonstrates.
As we come to the end—there will be no bowl game barring a miracle—for the Brady Hoke era, the tragedy is all of that wasted talent. That precious snaps with Denard Robinson and Vince Smith and David Molk and Patrick Omameh were wasted on Power because dogma. That Devin Gardner was never given the coaching or the system or the stability or the offensive line to be more than a freshman who runs around a lot. That Jake Ryan, who would have been Lawrence Taylor if he lived 30 years ago, spent his senior season having to learn a very hard thing he wasn't made to do. That Blake Countess is a coverage nickel because the cornerbacks play man all day. That Devin Funchess was a tight end, and then a bubble screen slot bug, until it was too late to care. That Dennis Norfleet was dancing around on the sidelines while A.J. Williams whiffed on blocks of defenders who wouldn't have been in the box otherwise. That senior seasons of Mone, Wile, Dymonte , Hurst, Gedeon, Houma, Delano, RJS, Ojemudia, Pipkins, Drake Johnson, Raymon, Da'Mario, Jarrod, Norfleet, Jourdan, Brandon Watson, Taco, Bolden, and Shane effing Morris were traded for a bare handful of freshman snaps that other guys might have taken.
That four years of Michigan football were wasted on Brady Hoke, and that here, at the end of all things, we're still not even sure those in charge will consider something besides unwavering faith in the gospel of "Michigan" in the next J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach.
The next guy. These are now a week out of date but Eye of the Tiger put together a couple of roundups of the coaching candidates in our crosshairs. Factors are: Potential upside, Potential downside, Transition costs, Overall desirability, and Chances of him coming. Both start with Harbaughs; the first has Jim, Les, Mullen, Graham, and, uh, Belichick? Second has John, Patterson, McElwain, Herman, and…okay so the fifth guy is always some joke.
Alum96 added a defense of Les Miles to answer some guy made of straw who goes around saying LSU has regressed lately. Straw men are stupid. The main arguments against Les are that he's too old, and his coaching style is a better fit for LSU, which is near the extreme of anything-goes for college football, versus Michigan, where the local press turns you in for accidentally practicing an extra 20 minutes.
[Jump for seniors departing, a new basketball stat, and college football parity]
Practice video. From Maize and Blue News:
Jane previews Michigan! Oh man this is just so dead on:
We long for a past that we hated while it was happening, in which Michigan would go 9-3 or 10-2 and people would complain like Michigan was a waiter who we couldn't find when we just wanted the goddamn check. If a Michigan fan tells you that they liked Tom Brady when he was playing at Michigan, they are lying because no Michigan fan ever liked whomever was starting at quarterback until Denard Robinson. We hated Elvis Grbac. We hated Brian Griese. We hated John Navarre. We hated Drew Henson. We hated - HATED - sad robot Chad Henne*.
I tended to like Michigan's quarterbacks who were not underclassman Drew Henson, and I knew the one guy who really really liked John Navarre. Like, he was super-enthused about John Navarre. And eventually correct!
More insider business. A gentleman who is probably too identifiable for his own good comes back with a very legit-seeming practice report that he's posted on a couple of different boards. The 247 version, all errors sic:
DL looked great, really great. all the hype is backed up. Pipkins looks the part, even coming off the injury. on friday he was easily the most impressive NT that they had, that by no means is discounting mone, hurst, or henry. Their depth and talent at the position although young, is very, very good. Even pallante looked good!! yes, he is small, but ive spoken to a few players who say he is as strong as a senior and one of the quickest most technically sound players there.
I imagine that if that's true we'll see at least one of those four guys (Pipkins, Mone, Hurst, Henry) at three-tech, which currently has Wormley and no one else who's gotten much hype.
That's not good. Nebraska lost three defenders for the season a couple days back, including two starters: Michael Rose and LeRoy Alexander. That'll help when Michigan… uh… we don't play them this year, or until all those guys graduate. CARRY ON.
That's not… uh… relevant. Reporting from media day!
“The job that he does and the job that he’s done since the day he got here, has been unbelievable,” Mattison said with a sweaty upper lip. “Me personally, there is no way I would have come here if it wasn’t for Brady Hoke.”
That typed itself, I bet. I bet Brendan F Quinn was mesmerized by the lip and when it came time to write the article that phrase slipped itself in there and if you ask Brendan F Quinn about that passage he will be shocked that it exists. You see, I've been there, down on ol' Lip Mesmerization Farm. It's a strange, sweaty place, but you get used to it.
No age gap now. Another article on how the offensive line is going to be better because they all like each other:
"There was an age gap last year, and it was just there," Bosch said. "It was just something that was obviously noticeable. You could tell 'these were the seniors, you were a freshmen.' That's how it was."
No chance of that this year, because there are no seniors. For the record I think the line will be better this year because they will be trying to do one thing instead of all things and not necessarily because they are more together. Or that they are Galvanized By Criticism:
Those stats and the barrage of negative press regarding Michigan’s offensive line have helped galvanize the linemen. Jack Miller, a redshirt junior who started the first four games at center last season, said they are more than aware of the doubters.
No doubt they will Shock The World and Not Listen To The Haters. I mean, Miller's following quote is twisted pretty hard to get into that narrative:
“Between last year and this offseason, you’d be hard-pressed to miss that if you pay attention to anything,” Miller said. “You run into fans who say stuff — ‘What’s going on with that offensive line?’ But that’s the way it goes with any program of this caliber. We know that. We know that’s part of the gig here, and that’s OK. Some of it is rightly so. We need to live up the expectations that people have here.”
A good rule of thumb: when someone cites chemistry as a reason for something it's because they don't know. Chalking it up to the undefinable cannot be disproved or really even argued.
Getting on the the WJC team. College Hockey News profiles Downing and Motte as they try to avoid being late cuts this time around. USA coach mark Osiecki on Downing:
“We’re still trying to identify what (Downing’s) strengths and weaknesses will be,” Osiecki said. “He has a bomb from the blue line, that’s for sure, there’s no doubt about that. His awareness from the red line back has continued to show improvement. It’s hard for a defenseman to jump into summer hockey. You haven’t done much defending at all, and he likes to get into the offense when he can, but he’s getting back to it on the defensive side of things.”
Downing says he's put on 25 pounds; hopefully he'll be more of a physical presence than he was last year, when he was more lanky than intimidating. Motte dumped in a hat trick in the USA's 9-1 thumping of Finland, playing with uber-prospect Jack Eichel.
For his part, JT Compher is not so much fighting to make the team as fighting to be named king:
While a few players have stepped up, it's obvious Compher has emerged as the frontrunner to be captain of the team.
"He's done a really nice job," Osiecki said. "There's a group of those kids that are similar, but you talk to any of the support staff, the trainers, the equipment personnel, and they say he's very vocal and takes charge of the group. We have to start that now and develop that relationship between him and the coaching staff."
I am looking forward to the Copp/Compher axis truly owning the team this year. Jack Eichel:
"He does everything on the ice so well," Eichel, a teammate on the USNTDP U-18 team in 2012-13. "He's a guy that you can just try to model your game after. He just so good wherever he is, in the faceoff circle, in the [defensive] zone, he's great killing penalties, great on the power play. He's a role model to me and I really look up to him. He's a great kid and a great leader. He works so hard everywhere. Everyone else tries to match him. A guy like that on your team, it's really good. Everyone tries to work as hard as him, and if everyone works as hard as J.T., you know you have a good team."
How do two stars get drafted? By adding half a person.
Ra'Shede Hageman, No. 35 overall, gained 60 pounds
Hageman was a well-regarded but raw tight end recruit who grew from a listed 6'6, 250 to 310 pounds while at Minnesota, moving to defensive tackle. He's expected to make an instant impact for the Atlanta Falcons.
Jimmy Staten, No. 172 overall, gained 86
Staten was a 6'3, 217-pound two-star defensive end in high school when he signed with Middle Tennessee State. The Seahawks drafted him at 6'4, 303.
At least nine other drafted two-stars increased their body weight by 20 percent between high school and the Combine.
You really shouldn't criticize recruiting services for missing on guys like Staten or Buffalo first-rounder Khalil Mack—everyone else did. There are always going to be guys who blow up in college.
Etc.: In news that you take for granted these days, all of Michigan's freshmen are enrolled and full go. A look at what Loeffler wants to do at VT. Autonomy details. Annual Michigan drill thingy. Gasaway on the O'Bannon ruling.
On my signal, unleash dollars. It is time for the annual EDSBS charity drive. This is your opportunity to annoy other college football fanbases by giving more money than they do, thus preserving the cycle of college football life:
- Michigan doesn't do too well in football
- LOL Michigan
- Michigan wins EDSBS charity drive
- Who does Michigan think they are
This year Spencer promises a full road trip to the winner, and since LSU-Florida is the same day as Michigan's only decent home game that means we can get him to see The Horror II. Sounds like a deal, man. I'll give him my ticket, even.
Suggested donations this year include $114 (TFLs allowed), $43.42 (fairyland score of OSU game), $13.73 (Jeremy Gallon receiving yards), and $–48 (rushing yards against MSU). Because self-trolling or Gallon appreciation is the appropriate response to last year.
As always, all donations go to the Refugee Resettlement Services of Atlanta, which does very important work for refugees. Give here.
Play the right way, just not quite as right as Michigan. SMU and Michigan have agreed to a two-year home-and-home officially, with the home game coming immediately and the return next year. SMU barely missed the NCAA tournament last year thanks in large part to a miserable nonconference schedule but did go 12-6 in the AAC. After their snub they ran to the NIT final, where they lost to Minnesota.
They lose a middling shooting guard and a decent four from their lineup; they add a Very Big Deal in TX PG Emmanuel Mudiay, the guy who decided to play for Larry Brown instead of Kentucky, which may have been a deciding factor for Devin Booker. Now Michigan has its chance for revenge(!). They're probably a tourney team, and since they're playing in a newly Louisville-deprived AAC they're likely to have a shiny record. It's a smart move for RPI purposes and hey-look-a-home-game purposes.
Khalil Mack didn't play in the MAC because he thought it had a cool name
Sometimes unexpected things happen. These days it seems like everyone recognizes that the recruiting rankings dog-and-pony show is borne out as useful by the NFL draft. This is not necessarily the best thing in the world. There are a lot of differences between college and the NFL and when the main metric is what the NFL thinks, rankings can start answering a different question than "which college football teams are most likely to be successful in the near future?"
But it's still football and close enough. So when someone objects to the recruiting service folks pointing out that there's a pretty steep slope from five stars to two stars, they should have a good reason. Husker Mike's attempt from Corn Nation:
….what's a bigger surprise is that only four of the NFL's top 32 picks were considered in the top 30 coming out of high school. What's more, three of the NFL's top 32 picks were players that the services didn't feel could contribute at the BCS level. In other words, the number of complete misses (two star recruits that went in the first round) were about the same as the rankings they actually got right (five star, first round recruits).
The question is not whether recruiting services are perfect but whether they are making something approximating the best guess that can be offered when these kids sign. The three guys the services didn't feel could contribute at the BCS level were Khalil Mack, Jimmie Ward, and Darqueze Dennard. Mack went to Buffalo, Ward Northern Illinois, and Dennard MSU. They had literally one BCS offer between them, and Dennard's was a chance thing:
He entered the final game of his senior year of high school with zero scholarship offers and dim collegiate prospects. … More than a month before Dennard's regular-season finale at Twiggs County High, Middle Tennessee State pulled his only college scholarship offer. … State assistant coach Dave Warner had no idea who Dennard was before kickoff, but he kept seeing Twiggs County's uniform number 3 making plays all over the field.
There were 200-ish opportunities for BCS coaches to offer any of these guys. One of those came to fruition. Nobody should look askance on recruiting services for not picking these guys out. Literally no one except MSU assistant Dave Warner did.
And that goes to my point. Talent is hard for the professionals to evaluate. The professionals in the NFL have a tough time with evaluating, as Matt McGuire's 2010 study of the NFL draft showed. It's tough for college head coaches, who's careers depend on it. So it shouldn't be a surprise that the part-time amateurs who analyze it for the services don't get it right either. No matter how hard they protest and proclaim their own importance.
That is not a point that anyone disputes, and picking out random anecdotes…
I mean, when a school whose recruiting rankings from 2009 through 2012 were ranked 77th, 48th, 29th, and 42nd lands three first round draft picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, you realize that coaching and development is as important, if not more important, than the raw talent.
…when the greater picture is clear is almost as pointless as complaining about posts like this.
Well, just pay attention. The ACC is set to join the SEC as conferences that play just eight conference games despite having a ludicrous number of teams. They're also leaning towards the mandatory actual nonconference game to prevent the most shameless bowl-scraping schedules.
This has implications for playoff selection, as does the fact the Big 12 does not have a championship game. And it's fine, as long as the football committee just replicates Matt Hinton's process for voting*, I don't care how many conference games other conferences play. That process is feeling out who teams have actually beaten versus who they've lost to; football is never going to be something that cleans itself up into neat buckets but the upside of having a committee is the ability to look beyond simple win-loss treadmilling. We'll see if they take advantage or not.
*[ED: SMQB seems to be down, unfortunately.]
Measuring on the LeVert scale. Michigan signed Aubrey Dawkins and duly sent out its press release about it. Usually these things are just boilerplate but this one has an interesting note on Dawkins's size:
"We feel very fortunate to have Aubrey join our basketball program," Beilein said in a statement. "He is very athletic, long, a full 6-6, and has a tremendous upside. We love his passion and diligence for skill development and know he possesses great understanding of the game of basketball. We anticipate his versatility as a player will prove valuable on our team."
Dawkins is coming in with two 6'8" guys who can play the 4, so that probably doesn't open up a new position for him but it is nice to continue getting those 6'6" guys who can shoot over zones and maybe play them.
Do want. 2016 NV PG Derryck Thornton has a naaaaasty crossover:
Are you an angel of the apocalypse girl because every time I see you you're surrounded by people clutching their extremities and weeping.
Etc.: Devin Funchess projected as a first rounder on highly reliable mock drafts that are highly reliable.