I have been sitting on a much lenghtier version of this post and someday I still hope to take the time to finish the full research and write an entire diary on the subject but...ESPN's recruiting rankings are solid. In fact, with respect to Michigan players, they've been much better than Rivals and Scout. Go player by player and compare.
I point this out because another recent thread mentioned ESPN's team rankings (all team rankings are a bit silly since they employ an arbtirary measure of quantity vs. quality and usually overvalue class size). This prompted some criticism of ESPN's rankings.
A lot of Michigan fans think ESPN's rankings should not be taken seriously because ESPN was much less enthusiastic than the other sites about a number of recent super recruits, including:
- Will Campbell (ESPN: #22 OT; Rivals: #5 DT; Scout: #6 DT)
- J.T. Turner (ESPN: #21 Athlete; Rivals #3 S; Scout: #3 CB)
- Cissoko (ESPN: #24 CB; Rivals: #4; Scout: #3)
I take no pleasure in declaring that ESPN was right about these guys, but....it might be time to swallow hard and consider that possibility.
Here are some of the super recruits ESPN thought more highly of than the other sites:
- Craig Roh (ESPN: #4DE; Rivals:#7; Scout: #8)
- Taylor Lewan (ESPN: #12 OT; Rivals: #16, Scout: #20)
- Mike Martin (ESPN: #8 DT; Rivals #16; Scout #12)
- Denard Robinson (ESPN: #7 Athlete (#101 overall); Rivals: #14 (#188); Scout: #16 CB (#159))
There are some examples where ESPN was not as good, but--at least with respect to Michigan's recent talent--they have been overwhelmingly better than the other sites.
ESPN, via Scouts Inc., does very thorough analysis of player strengths and weaknesses. Their notes are detailed. And they often peg a player's best position better than the the competition.
It is time to stop laughing off ESPN's rankings just because Campbell did not make their top 100. They do a great job. And, fortunately, they like a lot of our players. I am still praying they are proved right on Isaiah Bell ("great instincts and plays outstanding zone coverage").
UPDATE: The point of the post seems to have been lost. It was not that ESPN is always right, or that recruiting sites' evaluations are good/bad generally. I am addressing ESPN's comparative worth and whether it is true that, among the three main recruiting sites, ESPN trails in credibility. The answer to that question is no.