Article on the impact of recruiting websites

Submitted by Pilgrim on June 26th, 2009 at 3:10 PM

So, this summer, the local paper (Cincinnati Enquirer) will be following the recruitment of several local high school football players including 2010 DE Jibreel Black who, as Brian noted this week, has M in his current top 5.

Anyway, the writer kicks things off by writing an article touching on the impact of the hour to hour and sometimes minute to minute changes in a recruit's ranking by internet recruiting sites.

Interestingly, the article quotes a variety of sources including O$U/PSU patsy Bill Kurelic, the HS coach of 2010 QB Andrew Hendrix who just committed to ND over O$U this week, and Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly. I thought Kelly's comments at the end of the article were particularly interesting as I would guess they would mirror RR's sentiments on recruiting, at least to a certain degree, since a) Kelly also runs a run-heavy spread option and b) probably looks to fill roles rather than recruiting only 4 stars and higher.

I realize that, being Michigan, we are a little more used to getting our fair share of high profile, 4* or greater recruits, but maybe sometimes the staff sees something these "gurus" don't. Andy Staples at CNN/SI published an article a few months ago looking at the correlation of HS Rivals rankings and the 32 picks in Don Banks' mock NFL draft and found that the average Rivals ranking for those 32 players was 3.59 stars.

Well anyway, let's hope that all of this is crap, RR finds the right mix of role players and superstars so that in a couple of years the Wolverine Angel of Deathbacker descends upon a small cowtown in central Ohio and takes all of Columbus' firstborn leaving only plague and pestilence. Oh wait, they already have those. Have a good weekend.…



June 26th, 2009 at 4:29 PM ^

insomuch as we all listen to these guys on the commercial websites and we put too much stock in their opinions. To me, if these guys of rivals or scout were really any good at evaluating talent, then they would be on a staff somewhere. Or at the very least, they would would have a football pedigree, not some ex-postal worker. You can't dismiss the rankings entirely, but you have to understand that there are many factors that go into the rankings and not all of them are attributable to football skills, stats, or physical traits. Also, has anyone ever tried to compare offenses these days in college football? I don't know how one compiles an all-inclusive criteria for position players without taking into account the offensive scheme they play in and/or will play in college.

I trust the UM coaches now more than the pay site gurus do and if they want to recruit the guys they feel are perfect for them, then screw what some dude living in his mom's basement thinks about a 4'-9" slot receiver from the swamps of Arizona.


June 27th, 2009 at 5:05 PM ^

on the pay site scouts...

Recruiting and evaluating talent is no doubt an inexact science - some players are over-hyped, some players are downgraded for attributes that matter more or less in different offenses, etc. But having said that, there is still a demand from college football fans and media to have a third-party rank talent in order to gauge their respective team's progress in recruiting. They do what they can to measure the attributes and potential of high school athletes. The rankings can't be perfect; there are too many variables. But they can give a general idea and understanding of the player, his skills, and more generally, a team's recruiting. In that sense, they are all we have to go off of, and therefore should be trusted as much as anything else.

Just because these scouts are not working for a team does not necessary make them less educated. Everybody starts somewhere. And who knows, maybe some scouts for pay sites are compensated better for their services than if they were to work for a team.


June 26th, 2009 at 5:44 PM ^

If these recruiting service employees were really legit, they would be making tons more money working for real football teams. What if on the day that a particular scout from one of these services visits a camp, a player is sick, or hurt? How could he really tell? He might just look like a sub par guy, when in fact he is a stud. I like all the information we can get in seconds (I found out about Michael Jackson's death 12 minutes after it was official - isn't that creepy?), but you have to consider the source. If you look at guys who do get paid millions to evaluate talent in the NFL, they get it wrong all the time too.

The fact that this game is played by real people makes choosing them far from an exact science. No one can predict how a player will act in future conditions/situations, and no one can predict what curveballs life might throw at him. It's fun to try and get a feel for how good a class might be, but I'm going to trust RR on this one. He knows the type of players that are successfull in excecuting the schemes he runs. These guys might not work for every team, and I think that is why they are sometimes rated so poorly.

In the end, we will all see the fruits of this coaching staff's labor. We will all get to watch this team broken down to the foundation and built back up in a very different way than ever before. I still can't believe we've got a QB who runs a 10.4 100meter dash! In a few years, we will have a stable full of speedy athletes that make exciting plays and leave the opposition in the dust. The process might take longer than we would all like, but the end result will be fun to watch. Go Blue!!!


June 27th, 2009 at 12:43 AM ^

I think we try not to use the word "stud" around these parts.

And also, why would I want to neglect recruiting information for players? You do know that you don't have to choose between trusting your coach and following how professional scouts compare the performances of our commits to the rest of the class. It's not one or the other.

I feel like it's ignorant to claim Scout/Rivals employees are incompetent because they aren't emlpoyed by NCAA teams. You do know each company is worth millions of dollar, right? I'm not saying their scouts are big rollers, but let's be rational here. Also, who is to say there is a big drop off in scouting ability between NCAA scouts and the premium ones? How could you prove that besides anecdotal evidence?


June 26th, 2009 at 7:28 PM ^

Professional Scout:

Lives on the road
Works gazillion hours a week, year around
Mediocre pay
"Grunt" status with team
Your fault if prospect doesn't work out

Internet Recruiting Guru:

Works in pajamas
Works when he wants, though some periods are busier than others.
Great pay from subscriptions, ads, etc if you run it right
Big Kahuna status on your "team"
Who cares if your prediction on a prospect was wrong: the public has a short attention span, anyway.

If I had a choice, I think I would choose the "Internet Recruiting Guru" job.


June 27th, 2009 at 12:01 PM ^

Yet, the same people such as yourself who are now bashing Scout & Rivals would be jerking themselves silly if we were bringing in more 4 and 5 star recruits. The hypocrisy from some of you is so transparent its laughable.

The Barking Sp…

June 27th, 2009 at 10:12 PM ^

You have hit the nail on the head. In an age long, long ago, when stars mattered, UM fans were all over them, and all over the schools who didn't have the stars to back their recruits. Now, all the sudden, stars don't matter--in fact, nothing matters, other than a kid commits, and it's GOT to be this super-boffo coaching staff that sees something in a recruit that either no one else sees, or only Army, Bowling Green, Indiana, etc are smart enough to figure out. It's gone from "The team, the team, the team" to "The system, the system, the system." And a guy who made his name when his biggest competition left his conference is now regarded as a genius with an eye for talent that no one else possesses.
FACT: RR couldn't recruit worth a dern to West Virginia, but he did find Pat White and Steve Slaton, and a few other teams in the Big East grew up quickly when Miami, BC and VaTech bolted for the ACC.
FACT: 3-9 don't lie. The most inept UM team in over 120 years of football. A team so fucking bad it couldn't buy a break all season except against Wisconsin.
Rodriguez won't win at UM unless he gets impact players and name players to attract other big time, name players. For those who think UM is sitting just fine with a passel of shlubs that no one else wants, there is a rude awakening coming.


June 26th, 2009 at 7:50 PM ^

are all very reasonable sounding and smart. There's only one small problem; you are wrong. As has been said innumerable times on this blog, there is actual evidence that rankings correlate to success on the field. Just search the site for the topic and you'll see at least three different pieces of data that show it, Then you can stop sounding so reasonable and start being more correct.

Two areas of agreement: we should trust the coaches far more than anyone else, and rankings are just one piece of data that should go into a well rounded evaluation.


June 27th, 2009 at 5:32 PM ^

Right, there is no spread-mold for defense... because the spread is an offensive scheme, not a defensive scheme. And add lineman to QB's and Slots, because spread-type offensive lineman are typically lighter and quicker (Christian Pace) than prototypical NFL lineman, so almost every position on the offense is judged differently.

I think the difference between recruiting rankings and actual worth of a defensive player is still there, but much less of a factor because there's no team (that I know of) that Only uses one defensive scheme, like one-gap dline or 3 deep coverage, and because (all?) popular defensive schemes are used in the NFL was well as in college ball.
Still, a team that runs a lot of cover 2 or that leaves their safeties in man on WR's will put a higher premium on safeties with speed and quickness than size, and a team that runs a mostly two-gap 3-4 will need bigger, stronger lineman than a mostly one-gap 4-3.


June 27th, 2009 at 12:57 AM ^

(and to borrow from malcolm gladwell) there's a pre-requisite talent level that each recruit needs to be at. once a coach has decided that a recruit meets that talent level, what determines how good that player will be is his work ethic and the coaching staff at his school. i think this would explain why some 5 stars bust and some 2/3 stars end up being great. at a certain point it's not about talent anymore but what said player does with that talent (along with help from the coaching staff).


June 27th, 2009 at 12:06 PM ^

..has recently read Outliers. Do you think there's any correlation between the success of most football players and the nearness of their birthday to their state's age cutoff for each grade?

FWIW, my daughter was one day too young to enroll in kindergarten last year. I was devastated. She's already 4 foot 3 and turns 6 on September 2nd. After reading "Outliers," I'm pretty happy she'll be the oldest and tallest kid in her class.


June 27th, 2009 at 3:05 AM ^

The problem I have always had with those correlations of star rating vs. NFL draft spot is that NFL draft spot doesn't always correlate to college success. While its nice to have your players drafted well in the NFL what we as Michigan fans care most about is how well they perform at Michigan(high drafts can help with recruiting but aren't necessary). That's why I think its dumb that a kid like Christian Pace is not given a fourth star by Rivals because he may not do well in the NFL even though they think he could be a good solid player at Michigan.

Look at Tebow, he's a great college qb but everyone has doubts about him making it in the NFL. Should he have been rated a 4 star instead of a 5 star because he might not make it as an NFL qb? No, he's a 5 star athlete and has won a Heisman and lead his team to the national title. That's all a college fan can hope for out of a player.

The Barking Sp…

June 27th, 2009 at 9:57 AM ^

If they knew what they were talking about, they'd be a scout in the NFL
you know, SOME 5 stars wash out and SOME 2/3 stars make it. That means recruiting sites are total B.S.I trust that the UM coaches know more than the recruiting sites
Scouting services don't measure heart and work ethic

THe recruiting services are for the FANS. I know some coaches probably look at the services for film, to get some info on a kid. Some even use them to recruit. But by and by, the coaches who use the intranets for anything other than info gathering and to read my next post or blog, and they know it as well as we do: They'll soon be ex-coaches.

What I find funny is the backlash against recruiting services from their own paying members. You read the Michigan pages, and it's post after post about how Scout or Rivals' recruit rankings suck and we oughtta just trust ol' Rich Rod. Yet, these people keep paying, keep hitting that refresh button, and jump on the Tom Beaver Teabag Train the minute that guy puts something up.

I respect recruiting services. The info is top-notch. The guy on Scout NEVER really makes a prediction on recruits--just pretty much tells you when a kid is visiting, if he thinks it looks promising, and other inside team info that quite a lot of times doesn't have anything to do with recruiting. It's usually the FANS who take a lot of stuff and run with it. Myself included sometimes.

I also respect their recruit rankings. Yes, they can be politically motivated like anything else. And there seems to be a "Star Dispersal System"--an unwritten rule that you dole out the five's to all the regions to keep readeship in those regions happy. But their rankings seem pretty accurate about the top guys--and guess what? Alot of five and four star guys are where they are because they--and I know this is hard for message board guy to get--DO HAVE A WORK ETHIC!! You know, it's not like three star shlubs from Black LUng, PA are the ONLY guys who work hard and take their vitamins and say their bedtime prayers.

And as for Scout guys or Rivals guys not knowing their stuff--uh, it's not like the NFL or NCAA guys have a perfect track record--not by a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG shot. Can that bullshit argument right now, please.

I know we all want to trust the coaches. Mmmkay. If you REALLY believe that Rodriguez gets every player he wants and the players that sign with Michigan were ALL PRIME TARGETS. Sorry, not buying that with about 6 guys from the 2010 class so far. But what happens is that more often than not, you get who ya get--and as a coach it's up to you to develop them. Anyone here think Rich Rod wouldn't take 15 five stars in every class? I thought so. Research the Intranets and find the Mike Barwis quote about working with 5 stars: He'd LOVE to, that's about all I remember.


June 27th, 2009 at 4:21 PM ^

Just for Kicks... Scout's rankings of the top draftees by position in the 2008 NFL Draft:

First 5 QB's taken in 2008 NFL Draft:
#1, Matt Ryan - Scout ranked 44th best QB in 2003
#2, Joe Flacco - Scout ranked 43rd best QB in 2003
#3, Brian Brohm - Scout ranked 6th best QB in 2004
#4, Chad Henne - Scout ranked 4th best QB in 2004
#5, Kevin O'Connell - Scout ranked 80th best QB in 2003

You can be a great college QB and not pan out in the NFL like Eric Crouch. So this really means less.