Five-star offensive linemen: a brief history

Submitted by Yeoman on November 21st, 2013 at 1:54 PM

I thought it might be useful to have some information on the trajectory of highly-touted offensive line recruits, so here's a table of all HS o-line recruits rated five-stars at Rivals from 2003 to 2011. (I didn't include recruits getting five stars out of juco.)

Some questions on my mind as I put this together:

  1. A lot of recruits are touted as "college-ready", but how many actually are?
  2. Is there a point in a career where the writing is on the wall?
  3. What's the eventual hit rate? How many are drafted? How many never even become starters?

First the table, then some comments. And I welcome corrections--it wasn't always easy to get good bio information.

Player

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Draft

Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama

played in 8 games

starter at LT

starter at LT

x

x

x

La'el Collins, LSU

played in 7 games

starter at LG

starter at LT

x

x

x

Seantel Henderson, Miami

9 starts at RT

2 starts after offseason back surgery

7 starts after suspension and preseason car accident

started 5 of 10 games

x

x

Robert Crisp, North Carolina State

started first game, then mostly played special teams

2 starts at RT

7 starts at LT, injured back

2 starts at LT

x

x

Mason Walters, Texas

played one game, medical redshirt

starter at RG

starter at RG

starter at RG

starter at RG

x

Bobbie Massie, Mississippi

5 starts at RT

starter at RT

starter at RT

entered draft

x

4th round

Mike Adams, Ohio State

played in 5 games

4 starts at LT

starter at LT, all-conference

7 starts at LT

x

2nd round

Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska

redshirt, moved to defense

2nd team DT

starter at DT

starter at DT, injured late in season

x

undrafted

Matt Kalil, USC

redshirt

1 start at RT

starter at LT

starter at LT, all-conference, AP all-American

entered draft

4th pick

Mike Brewster, Ohio State

starter at C

starter at C

starter at C, all-conference

starter at C

x

undrafted

Matt Patchan, Florida

1 start at DT

played 4 games at OT, then injured

medical redshirt

7 starts at RT, then injured again

transferred to Boston College, starter at LT

x

Tyron Smith, USC

backup LT

starter at RT

starter at RT, all-conference

entered draft

x

9th pick

Stephen Good, Oklahoma

played 7 games at T

7 starts at LT and RT

2 starts at G

backup G

x

undrafted

Tyler Love, Alabama

medical redshirt

played 6 games at T

played 5 games

played 2 games

x

undrafted

Jermaine Johnson, Miami

redshirt

played 1 game

played 4 games, left team midseason

x

x

undrafted

James Wilson, Florida

redshirt

played 10 games

4 starts at LG

1 start at LG, injured knee, medical redshirt

starter at LG (and again his 6th year)

undrafted

Tray Allen, Texas

played 9 games

played 11 games at T

played 11 games at G

redshirt due to foot injury

6 starts at LT

undrafted

Ryan Miller, Colorado

7 starts at RT

4 starts at RT, broke fibula, medical redshirt

starter at RG and RT

starter at RG

starter at RG

5th round

Kristopher O'Dowd, USC

3 starts at C

starter at C

started 7 games at C, injured knee and shoulder

starter at C

x

undrafted

Bruce Campbell, Maryland

1 start at LT

7 starts at LT

starter at LT

entered draft

x

4th round

Sam Young, Notre Dame

starter at RT

starter at RT and LT

starter at RT

starter at RT

x

6th round

Andre Smith, Alabama

starter at LT

starter at LT, all-conference

starter at LT, unanimous all-American

entered draft

x

6th pick

Stephen Schilling, Michigan

redshirt

starter at RT and RG

starter at RT

starter at LG

starter at LG

6th round

Carl Johnson, Florida

redshirt

played 11 games

8 starts at LG

starter at LT

starter at LG

undrafted

Eugene Monroe, Virginia

played as lineman on PATs and FGs

6 starts at LT

starter at LT

starter at LT, all-conference

x

8th pick

Reginald Youngblood, Miami

played 8 games as backup LT

7 starts at LT, injured ankle and knee

occasional starter at T, injured

injured (if anyone can find career stats, I'd be grateful)

x

undrafted

Alex Boone, Ohio State

3 starts

10 starts at LT

starter at LT

starter at LT

x

undrafted

Jeff Byers, USC

4 starts at LG

hip injury, redshirt

back injury, medical redshirt

starter at LG

starter at LG, and again for 6th year

undrafted

Jorrie Adams, Texas A&M

backup defensive lineman

arrested, dismissed from team

x

x

x

undrafted

Ofa Mohetau, BYU

8 starts at G

transferred to juco

transferred to Texas Tech, occasional starter at LG

left school, became MMA fighter

x

undrafted

Derek Morris, North Carolina St.

transferred from Ohio State

5 starts at RT

8 starts at RT

10 starts at RT

entered draft

undrafted

Martin O'Donnell, Illinois

redshirt

10 starts at LG

10 starts at LG

starter at LG

starter at LG

undrafted

Justin Blalock, Texas

redshirt

starting RT

starting RT

starting RT, all-conference

starting RT, consensus all-American

2nd round

Nathan Rhodes, Washington

injured, never entered school

x

x

x

x

undrafted

Brandon Jefferies, Tennessee

redshirt

did not play.

transferred to North Carolina State, did not play

juco

starter at D2 Newberry College

undrafted

 

 

What's the eventual hit rate? How many are drafted? How many never even become starters?

Of 35 players, there have been three all-Americans and two others were consensus all-conference. I'm guessing we might be adding Kouandjio and Collins to that list soon.

39% of the players that have reached draft age were drafted.

Four of the 38 never started an FBS-level game. Three started early in their careers but for varying reasons fell off the depth chart.

 

A lot of recruits are touted as "college-ready", but how many actually are?

Six of the 35 started more than half of their team's games their first year. It's an interesting group: there's one future all-American (Andre Smith), three quality 4-year starters (Brewster, Young, Miller), one checkered career but the jury is still out (Henderson), and one that gave up football for mixed martial arts (Mohetau).

Except for the over-representation of four-year starters (well, duh) this doesn't look all that different from the overall results.

There doesn't seem to be any significant long-term difference between the players that redshirt and those that don't, either. Ten of the 35 redshirted--of those, three were busts, two became all-Americans, the other five were all quality starters (one on defense). One of the busts was a medical redshirt and the injury seems to have been the reason his career didn't work out. The Jefferies redshirt may have been related to the eventual reasons he never played, too.

 

Is there a point in a career where the writing is on the wall?

I think we can safely say that if you aren't starting by your third year in the program, there's cause for concern. A couple of players were able to recover from injuries (Byers, Patchan), but otherwise there are only two players on the list that weren't regular starters their third year and ever made it to the top of the depth chart: Tray Allen got a few starts his senior year; the one success story here was James Wilson, who had five starts in four years including a second redshirt but then was a starter for his 5th and 6th seasons. Maybe he should be included with Byers and Patchan though.

An interesting pair in this respect are the two '08 USC recruits, Tyron Smith and Matt Kalil. They were competing against each other from the start, and Smith won the early rounds, getting playing time his freshman year while Kalil was redshirted and starting ahead of Kalil their second year. But the next year they competed for the LT slot and Kalil won, with Smith moved to RT. And it was Kalil, not Smth, that became an all-American. Of course we're talking about the difference between the fourth pick in the draft and the ninth....

Twelve of the 35 had double-digit starts their second year. Andre Smth was all-conference; he was unique. All of the eventual draftees got at least one start their second year, though in Kalil's case it was precisely one.

Kalis's early career is very much in line with this list. I don't see any particular reason for alarm at this point. If he doesn't win a job next year I'll be worried; I'll also be excited about whoever has beaten him out.

Comments

Gandalf the Maize

November 21st, 2013 at 2:29 PM ^

This is good shizz! Really interesting study; it's nice to put Kalis' development in perspective. Even as a five star you're more likely to never start a game than you are to become an All-American. Probably wouldn't have guessed that. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Gandalf the Maize

November 22nd, 2013 at 5:03 AM ^

Do not take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks! 

The story of my MGoPoints began long ago. Back in the haloscan days, to be exact, when a one sentence update was all you would get about a 5* DE commitment. Ah, to be young again! Of course I wasn't Gandalf the Maize back then, merely Gandalf the Blue. I wandered far and wide in those days, encountering things more horrifying than one dares to imagine in the current age: the Horror, Armageddon, GERG. It was only when I was able to sublimate these terrors to enhance their antipodal highs - 100th game, UTL I, Denard - that the transformation was complete. But I digress...

Actually, our rushing woes led me put together a study on how o-line experience correlated with run game success. I wanted to post it as a diary but had no points. So I sent a raven to Brian, and he gifted me my first hundred so I could post. Misopogon ended up selecting me as the diarist of the week, and in addition to solidifying the new greatest moment in my life, I think he gave me like 200 points as a reward. 

The rest of the story can be found in the Silmarillion, but perhaps those tales are best left for another day...

 

GotBlueOnMyMind

November 21st, 2013 at 3:39 PM ^

It seems like the rate of injury is really high on this list, and that raises several questions. Is that on par with OL injury rates throughout the NCAA? If not, could it be due to them playing at 18/19 when they aren't yet quite physically mature enough to go against 21/22 year olds? Or could their early physical development be causing their bodies to break down earlier in their careers (what little I know about injuries is that larger people generally experience more joint issues than others as they get older)? 

Ron Utah

November 21st, 2013 at 3:52 PM ^

Thank you for this; I have been hoping someone would take the time to research this topic.

O-Line is not an area where the young are typically successful, no matter how highly-recruited they are.  Now we have the stats to back that up.

This year, we only have four guys on the roster that were recrutied with scholarships in their third year or later: Lewan, Miller, Bryant, and Schofield.  Glasgow and Burzynski have earned scholarships since arriving.

Here are our scholarship guys (guys that were given scholarships as part of their recruitment) that will be in their third year or later next season:

  • Ben Braden
  • Kyle Kalis
  • Erik Magnuson
  • Chris Bryant
  • Jack Miller
  • Blake Bars

This is where RR really screwed us...there are only six scholarship options that will be in their third year or later.  Yes, we can now add Burzynski and Glasgow to the list, but it's not like we have a ton of options.  In 2015--assuming no defections--that number will swell to 12, not including the walk-ons turned scholly players.  That will be the first season we have a full depth chart of OL players with decent experience.

clarkiefromcanada

November 21st, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

If you look at the development that Yeoman is projecting in his diary it's clear that the 3rd year is pretty key. Michigan is already having contributions (not always ideal) from Magnuson, Bryant and Kalis so it will be interesting to see if maturity/experiernce from PT support sucess in the 3rd year and/or if Bars/Braden develop further (or if a 2nd year player develops outside the norm).

BlueGoM

November 21st, 2013 at 8:52 PM ^

Very good work.   Glad to see this and it is rather apparent that a 5 star rating  only means he'll be able to start relatively early, no guarantee that he's going to be an All-American or NFL first rounder.

 

Blarvey

November 21st, 2013 at 8:55 PM ^

Great write-up. It seems like OL and DL are among the hardest to project or rate which makes sense as there are very few that get great coaching, many are still developing physically, and a lot of the guys all play tackle in HS as they are the often the biggest and best from their respective talent pools.

I also counted 22 different schools that those 35 commited to, with Alabama, USC, and OSU each getting the most with 3. That is pretty good company given the records when they played, but noticeably absent are Stanford, Florida State, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Georgia.

LJ

November 21st, 2013 at 9:34 PM ^

That's helpful, thanks!  The sample might not be big enough to answer this follow-up, but I've often wondered whether high recruiting rankings are less predictive of future success for offensive linemen than for other positions, since they are notoriously difficult to scout.  If so, it unfortuantely takes some of the luster off of Hoke's recruiting success, since we've been disproportionately successful on offensive line recruits (at least that's my sense).

clarkiefromcanada

November 21st, 2013 at 10:55 PM ^

I don't know if it "takes the lustre off Hoke's recruiting success" given that Michigan has been remarkably successful recruiting linemen. I'm sure most schools would welcome the improved odds toward better outcomes (i.e., that several among four star Eric Magnsusson, Kyle Bosch, David Dawson or five star Kyle Kalis etc. are going to work out).

No guarantees but if you start with prototypical size/elite athletes with elite school attention/scouting your potential for good outcomes over a larger group are solid.

LJ

November 22nd, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

Right, the point I was trying to make is that if recruiting stars are less predictive for linemen than for other positions, a recruiting class with, say, 6 five star linemen and 6 three-star defensive players is probably not actually as good as a class with 6 five-star defensive players and 6 three-star offensive linemen, even though the overall rankings would be the same.

Obviously, more stars is generally better, but classes filled with highly-ranking offensive linemen may be overrated if linemen are harder to project.

Yeoman

November 22nd, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

I just pulled three years of five-star defensive tackles. Out of nine five-stars, three were nfl draftees and one became an all-American (Gerald McCoy). Two didn't work out for the usual off-field reasons--remember Callahan Bright? Greg Smith? And Marcus Forston was derailed by injuries.

Small sample size and all that but it doesn't look all that different from my o-lne table and it doesn't back up the claim that offensive linemen are harder to project.

Yeoman

November 21st, 2013 at 11:55 PM ^

Projecting future NFL stardom is hard; it may or may or not be harder with offensive linemen than elsewhere (anyone know what the hit rate is for 5-stars at other positions?).

But projecting useful college starters seems to go OK. I'm looking through the list for players that weren't able to give at least a couple of seasons as a starter and to the extent they were scouting failures it wasn't a matter of projecting ability. If what I read online was at all accurate we have:

  • a player that struggled academically and was never able to become eligible at a couple of schools
  • a congential back defect that forced someone out of football before he ever saw action in college
  • Ofa Mohetau. I have no idea what happened there.
  • a felony drug bust
  • Shannon/Golden attrition at the U
  • Seantel Hernderson's injuries/suspensions/disciplinary issues/unfortunately life stuff
  • a few players with mutliple injuries that kept them off the field

The only player of the 38 that seems to have been a total miss on the field was Stephen Good. Everyone else had injuries or off-field issues, or they became regular starters.

I don't actually have data to back up either piece of this, but I wonder if it's harder to project linemen (if it is) because they're more likely to get hurt (if they are)?

tybert

November 22nd, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

If anyone remembers Brooks, you have a great memory. This guy flamed out at Michigan after coming to the school as perhaps the loudest OL prospect in years. Off-the-field legal stuff, then went to West Virginia, where he play for Nehlen and Rich Rod.

Elwood

November 22nd, 2013 at 8:25 PM ^

to be a significant difference in Rivals' ability to scout offensive lineman from their beginning versus recently. many of the first 5 stars were not drafted and many of the later ones were