Recruiting analysis

Submitted by wolvrine32 on October 27th, 2008 at 3:31 PM

4 & 5-Star Recruiting Success


Brian’s feature on “How did we get here?” with OL and more recently with LB’s is one of my favorite new features on MGoBlog.  It really puts in perspective the timeline of how we got to a decently talented backup playing as our starting OL/LB (pick a position.)  It put me in an analytical frame of mind, and while I’m sure this has been done somewhere on the internet, I’ve never seen it.


So I grabbed all the 4 and 5 star recruits for us off of Rivals (Scout was incomplete, listing Ryan Mundy as “NR”.  Clearly this is incorrect, so I avoided Scout.)  I used the timeframe of 2002-2007.  2002 since that’s the earliest data they have, and 2007 since any later would be incomplete data.  2007 has 7 players, most of which we can assess for purposes of this exercise. 


Then I divided this set into 3 groups: met expectations, kinda met expectations, didn’t meet expectations (or didn’t play much or at all.)  Basically, the criteria is your excitement level if I described someone’s career to you.  If you’d be excited, group A.  Meh, group B.  Nose wrinkle, group C.  (EDIT: I am grading strictly for on-the-field result for Michigan.)  Examples:


·        Matt Gutierrez:  “Great backup, only sees the field for mop-up duty.”  Nose wrinkle, group C.


·        Prescott Burgess is a prime example of group B.  His career?  “Plays sporadically and uninspiringly for three years and has a very solid senior season.”  Meh.  You want more than one good year from a 5-star.


·        Steve Breaston, “average wideout, all-time yardage leader in returns”  Sign me up!


I freely admit that I might have messed up on some players, and data isn’t all in on others, but the overall point is still valid.  Don’t get ga-ga over an individual highly rated player, because less than four in ten amounts to what you think he will.


·        5-star successes (4) – Woodley, Henne, B Graham, Warren


·        5-star tweeners (2) – Burgess, Schilling


·        5-star misses (3) – Watson, Grady, Mallet


That’s 9 total, and counting the tweeners as one-half, a 55% rate on 5-star players.


·        4-star successes (16) – Avant, Breaston, Crable, Hall, Kraus, Long, Arrington, Branch, Jamison, Johnson, Trent, B Harrison, Manningham, T Taylor, Mathews, Van Bergen


·        4-star tweeners (8) –C Graham, Moosman, Zirbel, EDIT: B Minor, Mouton, Clemons, A Mitchell, M Williams


·        4-star misses (32) – Hood, Koloziej, C Tabb, Gutierrez, L Harrison, McCoy, Rembert, Van Alstyne, J Jackson, Mundy, W Paul, Presley, Richard, Zuttah, Dutch, Gallimore, Max Martin,  C Rodgers, Bass, Germany, McKinney, Schifano, Slocum, Traitor Boren, Stevie Brown, Kates, EDIT C Brown, Mixon, Patterson, Panter, Webb, M Massey


That is 56 total, 36% hit rate.


Totals for 4 & 5-star combined is 65, 38% hit rate. 


So we get 11 of these types, on average, every year.  And only roughly 4 will work out the way we hope.


Positionally (A/B/C):


·        DT  2/0/5  29% - Lot of total flameouts here


·        DE  3/0/2  60% - Our best success rate, but low overall numbers


·        LB  2/1/5  31% - Lots of DNP


·        DB  4/3/3  55% - Better than I thought going in, frankly.  I put Trent in this group though he was recruited as a WR.


·        RB  0/1/6  7% - Yuck.  This is a really bad track record.  Doesn’t help with Mike Hart going for 4 years, but the truth is there wasn’t ever a truly worthy backup.  Minor is a great runner, but unfortunately his hands leak warm butter.  McGuffie will help this out a bit in the future I think.  Whoever is evaluating these guys needs to step up.  They’re missing something.


·        QB  1/0/3  25% - This is the Henne effect more than anything.  Oh, and Mallett being a complete candyass.  Not that I’m bitter.


·        WR  5/1/4  55% - Clearly a strength in predicting top-flight talent that will stick around.  I stuck Breaston & Bass (ATH) in here as well.


·        TE  0/0/1  0% - More than anything, this says we don’t recruit top-flight TE’s


·        OL  3/4/6  39% - Average.  Brian always says this is a tough one to project with ratings.


By year:


·        2002  2/0/8  20% – That flat stunk.  Don’t do that again.  I’m amazed they didn’t go re-recruit Kelley Baraka this season.


·        2003  5/1/7  42% – Much better


·        2004  6/2/5  54% - Best year by a long shot.  Branch, Jamison, Johnson, Trent, Henne, Arrington.  Great class.


·        2005  3/2/6   36% – Back to reality


·        2006  2/3/6  32% – Reality gets a little worse.


·        2007  2/2/3  43% – Still a bit indeterminate.  Looking good from a % standpoint, but not great from a total numbers standpoint.




·        If Will Campbell comes here, plays here, and has success here, it’ll be a miracle.


·        I don’t know what other schools are at for a success rate, but I think 39% is lower than I expected.  These are the cream of your classes, the foundation of everything you want to do.  Kinda surprising that so many names on that list never really even saw the field, much less achieve great things.  Even getting to 50% would have been another 6-7 players.  That’s a lot of on the field difference-making.


·        Volume, volume, volume.  Make sense now why the SEC teams recruit 30 players a year?  I’m not saying it’s right, but I understand why they do.  Guy doesn’t pan out quite right?  Next!


·        Think of all the great players not on this list.  Harris, Adams, Hart.  Hmmm.  OK, point made, but at least we got many, many serviceable starters from the 3-stars.  The top of the rest:  Bihl, Barringer, Riley, Rivas, Stewart, Butler, Mesko, Englemon (2*), and a lot of guys on the team right now.


·        What the hell are we doing with our RB recruiting?  We got lucky with Hart, no mistake.  If not for him, we’d have been in deep doo.  7 guys and only 1 was/is serviceable?  6 total no-shows?  I’ll say it again, someone is a crappy judge of RB talent.


·        Replay the years 2004-2007 in your head without Mike Hart.  Here’s an icebag for your headache.


·        Damn Bass’ treacherous knee.


·        The 2-year span in which we got 11 total players living up to their potential, 2003-4, set the stage for our biggest success on the field over this timeframe.  2006.  In the equation recruiting + coaching + motivation = success, it’s probably in that order.    




October 27th, 2008 at 4:05 PM ^

We may not be as bad at evaluating RB's as you think. I feel like we've lagged behind in RB recruiting for a while, not able to get top flight "can't miss" types, like Beanie Wells. Getting Mike Hart was catching lightning in a bottle. We need some top flight RBs to want to get up to Michigan.


October 27th, 2008 at 4:27 PM ^

Word to your mother.

Not to go off on too much of a tangent but it has been clear to me that Michigan has slipped a little this decade. I think your post clearly points out why. Michigan really hasn't reloaded in the fashion that an OSU, Oklahoma or USC has of late. I'm not asking for NC every year but why does it seem Michigan has had a major deficiency somewhere on its team for almost every year this decade?

Is it really that surprising Michigan is struggling this year? The '04 and '05 class lost 21 of 44 recruits prior to their eligibility running out. The above post points to Michigan missing on what I think are too many kids.

Of all the things to be disappointed in Carr about I think recruiting is the one area that gets overlooked. Hey, I like Carr but either he either didn't recruit at an elite level or failed to develop kids. I am thinking he didn't recruit at a level acceptable at Michigan. Maybe that is a little harsh but the guy could walk into any living room in America unlike coaches at a majority of D1 schools.


October 27th, 2008 at 6:30 PM ^

What was Michigan's major deficiency in 2007?  Are you talking about production or recruiting?

We had all kinds of talent last year.  Our QB was a 5-star, our RB was the leading all-time rusher, we had two WR's get drafted, we had a solid offensive line, a very good defensive line, a 5-star (Warren) and a solid player (Trent) at corner, Crable at LB, and Adams, Brown, and Englemon at safety.  I don't know how that team didn't come together to play better, but I don't see any glaring deficiencies in those position groups.

The Other Brian

October 28th, 2008 at 4:36 AM ^

The offensive line really wasn't solid last year. Yeah, Long. One of the best to ever put on a winged helmet. 2-time All American. First pick in the draft. And a complete miracle. After that, what? Adam Kraus was mediocre last year as a 5th year senior. Boren was average at center, and that's being generous, he got abused several times by opposing DTs. Mitchell was, to put it bluntly, a slob. He was never, ever in shape. Schilling was bad, but he had the excuse of being a freshman (and is out of position at tackle).

Andy Moeller really didn't do anything well. He recruited poorly, and he coached badly. The list of linemen that peaked as sophomores or juniors and regressed from there under his watch is obscene. Long and David Baas were exceptions to that rule, and that's because their own personal drive and work ethic overcame Moeller. Moeller had no business coaching the offensive line, and that example of Carr's cronyism is almost as criminal as Debord being offensive coordinator.

Musket Rebellion

October 27th, 2008 at 8:35 PM ^

Carr recruited at an elite level save a few years. Where he (or more importantly his assisstants) were completely inept was player progression. Very few players actually progressed under his tutilage. Is this completely his fault? No. Was it partially his fault? Yes. When you see players not develop like they should, or so many fail on a massive level then you should assume that there is some fault at the top. Hopefully this isn't a trend that continues under Rodriguez, I'm willing to bet that it doesn't.


October 28th, 2008 at 11:54 AM ^

When first reading this post, I was like many, saying that counting dudes like Slocum, Guts, and Mallet as flame outs was overly harsh. Slocum had grade issues not talent issues, Guts got stuck behind our all time passing leader and is now on an NFL roster, and the jury is still very much out on Mallet, its only that the verdict will be rendered elsewhere.

On second look, I like what this post highlights. For every Anthony Thomas who pans out, there is a Baraka who flames out and a Grady who doesn’t perform up to rating. Everyone in the country wanted all 3 of those guys, so how much blame can you put on the coaching staff? And how much credit do you give them for sticking with a guy like Hart?

Without Hart, a 3 star who many big programs didn’t offer, we would have been fucked. Coaches are going to mis-evaluate some talent, and a lot of talent is never going to pan out for reasons beyond their control. Lesson? Every recruit counts.

Looking at these percentages it shows that there is a better than even chance that your plan B guy is going to have to step up and be the guy. This also spotlights the need for even distribution between classes. I think Carr gets some demerits in the player development category as well as class distribution, but its tough to see from the outside where these were his shortcomings or the cases where it was just out of his hands.


October 27th, 2008 at 4:53 PM ^

I think you're overly harsh on some guys. Matt Gutierrez transferred because he wasn't going to start over Henne, went to I-AA Idaho, and is now Matt Cassel's backup at New England (the pats like career backups). I wouldn't say Watson was a complete flameout, same for Van Alstyne. Mallett probably won't be horrible, the same goes for Boren. Mundy turned into a WVU all star. Slocum had academic issues, not talent issues, all of the RBs transferred because of Hart.

Also, with regards to star level and coaching staff, Coaches could care less about the amount of stars that Rivals/Scout give recruits. They're good at identifying the talent that they think they can work with coming in. Just because some guy was rated at 4 stars doesn't mean he was that much better than a 3 star, besides, star ratings are something to sell to the public. ESPN has horrible talent evaluation and seemingly assigns recruits arbitrary values, but a 50-100 scale is much more useful than a 2-5* scale. When you consider it, Rivals gives 300 or so recruits 4+*s now. The difference between that #50 player in the nation 4* and the #250 in the nation 4* is much bigger than that #250 4* and the #301 3*.


October 27th, 2008 at 8:01 PM ^

Carlos Brown is a 4 star tweener but Brandon Minor is a 4 star miss? But....Brandon Minor is our starter, and will likely be again next year, and Carlos Brown has had about 8 carries all season, and no touchdowns. If you don't count this season, Brandon Minor is still ahead of Carlos, albeit bit less. Was that a mistake?

MC Hammer

October 27th, 2008 at 9:05 PM ^

Minor has generally met expectations (backup to Hart first 2 years, inherited the starting job, albeit a bit late, junior year). Brown was higher rated and has performed less. Am i missing something here?


October 27th, 2008 at 9:24 PM ^

I think you're a little too rough on Minor and Watson. Watson was drafted! He can't be considered in group C, because according to your rating system he did fulfill some of his expectation. He was fairly decent at DL, so much so that he was drafted. Sure, he wasn't as good as Branch or Taylor but I think he's a solid "B" grouper.


October 27th, 2008 at 11:34 PM ^

I did transpose Minor and Brown.  My bad.  Doesn't change the totals.

 We could have a spirited debate on Watson, but it really wouldn't change the conclusions.  If it makes you feel any better, Gabe was one of the ones I spent the most time deciding on.  He's a strange case.  Starter, yes, but benched at one point IIRC.  Never really dominated like Alan Branch who followed him.  Perennially out of shape.

Just saying I can certainly see your point, but I decided on the whole I was unsatisfied with him.  And I didn't include being drafted one bit for anyone, only what I saw them do (or not do) in a Michigan uniform. 

Thanks for the feedback.


October 28th, 2008 at 11:14 PM ^

Ok, well if you aren't taking the draft into consideration then I can agree with the "C" rating, because he was a big bummer in comparison to his rating coming out of HS.

It's just that so few players get drafted, so the fact that he did gives him some credence.  But, if you don't figure that in than never mind.

Pitch the Ball Ecker

October 28th, 2008 at 12:24 AM ^

Darnell Hood actually played a big special teams role his senior year. Certainly you would expect more, but he played an actual role. The same goes for Jerome Jackson he scored a game winning touchdown against Iowa, he had one memorable game. They shouldn't be lumped in with dolts who did nothing positive like L. Harrison or Magical Max Martin. You do have a good point, but maybe a D category should be added.


October 29th, 2008 at 9:41 AM ^

I can't say I had any hard and fast criteria for the A/B/C, it was more gut than anything.  But the minimum for "A" would be multi-year starter at their position at slightly below average or better.  Hood contributed on special teams, but without starting at all at his position, he's not even a tweener.  He would've had to be exemplary in that role to overcome not starting, and he was solid at best as a special teamer.

Put another way, what would you think if I told you current recruit Shavodrick Beaver's career would be special teamer as a Jr/Sr, makes us laugh with hall-of-fame funny name, and sporadic 5th receiver?  We wouldn't have the current enthusiasm, that's for sure.  That's a "C" in my book.

Mountaineers Fanatic

October 28th, 2008 at 1:57 PM ^

While your views are obviously subjective they make very good points. Sure others views may differ slightly on certain players it's obvious that the players overall potential (as a team) hasn't met their expected potential. I think a lot of that is due to the coaches and how they progress the players potential.

Hopefully with the new coaching staff you will see your players reach their expected potential and more.