Signing Day Math

Submitted by The Mathlete on February 7th, 2013 at 3:11 PM

What better way to make the most uneventful signing day imaginable for a major college program even more boring throwing a bunch more numbers at you. You already know the narratives, now let’s take a look at the numbers.

Once again, I will be using my personal accumulation of the rating services for the numbers. Players are given a score at each of the four major recruiting sites and. A consensus #1 player gets 99 points all the way down to an anonymous 2 star getting a point or two. No points are awarded for moons, sorry Jordan.

New Members of the Hall of Highly Touted

Last year I created the Michigan Hall of Highly Touted to honor the top Michigan recruits by their incoming accolades and ratings. This year’s class features two players that crack the first team and another 3 added to the second team.

RB Derrick Green narrowly edges Kevin Grady for the running back spot, pushing Grady down to the first team flex spot, Darryl Stonum to the second team and Jason Avant off the board.

OL Patrick Kugler joins 2012 signee Kyle Kalis on the first team offensive line.

OL Kyle Bosch and David Dawson are on the second team. 3 of the top 10 rated offensive linemen Michigan has recruited in the last 12 years are members of the 2013 class.

TE Jake Butt has the fortune of playing at the position that has the lowest bar to entry on the MHHT and enters as the second team tight end.

S Dymonte Thomas was Michigan’s second commitment of the 2013 class and bumps ahead of Demar Dorsey as the top rated safety of the second team.

Position Group Notes

Offensive Line – without a doubt the marquee group of this class. Michigan’s six signees racked up 319 points which was easily the most acclaimed group in this class. Only Stanford’s absurd haul last year and Notre Dame’s class of 2006 were more highly touted entering college.

Running Back – Derrick Green pushed this group from good to great. Michigan’s running back class was a universal third behind Alabama and Ole Miss. Alabama’s loaded class was the best class since Pete Carroll lined up five star running backs year after year (2003, 2006 & 2007 to be precise).

Defensive Back – Michigan’s third strongest group was defensive back where they finished 7th nationally as a group and second in the B1G to Ohio St which signed the fourth highest rated group of defensive backs of the last 12 years.

Quarterback – Shane Morris’s senior year slide wasn’t any fun to watch but as a testament to were he started, Michigan’s one man class still finished 10th overall. Conference rivals Penn State earned the top spot nationally and was the only conference program in front of Michigan.

Wide Receiver/Tight End – The lowest rated offensive group still almost cracked the top 10, finishing 11th. LaQuon Treadwell would have been enough for the Wolverines to crack the top spot, but Ole Miss took Treadwell and the top spot. Notre Dame and Ohio State both edged out Michigan.

Defensive Line – The class of 2012 was a top 6 group allowing Michigan to focus on other areas for this class. The Wolverines finished 17th with LSU leading the way and Ohio State, Notre Dame and Nebraska all exceeding the profile from Michigan.

Linebackers – Like the defensive line, Michigan was in a great position from 2012 on linebackers and focused elsewhere. Michigan featured a Top 10 average player rating but the limited quantity dropped them to 30th overall and near the middle of the conference.

National Team Rankings

As detailed last week, I am using a system that awards points to schools based on how their nth best recruit stacks up against other teams’ nth best recruits. Based on this here is my consensus Top 10 (the method is really only good at looking at the top classes) along with their player point totals using good ole’ fashioned addition.

Rank Team Nth Points Total Points
1 Alabama 290 1,380
2 Ohio St 265 1,285
3 Notre Dame 246 1,223
4 Florida 228 1,257
5 Michigan 210 1,214
5 LSU 210 1,281
7 USC 206 800
8 Ole Miss 176 1,107
9 Texas A&M 135 1,190
10 Florida St 134 902

Michigan wraps up the class tied for 5th with LSU, behind rivals Notre Dame and Ohio State, along with SEC powers Florida and Alabama.

Here is the chart for the top 3, Michigan and the two most interesting other classes.


Four of the programs, Alabama, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and USC recruited very well in the top 3-5 players of their classes. Alabama is able to then separate themselves from the field for recruits 5-15. Michigan and Notre Dame hold a consistent trend through the bulk of the class while the Buckeyes and Trojans finished somewhere between Alabama and the rest of the quality programs. Florida and LSU have trends very similar to Michigan.The reason I am not completely sold on Ole Miss’s class is that the depth really drops off quickly. After the top several recruits. There is a major devaluation of the Rebel recruits versus the other top programs.

The Rest of the Big Ten

If you follow recruiting much at all this year you’ve seen multiple mentions of the huge gap between the Big 2 and everyone else. Here is how the Future Big Ten teams fared in total recruit points accumulate in 2013.

National Rank (Pts) Team Points
2 Ohio St 1,285
7 Michigan 1,214
17 Nebraska 748
40 Maryland 522
41 Penn St 518
44 Rutgers 487
44 Illinois 487
49 Michigan St 468
50 Indiana 462
52 Wisconsin 430
53 Iowa 422
55 Northwestern 411
57 Purdue 407
67 Minnesota 343

You can oversign all you want and not get anywhere with totals like this. There is nothing about this arrangement that says the Big Ten is heading towards real depth.

The Accelerated Timeline

I haven’t been able to go back and add old signing dates, but based on BCS programs for the 2013 cycle, no team could compete with Michigan in terms of the speed at which this class was assembled. The average commit date for Michigan for the 2013 class was May 9th, nearly 9 months before signing day. Virginia Tech and South Carolina were the only other major programs to have their average commitment come in May. Of the top 20 programs, the five programs with the most late decision were all in the 11-20 range. Auburn was the king of late decisions with an average commitment coming two days before Halloween, which makes sense given the tumultuous season and coaching change they went through in 2012.

The biggest advantages for a fast developing class would seem to be the low drama signing day and a head start of the next season’s class. The no drama signing day was nice but hopefully the expeditious manner in which this class was assembled can yield some gains in 2014 and beyond. Otherwise, it might be worth it to go after a few more high end, late deciders, the only real gap between Michigan and the very top classes in 2013.

The Ole Miss Narrative

I don’t know if I felt like this got more traction around these parts due to losing long time Michigan lean LaQuon Treadwell and his instagram of Benjamins or just that the Rebels pulled in two really high profile recruits on signing day, but what originally looked like a whole lot of smoke seems a lot less suspicious to me after looking at the numbers. Aside from Treadwell’s quickly deleted picture, there are a number of signs pointing to Ole Miss being a legitimate player in the national recruiting scene.

Evidence #1: Their class isn’t as exceptional as its been billed.

ESPN called them a top 5 class and the top end is as good as anyone, but as good as the top was, as noted above, they very quickly return to their historical norms. So it then becomes a question of what happened with the top five or so recruits in the class. While back door dealing wouldn’t surprise me (it’s college football, nothing should surprise me) there did seem to be to be some genuine fluky connections surrounding some of their top signees.

Evidence #2: Hugh Freeze is a good recruiter

I don’t track assistants and recruiting, and with only full season as the head coach at Arkansas State, it’s difficult to track what he should be credited for. With that said, the class that signed as he was heading to Ole Miss, the class assembled during his only year at the helm was far and away the best class Arkansas State has had. The standard was low but the results do matter in context.

Evidence #3: Ole Miss’s class wasn’t as big of a deviation as has been claimed

Again, the top end is what is unique about Ole Miss’s class. Here is Ole Miss’s historical classes using the same format as the national leaders chart:


That is definitely a big gap. With that said, the Rebels’ 1,107 points were about 410 points higher than the average excluding this class. This ranks as the 19th largest spread in the last 12 classes and third largest of this year, behind Texas A&M and Alabama.

In fact the largest outlier of a class actually resides in the state of Michigan. Michigan State’s 2004 class was worth 1,072 points over 500 points higher than their historical average.

My personal take from all of this information is that I am less certain that Ole Miss had an unfair advantage in this recruiting cycle but still think it’s more likely that it happened than it didn’t. The class is unusual in its ability to draw elite level recruits and it is not easy to get 3 of the best 4 and 4 of the best 7 recruits your school has gotten in the last 12 years. Plus, its college football and college football in the southeast. If you don’t start with suspicion you haven’t been paying attention.



February 7th, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

If this group of O linemen ('12 & '13) live up to the expectations, even if you assume there are 2 or 3 busts in the group, where do they rank as a unit in Michigan history four years from now? We had some great lines in the '90s and I would assume under Bo, but in the modern era (since 1990 or so) this has to have the makings of the best offensive line unit we have seen.


February 7th, 2013 at 3:32 PM ^

As always I love the work!

I agree with all of your points.  It's pretty crazy how the BigTen is shaping up as the BigTwo again...  The Ole Miss situation seems less crazy looking at your graphs.  Having the number 1 recruit I think helped bring other top talent (I know he only signed the last day but most people felt he was Ole Miss well before)- and that was in part luck from his brother.  I think they were able to get lucky and do hard work on a couple of top-top guys and then the rest of the class was like it normally was.  If they continually get top guys like this year then it will be interesting to see whether he is a crazy recruiter or if funny business is at play.  For now I don't really care anyway- they will not likely be a top SEC program next year anyway- so not sure how it impacts us much...

Jehu the Damaja

February 7th, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

It's astounding that Alabama's 15th best recruit is still better than every team on that graph's 10th best recruit. Not to mention all those stud RBs they got, on top of the ones they already had.


February 7th, 2013 at 3:42 PM ^

everybody except us, Ohio and Nebraska? Guess I have not been following this closely, but that is Maryland with Randy Edsall right? Not a different Maryland?

coastal blue

February 7th, 2013 at 3:54 PM ^

Combining the 2012 and 2013 recruiting cycles, Michigan and Ohio State pulled in seven 5-star recruits and 56 4-star recruits, according to Rivals. 

In those same two years, the rest of the Big Ten combined for one 5-star recruit and 44 4-star recruits. 


February 7th, 2013 at 4:11 PM ^

I'm sitting in a Data Mining class feeling guilty for sneaking out to a college football blog during the middle of the class.

After this reading post, I don't feel nearly so guilty.


The Mathlete

February 7th, 2013 at 4:23 PM ^

It's really a quantity vs quality thing. The aggregate points I used to rank has a strong bias towards signing more players. The guys Michigan got were very good, I believe Michigan was top 10 in LB avg rating, there were just two of them which kep the overall number down.


February 7th, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

The only way to take this is to mean we have an amazing, highly-talented group across the board at every position and the only reason anyone is ranked last is because we couldn't rank them all first.

/glass is all full, half with water, half with air


February 7th, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

Ole Miss’s class wasn’t as big of a deviation as has been claimed

Doesn't the fact that only the top end is what is unique about Ole Miss’s class and that the rest of the class fits with historical norms suggest that it has nothing to do with Hugh Freeze? If Mr. Freeze was a good recruiter would not you expect the entire class to be above average? It seems to me that "some genuine fluky connections surrounding some of their top signees" and "Benjamins" can explan Ole Miss's ability to draw elite level recruits in a way that "Hugh Freeze is a good recruiter" cannot.


February 8th, 2013 at 6:45 PM ^

That's exactly what I was thinking.  I wouldn't expect them to buy their entire class, just the few studs at the top with the remainder of the class being what you'd expect from an Ole Miss class.  I guess this sheds light on what treadwell meant when he said michigan wasnt showing him the 'love.'


February 7th, 2013 at 5:35 PM ^

Ohio in red, Alabama in pink.

A conscious decision was made there which calls the credibility of this author into serious question, regardless of all his so-called "math."

Shop Smart Sho…

February 7th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

"There is nothing about this arrangement that says the Big Ten is heading towards real depth."


I would say there is actually a possibility that PSU could be primed to turn back into a superpower of football.  Rutgers and Maryland were able to bring in better classes then the middle of the B1G.  When we take them on, we get much better access to their recruiting footprint.  With PSU being the closest school to them, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them improve dramatically after the sanctions end.

The big question will be if the middle tier B1G schools can recruit the east coast as well or better than Maryland and Rutgers are doing.


February 7th, 2013 at 7:07 PM ^

let me suggest that Penn State's well publicized problems helped Maryland and Rutgers improve their overall classes in comparison to where they would have been with PSU sans penalites.  I believe Pitt also had a strong class this year (for the same reason).  Of course this is my speculation (logic) as I have no ties to PA or any recruiting scoops.