Nice article on Channing Stribling and "sleeper" recruits

Submitted by StephenRKass on July 24th, 2012 at 12:46 PM

The Rivals website has a nice article highlighting "sleeper" recruits and Channing Stribling in particular. (LINK:  I enjoyed the Mathlete's piece on recruiting rankings and the fact that stars do matter. However, I am thrilled that Michigan, Mattison, and Mallory were in on Stribling early. The ability to uncover a "diamond in the rough" is something that helps tremendously. What matters isn't that we "win" the recruiting rankings, but that we have the right player personnel for Michigan to win. At worst, Stribling helps the depth chart. At best, he explodes in his senior year, and it becomes obvious that Michigan has a star DB recruit.



July 24th, 2012 at 1:09 PM ^

I've always wondered if there is a difference in the success of lower rated kids if they are recruited by schools like Michigan vs. only having MAC offers.  I'm sure it would be possible to look at it using the Mathlete's database but I don't remember enough statistics to be able to analyze the data.  We all know about the success stories of 2 or 3 stars at schools like Michigan and Ohio, but I wonder if lower rated players are really more likely to be successful at BCS schools when they are generally competing against 4 and 5 stars.

restive neb

July 24th, 2012 at 1:19 PM ^

But I imagine there is also some of the reverse:  A player gets the benefit of the doubt from the recruiting services, bumping him up to three stars because he was offered by a major school, while a similar player going to a MAC school remains a two star.  In this case, the bump in ratings could make three stars at the major schools underperform relative to their peers (in terms of final ratings) at smaller schools.


July 24th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. There are different reasons why different athletes are rated with two or three stars, or not rated at all. Let's look at three past Michigan examples, as well as Stribling.

  1. Mike Hart - coming out of Onondaga, New York, he had tremendous statistics (national career record of 204 rush touchdowns and and 1246 career points.) However, because of his lack of stature, the size of his high school, and the weak quality of high school football in the western NY area, Hart was not highly rated as a recruit. Prior to his 2004 freshman season, no one foresaw that he would set a Michigan record of 1,455 rushing yards.
  2. Tom Brady - his speed, arm strength, size, and agility all left something to be desired.  Who can forget that Brady was buried seventh on the depth chart as a freshman, had to fight off Henson for the starting position as a junior  and senior and that Carr wouldn't name Brady starting quarterback? We all know how that story turned out.
  3. Jordan Kovacs - twice a walk on, doubted for years as a safety, slow, "gritty," not rated at all, and yet now one of the key leaders of the defense. His impecable pursuit angles and football smarts, along with our defensive scheme, make Kovacs a valuable asset, and give Michigan the best safety tandem they have had in years.

According to the Rivals article, Stribling falls into a different category. He just began playing safety, and so far, has largely been a wide receiver. The implication is that after the fall, once everyone sees how good he is as a safety, there will be a lot of offers out there.

One other thing:  for every low rated recruit who succeeds, there are many more who don't make it. It just is impossible to tell who will make the leap and tap their potential, and who won't.


July 24th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

I'm not a fan of labeling every two-star guy "sleeper" or "diamond in the rough," which is what seems to happen.  It's like a rule: all your own two stars are "sleepers" and "diamonds in the rough," and everyone else's are no-names.   Honestly, UVA fans are really obnoxious like this sometimes - damn near every two-star we get is a "sleeper!" (or my favorite, "big-time sleeper!") and most of them turn out to actually be two-star players.

Plus, "diamond in the rough" is horribly misused......Stribling can't possibly be a diamond in the rough coming from the talent-churning school he plays for.  A diamond in the rough is someone off the beaten path or coming from a tiny place where you wouldn't expect to find talent.  Stribling is teammates with Uriah LeMay and Peter Kalambayi, and surely has been well-scouted.


July 24th, 2012 at 3:31 PM ^

That makes for good content and all, but it is always strange when a rating service (for anything) rates a guy as a "sleeper."  If they think he's a sleeper, why rate him so low?


July 24th, 2012 at 5:38 PM ^

I think Stribling was below the radar, and the recruiting services missed him. He was, to use the overused vernacular, a "sleeper" or "diamond in the rough" to Scout, Rivals, 247, and ESPN, if not to the coaches. It was only when Michigan offered Channing, and he accepted, that everyone took notice. Mattison, imhe, is the deal maker and the reason that all involved pay attention. The recruiting services realize that only a fool would doubt Mattison's ability to first, uncover & assess talent, and second, to develop it. In this regard, John Beilein appears to have the same ability (i.e., finding, assessing, and snagging great players BEFORE anyone else realizes the athlete in question's ability.)

My guess is that if Saban, or Urban Meyer, or Lane Kiffin, offered a so-called "two star," (exception:  not two star long snappers,) everyone would take notice, and said two star recruit would have the "sleeper" moniker quickly slapped on their info dossier.

I think that the more a coach is connected to high schools and school scouts, the more likely they are to hear about this kind of player. And a good scout really has to cover their tracks so that no one else sees who they are looking at. Recently, I ran into two examples of scouts who uncovered talent others didn't see:

  1. In reading Jim Abbott's autobiography  Imperfect: An Improbable Life,there is a fascinating account of how Abbott was scouted. In brief, the scout was extremely careful not to bring any attention to himself, because he didn't want any other MLB scouts to see who he was looking at.
  2. The Chicago Tribune just had a long piece on former GM Jerry Krause. (LINK: Krause had the nickname "sleuth," and he now admits it fit. It was partly luck that the Bulls drafted Michael Jordan. Even so, he was the third pick. But the real steal was Scottie Pippen. Krause says, If I had said something to somebody before the Pippen draft, it would've got out. We were able to do that, and nobody had a clue in the world that we were interested in Pippen. Not one person.

Part of the job of good scouts (and coaches) is to find exceptional talent under a rock, talent that no one else sees. Stribling had a single MAC offer from Ball State, to go along with a few FCS offers. I believe he is a "low floor, high ceiling" player, and has the opportunity to be key to Michigan in the future. This, in combination with many 4 star recruits, is critical.


July 24th, 2012 at 5:50 PM ^

I still don't think that makes sense.  The people doing the rankings can't call someone underrated.  If Rivals thinks he's a sleeper, then why not just rate him higher? 

This is like if I ranked the top-25 teams in the country, and then said that a team I ranked in the top-5 is overrated.  If I feel he's overrated, then I could just rate him lower, right?


July 24th, 2012 at 6:21 PM ^

I think regarding recruting at least, that many services have a hard time rating some of the players that have a lot of "raw" talent. Some recruits have all of the physical skills needed, but may lack in technique, coaching, competition, experience at their recruited position... I think they would be more likely to rate a recruit higher when they feel like they have a solid grasp on their overall potential.


July 24th, 2012 at 7:46 PM ^

Although I totally disagree with you, since great athletes with no technique are ranked highly all the time (Terrelle Pryor?).  But even if I agreed with your point, Stribling wouldn't apply to those criteria.  He plays for a big time program, so coaching and competition is both very high.  In terms of experience at his position, I know he played CB at least this last year, and I haven't hard that he's new to the position, and it's not like a lot of guys who are recruited at a different position than they play in high school.  As for his technique, I'm not as certain but didn't his reports from M's camp say he was pretty polished?

Either way, he's not exactly an under the radar guy in any way, unless he's just a late bloomer. 

Either way - if Rivals is impressed with him enough to write about him being a sleeper, isn't that enough to simply rate him higher?


July 25th, 2012 at 6:33 AM ^

You forget the subscription-selling nature of the site.  "Sleeper" gets the fans a lot more excited than "two-star that your team's coaches like better than other coaches do."

I mean, have you ever heard them say "there's a ton of flaws in this guy's game, and we're not sure why the coaches offered him"?


July 24th, 2012 at 8:26 PM ^

"Every now and then, a school will offer someone based on an outstanding performance at its own camp. Perhaps an up-close look at a prospect gives a coach a different perspective that he didn't notice on the player's highlight tape."

To the OP's point about finding the right personnel to win at your school, it definitely helps when you have a staff that is willing to be studious when it comes to recruiting, not to  mention a staff that is willing to take what they see  and work with it if they see huge upside with a player. That being said, I think it is just that more meaningful when a program like Michigan that probably doesn't have to do this necessarily, or at least not as often as others, makes an offer under these circumstances. It is comforting that we do our homework on as many names as possible, in my opinion. 

As to WolvinLA2's question - I will say that that how a ratings site could call someone "underrated"  is something that I never understood unless this is a strategy for inventing content at a later date should something go well at a camp and that supposedly missing star appears suddenly. To not provide an honest baseline rating seems to be a potential disservice in a way since people employ these ratings to make other evaluations.