Recruiting "Sweet Spot"

Submitted by uofmfan_13 on January 7th, 2018 at 10:29 AM
Howdy MGoBlog Community, Genuine question/comment here about recruiting. Was chatting with Univ of Texas grad/friend at work and discussing UA all star game. He mentioned how he didn't watch and how he didn't care to even know about the "stars" coming to UT, including #1 rated safety in 2018. He's so over the hype and just in a genuine "show me" state of mind, like many of us. It got me thinking about the raging debates on here, stars vs "stars" vs 3 stars vs trust the coaches etc. My question is, in the information age of recruiting, now that we have what...15 or more years collected and archived, is there anything that points to a sweet spot of recruiting, or maybe a sweet spot for certain programs? Might be difficult with coaching changes. I.e. in my mind, I could see a mid to low four star rating being a better college player more often for Michigan then a five star guy. Granted, we don't get too many 5 star types each class like other blue bloods. A lower ranked 4 star is talented but maybe he's less inclined to think he's "arrived" already. Do recruits ever get rated on how they fit a particular program or scheme or are these ratings strictly future potential and pro prospects 3-4 years later? Full caveat: I do think recruiting rankings matter and I understand their correlation, over time, with sustained success.


We are back

January 7th, 2018 at 10:33 AM ^

Recruiting stars aren’t without flaw, yeah you can line up some kids and see who’s the best of them at a camp but with the way kids grow and mature it’s too hard of a gig, just think if any of these recruiting experts were such good scouts why hasn’t anyone hired them?

swan flu

January 7th, 2018 at 10:44 AM ^

It's really dangerous to look at small data sets and make broad conclusions that happen to corroborate with the data(Texas coaches failed or are bad at talent development). Now when you have a program like Wisconsin that is putting 2-3 offensive linemen into every draft, then you can start to believe that they are really good at some combination of talent evaluation and coaching, but even then it COULD be that they rolled a bunch of 7's in a row.


January 7th, 2018 at 2:27 PM ^

Quite awhile back Wolverine Historian posted a comment about how uneven Texas' record has been over the last 4 decades. I didn't believe it until I looked at the actual record. Texas high schools crank out FB talent, a lot going to UT. They have under-performed badly since the SWC broke up.


January 7th, 2018 at 8:44 PM ^

Some of the coaches they've had since then have been good but not great, and others have been mediocre to bad.

Fred Akers had a decent record overall and came close to a national title twice but struggled his last few years. He went to Purdue (!) after a losing season in 1986. Mack Brown had a similar record; he won the BCS title in 2005 and took them to another BCS championship game in 2009 but struggled his last few years.

The rest of them were pretty mediocre. John Mackovic was the best of them; he had one 10-win season and an upset of a good Nebraska team in 1996 but also a lot of inexplicable losses (including one to a 3-8 Oklahoma team in 1996). He was one of those baffling hires anyway, as he'd had the same mixed success at Illinois.


January 7th, 2018 at 4:46 PM ^

I get that a five star is preferable. Excluding Gary, and hopefully Solomon/DPJ, the five star pick ups for Michigan in past decade have been hugely underwhelming. Contrast this with guys like Jeremy Gallon, Blake Countess, Mike Martin, etc.

swan flu

January 7th, 2018 at 10:37 AM ^

In generalities there is good data to show that five star kids typically do better than four stars do better than three stars etc...

But applying population statistics to individuals in a extrapolatory fashion is really fucking hard and unreliable.

Cali's Goin' Blue

January 7th, 2018 at 11:02 AM ^

Recruiting is like a very large amount of case studies. We get an expected distribution of performance vs starz ratings, however some programs/coaching staffs are much better at getting more out of their starz rating and some do much worse. On top of that, we get a large amount of information from each recruit before, during, and even after(If they make it to the pros) they attend a school for football. Is Ronnie Bell the same type of low 3-star recruit that Nolan Ulizio was? Definitely not, and there is obvious reasons why that is. Is an O-line offer from Wisconsin mean more than an offer from most SEC schools? Obviously yes. We get so much information about these players that it seems that we can garner a lot of information about them after they are ranked where you can draw pretty safe conclusions about whether they were over or under-ranked and come up with reasons for that.

Obviously in general, it is better to get higher ranked recruits. But if you have restrictions in location or academic standards(Wisconsin and Stanford), then it might behoove your program to go after a certain type of player who has the mindset and physical tools to be good in your system. But maybe those players aren't as developed the 5 and high 4 stars and thus don't have the high rankings. But in that mindset you have to do a lot more projection and trust your coaches to develop the talent properly which obviously can't be done everywhere and leads to more randomness in impact players you receive in each recruiting class. 


January 7th, 2018 at 5:24 PM ^

A 5-star is more likely to be more talented than a 3 or 4-star, so why wouldn't you go after the 5-star. 

I get it, some programs have "sweet spots", but that is more often dictated by what they are capable of recruiting.  If schools aren't able to go get those 5-stars or higher end 4-stars, they have to be very good at evaluating what works for their program and bringing in those 3-stars or lower end 4-stars that they can occasionally develop to compete with those higher level recruits.



January 7th, 2018 at 10:40 AM ^

Star rating is only a measure of how talented and athletic a guy is. There are other factors they don't measure, such as coaching, motivation, ability to avoid getting in trouble or being hurt. Sometimes guys might develop physical attributes after their high school careers, or coaches may just have an eye for a guy that is so raw that even the recruiting sites missed his potential talent. Harbaugh did an excellent job of this at Stanford. But, overall, the statistical odds of being an all American or a draft pick decrease significantly with each drop in star rating.


January 7th, 2018 at 11:06 AM ^

You want to emulate Mark Dantonio?

You've been drinking too much Sparty Kool Aid.  Dantonio has mastered the subtle plan of "take advantage of your opponents' self-inflicted wounds."  I prefer the less-subtle Harbaugh mantra of "inflict wounds* upon your opponent."

Seriously, things will get better.  There is no need to panic and start talking nonsense.

* metaphorically speaking, of course.


January 7th, 2018 at 11:39 AM ^

We need to stop buying into the Dantonio eye for talent bullshit. Dantonio offers 5 stars but MSU is not the school a out of state 5 star goes to so he gets 3 stars and conditions them like Pavlov's dogs, tells them no one wanted you and puts the chip on their shoulders


January 7th, 2018 at 12:19 PM ^

Nick Saban said Dantonio has the best eye for talent he's ever been around. MSU develops talent, but they also find elite lower rated talent. And some of it is luck too. They had a commit leave their class that made room for a 2 star RB from Ohio that they added late in the cycle, that RB was Le'Veon Bell. MSU wouldn't have taken Le'Veon Bell if they didn't miss on another guy. Bell was a 2 star who should have been a 5 star and he fell into their lap, now he's the best RB in the NFL.

Mr Miggle

January 7th, 2018 at 11:32 AM ^

Sometimes players get ranked below their talent level due to concerns about their academics. Some of the other things you mentioned also get reflected in a recruit's offers and those do affect the rankings.

I still agree that some of those factors are largely missed. Coaches notice athletic ability and size first too. The number that get to see up close his motivation and how he takes to coaching is going to be pretty small. 

yossarians tree

January 7th, 2018 at 2:30 PM ^

Michigan chooses to have admissions standards and holds kids accountable in the classroom. This puts the program at a large competitive disadvantage from most other D1 elite programs. Exceptions are Notre Dame, Stanford, Northwestern, and maybe a few others. This is the world we live in. We will always be running uphill, which will make it all the sweeter when we get there finally.

Mr Miggle

January 7th, 2018 at 4:45 PM ^

Recruits that are considered unlikely to meet NCAA minimums are the ones who get lower rankings. 

I think that the really good students as a group outplay their rankings. We talk about MSU's recruiting classes, but Northwestern and Wisconsin consistently ourperform their rankings. 

Our academics cut both ways. It keeps some recruits away, but it attracts others. I think when we are going well, it's a net plus. When we're struggling, it's a minus. 

Red Dragon

January 7th, 2018 at 10:48 AM ^

Programs want kids that are good football players while on their team. The higher star rating means the kid will probably do better for the team, therefore the sweet spot is getting as many highly talented kids as you can.


January 7th, 2018 at 10:51 AM ^

Stars do matter they are not the end all but year after year the teams that load up on high star players are the teams at the top of the polls at the end of the season. Wisconsin and MSU are the teams that leaving you say huh. They take kids that fit their systsm but more tjme then not "get" kids that match their system. Its not like they aren't offering the high ranked kids, they just lose out to the big boys of college football. Jimmy offers the 5 star and high 4 star players far more than #628 sometime you win sometime you lose and sometime #628 turns out to be Tom Brady


January 7th, 2018 at 11:01 AM ^

than Stars. Example, how could Don Brown have one of the top Defenses at BC with barely a 4 star? Coaching.  Now get great coaching and lots of talent and you have Alabama. Great coaching and good talent can get you a top 25 team.  Will you win a National Championship with great coaching and good talent? Not likely.

Clarence Boddicker

January 7th, 2018 at 11:03 AM ^

Recruiting "sweet spot": thought this was going to concern the right mix of hookers and money required to get kids to attend a Kentucky commuter school with a stadium sponsored by a pizza chain and a basketball arena by the holding company for KFC and Taco Bell.


January 7th, 2018 at 11:12 AM ^

I’ve always wondered whether some UM math genius has developed a system (akin to Baseball) to truly understand how best to build a team based on various star ratings, HS statistics, early v late commit / enroll, and a ton of other stuff I haven’t listed.


swan flu

January 7th, 2018 at 11:30 AM ^

no. because you are venturing into causation and correlation territory.  The Freakonomics guys tried this with soccer and predicted Iran would be the next world soccer power. 


Extrapolation with these kinds of statistics is really. really. really fucking hard, and probably useless because of the number of hidden variables. humans are like 75% water and 99% variance.