Recruiting Rankings Mean Nothing and Here's Why

You've heard the old adage before: hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

It can be said in all walks of life, but in the NFL, it rings true.

Look no further than the G.O.A.T, Tom Brady. Brady was recruited to play at Michigan in 1995 and entered Ann Arbor as the seventh quarterback on the depth chart. Brady would sit behind Brian Griese for two years before getting a shot in 1998.

But that didn't deter Brady, and now he is a seven-time Super Bowl champion who has reached unprecedented heights in the NFL.

It reaches far beyond Brady in 2021, as outlined in the NFL Network's annual top-100 players list which was completed last week.

Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt took to Twitter last Wednesday to show the recruiting ratings of the top 10 players on the list, and the results might shock you.

Of the 10 players listed, only Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry carried a five-star rating, which makes sense for the freak of nature that he is.

You'll also notice a few schools that nobody would associate with highly-rated recruits and longstanding college football success: Texas Tech, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Fresno State and Wyoming.

Those programs just so happened to recruit a bunch of two and three-star recruits who went on to become the league's best quarterback, defensive tackle, tight end and wide receiver. It might be something to consider for college football teams during the upcoming recruiting cycle.

Take a look at the Texas Longhorns, for example. The former powerhouse program has put together highly-ranked recruiting classes over the last five years, good for seventh among all FBS teams and best in the Big 12, according to And where has that gotten the Longhorns exactly?

Oh that's right, a combined 37-25 record and zero Big 12 championships.

Then go to a program like Wisconsin, which does not have the same advantages as a powerhouse program with boatloads of cash in a desirable location. The Badgers have even had a recruiting class outside the top 25 in every year since 2016.

Wisconsin's accomplishments? A 47-16 record with two New Years Six bowl wins.

And so the lesson is simple: there is more than meets the eye when it comes to prospects, and recruiting rankings do in fact mean squat.

Written by
Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.