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Recruiting Rankings Mean Nothing and Here’s Why

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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 LonghornsWire.USAToday.com. 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

Nick is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. Nick is a life-long sports fan who is proud to say he suffered through 15 years of Bucs futility to witness a Super Bowl victory in 2020. Nick has a passion for writing and is proud to represent OutKick. Follow me on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes.

3 Comments

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  1. It depends on what you are looking at to evaluate success. Clay would be a strong opponent of your opinion.

    Can you be a consistent bowl team with mediocre recruiting classes? Sure. Can you be a HOFer and a mediocre recruit? Absolutely. Can you win titles with mediocre recruiting classes? NOPE. There are isolated players here and there that are exceptions, but not when it comes to championships. You MUST recruit not just one, but multiple great classes to win championships. Below are just two of many Clay posts on this topic.

    https://www.outkick.com/here-are-the-13-teams-who-can-win-a-college-football-title-in-2021/

    Clay Tweet from 2/6/20
    “ In the playoff era, recruiting class rankings have mattered even more. The average national title team in the past six years has averaged 3.2 top ten classes in the four years prior to a title & no title team has ever finished below 16 in the rankings:”

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