The Worst Day in Sports
National signing day is the worst day in sports. Those who are familiar with me know my hatred for this media glorified day in February when kids announce their college selections “The Bachelorette” style by putting on a hat of their future institution of higher learning while leaving a couple schools’ caps and scholarship offers sitting on the table. While the over dramatization of the day is enough to make me angry, what really spills my milk is the ignorance of the whole country. Fans look at this day as the end all be all for their teams. In reality, college football recruiting is nothing more than a giant crapshoot.
Very rarely do the most coveted guys out of high school end up being the best players in college. Just take a look at the 2012 AP All-Americans and their Scout.com position ratings coming out of high school.
QB: Johnny Manziel (2010 #22)
RB: Monte Ball (2008 RB #47) Ka’Deem Carey (2010 RB #55)
WR: Marqise Lee (2010 S #3) Terrence Williams (2008 WR #262)
TE: Zach Ertz (2008 TE #4)
T: Luke Joeckel (2009 T #15) Taylor Lewan (2008 T #20)
G: Chase Warmack (2008 G #45) Jonathan Cooper ( 2007 G #42)
C: Barret Jones (2008 T #18)
DE: Jadeveon Clowney (2010 DE #1) Bjoern Werner (4-stars no # rank)
DT: Star Lotulelei (2006 DE #47) Will Sutton (2008 DT #33)
LB: Manti Te’o (2009 LB #1) Jarvis Jones (2008 SLB #3) CJ Mosley (2009 OLB #15)
CB: Dee Millner (2009 CB #1) Jordan Poyer (2008 S Not Rated 2-star)
S: Phillip Thomas (2006 S Not Rated 2-star) Matt Elam (2009 S #2)
Average Ranking for position in graduation class: 47.55*
*NR 4-stars were given a rating of 20, NR 2-stars were given a rating of 200
This doesn’t even mean they were expected to be the 48th best player at their position when they get to college because all of the other recruiting classes still have to be factored in. A ranking in the high forties usually translates to 3 stars. 3 star guys are not the ones on TV making their decisions. They barely even get mentioned by their own university’s media on the day after their signing.
A school’s prized recruit may not finish where he started. The quarterback is looked at the most to be the centerpiece of a recruiting class and a team. In the 2009 recruiting class 7 of the Scout.com top 15 quarterbacks ended up transferring to other schools.
So why is it so difficult to project a high school football player’s future?
There are too many reasons to count. But there are a few that tend to always factor in for bad predictions.
1. No Common Opponents
It is hard to take film from a kid who is playing in a league of high schools with enrollments in the thousands in a hot bed recruiting state and compare it to a kid who is playing small schools in the middle of the nowhere. And unlike any other sport, there is no club team system to give kids from all over the country a chance to play one another to see how they stack up. Combines and passing league tournaments can only show so much. Taking a kid because he looks like a player in shorts and a t-shirt is like taking a basketball player because he can jump high, or a baseball player because he can launch the ball in batting practice. He may have athletic ability, but is he able to put it all together when it really matters?
There is a major mental aspect that comes along with being a blue chip recruit. Blue Chippers get thrusted onto the national spotlight; something that not everyone can deal with. Some players are able to put the blinders on and focus on continuing to improve. Others get too caught up in their new-found celebrity to realize just how hard they have to work in order to be a star at the college level. Then there are some who simply cannot handle the pressure of the added attention and struggle. There is also a mental component for guys coming in with less accolades. They either make it their mission to prove the media wrong, or they become intimidated by the others around them. Either way it’s almost impossible to tell how a player will react until they suit up for their first game.
At the end of the day it does not matter how talented a player is if he has terrible coaching or is in the wrong system. To complicate things, coaches get fired and often times the new coach will bring in a totally new style of play that does not align with a recruits strengths. Also, players and coaches don’t always get along. Kids get frustrated easily, and sometimes coaches lie to recruits.
So if your school did well on Wednesday, congrats on winning the paper championship. As we all know, football is played on the field, not on paper. Your paper victory means nothing unless it translates to actual wins.