Posted at 4:00pm -- 1/21/2010
Mailbag question: The state of recruiting
While I am not a fan of the recruiting star system for rating players, I do find it instructive to look at which teams are actively recruiting players that UM is recruiting or is in the process of recruiting. What I am currently seeing is that we seem to be competing for recruits against the likes of Bowling Green, Kent State, Louisiana Tech, Ball State, Tulane and Maryland. Indeed, in looking at players already verbally committed, it seems that only two were given offers by Ohio State, two were offered by the University of Florida, and one was offered by USC.
Previously, when there were coaching changes at major programs around the nation, e.g. Notre Dame, USC, and Tennessee, many of these commits would look to Michigan as an option. But now it seems that since we were never in the recruiting wars for players at these schools, we have little chance of “poaching” major recruits at this late date. It concerns me that we are no longer competing in the recruiting wars against the top level teams, because I am of the opinion that if we are recruiting against the Duke’s and Maryland's of the world we will probably be competing against them on the field as well, regardless of the scheme or training program we utilize.
If there was ever one reservation with hiring Coach Rod it was that few of his players were of sufficient talent to make it to the next level, as it appears that only eight of his players eventually went on to the pros from West Virginia, while on the other hand, Pete Carroll sent some 60 players over the same period. Could you offer some commentary?
Thanks. Enjoy your column.
Thanks for the great questions and comments.
We are 100% in agreement concerning the star ratings. Such ratings are just one person’s opinion, or a group of people pushing an angle, especially when there are now recruiting sites that are involved in camps, combines, and all-star games. Self-vested interests will always pick the players they talk to and feature on t he site over another recruit, or pick a recruit that is going to their camp or all-star game for inclusion in “lists.” Also, these site ratings are based off of what their regional guys say about a recruit and how hard certain regional guys push for a player to be included in the listings can be the determining factor, more so than purely objective comparison.
Just like anything else, by knowledge or pure luck, the recruiting sites get some right and get some wrong, regarding predictive success at the next level (college). Just look at the NFL draft. With all the money that is now put into scouting and consider that teams are extensively working out college players in person, as well as doing comprehensive research and background checks, teams still miss on draft selections. Heck, in the NFL, where they spend millions and have professional scouts, teams make first-round mistakes that can hold back a team’s progress for an extended time.
We believe there are generally twenty-five or thirty super prospects that for the most part any knowledgeable observer could identify and by committee agree on a clear superiority of talent and potential for success at the next level, especially if the “supers’ are all at the same location working out. The ultra-elite athletes are what we call the difference makers. Lamar Woodley would be a good recent UM example and so would Chad Henne.
After the agreed upon “supers,” there would be another one hundred or so prospects that recruiters could throw into a bag and basically pull out any from the sample and have an equal shot at getting a quality player.
There will always be some surprises in recruiting, because some recruits get overlooked, or they do not get involved in getting their name out to recruiting services by going to camps or combines. Some recent Michigan recruits had a chance to gain more star power by going to numerous camps, but were very selective in camp choice.
Some recruiting sites will call such “overlooked” players "super sleepers." Of course, fan bases will always covet the higher rated recruits and when other, lower-ranked, recruits appear on the radar, the fan base and associated sites use the word "sleeper," ala Michigan State fans a few years ago, and now many others use this term. When a team gets a commitment from the elite-level or highly rated recruit, fans will always say these rankings are important and when a fan base does not get the higher ranked four and five star players, but instead lower rated two and three star recruits the faithful say the recruiting services never get the ratings right and missed out on this prospect. Remember the old commercial: “It’s just as good as a Sony?”
We agree with your comments about taking into account which programs have offered a recruit as a method of grading/ranking. This method receives even more validation when numerous elite schools target certain recruits.
Remember this: Michigan's offense is very skill-specific and the Michigan coaching staff knows what it takes to be successful with their offensive schemes.
If we have one complaint or concern about offensive recruiting it is that Michigan has not landed an elite level split end or running back, someone like Prater (USC) or Lache Seastrunk. Some "expert" said the Michigan coaching staff had Michigan commits rated higher than those guys, but with what we have seen out of the two elite players cited above, we conclude that comment is just "sour grapes" talk. Or perhaps a recruiting site is trying to push/embellish the committed kids to a Michigan-site fan base to attract more interest and keep business dollars coming forth. It has been stated that the sites are a business and we agree.
Players like Prater or Seastrunk are the super skilled athletes who make opponent’s defensive coordinators stay up nights trying to devise methods of defending them. Both are the type of player that make defenses account for their every move and provide open space and areas for their teammates to exploit. The very presence of such skilled players makes everyone else on the offense better. One example: Braylon Edwards made a rookie/freshmen quarterback, Chad Henne, play like a veteran because when he got into trouble he always looked for Braylon and even if he was covered, Henne knew that Braylon would go after the ball and usually end up coming out of the play with the jump ball.
Our biggest concern with recruiting overall is on the defensive side, especially regarding the front seven recruiting. In our opinion, Michigan needed to land a quality defensive end/edge rusher, two big/strong defensive tackles, and a stud middle linebacker. We are hoping that the Michigan staff has a plan and lands someone we are unaware of at these key positions. The other hope is that a player from the current roster has a great off-season and we see a completely different (better) player when we visit spring practices.
There is much more to football than hope.
Written by GBMW Staff
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