By Sam Burnham, Curator
With National Signing Day now behind us, we are beginning to see the lists emerge about which teams had the best recruiting classes. This team locked down this many "five stars" or that one with so many "four stars" and all that jazz. And here we find ourselves once again deciding who did better than who and no one has even seen the field yet.
Coaches have pulled out all the stops. I actually met Kirby Smart at an airport the other day as he exited a plane to get in a helicopter to go land near recruits. Mark Richt and Manny Diaz had been in town just the week before that. Will Muschamp had been in town a few days before them. I'm up to my neck in FBS coaches and these are just the ones I've seen. This doesn't include who may have gotten in without me seeing them. Y'all, this ain't no big town.
Coaches are chasing stars, writers are chasing coaches, recruits are choosing schools that make their mamas mad, and now these coaches are being ranked by what sort of recruiting season they had.
But the truth is, no one knows what sort of recruiting season anyone had.
Oh there have been plenty of number crunchers that are assigning star rating to 18-year-olds and prognosticating about how well these kids will perform in college. I'm not sure the system is much more reliable than throwing dice. We do not know how any of these kids will do once they aren't sleeping in their own bed, eating mama's cooking, being the biggest fish in the pond, or taking high school classes. This is still very much a waiting game.
I remember one fall when two-a-days were beginning a lot of eyes were one "Mr. Alabama Football" or whatever title is was that this kid had won. It was supposedly an absolute coup that this kid had agreed to sign with us. Everyone thought he'd choose Bama or Auburn. But there he was at our fall camp. We had an intense morning practice and then went to breakfast before the meetings and other session between practices.
We never saw that kid again. He didn't even say bye.
We had another. Transferred in from an SEC school. SEC Freshman of the year. Amazingly talented on the field. Finished the fall semester with a D in PE and failing everything else. Ineligible.
I also saw many kids that had to burn a year making up academics. Getting on track. Seeing these kids make it and do well on the field and in the classroom was one of the best parts of working there. But one thing I learned is that we do not know what a kid will do on the field or in the classroom until they actually show up in those two places. College is a big step, especially for a lot of kids who may be the first people in their family to ever go to college.
Long story short, we don't know what those stars mean. Say what you want about recruiting classes. We want know if they are accurate until at least fall.