Recruiting Coverage Over The Top Now More Than Ever
National Signing Day came and went, and again Alabama landed the top class according to just about every recruiting ranking.
Fan bases got excited about who was signing with their school, while it also gave them a chance to demonize 17- and 18-year-olds who would dare not sign with their school. Recruits got their moment in the spotlight after months of intense debate over where they would play college ball.
The day after National Signing Day, the focus turned to next year's class, as recruiting sites released initial rankings and the hype began.
Is it just me, or have we gone overboard when it comes to college recruiting? For 12 months, we put these kids on a pedestal and treat them like they are the best thing since sliced bread. Some will live up to the expectations placed on them by their fan bases, while others will be publicly scolded on talk radio when they make a simple mistake in a big situation.
We've entered a time where we judge the future success of a particular program based on the number of guys with four or five stars next to their names.
But that's not all. These players bask in the limelight and are basically treated as if they're untouchable. But once they get on campus, they realize things are different, and they aren't necessarily the big man on campus.
Fans Too Invested
What is it with people needing updates from recruits after every little point on the recruiting trail? For some reason, we get focused on how their official visit went or which game they're going to watch on Saturdays. And we take to Twitter letting the world know our thoughts on high school players.
When a top-rated recruit commits to our school. we all jump up in celebration. But when that same recruit de-commits and opts to go somewhere else, they get called every name in the book and told they would have never made it as an (insert team nickname here). We have no problem with a high schooler making a decision to de-commit to join our team because he said "it was the best thing for him," but when another kid does the same thing, he is wrong on so many levels. Why is that?
Many fans are too invested in college recruiting, failing to realize that just because there are four or five stars next to their name, it doesn't mean they're going to be a legitimate star in college. Whether it's athletic ability or off-the-field issues, many four and five stars aren't all they're cracked up to be.
A Few Examples
Let's look back at the Class of 2010 and the top high school prospects, according to Rivals.com.
Ronald Powell was the No. 1-rated recruit coming out of high school, but failed to live up to those expectations while at Florida. He totaled 83 tackles and 11 sacks during his career, although he missed the 2012 season after tearing his ACL twice.
Seantrel Henderson was the No. 2-rated recruit, and like Powell, never lived up to the hype in college. His best season at Miami was his freshman year in which he started nine games at right tackle. After that, he was next to nothing, even getting demoted for three games his senior season.
Wide receiver Kyle Prater has been much of the same as the other two after being rated the No. 3-overall prospect. After two years at USC, Prater transferred to Northwestern. In three years, he has 20 receptions for 119 yards.
In fact, there are many other five-star examples that were can't-miss prospects. But they did miss.
On the flip side, Bjoern Werner signed with Florida State as a three-star defensive tackle. Last year, he was the 24th overall pick in the NFL Draft. An even better example would be quarterback Blake Bortles, who was the No. 44-rated pro-style quarterback and had a three-star ranking in 2010. Bortles will be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft this year, and could possibly be the No. 1 overall pick.
The bottom line is, how a player is rated in high school can mean nothing when it comes to the college level.
Mentality Of A High Schooler
One of the things we've seen in the last decade with the advances of technology is that many recruits (not all) are treated like gods. Their recruitment is more of a sideshow than anything else.
Recruiting services, newspapers, magazines and websites clamor for a few minutes of these recruits' time, hoping they'll get the inside scoop on which schools a player has in their top five or how their official visit went. They'll call these recruits, go to their schools (during class), attend their practices and go to any events the recruit may attend, just so they can ask these questions. To put it plainly, these recruits are treated like stars, and that pushes them toward a world where everything is all about them.
Most realize the total opposite when they get on campus and many other players are just as big, just as strong, just as fast and more experienced.
We also act like the only recruiting going on is at the FBS and FCS levels. News flash, there is a lot of other football that is played out there. Many of these kids are forgotten about as many don't consider it important that they're signing to play at the next level.
Whether it's Division II, Division III or JUCO, thousands of other players are signing with schools to play football. They may not be playing in a division that gets a lot of media coverage, but they're getting all or part of their education paid for. And isn't the the entire goal of going to college? Well, unless you're Ohio State third-string quarterback Cardale Jones, who tweeted, "Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS."
No End In Sight
In the college recruiting world, there is no offseason, even though there are dead periods per NCAA rules.
Recruiting services, newspapers and website have already come out with their top players for the Class of 2015, updating the big boards for each school.
The lust for running back Leonard Fournette (signed with LSU) and defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (signed with Alabama) already has subsided, and now people are focusing on defensive tackle Trenton Thompson and cornerback Kevin Toliver II.
Somehow, dreams of a high school junior donning your school's colors in two years puts some fans in la la land. "Maybe that player is the missing piece for us to win a national title," some think.
Social media dominates our news cycle, and we couldn't live without it. After all, where would we be if we didn't know a recruit was taking a "secret" visit to a rival school after he's committed? How could we go on with our lives?