A different way of looking at recruiting rankings makes Ohio State look a lot better

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A slightly different way to look at the rankings emphasizes quality and strips out the quantity.

Most services rank classes by total commitment ratings — adding up each player’s individual rating, no matter how many players are in the class.

That’s not automatically a bad way to do it, but it does produce ratings that lean on quantity of players in the class as much quality of players in the class.

Instead of looking at quality and quantity, let’s look at purely quality.

Our own Bill Connelly weights his adapted recruiting rankings, but uses them to look at class rankings over multiple years. That makes sense, because class sizes roughly even out over four-years as teams have to make the same 85-scholarship math work. Purely going by average player rating is an alternate way to look at just one class.

Here’s a small example:

Team A: signed 12 blue-chip recruits and 14 three-stars (26 total), for a 90.60 average on the 247Sports Composite.

Team B: signed 14 blue-chip recruits and eight three-stars (22 total) for an 89.62 average.

Team A is Oregon, which finished No. 7 in 2019’s recruiting rankings. Team B is Washington, which finished No. 17. That sounds like a decent gap. But if you ranked the programs by average commit, they’d be separated by three national spots and not 10.

Or look to the Big Ten, where you might note Ohio State didn’t even sign a top-two class in the division, according to standard rankings. But OSU took a small class of 17 players. Michigan and Penn State, who finished 1 and 2, took 26 and 23. The Buckeyes’ average player rating is higher, suggesting a long-term talent gap is not being closed.

So, here’s a different way to look at a given year’s rankings.

Individual average player ratings have ranges on the Composite. And the Composite sources the different recruiting services to get a more balanced assessment of individual players. The Composite cutoffs per-player are ….

  • ~98.35 and above: five-star
  • ~89.01-98.34: four-star
  • ~80.00-89.00: three-star
  • 70s: two-star

You can use those ranges to sort where these average classes fall in your head.

And here’s how 2019’s recruiting classes stack up:

(A note: these are slightly subject to change, especially nearer to the bottom as teams add players after February Signing Day. And these are extremely fine margins).

Some takeaways:

  • Ohio State moves up when you rank only by player average, from 14th to third. Oklahoma moves up from sixth to fifth.
  • Most teams don’t fluctuate too much. The overwhelming majority of teams only fluctuate about 10 spots in either direction. Some notable movers, though: UConn jumps 29 spots, Liberty 25, Fresno State 19, and Louisville and Temple 18.
  • Surprise: on a per-player basis, Georgia and Alabama are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the sport this season. That makes sense, given the Tide basically signed an entire recruiting classes’ worth of blue-chips (26) and the Dawgs were not too far behind (20).
  • The sky is nowhere close to falling at Clemson, but for a program that usually prioritizes quality over quantity with its classes, the Tigers are a tad (slightly, barely, not much at all in a global sense) off their usual class strength.
  • USC’s raw class score (20th) isn’t good. Its average isn’t either (88.21, ranked 23rd). Bluntly, USC signed mostly high three- and low four-star talent. One of those classes isn’t the end of the world, and it could be a blip. Could be.

As far as quantity’s concerned, there’s a good case for not caring about it at all when you’re only evaluating one year.

Quantity in one recruiting class doesn’t really matter, because over the long term, everyone’s got almost exactly the same number of players — 85 on scholarship.

The schools that move the most when you just evaluate average player rating often signed small classes. UConn signed 15 players, and Liberty signed 12. UTEP signed 32 players and finished 114th in the “real” rankings, but by average, the Miners are dead last.

It’s not just at the bottom. Clemson’s 2017 recruiting class finished 16th in the rankings. It was, by player average, fifth. That’d be right behind Stanford, which finished fourth on average, and 14th in the real rankings. Both those classes had 14 commits in them. How have Clemson and Stanford done in the two seasons since then?

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