Stars are so overrated!!
You hear that a lot during this time of the year. Especially if your school picks up a commitment from a recruit who has less than four. On the other hand, when a school lands one with four or five stars by his name, fans of said school will gush about the impact that the four or five star recruit will have once they take the field. So where is the truth to all this recruiting murkiness?
Stars Measure Potential
That is the most important distinction that needs to be made. A five star recruit is not guaranteed to be any more productive than a two star or three star recruit. The rating is given based off the raw physical tools the recruit possesses along with his on field production. It is certainly true that some recruits don’t have the exposure as others and could be severely under valued when it comes to the number of stars that he receives (see Chris Jones). This isn’t always the case though. Most recruits will get enough exposure to the recruiting web sites and an accurate rating is placed on them. So what happens when a player performs highly above that rating or way under it?
It could be a number of things. One thing the star rating doesn’t measure is the heart and character of a player. While they may have all the physical tools to dominate at the college level, they may not have the determination and work ethic to succeed since the high school game was so easy for them. The opposite could also be true. They may lack what most coaches covet when it to comes to raw talent, but the desire to outperform everyone else and out work all the others can lead a player to achieving great things despite the lack of tools.
One thing that a lot of people forget when it comes to recruiting is that how well a player fits into a scheme or system is vitally important. We don’t have to look any further than our own quarterback situation to see how true that was. Tyler Russell was the higher rated recruit between himself and Dak Prescott. The offense was a terrible fit for Russell though, so the offense didn’t always move the ball as effectively when he was in at quarterback. Prescott was considered a solid quarterback prospect, but he wasn’t nearly as coveted as Russell was. Despite this, the offense clicked much more effectively when he was at the helm. It all has to do with fit.
Coaching vs. Talent
A lot of Mississippi State fans like to point to the Ed Orgeron years at Ole Miss as an example of how little stars matter. Those teams were loaded with four and five star talent, but did absolutely nothing on the field. Another thing that State fans like to point out is that all of the recruiting classes, except for 2012, that Ole Miss has put together has been ranked substantially higher than the ones Mullen has signed. Despite that, Ole Miss has only been able to beat Mullen once. These are the things that those who don’t like star ratings value when talking about their recruiting classes.
This is primarily fiction, but star ratings aren’t as important as those who think they are the end all, be all of a program’s success would have you believe. Schools like Alabama and LSU never have serious drop offs because they are overflowing with four and five star talent. Both of those programs might take a step back next year due to the loss of key contributors, but I’d be shocked if either team lost more than three games. When we lose the amount of significant contributors that they are losing, we take a major step back simply because we don’t have the talent depth to replace them the way Alabama and LSU do. The people who give these players the ratings get paid a lot of money to be as accurate about these things as possible. If they are wrong a lot, then people will stop subscribing to the recruiting websites. They’re right more often than they are wrong. That doesn’t mean a team can’t be successful with players who have less stars by there name. I think Mississippi State could have a big year next year, and they will do it with a lot of players from the class that was rated the worst under the Mullen era (2011). Regardless of the number of four and five star recruits Mullen signs in a few weeks, let’s hope he gets of every drop of potential out of them.