Over the past six weeks I have become increasingly disgusted with this whole system of "Star ratings" and with the recruiting of "camp guys." I know that football recruiting "nuts" really get into the Star System, and it gives the recruiting reporters something to do to keep getting a paycheck. I guess "nuts" would include university presidents. Rating a propsect with "stars," entertains people. Offering a prospect after a good summer camp, makes work easier for college recruiters.
During the early days of high school football this fall, I was told who the three best junior prospects in Ohio were. I have seen those prospects, and they are good college prospects. Because they were offered by some of the top programs in the Midwest, they automatically become four or five stars. Just on "whose offered" guarantees them four stars. My concern is for the prospect himself. What effect does this Star System have on a prospect who has not been evaluated in actual games?
This morning a friend of mine who is a "Big Buckeye football fan" cornered me at the post office. "What is the story on the OSU defense and Curtis Grant?" Answer was simple. Since I have not made time to watch the Buckeyes, and the fact O-State has a good defensive staff, "Don't know." He told me that Grant was a "5-Star recruit" and one of the top LBers in the country, but was not getting any playing time." Since he is not an "Ohio player," I really never saw him play in high school. For the record, AJ Hawk was a "two or three star." Check what John Simon's Star rating was coming out of high school. I told my friend that I did not understand the "Star-rating" system.
More and more, college coaches in the Midwest seem to be recruiting "camp guys" rather that "football players." In the South, college coaches recruit football players and the reason is simple. Florida, Georgia, and Texas, among others, have two weeks of high school spring football Actual pads and contact. They also have a type of "football jamboree," which is a scrimmage between different schools. Ohio WILL NEVER have high school spring football like the South. I have no problem with that, but that is not the problem.
The problem is that college coaches continue to offer a high school prospect if he does well at their suimmer camp. He can run fast. He can jump. He can swagger. He can complete the ball to every receiver almost every play. College coaches seem to forget that when young men put the pads on things can change. Now the ball does not get to every receiver. Now with pads on he does not run as fast. Now with pads on the prospect loses his swagger, because the defender will hit back. This does not happen to every college prospect, but the odds keep increasing.
Honestly, as strange as it may seem, young college coaches do not take the time to really evaluate a prospect. They do not listen to what the recruit is saying, and they do not really concentrate on the recruit's verbal or nonverbal. They also go off of list from the recuiting "experts," like Tom Lemming. Lemming is a recruiting reporter, not an evaluator of talent. Coaches, old and young look at a highlight video, and, sometimes offer off of the highlight video. Do you think a recruit is going to put bad plays on a "highlight" video? Coaches must spend more time on recruiting and evaluations.
Of the course, the big question is always, "Who else is recruiting him?" I mean I hear that all of the time. Big deal. If O-State offers a prospect, every coach in the Midwest will be offering him. Last year Nick Saban was offering prospects in Ohio. Really the only reason he was doing that was to put pressure on Ohio State. Also, some programs in the Big Ten have offered any player who can walk and chew gum at the same time. Good Luck!
Things are not going to change, nor are football recruiting practices going to slow down. Only get worse. One recruiting point to remember - If in the summer, a college coach tells the prospect, "We like you from the camp, and you will have an offer. Offer is there, but we need to look at some other players, too. Play hard those first three or four games, and you will for sure have an offer." If a coach tells the prospect that - Good luck!
Finally, I am not trying to be negative with whole football recruiting world. I just hate to see good kids messed over. I talk with parents all of the time about the good, the bad, and the ugly of football recruiting. Honesty is not one of my weaknesses.
Smile at the Star Rating System, but do not take it serious. One national recruiting reporter wanted to lower Braxton Miller's QB rating, because he had a bad all-star game in Florida in December.
Smile when Rivals, or any of the other recruiting websites rank you high, but remember the recruiting reporters have not not seen every prospect on the list.
Smile, but remember when a recruiting reporter wants to do a story on you, he has to do so many stories a month to get paid.
Smile when you get an award at a college football summer camp, but remember football is still played with pads on. The recognition is good, but you still play the game
Smile when you get invited to either the Army Combine in Texas over Christmas, but remember the cost and, if you are just a guy, you will be treated like just a guy.
Simile when you run over a defender in a game, or when you hit somebody so hard that both of you are slow to get up, or when you "spin-it" throw after throw and defenders in your face, or you when you break four tackles to score a TD. That's football.
Ohio is never going to get high school spring football like the South. but if an Ohio high school football can play "lights-out" play after play after play on Friday nights, he has a chance. May be someday college coaches will concentrate on recruiting " football players" again. "Woody and Bo" Days would be here again. (But with the spread offense)