Recruiting Analysis Summary and Observations (2006 to Present)

CHARLOTTE NC - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers reacts to his teams 31-26 loss to the USF Bulls during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 31 2010 in Charlotte North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

We exhaustively looked at recruiting statistics dating back to the 2006 class over the past couple months. In a nutshell, we took recruiting data from Scout and Rivals to create these articles that compared Clemson's recruiting class size and the star ratings of the class' players to others around the conference and Southeast. These data sets are important for a couple reasons. First, they give insight on the overall talent level of our team compared to our foes. Equally important, they provide a base for our coaching assessments and of player development.

Assumptions made in creating these articles can be found here. I should point out that we strictly used www.scout.com position classifications. It is possible that some players ended up at a different position ball after they arrived on campus for any of the schools in these articles. If you have not been keeping up with these articles, Table I and Table II provide a summary of these articles. The latter provides links to all the articles. Also, the term quantity refers to the number signed per class and the term quality refers to the average star rating per player.

Table I (below) is a summary of the categories led based on average star ratings and class size. We put together nine articles for each category (ACC Atlantic, ACC Coastal, and non-ACC comparisons), so there's a total of 18 "quality and quantity" categories evaluated through this series.

Table I: Recruiting Article Summary: Categories Led


ACC ATL

ACC Coastal

Non-ACC

Total

Clemson

12

13

9

34

Non-Clemson

5

5

9

19

**Note: Clemson tied the ACC Atlantic average in quantity of ACC ATL Special Teams players signed

Interpretation of the Data as it Relates to Football Success:

Over the course of these articles, one item repeatedly stuck out when comparing Clemson to in-conference foes: Clemson out-recruits the majority of the schools repeatedly and Clemson definitely out-recruited the rest of the ACC as a whole. Based on recruited talent alone, you should expect Clemson to have won multiple ACC Championships over the past five seasons. Alas, that is not the case. Clemson's coaching staffs (both Bowden and Swinney-led) have failed to develop their superior talent into a championship quality team and lost many more games overall than it should have over this time period.

What causes these failures in spite of superior talent?

S&C: As we've pointed out before, our Strength and Conditioning program is simply inadequate and does not build these athletes into football players using modern S&C philosophies (if you want to see something impressive, look at what Jimbo Fisher has done at FSU in this department). Our practice philosophy is lacking. Our players are not in football shape compared to other teams, which is ridiculous.

Practice Philosophy: Clemson runs relatively non-physical practices. These items were criticized by Coach Ford when he swore off attending Clemson practice sessions and has been documented here at STS. The ones don't go against the ones and there is very little fundamental get after someone's ass practice periods at Clemson outside of fall camp. In short, we play soft because we practice soft. WRs cant block and DBs and LBs don't get off blocks because they don't face 1st team on the other side often enough. We show piss poor fundamentals because we don't commit practice time to correcting and repeating proper fundamental technique. You want proof that CU's practices and in-season conditioning programs are lacking? Look no farther than Jamie Harper's in-season weight gain last year. He went from ~230 to 250 lbs by the bowl game. There is no excuse for that. Over the last few years we've seen DL gain 20lbs in-season, men showing up to August practice fat (and they train all year), a training staff that allowed Rendrick Taylor to go from a specimen to someone so big he couldn't run anymore, as well as not being able to put muscle mass on players like Ricky Sapp, who needed it, for 4 years.

Offensive Complexity: Spence created this elaborate concoction of an offense that was extremely difficult for college athletes to grasp given limited instructional time. This issue created more problems when the complexity was combined with poor practice philosophy and lack of practice repetition, plus HC meddling. Napier simplified this offense some, but there was never an identity and we were still running plays that had not been properly installed through practice sessions. How can you expect people to be successful when the prep work is so sloppy and the material too complicated?

The Little Things: Clemson fails to correctly do the little things that win games. We repeatedly complain about wide receiver blocking and special teams goofs. Poor snaps and lack of effort in perimeter blocking are just two of the small items that contribute to a loss on Saturday. We have all heard the murmurings from Coach Rumph contrasting the Clemson and Bama philosophies. Saban runs a tight ship and demands everyone focus on all items (big and small) that win games. I don't see this detail-related focus in Pickens County.

Table II: Recruiting Article Summary

Position

Comparative Group

Article Link

Metric

Clem AVG

Opp Avg

Wide Receiver

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

2.67

2.50

Quality

3.48

2.91

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

2.67

2.80

Quality

3.48

2.85

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

2.67

3.30

Quality

3.48

3.36

Running Back

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

1.17

1.53

Quality

3.85

2.78

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

1.17

1.63

Quality

3.85

3.15

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

1.17

1.77

Quality

3.85

3.71

Defensive Back

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

3.17

2.33

Quality

3.36

2.83

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

3.17

2.20

Quality

3.36

2.86

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

3.17

2.67

Quality

3.36

3.27

Offensive Line

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

3.83

4.30

Quality

3.18

2.72

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

3.83

3.60

Quality

3.18

2.94

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

3.83

4.47

Quality

3.18

3.25

Linebackers

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

2.67

2.77

Quality

3.12

3.00

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

2.67

3.13

Quality

3.12

2.86

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

2.67

2.97

Quality

3.12

3.35

Defensive Line

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

3.83

4.00

Quality

3.63

3.00

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

3.83

3.47

Quality

3.63

2.93

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

3.83

5.30

Quality

3.63

3.40

Quarterbacks

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

1.33

1.27

Quality

3.52

2.82

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

1.33

1.43

Quality

3.52

2.99

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

1.33

1.27

Quality

3.52

3.46

Fullback/Tight End

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

1.33

1.67

Quality

2.92

2.88

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

1.33

1.57

Quality

2.92

2.77

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

1.33

1.57

Quality

2.92

3.07

Special Teams

Atlantic

Article Link

Quantity

0.67

0.67

Quality

2.58

2.13

Coastal

Article Link

Quantity

0.67

0.53

Quality

2.58

2.21

Non-ACC

Article Link

Quantity

0.67

0.60

Quality

2.58

2.36

So you can see Clemson does well enough to win this Conference in terms of quality, and if you go back through each article linked and notice the first table above, you'll see that we are on par or better in most categories we looked at. So, what are the problems with the analysis that could creep up? I see three areas but there are two main categories:

  • Either the services doing the ratings are wrong
  • or CU coaches and S&C staff (3rd area, and a discussion of its own) is doing a poor job with the players once they are in school

We know that there's a southern-bias to some of the various ratings services. There are more eyes on players down here and without question the majority of the talent in the country is in the southeast. Do the guys doing the player ratings change them based on other recommendations and phone calls from coaches? Yes, they do and we know they have. Do they raise ratings of players committed to certain schools? Barry Every of Rivals said so, and then he was fired for it. Do the services have football people doing these ratings? Not always. Some are ex-players or coaches, but most are just football nerds. Its better to look at an offer list and film of a player rather than his rating and in most of our recruiting articles outside of this ad hoc series, that's what we do.

A problem with that line of reasoning, as being the only answer to our problems at CU, is that the services are not wrong on the whole statistically. If a guy is 5-star, he's good, and his offer list will show it. If one is rated a 5 and has offers only from Wofford or Furman, people are going to call BS pretty damn quick and somebody else from rivals/scout gets fired. As more services sprout up and compete, the quality of the rating system will only improve. There were more misses, in my opinion, by Rivals in 2000 than there are now for just that reason. More eyes will eventually get on players up north and this southern bias will decline, but there is no question that Clemson has more speed than most of our opponents, and we are competing for the best recruits with Alabama, UGA, Florida, Miami, Auburn, etc. every year. So no, the services may miss a player or two in a class, but on the whole they turn out good.

If you allow for a rating miss by the services of a couple per class, then the problem shifts to development and coaching. Coaches do the offering, not Rivals, so either the coaches at 10 schools are all wrong or the 4-star player who signs here and doesn't do anything in 4 years isn't being developed. In certain years we may not carry enough numbers at a position, or a position's problems cause us to lose games (OLine, LBs), but if it continues year after year, you have little choice but to point back at the coaches and the training staff.

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