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Evaluating the 2008 Recruiting Class

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

We are evaluating how close the recruiting services were with their ratings of the 2008 incoming class. This includes all the guys signed by Clemson in 2008. Stanley Hunter is listed by the services, but was counted in the 2007 class after sitting out for academic reasons. We've decided to review the class to see whether Rivals and Scout got their ratings right in the first place. I have my own thoughts about what I take star ratings to really mean, and it always becomes a point of contention between people who live by the ratings and those who trust the staff to make evaluations regardless of rating.

Rivals ranked this the #12 class in the nation, Scout #11. ESPN ranked Clemson #2 with 10 ESPNU 150 commitments. Six members enrolled early: Benton, Bowers, Hunter, Parker, Rollins and Jones.

The class is obviously highlighted by DaQuan Bowers, the #1 DE in the country who was Clemson-bound from the start, but Harper, McClain, Allen, and Parker were all amongst the best at their positions in the country.

My interpretation of the various star ratings are: 5-star -- starter by Soph year, contributor as true freshman; 4-star -- solid starter, All-Conf type player as upperclassman; 3-stars -- by upperclassman should be starting; 2-star -- contributor, possibly a starter by Senior year. I think that is fair to both sides. Again, ESPN did not use a "star" rating but rather a point system, and i've converted that into an equivalent. When in doubt I list both possibilities.

Also listed in the class is JUCO DE/OLB Jarrett Crittenton, who signed with Clemson and was not allowed to enroll because of our academic JUCO requirements. He went on to Memphis and then MTSU and plays with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thanks Barker.

2008 Signing Class
Player Rivals Scout ESPN Comments
CB - Spencer Adams 4 (5.9) 4 4-150 One of the highest rated in the class. Tore his knee up early on, and despite healing well, he never panned out as a CB, just not a football player. Quit football for Track
TE Dwayne Allen 4 4 4-150 Early 2nd Rd NFL draft pick, ratings were a bit low.
LB Daniel Andrews 2 2 NR Was offered because he was Jamie Harper's teammate, and never did anything of importance. Ratings were accurate.
K Spencer Benton 2 2 3 Solid kickoff guy for the Tigers for several years, but just cannot get the ball to the endzone. Rating is accurate.
DE Da'Quan Bowers 5 5 5 - 150 #1 player in the nation, but despite flashes of brilliance never put together a whole season of dominance until his last. Projected Top 5 pick, but a knee injury dropped him into 2nd round status in NFL draft. Ratings are accurate.
DB Xavier Brewer 3 4 4-150 Well ESPN was wrong for sure. Serviceable CB, solid tackler, but staff moved him around in the secondary too much.
WR Jaron Brown 3 3 3 Really didnt catch many balls at Cheraw, due to the offensive style. Came on as a Junior to become a dependable guy his last two seasons.
RB Andre Ellington 4 4 4 Was outstanding in HS, continued it at Clemson. Ended up 2nd in career rushing yardage. Rating is accurate. Likely NFL 2-4th round pick.
TE/WR Brandon Ford 4 3 3 Dabo offered Ford instead of Alshon Jeffery because Alshon was "too slow". Ford languished at WR before moving to TE and becoming a dependable player. A high 3-star is accurate.
C Dalton Freeman 4 4 2/3 Became All-ACC and All-American without ever being able to block a 0-technique, but you'd have to say the 4-star rating is correct. Not invited to NFL combine, but possibly a late round NFL pick.
S Rashard Hall 3 3 2 Freshman AA. A knee injury decimated his 2011 season, and hampered the rest of his career. Never developed into a better player after the freshman year.
RB Jamie Harper 4 5 4-150 Great receiver, sissy runner. Went in the middle rounds to the Tennessee Titans after 3 seasons.
LB Stanley Hunter 3 3 3 Quit football due to seizures. - Counted in 2007 as well.
WR Marquan Jones 4 3 3/4 The most invisible man on the field never made a serious impact. Clearly the Rivals service rating was wrong.
S Carlton Lewis 3 3 2/3 Did not contribute heavily, then transferred after 2011. Was actually rated higher than Hall. Rated too high by first two services.
G Antoine McClain 4 4 4-150 Picked Clemson over Alabama, then started all 4 years and somehow never blocked a soul. Athletically the rating is right, but this is a bust if there ever was one. Really no better than a 3-star.
G Kenneth Page 4 3 4 Signee made trouble for Clemson flashing a roll of 100's after his signing date, and then never played. Transferred to Coastal Carolina after 2009, and didn't do much there either. Ratings all too high.
QB Kyle Parker 4 4 4--150 Started as RS Freshman, beating Will Korn. Led Clemson to an ACCCG and then didnt progress in 2010 at all after he was drafted by MLB in 1st round. Rating is accurate though.
QB Jon Richt 3 2 2 Offered as a bit of a gesture to Mark Richt, transferred. 2-stars is correct.
LB Tarik Rollins 3 3 4-150 Coaches realized they missed on him due to a bad knee injury and he transferred quickly. 2-stars is correct. ESPN was way off here.
G Matt Sanders 3 3 2 Never became a contributor, Brad Scott rode him until he just lost the will to play hard. Academic issues lost him his last year of eligibility. 2-stars is correct.
LS Matt Skinner 2 2 2 Long-snapper, who couldn't do that part of his job very well. Rating is accurate.
DT Brandon Thompson 4 4 4-150 2nd round NFL draft pick in 2011. Rating might be a bit low.
LB Tig Willard 4 3 3/4 Started in 2011-2012, dependable player with skills, but not flashy. I'd say the ratings were right, a high-3/low-4 player. Possible late round NFL pick.
P Dawson Zimmerman 2 3 2/3 Became a pretty good punter for Clemson. 2 star Rating seems too low.

In the end though, this was a good class with a great number of NFL draft picks, and we'll know for sure where some others end up this April in the last draft that affects these results.

Going down the list, it seems to us that ESPN consistently overrated players in the class, while Scout is fair or slightly underrates. Rivals is somewhere in the middle.

As a group, the obvious portion that did not develop well were the offensive linemen taken in the 2008 class, a problem that has hampered us for the years they all were here. Dalton took over the starting spot over Mason Cloy relatively quickly at Center, and never gave it up afterwards. He is the lone bright spot, but despite somehow being voted All-ACC and onto some AA teams, he couldn't get invited to the NFL combine. While McClain did get better after his first year of heavy PT, he hit a wall and never truly improved at RG. Skinner and Sanders and Page were all busts.