This is just a little quick and dirty recruiting composite that I use to give me the basic layout of how teams have recruited heading into a season. It's not perfect by any means but, it is one way to assess the talent level of the players most likely to see the field. I hope you can find this information useful. This is another post where I think it would be most useful to post before the season starts. I'll repost this again after signing day in February with the updated numbers for 2015.
Here, I needed to have something to reference that would quickly show me the "likely" talent level of the players that make up college football teams' two deep.
The first thing I did is to distinguish between classes and weight them somewhat appropriately. In other words, you can't count the 2014 class the same as the 2012 class because most of the 2014 class won't make the two deep this year. That goes for just about every team in the nation. So, I went to Clemson's two deep and charted every player by class from 2009 to 2013.
What I found was that First Year players (FR) comprised 8.90% of the two deep, Second Year players (FR*, SO) 22.46%, Third Year players (SO*, JR) 27.54%, Fourth Year players (JR*, SR) 25.00%, and 5th year players (SR*, GR) were 16.10% of the two deep.
Next, I took Rivals and Scout's Team Rankings for the past 5 years (2010-2014) and combined them together to get an average ranking between the two services. Then, you guessed it; I used the Clemson two deep percentages to "weight" each class. So, the 2014 class account for 8.90% of the ranking, the 2013 class is 22.46% of the ranking, the 2012 class is 27.54%, the 2011 class is 25.00% of the ranking, and the 2010 class accounts for 16.1% of the ranking. This obviously isn't perfect because different teams will have different levels of contribution from the classes. However, because of that, no uniform percentages would work either.
The teams listed in the first table are: Any team that had a top 25 class by either service from 2010-2014, every team in the preseason AP Top 25, and one wild card, Louisville.
The numbers under year are the recruiting rankings for each service that year. The score represents the combined rankings of all the classes after they have been "weighted " So, in the same way its better to be #1 than #20, the lower the score the better. The bigger the difference in scores between two teams, the bigger the talent gap for the 2014 season.
First Table Observations:
Alabama is #1. I'll pause for you to pick your jaw up off the floor at this shocking discovery.
Also, notice how 11 of the top 14 teams in this table are ranked in the preseason and our last 5 National champions are all sitting in the top 4.
According to my definition of "Eliteness," there are currently 12 Elite Programs. 11 of the 12 Elite Programs sit in the top 13 above. This goes back to how important results at the highest level affect perception. The teams that are perceived to be Elite attract better talent. Therefore, it is easier to maintain Eliteness than it is to get there for the first time.
#9 Georgia and #12 Michigan are the non-elites in the top 13 and Stanford, at #21, is the only Elite Program listed outside of the top 13. So, you can have a good program and have a great season without recruiting well. It's just a lot easier to be an Elite Program with Elite Recruiting.
As you can see, Clemson sits at #14 heading into the 2014 season. I don't think anybody would have too much of an argument there as we've been recruiting very well but, have yet to have that monster consensus top 5 class under Dabo. Perhaps that class is on the way.
The team we defeated in our last game, Ohio St., sits at #2. Division rival Florida State sits at #4. That comparison is just for information purposes only.
Check out Miami at #20. This theory that Miami is finished being a strong program is silly to me. They are 20th here with the cloud of probation hanging over the program. Do you think their recruiting will get better or worse after their probation is lifted? I agree with the part of the theory that says they seem committed to doing it without the Uncle Lukes and Uncle Nevins of the world. I also agree that the odds are against any program getting back to the level of Miami in the 80s and 90s. However, I see no reason why they cannot be a top 20 program nationally with that fertile recruiting ground and their tradition. As they improve on the field and begin to recruit better, they should increase the competition level for Florida recruits at the very least. Hopefully, Florida feels the brunt of this.
The current overachievers above include Baylor, Kansas St., Missouri, Wisconsin, Louisville, and Michigan St. Teams like this usually have coaches that are considered for higher profile jobs.
The current underachievers include Texas, Florida, Michigan, and Tennessee. Teams like this usually have coaches on the hot seat.
Look at Kansas St. dragging the bottom at a VERY distant last place. No recruiting, no problem. Bill Snyder should have the Coach of the Year Award named after him. Seriously.
There was a lot of talk a couple years ago about Clemson and FSU moving to the Big 12. I don't hear very much about that anymore and when I look at the recruiting footprint we have (3 of the top 5 and 10 of the top 20 teams are based in the southeast), I get reminded of how glad I am that "your parents will never see you play if you go to Clemson" is not the go-to line for opposing coaching staffs.
In the 2nd table, let's look at the ACC teams (with Notre Dame). All the categories are the same as the first table. Each Team's Score is listed in bold in the last column. The other columns moving left to right are 2010-2014 Rivals and Scout Rankings in the same order as the first table.
As you can see, Florida St. is the clear #1. No surprise there. Clemson sits 3rd and Miami is a close 4th.
UNC is 5th but, a very distant 5th. UNC is nearly deadlocked with #6, former ACC Heavyweight, Virginia Tech.
You can see that Dave Clawson at Wake has nowhere to go but up from the last few Grobe years.
Ditto Scott "Simmer Down" Shafer at Syracuse. I'm shocked that Syracuse is down there with the Dukes of the world. If you're young, you probably aren't aware that Syracuse has a lot of football tradition (probably more than us to be honest). In the near future, they're going step out of conference and jump on LSU and rival Penn St. in the next couple years. They're tough as nails but they are missing the McNabb, Harrison, Mungro, and Freeney-type playmakers.
NC St.'s facilities overhaul and coaching change seems to picking up momentum and Boston College seems to be recovering from the Jagodzinski/Spaziani debacle where the bottom fell out of recruiting for 2 years.
With the exception of Virginia, who recruits fairly well anyway, most teams in the ACC are trending up. It's amazing what a little positive play on the Elite Level will do for a conference. I believe that the ACC is just getting started. Mark my words, in 5 years, the ACC will become the 2nd strongest conference in football on average and in some years, will be the best conference. You can hold me to that.
The last table shows how Clemson matches up with the teams on their schedule.
3rd Table Observations:
In what has been termed somewhat of a rebuilding year offensively, we should still have more pure talent on the field than everybody but Georgia and Florida St. This includes South Carolina, so once again, if there is anything this team is primed to accomplish, it's beating the Gamecocks and ending the streak.
Also, to me, a loss this year to any team from NC St. down would be a major letdown.
Lastly, with our current #2 ranked recruiting class, I can't wait to see what this looks like in years to come.