It is a wise practice to evaluate evaluators when it comes to anything- be it recruiting rankings, coaches, NFL player personnel directors, scouts, teachers- nearly everything that an evaluation can be given in.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, had a three-star rating by the recruiting industry.
With that, it’s time to look at how some of the best players in college football for the 2012 season were ranked and rated during their respective recruiting cycles by the recruiting industry as a whole. So let’s talk about how we are going to do this using CBSSports.com’s First Team All-Americans.
In this breakdown, we look at what the player was rated/ranked according to the 247Composite, which equally weighs rankings and ratings from multiple recruiting media outlets and calculates a composite ranking and rating according to a proprietary formula. Then, that score is evaluated and placed into three categories- high, low or hit. Of course, high and low are pretty self-explanatory. That means the prospect was ranked/rated too high or too low by the industry. A “hit” means the prospect was ranked/rated just right. Since rankings are long-term projections, that is the criteria we use to judge the evaluation.
There’s also some inside perspective as to why the prospect was ranked/rated the way he was during his recruiting cycle according to industry insiders.
Today, we take a look at the offense. Of the 12 All-Americans on that side of the ball, seven were rated three stars, four were rated four stars and there was one five star prospect. The average star rating was 3.5.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Kerrville (Texas) Tirvy
Rankings and Ratings- Manziel was ranked as the No. 13 Dual-Threat Quarterback prospect in America in the Class of 2011 and the No. 63 overall prospect in the state of Texas. His 247Composite rating of 0.8740 equated to three stars.
High, Low or Hit- Right now, with Manziel on the verge of being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, he would fall in the low category.
Inside Word- Quarterbacks with a special skill set like Manziel need an offense they can thrive in. He was committed to Oregon for some time, so that should have garnered a better look. Size (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) also may have played a factor given that recruiting rankings are projections.
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Tucson (Ariz.) Canyon Del Oro
UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin rushed for nearly 1,800 yards as a senior at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles.
Rankings and Ratings- Carey was ranked as the No. 28 running back prospect in America in the Class of 2011 and the No. 8 overall prospect in the state of Arizona. His 247Composite rating of 0.8799 equated to a three-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Given the sick numbers (1,757 yards, 20 touchdowns) that Carey put up this season and his longterm potential, he would fall in the low category. At times, Arizona prospects that stay in-state have gotten overlooked by the recruiting industry. That is changing as there are more analysts/reporters covering the state and the amount of talent the state produces has increased significantly (2014 will be a banner recruiting cycle), so the chances of Carey being too low here two years later would have decreased.
Inside Word- In our meetings at 247Sports, we liked Carey on film, just felt he was undersized so the projection was not as high as it could have been.
Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey
Rankings and Ratings- Franklin was ranked as the No. 32 running back prospect in America in the Class of 2008 and the No. 41 overall prospect in the state of California. His 247Composite rating of 0.8740 equated to a three-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Definitely low. Franklin, statistically, was a late bloomer who rushed for 1,732 yards as a senior. His junior year he struggled with injuries and only rushed for 257 yards and as a sophomore, Dorsey had former USC player Stafon Johnson running the football. Johnson was a highly-ranked prospect and a U.S. Army All-American. Because recruiting rankings and ratings often are based on junior seasons, Franklin (now UCLA’s career rushing leader) wasn’t as touted initially. Durability also is always taken into account when you are evaluating running backs and certainly that could have been called into question.
Inside Word- There was at least one highly-respected West Coast analyst who believed in Franklin from the start. Rick Kimbrel, then with Rivals.com, wrote glowing reviews of Franklin’s ability and potential and had he been personally ranking prospects, it’s a safe bet to say that Franklin would have been ranked a lot higher. There are times when for a variety of reasons, the national analysts overrule the regional/local analysts and this is one of the times that call was wrong.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Rankings and Ratings- Lee was ranked as the No. 44 overall prospect in America in the Class of 2011, was the nation’s No. 4 prospect in the athlete category and the No. 5 overall prospect in the state of California. His 247Composite rating of 0.9734 equated to a four-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Slightly low. Lee put up crazy numbers (112 receptions, 1,680 yards, 14 touchdowns) this season and could end up being a high pick (perhaps even the first receiver taken) in the 2014 NFL Draft should he declare after next season.
Inside Word- The entire debate on Lee was “what is he going to play in college” and most projected him in the secondary. Without answering that question definitively, his projection level was slightly lower than it should have be.
Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
Hollywood (Calif.) Miramar
Rankings and Ratings- Bailey was ranked as the nation’s No. 47 wide receiver prospect in the Class of 2009 and the No. 52 overall prospect in the state of Florida. His 247Composite rating of 0.8694 equated to a three-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Bailey was definitely undervalued, so he would fall in the low category, but probably not as low as one may think. He’s an excellent receiver for the pass-happy Mountaineers and his high school teammate Geno Smith. That being said, his draft position may not be as high because he’s a slot receiver-type that is the product of a system that now fits him perfectly.
Inside Word- Every recruiting cycle, there are scores of players in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida that are undervalued by the recruiting rankings and end up having special collegiate careers. But Bailey had the attention of at least one receivers coach in the Southeastern Conference who believed he could be successful in that league, so it wasn’t like he flew completely under the radar. As was previously mentioned, though, Bailey is a slot receiver-type and position value does play a factor when you are projecting prospects.
Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Dallas (Texas) W.T. White
Baylor's coaching staff discovered Terrance Williams at an off-campus prospect camp. The inner-city Dallas prospect flew under the radar other than that and had a three-star rating according to the recruiting industry.
Rankings and Ratings- Williams was ranked as the nation’s No. 57 wide receiver prospect in the Class of 2008 and the No. 56 overall prospect in the state of Texas. His 247Composite rating of 0.8019 equated to a three-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Williams was definitely low. He had a light offer list and Baylor, which is one of the best evaluating programs for its system in the country, scooped him up.
Inside Word- Williams flew under the radar in inner-city Dallas. The Bears spotted him at one of their satellite camps (camps held off campus) and snagged what turned out to be a great prospect.
Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista
Rankings and Ratings- Ertz was ranked as the nation’s No. 194 overall prospect in the Class of 2009, was the nation’s No. 6 tight end and the No. 22 overall prospect in the state of California. His 247Composite rating of 0.9090 equated a four-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Slightly low. Ertz is one of the, if not the, top collegiate tight end in the country, but if you are projecting long-term to the NFL, having him among the top 200 prospects in a recruiting class probably isn’t all that far off.
Inside Word- Ertz was ranked behind Morrell Presley (formerly of UCLA, but legal issues and lack of physical development set him back- now at California University of Pa.), Orson Charles (Formerly of Georgia-now with the Cincinnati Bengals where he’s caught seven passes as a rookie- more of a wide receiver at UGA), Arthur Lynch (blocking tight end at Georgia), Phillip Lutzenkirchen (probably Auburn’s best player on offense this past season before an injury sat him down) and his Stanford teammate Levine Toilolo (All-Pac 12 honorable mention last year), so clearly there were some prospects in front of him that should not have been. One thing to note- Ertz is from Northern California, a historically tough place for outlets that cover recruiting to evaluate properly.
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Rankings and Ratings- Fluker was ranked as the nation’s No. 28 overall prospect in the Class of 2009, was the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle and the third-ranked overall prospect in the state of Alabama. His 247Composite rating of 0.9846 equated to a five-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- One would probably categorize Fluker in the slightly high category if you are talking about long-term projection. Most of the time, when you look at the NFL Draft or even college All-American teams, it’s the offensive tackles that project at left tackle to protect the blindside of the quarterback that are among the top 2-3 prospects at their position.
Inside Word- Analysts loved Fluker’s size/athleticism combination and there was even some talk of him playing defensive tackle in college. It was definitely, however, not accurate of the industry to rank him behind Florida offensive tackle Xavier Nixon, who had a solid season in 2012, but has not yet shown the dominant ability that he was projected to coming out of Jack Britt High in Fayetteville, N.C.
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Rankings and Ratings- Joeckel was ranked as the nation’s No. 54 overall prospect in the Class of 2010, was the No. 7 offensive tackle and the eighth-ranked overall prospect in the state of Texas. His 247Composite rating of 0.9712 equated to a four-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Slightly low. Joeckel was always regarded as an excellent offensive tackle prospect, but when you factored upside into the equation, he did not have as high of a ceiling as others. Where the miss came in was that he did have room to develop and develop he did.
Inside Word- Recruiting analysts still talk about the way former Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman was able to evaluate and develop offensive linemen. Joeckel was one of his top recruits.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake
Chance Warmack may be the best offensive lineman on one of the best offensive lines in the country. He was rated three stars by the recruiting industry as a prospect.
Rankings and Ratings- Warmack was ranked as the nation’s No. 21 offensive guard prospect in the Class of 2009 and the No. 26 overall prospect in the state of Georgia. His 247Composite rating of 0.8641 equated to three stars.
High, Low or Hit- Definitely very low considering that most inside the Alabama program feel he is their best offensive lineman and that the NFL scouts love him. It’s another example of how a prospect with the raw physical ability developed beyond where he was projected coming out of high school. This happens plenty with offensive linemen.
Inside Word- Coming out of Atlanta, an area not always known for producing great trenchmen on the offensive side of the ball, it was easy to see why the industry took a cautious approach to ranking and rating Warmack.
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Wilmington (N.C.) Hoggard
Rankings and Ratings- Hoggard was ranked as the nation’s No. 23 offensive guard prospect in the Class of 2008 and the No. 11 overall prospect in the state of North Carolina. His 247Composite rating of 0.8620 equated to three stars.
High, Low or Hit- Given the fact he’s a nearly consensus All-American, Cooper was definitely in the low category. He didn’t have the double digit offer list coming out of high school and wasn’t the tallest or biggest lineman and projected as a center or guard, which typically has a lower position value than a tackle.
Inside Word- There were signs that perhaps Cooper should have been higher. He looked good at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas practice his senior year and at least one SEC program battling North Carolina for his services wanted him badly and thought he had NFL written all over him. Also, talking with him at his school the spring before his senior year, it was obvious he had the intelligence and work ethic to succeed in football and life.
Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
Ridgely (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian
Rankings and Ratings- Jones was ranked as the nation’s No. 149 overall prospect in the Class of 2008, was the No. 5 offensive guard and the top overall prospect in the state of Tennessee. His 247Composite rating of 0.9269 equated to four stars.
High, Low or Hit- Hit. Jones has had an outstanding career at Alabama and his projection as one of the top 150 prospects in the country out of high school is about right. He could fall into the slightly low category if he ends up being a high draft pick.
Inside Word- From the time we saw him in Columbia, Mo., at the Nike Football Training Camp before his senior year, we felt like Jones had the size, athleticism and footwork to be a big-time college player.