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College Recruiting Is Nothing More Than A Guessing Game

Where would the internet have ranked Bo Jackson in 1982?

By Jay Coulter

With national signing day just a few weeks off, it’s hard to avoid all the hype. It goes without saying that recruiting is easily Auburn’s second most popular sport behind actual, on-field football.

Jeff Lebo can only dream about getting this much attention from Auburn fans.

I’ve never bought into all the recruiting hype.  Don’t get me wrong, I follow it pretty closely. I realize the importance.

I also know there’s no possible way to accurately rank recruiting classes across the country. and do a good job of profiling these athletes – and a lot of times they are spot on. And a lot of times they miss wide right.

In the end, it’s just a forecasting game.  Your local meteorologist has a much better chance of predicting the weather a week from now, than a recruiting expert does of sizing up the talent of a private school tight-end.

Many of you will remember back in the late 1980’s a quarterback by the name of Billy Ray. He was rated by many as the top player in the nation.  His picture was on the cover of every recruiting magazine in the country.

With much fanfare, he signed with Alabama and was quickly compared to Namath and Stabler. Needless to say, Ray never became anything in college. He would later go on to finish at Duke and become a trivia question for college football fans.

The same can be said of Alan Evans. Back in 1982, he was the hottest running back in the state of Alabama and coveted by every school from coast-to-coast.  Pat Dye landed him and fans went crazy.  He was the player that would return Auburn to its glory days.

That same year, Auburn also signed another pretty good running back.  He didn’t have the numbers Evans did and didn’t get near the attention. But in the end, he turned out to be a pretty fair player.

You may remember him – his name was Bo Jackson.

Phillip Marshall did some quick research on his blog the other day that was telling.  Looking at this year’s New England Patriots roster, he discovered that 15 players on the team played for small colleges.

I did the same research with the New York Giants and found that they had 14 players that played at lower levels.

How did the recruiting services miss these guys?  It’s simple. You can’t compare apples to apples in high school football.  How can you really say that a defensive back in South Alabama is as good as another defensive back in Portland, Oregon?

Furthermore, how can you rate a player higher than 150 others who all face different levels of competition?

You can’t.

So when you see Florida, Georgia, Alabama and even Auburn ranked among the nation’s best in college football recruiting, take it with a grain of salt.  

How many players on this year’s Louisiana-Monroe team were recruited by Alabama or LSU.

How many South Florida starters got recruited by Auburn, Florida or Florida State?

A lot of times what sits on top of a player’s shoulders is more important than what is below it.