Recruiting classes become signing classes, and those groups for each school are ranked. But do those rankings matter in the long run? Or at all?
For one, it gets the juices flowing for the avid fan bases of each school since there is not head to head competition on the field of play this time of year. It satisfies the throngs, at least until spring practice takes place.
But do they really matter in the long run?
I ventured back over the past dozen recruiting classes to see how well the national powers have fared. There appears to be a lot of consistency. It’s all about transforming prospects into studs. Sometimes the players’ skills are nearly tapped out by the time they arrive on campus, leaving the coaching staff little with which to build.
The heart of each recruit plays a major role. Some elite prospects are not used to being asked to wait their turn to play or are asked to play special teams. The ego takes a jolt. Sometimes re-location is the only answer.
So here we go. (These numbers based on a number of rating services including 24/7 Sports and Rivals)…
(LSU finished 9th)
Offensive tackle Andre Smith was nation’s top prospect, going to Alabama prior to the NFL. Percy Harvin (Florida) was one notch back. LSU didn’t hit the charts until Elton High’s Al Woods inked the Tigers. A 4th round pick of the Saints in 2010, Woods is still in NFL.
John Curtis’ Joe McKnight was top prospect in the land. LSU managed the eighth overall prospect in Hempstead, Texas wideout Terrance Toliver.
Clemson DE DaQuan Bowers was the top prospect, followed by Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor and Alabama’s Julio Jones at number three. LSU snagged Patrick Peterson, the eighth overall prospect
USC QB Matt Barkley was the top recruit. LSU’s Russell Shepard ranked third overall with Rueben Randle was No. 8 and Craig Loston No. 9, giving the Tigers three of the top 10 in the country.
(LSU wound up in 8th slot)
Florida LB Ronald Powell was top ranked, an injury-riddled Gator who was selected by the Saints in fifth round of 2015 NFL Draft. He never saw the field in an NFL game for New Orleans. Thiboduax’s Trovon Reed was No. 24, inking with Auburn. LSU didn’t register until No. 49 with Spencer Ware (now with the Chiefs)
Jadeveon Clowney was top prospect, Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio was second and LSU’s La’El Collins ranked third. O.P. Walker’s Anthony “Freak” Johnson was eighth, Saints first rounder Stephone Anthony (Clemson signee was No. 10). LSU wideouts Jarvis Landry, ranked 17th, and Odell Beckham, Jr., 55th overall, have become true stars.
LSU did not make the top 10.
Florida State DE Mario Edwards was No. 1, Dutchtown safety Landon Collins, No. 2 overall, defected the state for Alabama and future Heisman winner Jameis Winston wound up at No. 26. Alabama’s Amari Cooper was No. 55 and LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander was the 104th rated player, the first LSU signee on the top 300 chart.
Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche was all the buzz at No. 1 while another Rebels signee, OT Laremy Tunsil, was No. 3. Tre ‘ Davious White represented LSU at No. 9. Alabama’s Jonathan Allen ranked No. 11, future Heisman winner Derrick Henry checked in at No. 12 and Bama tight end O.J. Howard at No. 20.
The top prep player was defensive end Myles Garrett or Leonard Fournette, depending on the source. West Monroe OT Cam Robinson was No. 3, Edna Karr’s Speedy Noil No. 6 and Florida State RB Dalvin Cook No. 12. Edna Karr DT Gerald Wills was No. 26, Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon No. 27, Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillian No. 28 and LSU WR Malachi Dupre No. 30. A pair of Tiger signees who never quite lived up to their hype were Plainfield, Illinois MLB Clifton Garrett at No. 31 (transferred to UAB after never seeing the field at LSU) and major disappointment Travonte Valentine, No. 34 defensive tackle whose next destination is still unknown.
Georgia DT Trent Thompson was top prospect. LSU signees Kevin Toliver No. 9, Riverdale’s Donte’ Jackson No. 10 and OT Chidi Valentine-Okeke – now at Eastern Kentucky – were the top ranked new Tigers.
Michigan DT Rashan Gary was No. 1 followed by massive Clemson’s 340 pounder Dexter Lawrence. LSU CB Kristian Fulton at No. 21 and DT Rashard Lawrence at No. 23.
Which brings us to the present, the 2017 class.
LSU at No. 7. The Tigers were a signing day decision or two from breaking into top 4.
Seven of the top 100 in the class inked with LSU. Safety Jacoby Stevens was the highest-rated addition ranked No. 18. Linebacker-edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson checks in at No. 37 and LT Austin Deculus rated No. 50. The highest rated player from Louisiana was nose tackle Tyler Shelvin at No. 52.
If you look at the past 12 signing periods including 2017, the USC Trojans made the top 10 the most 11 times. LSU, Florida, Georgia and Alabama are next with 10 appearances. Texas and Ohio State made it nine times, and Florida State and Auburn had eight each.
Some players from 2015-17 as freshmen will flourish, while others will have a rocky road. It’s tough to gauge what kind of ticker a player has under his jersey. Environment, coaching and maturity are the only measurables that really matter.
Now that the signing is over, are you ready for some football?