Clemson football: Should Clemson fans trust CFB recruit rankings?

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 28: Fans cheer prior to the College Football Playoff Semifinal between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Clemson Tigers at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 28: Fans cheer prior to the College Football Playoff Semifinal between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Clemson Tigers at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Recruiting rankings can be controversial, especially when services vary widely in evaluations.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always wondered about the accuracy of CFB recruit rankings. And after last season, many Clemson fans may be wondering the same thing.

In the world of high school football, recruiting metrics, and the number of stars assigned to CFB hopefuls, is it possible for each star to carry the same weight? Are there some five-stars who are really not as shiny as all that?  Is it possible to “miss” when rating players, or worse, to not even notice an unranked player with massive talent and potential?

During the summer when recruits begin to commit to their chosen college or university, it’s important to point out these rankings and star ratings rely on the opinion of analysts who determine such. And while those opinions are based on a massive amount of concrete data, game film analysis, and player measurables, it is impossible to remain completely objective and give a foolproof scouting report.

This human factor explains why not every analyst is on the same page for every high school player hoping to play at the next level.

According to Adam Coleman in an article written back in 2017, ”A scout may have one player as a three-star, and 247Sports may have the same player as a five-star.

It all depends on so much besides what happens in the game – camp performance, or performance in notable all-star games like the Under Armour All-America Game.”

It’s important to note this article cites and was written after Hunter Renfrow (2 star recruit now top NFL WR) caught a game winning pass in the final minute of Clemson’s 2016 National Championship win over Alabama.

Renfrow shocked the world of college football with that catch. His previous and subsequent careers at Clemson and his performance with the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL has proven his ability to get separation against not one but two five star Alabama defenders in the 2016 Natty was not a fluke. And the ink is barely dry on his new $32M contract with the Raiders. How’s that for 2-stars?

To be honest, Renfrow is the exception not the rule. While Renfrow exposes the flaws in the ranking system, the system is not completely off. For coaches and athletes, ratings cannot be ignored in the recruiting process.

Ed O’Brien, a CFB recruiter who writes for the athlete exposure platform GMTM, said this, “I said that stars matter – and right now, they definitely do. It’s certainly better to have some, rather than none. These rankings can make a huge difference and will help an athlete stand out in the recruiting world. But remember, the star ranking is just a number and an opinion”

As nice as it is to see a 2 star athlete like Hunter Renfrow exceed his expected potential, Clemson fans all too well what it looks like when a 5 star athlete isn’t reaching his potential at all.

At the end of Clemson’s 2021 season when Clemson finished 10-3, fans and analysts alike were scratching their heads wondering what happened to cause 5 star DJ Uiagalelei to not perform as expected. Was it simply a matter of team attrition? Were there factors creating issues for DJ the fan base was not aware of? Does he just need one more season to prove he is worthy of his five stars? To be fair, DJ was not a consensus 5 star recruit, but even so, were the majority of recruiting analysts wrong?

No amount of speculation is going to give the full answer as to why DJ struggled. Obviously, no one wants to see their favorite team’s newly minted college players stumble and fail to meet expectations. But it does happen. Fortunately, there is still time for DJ to turn things around.

Clemson fans are no exception when it comes to feeling angst as other programs snap up top recruits

It’s really easy for the Clemson faithful to get carried away when commitment season starts to heat up. If you follow CFB at all, you know historically, teams with the most 4 and 5-star recruits have the highest winning percentages. Fans get anxious when it seems as if other teams are winning the recruiting battle, or Clemson coaches are not pursuing the so-called obvious “sure bet” recruits.

On the other side of the spectrum, Clemson fans can become overly confident when commitments from highly  recruited players start rolling in.

Either way, Clemson fans might preserve some sanity by keeping expectations realistic the recruiting wins and losses of both the Tigers and their opponents.

In order to do so it’s a good idea to remember these two things:

  •  No matter what the star rating or ranking a recruit receives, he still must learn a completely new system, work with a new set of coaches and players, win his starting position, and prove himself on the field.
  •  At the end of the day, star ratings and player rankings DO involve, in part, the opinion of a human being. And, opinions are subject to being wrong from time to time.

At the end of the day, college football is just as unpredictable as it is predictable. Take player rankings with a grain of salt. Like any beauty pageant hopeful theoretically has the potential to win a crown for any given night, football teams can win (or lose) any given game on any given game day. Sometimes, the stars just don’t matter.

dark. Next. Renfrow cashes in for how much?