One Quick Thing: Don't get carried away with Clemson Football class recruiting rankings

Clemson Football finished the 2024 cycle in or just outside of the Top 10, depending on which scouts you prefer. That hasn't kept some fans from lamenting that it isn't anywhere close to Clemson's best classes. It's just that those best classes have flopped so far.

Clemson linebacker Sammy Brown and kicker Nolan Hauser (81) before the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Clemson linebacker Sammy Brown and kicker Nolan Hauser (81) before the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

I think college football recruiting is fun. It's exciting to see where the best high school talent in the nation will go each year. I must admit that National Signing Day was a lot more interesting before the advent of the Early Signing Period, but the exchange is that recruiting has truly become a year-long cycle.

Yesterday, I recapped where the Class of 2024 finished in some of the rankings from various outlets such as 247Sports, Rivals and On3. Everyone has their own opinion about which system is best, and that debate is all part of the fun of recruiting. There is no standardized test - every outlet has their own brains and form their own conclusions.

That is one of the reasons why fans shouldn't get too engrossed in what anyone thinks right now about all of these young men, whether they selected your school or not. The ultimate factor in determining if any class is good, elite, awful or otherwise will be the measure of their success four years from now.

Nevertheless, there are some who will pass judgement now, and it seems inevitable that someone will take a shot at a class that Rivals pegs as Top 10 and 247 and On3 consider just outside the Top 10.

Sure enough, it wasn't long until someone described the Class of 2024 as a good class, but not elite like the Class of 2021. It was only one comment yesterday, but I have seen several people over the past couple of years that are frustrated the Tigers aren't recruiting to the level they did in 2020 and 2021.

The Clemson Football Class of 2020 finished third in 247Sports's rankings. It featured guys like DJ Uiagalelei, Brian Bresee, Trenton Simpson, Myles Murphy and EJ Williams. Names like Demonte Capehart, Tyler Venables and Walker Parks are still on the roster.

The Clemson Football Class of 2021 finished fifth in 247Sports's rankings. It featured guys like Will Shipley, Nate Wiggins and Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. Multiple members will be key players for this season, including Phil Mafah, Jake Briningstool, Tristan Leigh and Barrett Carter.

Both of those classes were considered Top 5 when the cycles were complete, and by Clemson standards, both of them have been flops to date.

Not a single player from either of those classes has completed a season will less than three losses. This past season, driven primarily by those two classes, the program's streak of ten wins per season came to an end. Not a single player from those classes has ever earned a CFP berth.

Yet fans still want to criticize this Class of 2024 as not as good as those two classes. They said the same thing last year about the Class of 2023. There are all the typical excuses.
"It's not the players' fault the coaches can't coach!"
"Those classes put a lot of talent in the NFL!"
"If Dabo would stop calling the plays everything would be fine!"

Some fans are just like the scouting services themselves: they rarely reflect and admit they overrated a player (or a class) when they were in high school. Still to this day, the services consider some transfer prospects among the best available based on their high school ranking, ignoring the fact that they were passed by on the depth chart by freshmen and sophomores and never even sniffed the starting lineup.

If someone said "2024 looks good but they don't look like the Class of 2018.", well that's fair. That class was very successful. So were several of the classes from 2014 through 2017. They also put a lot of talent in the NFL, but their real achievement was on the scoreboard.

The remaining members of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 can still make a case for themselves this coming season, and like any solid Clemson fan, I will be quite pleased if they do. To date, however, there is no reason to hold them in high esteem just because the scouting services overrated how talented they were as a group.

Just in case you haven't noticed, sometimes the scouts suck at what they do.