Does Recruiting Matter?


Last time we met, we discussed what “stars” mean in terms of recruiting. Now, we’ll take that one step further and see how those “stars” translate on the field. Does it matter how many great recruits you pull in? Does the evaluation of recruiting classed correlate to how a team’s body of work is measured by the AP Poll? Let’s dive into the data and find out. Before you dive though, make sure you check out the article in the hyperlink above – you always want to dip your toe in the water before going head first…that’s a little free tip, the next one will cost ya. 

First things first – who’s in the top 25 and what does their roster look like in terms of stars per player? I used the at the AP top 25and 247 sports recruiting database  to do my math wizardry and compiled the data by counting the amount of 5 stars down to the 1 star/Not Ranked players giving 5 pts to a 5-star player, 4 to a 4-star player and so on. Then I added up the number of players on the roster and divided the pts from the stars by the number of players on the team. Clear as mud? Good. Let’s see what this looks like. 

NOTE: I added Texas A&M to the data as an outlier – yes, they’re not ranked, but I wanted to show a team with historically good recruiting that was not ranked (since their not ranked, I used CBS’s ranking system of every team in the FBS for their rank value) and felt like they painted that picture very well. 

So, what does all this chart mumbo jumbo mean? Let’s discuss. 14 teams out of the top 25 are performing around what we should expect based off the “talent” on their team. Expectations were set as +/-5 from where your roster ranked to how your team was ranked in the AP Poll; anything above was exceeding expectations and anything below is a disappointment – which should be considered outliers. 56% or 14 out of the top 25 are ranked around where their roster’s talent says they should be and I’d say that’s pretty good – especially when considering injuries, preseason biases, etc. that play a huge role in you’re ranking. Now, what about Texas A&M? They should be, based on their roster’s talent, the NUMBER 6 TEAM IN THE NATION and where are they ranked you ask? 60th – that’s ten times worse than what their talent is evaluated at! That my friend is an old-fashioned dumpster fire, and you can give credit to the ole maestro down there for the culture he is notorious for instilling in his teams. 

Let’s talk about something positive now. The first glance at the chart shows that there may be a correlation, but it’s not a 1:1 ratio by any means. BUT the biggest thing that you’ll notice is where the 5-stars are. Besides the aforementioned fire of dumps, only 1 team outside of the top 8 has 5 or more 5-stars and 11 teams have 0 5-stars. This is where my alarm goes off in my brain and shows the glaring difference between the top teams in the country. Let’s add on to that, only 1 team (TCU) has less than 20 4-stars, and 8 teams outside of the top 8 have more than 20 4-stars. 

The talent disparity is now very clear – to be a top 25 team, you MUST have top 25 talent and to be a top 5 team, you NEED top end talent. What this also shows is, where the good coaching is too – whether it be the teams that are overachieving or where the teams are meeting expectations, with the expectation of being in the top 10! That’s no small task.  

Long story short, recruiting MATTERS. Any coach that doesn’t take it seriously is either clinically insane or is ready to get their buyout and hangout by the beach. 

If you’re still reading this nerdy perspective on college football, I question your time management but I appreciate you! And if you enjoyed this article, you should check out my colleagues and more of my articles on

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