What Do Stars Mean in High School Recruiting?


When a recruit commits to your school, usually the first thing that is mentioned is the report is how many “stars” that player isand the more stars we see the more excited we get! But what do those stars mean? If a player is a 5 star (highest possible rating) are they a sure-fire NFL draft pick? If a player has 1 star, are they a waterboy, who’ll never play a snap? In this article, we’re going to take a dive into what it means to have x-number of stars and how accurate that rating is in projecting a player’s career.

So, first thing’s first, what is the star system and how does it work. High School prospects are scouted and analyzed, and based off that analysis, they are given a 0-5 ranking – 0 meaning you have almost no chance to play college football and 5 stars mean you’re almost guaranteed to play in the NFL. Every high school recruiting site has similar grading systems – below is a summary of the grading system that every high school recruiting site will use:

5-star: considered to be virtually guaranteed to play in the NFL and be an elite college player. Usually in the top 30 high school recruits in the country.

4-star: considered to be an above average to elite prospect with the potentially to get drafted any where from the 1st to 3rd round of the NFL draft. Usually in the top 300 high school prospects overall.

3-star: considered to be a player that will be a college contributor with an average to below average chance at making the NFL (this rating makes up most college players).

1 – 2-star: considered a division I-AA or lower prospect with a ceiling potential of being a role player on their college team – little to no chance at an NFL career.

0 star: not scouted and ranked. Usually a walk-on for a college football program. Very little chance to making a college football roster, let alone the NFL.

There are SO many high school athletes (about 1,093,234 according to an article by leagueside), so how do scouts rate all of them, and how do they stay consistent? The answer is – they don’t. Most of the time, due to there being so many high school players and with not being nationally marketed (televised, commercials, etc., the only way kids are discovered are through camps. High school and college coaches talk, and they are always asking for kids with potential to play. If your coach doesn’t mention you, most of the time you won’t be invited to a camp – so as a kid with college aspirations, its up to you to sign up for these camps. Camps are very expensive, and if you aren’t invited, a lot of the time, you’re paying a good amount of money to get your name out there. This is why a lot of prospects can be missed and end up “over-achieving” when they end up getting their shot. 

With that being said, let’s see how accurate these ratings are in predicting a high school prospects football future (an article by thedailystampede for SB Nation is used for the data in this article). From 2014-2021 each player was identified as a 5-star through “not evaluated” or 0-star. 


As you can see, most players drafted are 3-star athletes. However, don’t write off the rating system yet, remember, the majority of players that are scouted end up falling in the 3-star ranking – the higher the population means a higher chance for more players drafted. So, let’s break down these numbers further using the assumed number of players at each ranking per year compared to the reference chart. The assumed number of players per year are as follows:

5-star = 30 per year

4-star = 300 per year

3-star = 1,500 per year

1-2 star = 2,000 per year

0-star = 1,000,000 per year

Based on this data, the star system is pretty accurate – the higher the star, the more likely you are to be drafted. I’d like to add that this data isn’t perfect for a plethora of reasons; Not all players have entered the draft in this data set, these are assumed numbers, not exact. However, I still trust this data enough to make assumptions about the prospect that has committed to my team. 

I appreciate you for reading this and I hope this article gave you little bit of insight into what the star system means and why teams (and fans) are more excited for some prospects over others. If you like this article, check out more of my articles and my compatriots at The Walk-On Redshirts, and if you don’t like this article, read more of my articles to gather more support as to why you don’t like my articles!

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