Thursday, February 3, 2011

Signing Day

Yesterday was National Signing Day for college football programs around the country. The Badgers are expected to have a recruiting class that ranks somewhere around 40th at the end of the day, so ... meh. On the other hand, Ohio State, which apparently has a killer recruiting class, is getting hammered in the press for recruiting this guy, so it could be much worse.

To put things into perspective, ESPN took a look at how its top 150 recruits of 2007 that's fairly illuminating. Remember, all of these guys were completely justified in assuming that they had a really good shot at playing on Sundays. So how did that all pan out? Here are some quick and dirty numbers (read: someone should really check my math) on the outcome:

50 Redshirt Seasons

1 in 3 recruits redshirted at some point during their careers, either for injury or development purposes. That means, at least 50 members of that class still have a year of athletic eligibility left, so the overall success of the class really can not fairly be determined until next year.

39 Transfers

Some students transferred multiple times and we counted each school attended. Oddly enough, almost half the transfers occurred among recruits ranked 26-75. Very rarely did a transfer students move to schools that had the football pedigrees of the schools they were leaving.

17 Suspensions

8 for academic reasons, 9 for off-field disciplinary issues. These weren't just single game-benchings here; we're talking about entire seasons or large portions thereof. Often times these players transferred after being suspended.

51 NFL Players

About 1/3rd of the class will have a legitimate shot signing with an NFL team, either through the draft or free agency. Of these kids, 20 left school early to enter the draft. The 30 others are generally projected to be later round picks, at best.

That should really bring home just how enormous the odds are of making it to the pros. There are 1.1 million high school-aged football players in the country, so ... you do the math.

But here's the most interesting number of all:

14 Recruits Fell off the Face of the Earth

What does that mean? Basically 10% of the most recruited football players of 2007 were MIA as of this writing. Now, two of those players sustained career-ending injuries that required them to retire, but the rest simply petered out. Either they couldn't hack it academically, or maybe even athletically, or they got into trouble or ... whatever.

I would not surprise me to learn that years ago this number was substantially larger, but it still seems really high to me. Schools spend a lot of time, energy and money recruiting athletes -- and even more once they register for classes -- so at some point devoting too many resources to an athlete that is producing diminishing returns becomes a losing proposition that's neither helpful to the program nor fair to his teammates ... I'm just surprised it still happens with relative regularity, especially when this number is added to the transfers figure: then the "wash out" rate runs close to 33% -- and that's among the very best of the best (or at least the best of the very prodigious).

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