Don't put much stock in recruiting evaluations

By Steve Sell
February 02, 2017

I always have to laugh when National Signing Day is completed.

ESPN U goes overboard with its high school football coverage. While I’ll give it credit it’s interesting to see where the top high school players end up, it’s the evaluations that just make me shake my head and chuckle.

How do we really know a player is the No. 37 defensive back in the country or the No. 70 offensive lineman? Or whose recruiting class ranks higher? What determines that a player is No. 45 over No. 46?

What also makes me laugh is that year after year these so-called “experts” always pan Kansas State coach Bill Snyder’s recruits, typically rating the Wildcats’ classes near the bottom, and in this year’s case I saw nobody has them higher than eighth. Jimmy Burch of The Fort Worth-Star Telegram actually has Kansas State’s class behind KU’s, which generally has been dead last in the Big 12 by a large margin since 2008. Is this what they call Fake News?

Of course, Snyder pays no mind to these ridiculous rankings and goes out and wins anywhere from 8 to 10 games a year with “bottom-division” recruits.

I saw where Alabama had 21 of the Top 300 players by ESPN. If we’re to believe those rankings, why even play the season since the Crimson Tide has all the good players? Alabama also has had top-ranked recruiting classes four of the last five years.

The Big 12 is getting no respect, as Oklahoma is the only school even mentioned in the Top 20. Yet, the Big 12 will have one of the best and most exciting conferences in the country.

I’ve learned not to get too excited about recruiting classes or players. For example, Kansas coach David Beaty was radiant when he learned that running back Octavius Matthews had changed his pledge to KU after having earlier committed to two others schools, which already sends up a red flag. Matthews is allegedly the No. 1-ranked junior college running back in the country. I just wonder if he watched film on KU to see just what kind of offensive line he would be operating behind. It’s ain’t pretty folks.

Also, if he’s the best JC back in the country, why would he sign with a KU program that is among the bottom five in the country and easily the worst of teams in the Big 5 Power Conferences?

Matthews’ signing also makes me harken back to when KU signed a juco running back named Jocques Crawford. He also was the No. 1-ranked JC running back in the country and talked of rushing for 2,000 yards. That was at a time when KU was still competitive, having been to some bowl games.

While junior college football is high-quality some places, Crawford basically was a washout at KU, gaining 232 yards in his only season, much of it spent as a third-stringer.

So Kansas fans, I’m sure you’re tamping down your expectations of Matthews, as well as running back Dom Williams, the most heralded player in the Jayhawks’ incoming class. Again, a back is only as good as his line and until I see KU bring in some big, strong linemen (like K-State did, it had a great haul of O-linemen), I expect the Kansas offense to be business as usual with sporadic production.

When I scanned the KU signing list, I saw a lot of skill-position players, which is all well and good. But football is won and lost in the trenches.