UCLA Football: Some things to remember about recruiting

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Patrick Laird
PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Patrick Laird /

With national signing day coming up, college football fans everywhere are excited to see what new studs are going to lead their beloved school to the glory it deserves. While UCLA football fans everywhere get excited to welcome in our new Bruins, there’s some things that are important to remember about recruiting.

I’m pumped. UCLA football head coach Chip Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff are going to begin the new Bruin dynasty over the PAC-12 tomorrow when they bring in the best players in the country to the best school in the world.

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Well, that’s what I want to believe anyway.  However, while we painfully wait to welcome our new Bruins, there’s some important things to think about and remember when it comes to recruiting.

1. A 3-Star isn’t 60% as good as a 5-Star

Anecdotally, I’ve seen more 3-star recruits play like 5-star college players than I have 5-star players live up to their billing.  A lot of that has to do with the math behind the rankings.

Different recruiting sites have different criteria, but generally recruiting sites lists the top 30-ish prospects as 5-stars. Generally speaking 4-star players make up the next 300 or so players.  Then come the 3-Stars and there exists some misconceptions about the rating.

On this SB nation article, it states that there’s 1409 3-star athletes, which make up the top 0.5% of over 300,000 of high school seniors.  The top 0.5% of anything, generally speaking, is REALLY good.  It’s not like a food review where 5-stars is amazing and 3-stars is mediocre.  Both are the creme of the crop.

Are there differences? At times, absolutely. Some players like Josh Rosen were clearly head and shoulders above their peers, and justified the rankings with their college careers, but don’t write some kid off because he only has 3 stars.

2. Winning in living rooms =/= Winning on the field

As of this morning UCLA is listed by 247 Sports as having the #16 class in the country, and #4 in the PAC-12, but that doesn’t mean Bruin fans should get worried we won’t have the snuff to win the conference.

If there’s one thing Bruins absolutely hate is the unapologetic arrogance and pompous entitlement of SC fans. Despite winning the conference only once since the 2009 season, many a Trojan will gladly give a haughty harangue on how they’ve got the best players in the league and how they should be sweeping the table.

Well the truth is, the ketchup and mustard probably has had the best collection of talent year in and year out.  According to 247 sports, USC has had the #1 recruiting class 7 out of the last 9 years (only two years they they didn’t have the #1 class they were on sanctions, but were still 2nd in both years).

PASADENA, CA – OCTOBER 21: The UCLA Bruins head off the field before their game against the Oregon Ducks at Rose Bowl on October 21, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA – OCTOBER 21: The UCLA Bruins head off the field before their game against the Oregon Ducks at Rose Bowl on October 21, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Trojans may point to poor coaching and/or the NCAA as contributing reasons for this, but the fact remains that relative to recruiting rankings, USC has underperformed.

Conversely, since 2009 the Oregon Ducks have won the conference four times, the most of any school, and has never had a #1 recruiting class in the PAC-12.  Stanford, which has won three times in that period,  has had only one #1 class.

Now, this isn’t to say that talent isn’t important; no one is winning with scrubs.  Both Stanford and Oregon have recruited at an above average level.  All I’m trying to say is that in the PAC-12 you need to do more than win in living rooms to win on the field.

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3. Our Guys

Another reasons not to be too focused on class rankings is that finding the right guys for your program can be better than finding the best players.

The two most dominant teams in recent memory, Oregon and Stanford, have had very distinctive identities that they stick to during recruiting.

The Cardinal got ahead of the competition by going backward in time, prioritizing players that could fit in a power offense, instead of copying the spread.

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This did a good job of exploiting the Pac-12 football meta. Generally speaking, having smaller, faster guys, more athletic guys helps you stop the no-huddle spread teams.  But as Bruin fans know, it can be difficult for these same players to stop the physicality of power offenses.

To give an example of this on a positional level, almost every Stanford receiver has a tight end body and their height and size creates mismatches against the majority of opposing defensive backs who are more suited to defending smaller/faster receivers than they are burley tight ends.

If you’re wondering the type of player we’re recruiting, Micheal Hanna mentions here that Chip Kelly has prioritized measurables, namely speed and athleticism.  Whatever offensive and defensive schemes we run will likely be outlined by the principles in this article.

But the most important thing to remember is that any guy we we bring in is a guy we want; we want our guys.

Next: UCLA Football Recruiting weekly update (2/5) – Its almost National Signing Day

Get ready for some BOOOOMS tomorrow as signing day kicks off and we welcome our newest Bruins to Westwood.  You can follow the action here @GoJoeBruinUCLA.

AND REMEMBER TO RESPECT THE DECISION OF RECRUITS.  Don’t go tweeting at guys who decide to go elsewhere.  They’re making a difficult decision and trying to do what’s best for them and their families.