Ohio State finished with the No. 2 recruiting class, according to the composite rankings, with a group of 21 players that includes five five-stars and 14 four-stars. Ohio State also has nine early enrollees.
For a time, the Buckeyes had the No. 1 class before being passed by Alabama, and some recruiting sites crunched the numbers and said Ohio State was in line for the best recruiting class ever.
“It cracks me up when [people] say the ratings don’t matter,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told the Big Ten Network, according to 247Sports. “If they’re keeping score, we’d like to win that thing. I do look at that. The recruiting services, although they are not 100 percent correct, they’re very close. A lot of those guys that are highly-rated guys turn out to be great players.
“You have the Darron Lees and some other under-the-radar guys that turn out to be phenomenal. The Josh Perrys. But that’s always going to happen. But when you start throwing around numbers like (a 247Composite average star rating of) 94 and five-stars and four-stars, those aren’t the end all, but sure they matter. We’re all competitive; we’re very competitive here. And to say we had one of the historical classes of all time, a lot of hard work went into that.”
That was a contrast to what Texas coach Tom Herman had to say about his first class, which was the lowest-ranked this century for the Longhorns.
“What rankings don’t do though is crack their chest open and look at their heart,” Herman told news reporters, according to the Dallas Morning News. “They don’t look at work ethic; don’t look at what their coaches say about them.”
Washington was ranked in the top 25 by most recruiting rankings, but lost out on some players who decommitted. Defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu from Oregon flipped to USC and in-state running back Connor Weddington flipped to Stanford.
Coach Chris Petersen was undaunted.
“We never worry about the kids that don’t come here,” Petersen said, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. “That has nothing to do with the success of our program.”
“What has everything to do with our program, how good we’re going to be?” Petersen said, motioning to the list in front of him. “These guys better be able to play. When we don’t miss on these guys, that’s everything.
“People can say whatever they want. We know who we want in our program, and we know what we can do with them. And I think the results this year spoke loud. I think we feel similar about these guys.”
UCLA had a top 20 class that was small in numbers with 18 players, which impacted its placement. Coach Jim Mora acknowledged his staff sees the rankings, but said that was not a huge determining factor in how they pursued recruits
“We don’t look at rankings other than to just get a general idea of how people around the country view our players,” Mora said, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. “We trust our eyes. We have over 80 years of playing and evaluating experience at the highest level, the NFL level, so we try to evaluate as an NFL staff would and that involved involves evaluating character, certainly potential, you’re guessing on some things.”
But ultimately where a class or player is ranked coming out of high school doesn’t compare to their production when they get to college. Still, you have to get those players on campus.
“The No. 1 thing to me has always been recruiting and development,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Getting these young men, it’s a big part and a big step. This is good group, a competitive group, a loyal group with 12 guys who won state championships. You can speak volumes to that group as a whole, not just the (ranking) by their name, but what kind of kids these young men are.”
Guess it all depends on your perspective.