Everyday scouts from around the country add high school and junior college players to their websites. They list their stats, height, weight, speed, and schools where they are considering playing college football. However, it seems that the only feature that fans and analysts are concerned about is those little stars next to the player’s name. Those stars make or break a programs reputation during the recruiting process and to me it is really unfair.
All I hear from SMU fans on blogs and forums is,” Why don’t the Mustangs have any 5-star or 4-star players coming in this year?” Or maybe my favorite,” Does SMU even recruit anything over a 3-star player?” Well I have your answers folks so take a seat and pay close attention.
The parity in college sports today is at an all time high. Smaller programs are finding a way to compete with the big schools that have always seemed to be untouchable. One reason is that coaches are finding players to fit their system. June Jones is actually a perfect example. He finds guys like Colt Brennen and Kyle Padron who have all the intangibles that will make them great quarterbacks for a run-and-shoot offense. Jones recruits players based on how well they can fit in his offense and defense, not based on how many stars are next to his name. What works for Nick Saban or Lane Kiffin may not be right SMU.
Another important factor is player development. What most of these lower tier programs are doing is building a coaching staff that can turn a 2-star recruit into a 4 or 5-star player. A perfect example is Butler. Brad Stevens took the kids that Purdue and IU didn’t want in high school for whatever reason, and coached them into solid college basketball players. I believe being able to see potential and finding a way to bring it out of somebody is far more important than babysitting high profile athletes.
Then, there are these one-and-done or three-and-out programs that basically provide a stepping stone to the pros. The high profile recruit normally doesn’t have his school’s best interest in mind. He is trying to stand out amongst his teammates and try to stay injury free so he can go on and make Millions (see, Kentucky). Also, team chemistry is thrown out the window when you know a guy won’t be around long enough to unpack his dorm room. Trust me; some of these highly publicized players are nothing but talented trouble (see, USC), and if you SMU fans are fine with that you have a really short memory.
Now, please understand that I am not saying that the lower star recruits will go on to have better college careers then the higher star players. Having the luxury of being selective with higher profile players is something that programs should look to strive for. My point is that SMU fans should not question the fact that their recruits are all 3-star players. If the success continues to come for this program those 4 and 5-stars will be sure to notice, and I believe that some 4-stars have shown interest already for the 2011 class. But for now do your homework and pay attention to the potential SMU has coming in and don’t be concerned with what you think is missing.