What Happened To BC Recruiting?

The analysts and many fans think this is shaping up to be the worst recruiting effort by BC since the late Bicknell years. It is not just the under recruited guys, it is the lack of "difference makers" in the class as well. Quinn, Noel and Lawrence are the exceptions.

The other day while updating this site's recruiting list, one of the Scout recruiting experts commented that this class is Temple-like. I don't think he meant the Al Golden Temple years, but the Bobby Wallace years. In fairness, that comment was made in jest, but it is not far off. As it stands, this class is ranked 79th by Scout. Temple, in comparison, is ranked 81st.

It is only January and BC has time to close strong. With twelve verbals, BC has room for up to eight more players in this class. If they do close strong and land some of their top targets, this class will jump up twenty or so spots in the final rankings. Once the analysts get a chance to see film on the hitherto unknown commitments, the ratings will probably change again.

Then again, maybe not. Seven of their current commitments have not received an offer from a BCS program other than BC. Five have not received an offer from a FBS program. It strains credulity to think the ratings on these players will change significantly. There is plenty of room to quibble with rankings when you're talking about kids with numerous offers. There's not much room when you're talking about kids with no offers.

The analysts and many fans think this is shaping up to be the worst recruiting effort by BC since the late Bicknell years. It is not just the under recruited guys, it is the lack of "difference makers" in the class as well. Quinn, Noel and Lawrence are the exceptions. All three project to be solid players on a top-25 team. I would add Phifer to that list, as he had an excellent senior year and is a perfect fit for the BC offense. But, this is a class lacking anything close to a "difference maker" by conventional standards.

The comparison to the late Bicknell years, however, is important to consider. In the hellish days before the Internet, what passed for recruiting analysis judged BC recruiting rather harshly. None of the guys who covered recruiting in those days thought BC had much talent on the roster. Yet, in Tom Coughlin's second year he took his team to a bowl game. The following year he took his kids into South Bend and beat the number one team in the country.

He did not do it with a bunch of freshmen he recruited the previous year. Coaching and player development are crucial components of a program's success. Landing a bunch of talented athletes helps, but the coaches have to make them good football players. Further, knowing what kind of kids will excel in your program has little to do with forty times. It is about assessing character and coachability, then projecting it three years into the future – in your system.

Now, the fans of every program fall back on the old saw about trusting the coaches. For the most part, it is loser talk. Whatever the shortcomings of the recruiting rankings, they are not that far off. A program that regularly recruits one-star kids is not going to win many football games. The programs that consistently land big-time prospects win a lot of football games.

Before anyone starts looking for the nearest bridge, there are two things to keep in mind. Actually, there are three things. First, this class is not done. BC is in on several top-flight prospects that they have a better than even chance to land. There are also kids currently committed to other programs that are still in play.

Second, BC has always been an outlier when it comes to recruiting. Everyone by now should know that BC is not for everyone. The corollary to that is BC is uniquely perfect for some kids. Every kid that comes to Boston College will have the time to develop and find a way to contribute. The coaches can be patient because they don't have to worry about a third of every class flunking out before they hit their stride. The long list of under-recruited guys who went on to have great careers at BC is not an accident.

Finally and most important, one recruiting class does not change the direction of a program. Last year BC had an excellent, if under appreciated by the analysts, recruiting class. It was also a max-plus class. Next year will be another max-plus class. Even if they whiffed on too many kids this year, it is unlikely to matter much in the long run.

The bottom line is BC will not win too many recruiting awards. That's why the Yawkey Center does not have a display set up for recruiting trophies.


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