This week's question was submitted by Victors Club Message Board poster, "tmac1154"
Question: How do you judge who is a three star and who is a four star? The two biggest 3 stars that have made insane contributions to the UM team have been Braylon (Edwards) and (Mike) Hart. They were both 3 stars....why weren't they higher and how do you determine who gets what rating?
First of all, it should be noted that we at GoBlueWolverine have nothing to do with the official rankings so this is just my take on things. Usually you will find players rated as a three-stars because either they have a significant need for improvement in certain areas, have physical limitations, or are unknown/sleeper/project players. The two players you mentioned, Mike Hart and Braylon Edwards, are classic examples. Braylon wasn't well known throughout his high school career. He entered high school at 5-8 and was going through a rapid growth spurt for his first three years. He was also coming off knee surgery going into his junior campaign. He didn't regain all of his speed back until the summer heading into his senior year. However, at that point, he only had ONE high school touchdown! He was a bit raw, having played in a run heavy system at Detroit King before transferring to Bishop Gallagher, and he was unproven. He was coming on physically (as evidenced by his MVP performance at Michigan's summer camp) but people were unsure of what he could do at the next level. Give Michigan credit for identifying his potential that summer and offering a few games into his senior season at Bishop Gallagher. We all know now he was a great one, but that is because his body mechanics caught up with his growth, he was a tireless worker, and he was able to polish himself at receiver.
Mike Hart fits several of the things I mentioned up top as well. Hart played in one of the weakest districts in a weak football state. He was only 5'8 and he wasn't (and still isn't) a burner. The problem in situations like that is you often don't know how much of the production is achieved because the talent level the player faces and how much is achieved because of the skill of the player. It's much like projecting a Division II player to the NFL; yes he dominates at his level, but can he do it at when the level of competition is increased? Much like mid-round picks in the NFL Draft, they can be good role players and potentially start but can they be great, full time players? The comparisons are very similar. In Hart's case he came right in and showed that his outstanding quickness and speed can compensate for what he lacks in the speed department. Even more importantly, he showed that he could stand up to the pounding that is delivered on a weekly basis at the Big Ten level.
In my opinion, Michigan has some guys that are on the border between a three and four star in their current class. Instate camp commit James Rogers is seen as a three-star player. He has nice athletic ability and great speed, but still needs some polish at receiver because he plays running back in high school. He is a project type player who usually gets the three-star bill. Troy Woolfolk is an excellent athlete but is still learning his position. Those two players are three-stars now, but they could certainly develop into much more.
So in closing, usually a three star player is either a sleeper type that is more of a project, or a player that needs to improve on a few things before getting moved up. A four-star player needs to improve on some things as well, but is seen as farther along in his development. Four star players have a lot fewer questions about their physical skills and/or production, and are seen as having much better chances of becoming impact player/starter in college. That obviously doesn't mean that they will though. By the way, we didn't even mention five-star players. They are projected as elite players that have a good chance of starring at the next level.
Remember, players are being evaluated for what they have shown so far and how they project at that point in time. Some players continue to improve in college. Some have outstanding intangibles. Even with all of the information, some guys will just be missed. It's an inexact science. That being said, that is not what happened with Hart and Edwards.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for our X's & O's mailbag feature. In it we answer one users questions about option routes.
Want to submit a mailbag question? Join us on our Victors Club messageboard or in our weekly chats held every Monday night at 9pm.