With all the hysteria that we've experienced lately over rankings, I thought it would be interesting to find out how and why this process worked. Who ranks the players? Why are certain players ranked higher than others? Bob Litchenfels was nice enough to discuss the how and why with us.
How much input did you have over the Big East rankings? Did you create the list by yourself?
I do the entire East from Virginia to Maine, not just the Big East, this encompasses the states of Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and the New England States.
I comprise a top 100 in my region, and then try and go about 15-deep at each position after that. I then try and assess what star ranking I feel each player would be. Then I submit my top 15 players at each position to Jamie (Newberg) and Allen (Wallace). Jamie will take all the regional managers lists, myself, Miller (Safrit), (Chris) Pool, (Jamie) Patterson and (Chris) Fetters. He and Allen will then create a spread sheet and start slotting guys from the various regions into that so we can go about 25 deep at each position.
We have and conference call among us all and we will voice our opinions on where we think guys should be ranked. I may feel strongly about some more than others. You may win some battles and you may lose some, but we try and get the best list possible. After we get the first round of positional rankings done, then Jamie and Allen will create the top 100. We all look it over and decide if there are any errors or anything we missed. The regional rankings are that of the regional manager, unless we talk and decide that maybe a player should be listed at a different position such as Nick Sukay. Some liked (Tony) Clemons better (at wide receiver) and we decided that most teams were looking at Sukay for defense so we made the move.
What goes into making a decision as to which player is better than another player? What criteria do you use to rank these players?
It's scouting. It starts by watching the player. Obviously it's impossible to go see every one of them play, but we can see them on film, at combines, at 7-on-7's, at college camps, at scrimmages and practices. It is really in the hands of each regional scout to evaluate his region the best he can. We have three people, myself, Scott Kennedy, and Miller who see just about everyone in the country because of the combines. Most of us will try and watch the top players in all the regions, so we know who we truly believe are the nation's best. You are trying to find, not only the best, but you are projecting that these guys will be the best in college 2-4 years from now.
How much does seeing a person live matter to you compared to watching them on tape? Would you rank a player higher because you've seen them live, in person, over someone you haven't if the race was close between how you'd rank them?Watching a player perform in a live game is, without a doubt, the best possible way to evaluate them. You can get a lot from a combine or camp, but it is only a small piece of the puzzle. Again, it is impossible to see them all in person, so we are going to rely on film a lot, and a player we have not seen or evaluated is not going to be ranked over players we have seen and evaluated in person.
The next four questions all fall in the same basic direction that I can answer simply by saying any scout worth his salt does not evaluate and rank based on offers. Some players and coaches don't always tell the truth when it comes to offers.
I had one quarterback tell me he had 30 offers last year. I did some checking and he had about nine. Bostick is ranked higher then Paulus because we like him better as a QB. He has better skills right now. Paulus and his father actively pursued offers. They wanted as many as they could get. Bostick first told schools he wanted to stay in the Northeast, and he had just a few number of schools where he actually wanted to go, so of course he won't get the offers that Paulus would get. Both are good quarterbacks, but right now we just feel Bostick does more things better.
Why would you rank Nick Sukay and Tony Clemons over Duval Kamara when Kamara also clearly had the more impressive offer list?
Sukay has been ranked as a safety. Clemons we feel has the potential to be one of the absolute best players in the nation. He is more explosive and more athletic then Kamara.
Gronkowski is a dominant blocker. He has size and speed that is unmatched at tight end. Ragone suffered an ACL injury. He could come back better then ever, but there's also a chance that he may not. Gronkowski spreads the field, but he is also a devastating blocker.
Why would you rank a guy like Will Thompson and Nate Stupar above Steve Paskorz? Thompson has five total offers, none very impressive. The only impressive offer Stupar had was Penn State, and Notre Dame passed on Stupar in favor of Paskorz. Plus, Paskorz had offers from both Michigan and Notre Dame as well as all the teams that Stupar had offers from.
It depends what you consider an impressive offer. If we slanted the rankings towards a handful of teams, then that would matter, but we don't. I have seen all three of them. Paskorz is a great athlete, but he has yet to show in two years that he is a defensive player. Right now he is a projection. Schools are projecting that he can play defense. He also suffered a pretty serious ankle injury. Stupar is a tremendous talent, who anyone that has seen him, absolutely loves. You'd have to nitpick to find a weakness with him. I wouldn't say Thompson doesn't have any impressive offers. (The) last time I checked West Virginia had one loss and defeated Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Thompson is a true linebacker; he is not a projection. He has size, speed, fundamentals, instincts, he stops the run and he can cover (the pass).
Note: We want to thank Bob Litchtenfels for taking the time to answer the questions. We also must remember it's just his opinion, and we'll likely disagree with his opinion on some players. Hopefully we'll have Chris Pool up next to talk about his Midwest rankings.