It's not just Scout but any of the other recruiting and college sports coverage networks out there do not have the Oklahoma State Cowboys with any four-star or better prospects on their commitment list. I have had the rules of stars explained to me before by friends like Greg Powers at Scout and others. The rules are in place to make it fair and unbiased.
You know the feeling that you get when you see a three-star recruit commit to Louisville and then a week later that player is swept up by Alabama and a few days later he has four stars. I'll agree there is no bias in the rules of stars, but the evaluating is where bias seems to appear.
In my opinion it doesn't matter. The star system is okay. It is something for fans to follow and a lot of those highly regarded prospects end up being well decorated players. Of course, a lot of less than shiny prospects also end up becoming playmakers and program changers too.
This series is not to bash the star givers or gazers but is instead to allow me to give my opinion just before signing day.
Oklahoma State has 19 commitments as of the weekend before National Signing Day and none of those are rated as high as four stars by any recruiting service. However, in my very biased system of watching tape, judging athletic ability based on performance and competition, and throwing the potential around in my likely football shaped brain I come up with my own star ratings and I have four future Cowboys that I believe rank as four stars.
We'll let this creep out in four parts. Today we'll focus on two offensive players and then Sunday we'll have two defensive players, and we'll come out with our single most, in our opinion, deserving of four stars commitment on the Cowboys list.
I'll be the first to tell you that statistics don't make the stars. If they did then Locust Grove quarterback Mason Fine, Oklahoma's all-time prep passing leader, would not be walking on at North Texas. I'm not picking on anybody just pointing to an extreme example of numbers and how they don't always factor in to the stars or the scholarships.
When you turn on the tape to watch Booker T. Washington running back Justice Hill you see a player that is strong enough to slide through the line of scrimmage and use his legs, shoulders and an occasional stiff arm or forearm to break tackles and grip and get into the second level. You also see a runner that has the speed to accelerate and get past defenders off tackle and in space to the next level.
Hill is not a Barry Sanders or Darren Sproles type of runner. At 5-10, 190 pounds, he is also not a Derrick Henry pound-you-into-the-ground-type runner. Hill will get it done both ways and more often than not gets it done over getting tackled by the defense.
You can believe what you are seeing because Tulsa Washington plays the likes of Midwest City, East Central, Claremore, Bixby, and Sand Springs, all teams with good athletes that go on and compete at the collegiate level.
Now the numbers. With his abilities and against that type of competition (and very important here, for two years in a row), Justice Hill has gotten it done. As a junior, he rushed for 1,426 yards and 24 touchdowns. He did it on 220 carries for an average of 6.5 yards per carry and then this past season as a senior he rushed for 1,948 yards and 32 touchdowns on less carries, with just 198. His average per carry went up to 9.84 yards a carry.
The numbers are important especially when you put together the dynamics of how and against who those numbers were achieved. Over 3,300 rushing yards and 56 touchdowns scored in the past two seasons against high caliber competition. Four stars from me, for sure.
One position where numbers comes up far less than any other is offensive line. Offensive linemen can be evaluated by the team numbers for their offense as a whole or even the skill players they block for. That is not always fair because offensive line play in not individual, it is team. Five guys all working together as one.
The most simple analogy is the fist, five fingers balled up with the potential together to do much more damage. For offensive line evaluation, you have to watch the tape and you have to know what you are watching, which is difficult. My guess is that while there are more offensive linemen recruited that there are less that get four or five stars. Just throw three stars on the majority of offensive linemen and let them sort themselves out at the college level.
To make it simple, a really good offensive line prospect needs to be big. Lexington's Tyler Brown is certainly that at 6-6, 320 pounds. He needs to be strong, and Brown can bench press 340 pounds and has a squat max of 525 pounds.
Here is where Brown separates himself, how may big-time offensive line prospects run on their schools 4X100 meter relay team or run the 100-meter solo? He has also run the 200-meter hurdles. I've seen it on video.
Now add to that the video of a huge player that arguably against very outmatched competition is putting guys on the ground left and right. But thanks to the United States Marine Corps and their Semper Fi All-American Game, Brown had a chance to show what he could do against linemen his own size. In that game in Carson, Calif., Brown on national television, moved to center to help his team and proceeded to block some of the best high school defensive linemen in the country.
Some might even award five stars to a prospect like that, but I get it. We'll just leave Tyler Brown as a four-star on the Robert Allen star scale.