Column: Be careful of judging SMU's commits only by offer lists

SMU's recent wave of commitments has been met with some questions. Patrick explains why that's premature.

None of SMU’s three Friday commitments has a rating yet. They combined for three FBS offers from schools other than SMU when they committed. The previous four pledges are rated as two-star prospects. None had a Power Five offer at the time of their commitment, and they totaled nine FBS offers. 

On the surface, SMU’s last seven commitments don’t look like much to get excited about. Especially after signing a 2016 class that finished as the fifth highest-rated among Group of Five programs and had 16 members with at least one Power Five offer. 

SMU’s last seven commitments might not be to your liking. But be wary of drawing that conclusion after one glance at their offer list and ratings. How clear an opinion of a player can you form without watching him at all?

Hudl tapes are a compilation of a player’s best games or plays. That turns off fans because anyone can look good on a tape of their best plays.

Yet there’s still plenty to learn from a player’s highlights. Does a defensive end who has 15 different sacks on his Hudl tape get them all on one pass rush move? Does a receiver only make catches on two different routes on his tape? Does a quarterback complete passes with a poor throwing motion? Does an offensive lineman succeed despite poor technique because he’s stronger than everyone he’s blocking on film?

Even a Hudl tape should answer those questions. Fans may not know what to look for when asking such questions, so only using offer lists to form an opinion of a player is easier. 

But offers can be misleading too. All you see when looking at the list is a school and a checkmark in the offer column. Without a direct line to the coaches, there’s no way of knowing where a player was on a team’s board or how long an offer was committable, if it ever was. "Offer" is an increasingly vague term. That’s recruiting in 2016.

Hudl video or offer lists alone won’t give all the information needed to form a legitimate opinion on a player. Considering both gives a better idea. If SMU’s recent commitments’ lack of offers prompted you to look at tape and you’re still not impressed, you still made your opinion stronger.

Even if watching the Hudl changed your opinion of a diamond in the rough player, you still want to see your team beat out some Power Five teams for a recruit. Given the SMU staff’s recruiting acumen, that’s reasonable.

But SMU doesn’t battle a bunch of Power Five teams to get its commitments, at least not yet. It fends them off after landing a player.

Eight members of SMU’s 2016 class received at least one Power Five offer after committing. SMU signees gathered 16 known Power Five offers after committing. Brandon Benson stayed committed after a last-minute offer from Mississippi State. Corey Rau said no to late offers from Texas and Texas A&M. Kadarius Smith turned down Oklahoma State, Missouri and Arizona State. Joshua Shelmire and Harrison Barton, unrated and barely on the FBS radar when they committed, grabbed two Power Five offers each. 

For a 2-10 team to hold onto players that get bigger offers is as impressive a win as beating out a couple Power Five teams for a player. SMU was only in a handful of battles for a player’s commitment. In 2016, most of SMU’s recruiting wins came after getting a commitment, not before.

Of SMU’s 2017 commitments, only Alan Ali had a Power Five offer when he committed. Tyquez HamptonCade Brewer and Toby Ndukwe had none when they picked SMU. They’ve combined for eight since. Will McBride and Shaine Hailey have added non-Power Five offers since committing to SMU.

See where we’re going here?

Right now, SMU isn’t recruiting to beat out the bigger teams for every one of its commitments. SMU is sticking to the evaluations of players it discovered before most other teams. With 12 players already in the 2017 class, most of SMU’s recruiting wins will likely be keeping commitments, not earning them. 

Just as immediately dismissing a player based on his offer list when he commits commitment is shortsighted, we can't guarantee SMU’s trio of commitments from Friday will grab a bunch of bigger offers. But SMU's early track record suggests their offer lists are likely not finished growing and that the ratings aren't final either.

So, how to get a stronger idea if a player will or won't get more offers or an eventual rating bump? Hudl up and watch some tape.

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