A previous article analyzed Stanford's recruiting class in terms of its ability to answer the principal priorities of the class: adding quality and quantity to meet the need at offensive line, adding quality and quantity to meet the need at linebacker, adding potential difference makers, and improving the depth of talent on the roster. Ultimately, the 2010 recruiting class for Stanford boasts good quality but not quantity at offensive line, hauled in a promising but mysterious group at linebacker, brings in recognized elite recruits on par with some of Stanford's best recruiting years of the decade (though not last year's group), and provides one of the deepest classes in the history of the program.
That analysis only covers one aspect of Stanford's recruiting, however. In addition to how well the class meets Stanford's needs, it is also important how the class stacks up against Stanford's competition. While it would take a ridiculous amount of time to assess how each class meets team needs, broad brush conclusions can be drawn regarding the quality of each team's recruiting, their top recruits, and the overall depth of the classes.
In the Scout.com team rankings, the Pac-10 teams ranked:
In this view, Stanford ended up with one of the top 25 classes in the nation but only the fifth best class in the Pac-10 in a strong year in which seven conference teams finished in the top 30. Each team in the conference ranks in the top 40 except for Oregon State, which has sustained consistent success under Mike Riley, Mark Banker, Danny Langsdorf, Mike Cavanaugh, and Co. despite not wowing recruiting services.
One recruiting year takes a limited snapshot of a team's talent pipeline. If you look at both the 2009 and 2010 classes, here is how the Pac-10 would stack up in terms of average class ranking over the two years:
1. UCLA (6.5)
2. USC (7)
T-3. Stanford (19.5)
T-3. Oregon (19.5)
T-5. Cal (31.5)
T-5. Arizona State (31.5)
7. Washington (38.5)
8. Washington State (41)
9. Arizona (43.5)
10. Oregon State (56)
As mentioned above, Oregon State has established itself as a contender regardless of what its recruiting rankings would predict. Recognizing that team recruiting rankings are fallible and should be viewed as an imperfect tool rather than as a crystal ball, Pac-10 recruiting over the past two years divides into three tiers plus the enigmatic Beavers. At the top, UCLA and USC have recruited among the elite teams nationally. While defending national champion Alabama has been the recruiting champ nationally over the past two years (average ranking: 3), the recruiting of UCLA and USC the last two years has been competitive with LSU (5), Texas (5) Oklahoma (6). Aside from the Southern California recruiting powers, Stanford and Oregon have been the recruiting class of the Pac-10. Incidentally, they also rank around Notre Dame (21) over the past two recruiting cycles. The third recruiting tier for the Pac-10 the last two years has been everybody else pulling in solid but not quite top 25 classes for the most part, though Cal and Arizona State seem to have recruited non-trivially better than the other teams in that tier.
One view of recruiting emphasizes the importance of elite prospects based on the logic that true game breakers make a disproportionate difference, the proverbial "difference makers." Under this view, the above calculus may underrate Cal, which hauled in a nice group of highly-touted prospects yesterday. In general, the Pac-10 had a big Signing Day in this regard. A look at the Scout 300 players who signed with Pac-10 schools.:
1. OT Seantrel Henderson – USC (committed but not signed)
3. WR Robert Woods – USC
4. WR Kyle Prater – USC
5. S Keenan Allen – Cal
10. OLB Chris Martin – Cal
17. RB Malcolm Jones – UCLA
20. RB Lache Seastrunk – Oregon
25. DT George Uko – USC
31. TE Xavier Grimble – USC
33. RB Dillon Baxter – USC
36. DE Curtis White – Oregon
49. DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa – UCLA
52. DT Sione Potoae – Washington
53. RB D.J. Morgan – USC
63. RB Jordon James – UCLA
79. DE Blake Lueders – Stanford
80. S Sean Parker – Washington
89. DT Cassius Marsh – UCLA
100. OLB Anthony Barr –UCLA
104. DT Ricky Heimuli – Oregon
107. QB Jesse Scroggins – USC
109. OG Nick Rowland – Oregon
112. TE Randall Telfer – USC
120. OLB Josh Shirley – UCLA
126. MLB Cecil Whiteside – Cal
139. OG Erik Kohler – Washington
141. WR Paul Richardson – UCLA
142. WR Kevin Smith – Washington
149. WR Markeith Ambles – USC
152. S Dietrich Riley – UCLA
158. RB Anthony Wilkerson – Stanford
164. CB Anthony Jefferson – UCLA
170. OLB Aramide Olaniyan – UCLA
172. MLB Hayes Pullard – USC
179. TE Christian Thomas – USC
180. CB Dior Mathis – Oregon
189. RB Deontae Cooper – Washington
196. QB Bryan Bennett – Oregon
200. TE Aaron Dunn – Washington State
216. MLB Dave Wilkerson – Cal
221. OT Alex Crosthwaite – Cal
226. S Marquis Flowers – Arizona
231. S Erick Dargan – Oregon
236. S Devon Carrington – Stanford
238. CB Nickell Robey – USC
240. OG Chris Ward – UCLA
247. CB Tevin McDonald – UCLA
249. C Giovanni Di Poalo – USC
253. QB Brett Nottingham – Stanford
257. OT Micah Hatchie – Washington
260. RB Deantre Lewis – Arizona State
262. QB Dallas Lloyd – Stanford
268. MLB Jordan Zumwalt – UCLA
269. CB Demetrius Wright – USC
274. DT Kirifi Taula – Arizona
276. OG Colin Porter – Washington
280. OLB Chris Young – Washington
286. DE Gabe King – Cal
300. QB Nick Montana - Washington
- The breakdown of 5-star players by Pac-10 school: USC 6; Cal 2; UCLA 2; Oregon 2; rest of conference 0. If you ascribe particular importance to uber-elite recruits, it is especially noteworthy that USC claimed three of the top four recruits in the nation and that Cal claimed two of the top 10.
- Expanding out to top 100 recruits, the breakdown goes: USC 7; UCLA 5; Cal 2; Oregon 2; Washington 2; Stanford 1; rest of conference 0.
- Expanding out to top 300 recruits, the breakdown goes: USC 15; UCLA 13; Washington 9; Oregon 7; Cal 6; Stanford 5; Arizona 2; Washington State 1; Arizona State 1; Oregon State 0.
- Whether you look at 5-star recruits, top 100 recruits, or top 300 recruits, USC and UCLA were the class of the conference and should add the most "difference makers" of any Pac-10 teams. On paper, Washington did the next best job getting elite recruits, followed by Oregon, Cal, and Stanford vying to break through the middle of the pack. However, Cal's two top 10 national recruits deserve special mention.
- Despite the apparent general parity between the USC and UCLA classes, USC still retains a clear advantage with the absolutely elite recruits, getting as many 5-star players as the rest of the conference combined. Put most starkly, USC signed more players ranked in the top four prospects nationally than any other Pac-10 team signed among the top 50 prospects.
- If you count junior college transfers, USC signed at least one 4+ star player at each position Scout.com classifies other than fullback, offensive guard, and safety.
- UCLA signed nine 4+ star players on defense alone. USC signed six and Cal signed five.
- Every team in the Pac-10 signed a 4+ star running back except for Arizona, Cal, Washington State, and Oregon State. USC and UCLA each signed two, all among the top 63 overall prospects nationally.
- Five 4-star quarterbacks signed with Pac-10 teams and Stanford netted commitments from two of them. USC, Oregon, and Washington were the other schools to get 4-star quarterbacks.
- USC signed the top two receivers in the nation and three of the top five receivers to sign with any Pac-10 teams.
- USC and Washington were the only Pac-10 teams to sign multiple 4+ star offensive linemen. Washington led the way with three, though USC got the biggest fish in the nation in Seantrel Henderson [though as of this writing, he has not signed his NLI].
- UCLA and Oregon were the only Pac-10 teams to sign multiple 4+ star defensive linemen.
- UCLA signed four 4+ star linebackers and Cal signed three. The top two for each were ranked among the top 150 overall prospects in the nation.
- UCLA, USC, and Oregon were the only Pac-10 teams to sign multiple 4+ star defensive backs. UCLA led the way with three.
As discussed in greater detail in yesterday's analysis of Stanford's class, Stanford signed a class with 20 3+ star prospects. In terms of this crude but convenient measure for depth, the Pac-10 teams rank:
1. Washington – 25 (out of 30)
2. UCLA – 22 (out of 22)
3. Arizona State – 22 (out of 26)
4. Oregon – 21 (out of 23)
5. USC – 20 (out of 20)
6. Stanford – 20 (out of 22)
7. Washington State – 17 (out of 22)
8. Cal – 16 (out of 19)
9. Arizona – 15 (out of 21)
10. Oregon State – 10 (out of 17)
Thus, on paper Stanford finished right in the middle of the Pac-10 not only in attracting top 300 players but also in attracting 3+ star recruits, explaining the Cardinal's fifth place overall finish in the team recruiting rankings. However, this measure may underrate the depth of Stanford's 2010 class.
As explained yesterday, extrapolations of position rankings suggest that as many as 15 of Stanford's commits would rank in the top 500 if Scout made the overall rankings that explicit. Because nineteen top 100 recruits signed with Pac-10 schools, twenty 101-200 recruits signed with Pac-10 schools, and twenty 201-300 recruits signed with Pac-10 schools, it might stand to reason that about forty 301-500 recruits would sign with Pac-10 schools. If that assumption is valid, Stanford having 8-11 of those, as my prior analysis has shown would be likely, would give the Cardinal a much higher percentage of those recruits than it had for the 1-300 recruits. (If Stanford had eight 301-500 recruits, a conservative estimate, that would constitute about 20% of the expected 301-500 recruits signing with the Pac-10, more than double the percentage of Pac-10 1-300 recruits Stanford snared)* In this way, comparisons of the sheer number of 3+ stars in a class underrates Stanford's depth because they do not account for the high concentration of Stanford's commits on the high end of the 3-star spectrum but outside of the 4+ star echelon. Stanford recruited quality depth better than it recruited recognized elite players in 2010. The above ranking that puts Stanford in the middle of the conference in terms of depth almost surely underrates the quality of the depth Stanford added.
Statistical note elaborating on the above
* Stanford signed about 13-16 of the Pac-10's approximately 100 (note: 100 is guesswork based on the assumptions laid out above) top 500 signees, which, obviously, translates to 13-16%. Stanford signed 5 of the Pac-10's 59 top 300 signees, an 8.5% share. Stanford signed 1 of the Pac-10's 19 top 100 signees, a 5.3% hit share. This crude math serves as an illustration that Stanford recruited top 500 players better than it recruited top 300 players, which it recruited better than top 100 players. The key assumption here is that Pac-10 teams signed very high 3-stars ranked between 301 and 500 at close to the same rate as they signed 4+ star players, which may or may not have been the case. But if it is or is close to the truth, it is clear that the "high 3-star" category served as the Cardinal's comparative advantage in 2010 and that Stanford's class is even deeper than would appear to be the case at first blush.
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