Past UW Recruiting Class Ratings

Badgermaniac updates his annual look at how past Wisconsin recruiting classes, dating back to Barry Alvarez's first class, rank when compared to each other.

In retrospect, which recruting classes turned out to be outstanding and which turned out to be duds? How do the different classes of the Alvarez/Bielema era rank? Well, here is the latest update to this running study that I have been doing for many years.

Here is how I evaluated each class. I gave each player in a particular recruiting class a numerical grade based on how they produced over their careers as a Badger. I have tried to make it as objective as possible, so the ratings are very general. We can always argue about who was better, but this system more or less tries to take some of the subjectivity out of the mix. There are always a few players who still can be argued one way or the other, but it doesn't really affect the overall rankings.

  • If the player was a star, one of the best to play at Wisconsin, an All-American they received an "8".
  • If the player was an all-conference performer, NFL type player, they received a "6".
  • If the player was a full time starter, they received a "4".
  • If the player was a part-time starter, they received a "2".
  • If the player was a reserve and contributed here and there, they received a "1".
  • All players who quit, transferred, never got off the scout team, etc. before contributing received a "0".
  • In the most recent classes, we know very little about where most of the players will end up grading out at because they simply haven't had an opportunity to fulfill their potential yet. So, most of the current freshman/sophomore class presently grades out as a 0 (because they haven't contributed yet...not because they won't).

  • Then, once each player was graded, I tallied how many TOTAL CONTRIBUTION POINTS each class was worth. This is often more a measure of a class' quantity rather than individual quality. To measure quality, I have given an AVERAGE SCORE for the class as a whole. You might be surprised to see that the average grade for most classes ends up being around a "2" (part-time starter status). It just goes to show how many recruits wind up doing absolutely nothing on the college level. I call it the "1/3 Theory", as your typical ratio is about 1/3 frontline players, 1/3 moderate contributors, and 1/3 busts.
  • Here are the UPDATED individual ratings if you are interested.

    Individual player ratings

  • This entire exercise is of course, very inexact and subject to my personal evaluations of players, but I thought it would be interesting nonetheless. Now, for the results and comments:

First, let's take a look at the movement that took place this past fall.

Class of 2003: Tyler Donovan was the big gain in this class as he made the move from bench player to starter, earning him an additional 3 recruiting points. Marcus Coleman also became a 6 point player, thanks to his All-Big Ten honors. This class is now done.

Class of 2004:Not much movement here as most of these players had already attained their current value. Newkirk was bumped to starter status and Urbik went from 4 to 6 points. All that is really left here is the chance that a couple guys start earning star points, but other than maybe Chapman, this doesn't look likely.

Class of 2005:Not as much movement here as I thought there would be. I bumped up Beckum to an 8 based on his national recognition as an elite player. Carter, Pleasant, and Hodge earned starter points, becoming 4 point players. This class is now at the point where they need more star points from guys like Casillas, Levy, Carter, or whomever if they want to move up much higher.

Class of 2006: Some incremental moves in this class. Carimi became a starter and guys like Moffit, Smith, and DeCremer earned partial starter points. This class is heavy with WR/DB types and we are still waiting for some significant moves from guys like Harris, Royston, Valai, and so forth. They still need a handful of guys to emerge as starters..

Class of 2007: As always, the caveat of "they are only true freshmen" applies here so obviously too soon to tell anything. Jefferson, Henry, Brown and Gilreath did provide some immediate impact points so they are off to a nice start. Note that I missed Zach Brown when I did my spreadsheet, so their numbers are going to be slightly off.

Now let's take a look at where our rankings stand.

  1. 1997: 65 points, 3.1 AVG/player

    Key Players: Chambers, Stemke, Echols, J. Fletcher, Knight, Kuhns, Sigmund, Anelli, McGrew

    Comments: Big senior years from Mark Anelli and Michael Echols' pushed this group to the top of the ratings. Their depth is excellent with the highest per player rating, while the total quantity is right there with the best of Alvarez's classes. Taken with the '96 group, not too shabby. One can see why they had so much success.

  2. 2001: 80 points, 2.8 AVG/player

    Key Players: Starks, Hawthorne, Charles, Orr, Leonhard, Daniels, Raiola, Bernstein, Bell, Sanders

    Comments: This group came on very late, with players like Sanders, Starks, Orr, and Daniels taking on new roles or improving their play fairly late in their careers to notch some steady points. This group was very deep and balanced with a lot of quality starter points. They produced very good but not great teams, which is why they rank behind the '97 class and arguably could rank behind the 1990 class. Still, one of the best classes in the Alvarez era.

  3. 1990: 78 points, 2.6 AVG/player

    Key Players: Dawkins, Montgomery, Fowler, Shackerford, Burgess, Roan, Verstegen, Rudolph, Moss, Thompson, Messenger, Panos, Tucker

    Comments: Stunning. Alvarez's first class, arguably remains one of his best. Granted, the fact that they were his first group gave them a leg up as they were granted tons of immediate playing time. Still, you can't underestimate what this class did for the program. Note the walkon influence was good with Panos, Hein, and Zullo.

  4. 1996: 74 points, 2.5 AVG/player

    Key Players: Favret, Rabach, Dayne, Costa, Janek, Ferrario, Ghidorzi, Kolodziej, Thompson, Mahlik, Doering, Davenport, Pisetsky

    Comments: Another truly marvelous class. This class was deep and talented and formed the nucleus of the Rose Bowl Champion teams of '99 and '00. Even the walkons in this class were good. Tremendous group when combined with the '97 class.

  5. 1998: 61 points, 2.4 AVG/player

    Key players: Boese, Bollinger, Bennett, Greisen, Bryant, N. Davis, Sprague, A. Johnson, B. Johnson, Bry. Thompson

    Comments: A good solid group that held the program together through some poor classes that followed. The class could have been even better if not for the losses of Terry Stephan and Clink Bakken.

  6. 2000: 65 points, 2.4 AVG/player

    Key Players: D. Jones, An. Davis, D. Buenning, Clinkscale, Aiello, Jefferson, James, Welsh, Lorenz, Paciotti

    Comments: Another good solid class, similiar to the '92 group. They didn't have a ton of star power beyond James who came on late, but were otherwise pretty good.

  7. 1992: 62 points, 2.3 AVG/player

    Key players: Vanderveldt, Bevell, Hall, Castro, Jurewicz, Engler, Weems, Gales

    Comments: Good overall class with a lot of depth, especially in the line. This class provided much of the depth for the '94 Rose Bowl and Hall of Fame Bowl teams. A solid group that did not have a lot of NFL type talent, but certainly got a lot of their ability.

  8. 2005: 55 points, 2.5 AVG/player

    Scout Team Recruiting Ranking: 35th

    Key Players: Casillas, Levy, Shaugnhessy, Kemp, Vandenheuvel, Beckum, Hill, Hodge, Carter

    Comments: This class made a solid jump this year, including jumping the 2004 class which preceded them. They still have a chance to pick up some star power points which could bump them another 3-4 spots in the rankings. They still have an outside chance of being considerd an elite class but at the very least, they have established a nice legacy.

  9. 2002: 53 points, 2.3 AVG/player

    Scout Team Recruiting Ranking: 53rd

    Key Players: Watkins, B. Williams, A. Lewis, Stocco, J. Monty, Zalewski, Stellmacher

    Comments: Not a terrible class, but not much more than average either. It had some really nice assets at the top, but also a lot of non-contributors.

  10. 1991: 52 points, 2.2 AVG/player

    Key players: DeRamus, T. Fletcher, Reese, Raymer, Nyquist, Maniecki, Stark, Veit, Unverzagt, Bryan

    Comments: Like the '90 group, this group had the benefit of immediate playing time due to the new coach. However, they also had some NFL type talent on board and decent but not great depth.

  11. 2004: 53 points, 2.3 AVG/player

    Scout Team Recruiting Ranking: 37th

    Key Players: Chapman, Crooks, Hayden, Urbik, Mehlhaff, Langford, Ikegwuonu, Pressley

    Comments: Only made a small jump this year. It still does not really have much of a shot at being a great class as they look to be pretty much done in terms of upward mobility points and they are destined to be considered a decent class, but not much more.

  12. 2003: 40 points, 2.5 AVG/player

    Scout Team Recruiting Ranking: 36th

    Key Players: Rogers, J. Thomas, J. Cooper, Coleman, Donovan

    Comments: A small class without a ton of depth. Donovan gave them a nice boost at the end of their run. They are similiar to the '95 and '99 groups in terms of some top heavy quality, but the depth is just so limited. Joe Thomas alone however made this class worthwhile.

  13. 1993: 42 points, 2.1 AVG/player

    Key players: Saleh, Simmons, P. Monty, Brady, Carter, Lysek, Suttle

    Comments: This class had some quality but without the depth of some of the other classes. A very top-heavy class with some excellent players but quite a few non-performers which brought down the overall score. This class was hurt by defections, as players like Reggie Torian, Royce Roberson, and Rob Lurstema did not fulfill their early promise. Overall, a mediocre class.

  14. 1994: 33 points, 2.2 AVG/player

    Key players: Campbell, Hayes, Samuel, Adamov, Martin, Taylor

    Comments: The "infamous" post-Rose Bowl class that supposedly wasn't as good as it needed to be. This was the year in which Alvarez had the fewest number of scholarships to work with (only 13 players on the official list). Actually, the quality was decent, with most of the players contributing. It gained some as guys like Taylor and Adamov added a some points late in their careers. The only big timer in retrospect was Hayes. A fair class given the raw numbers, but given the circumstances, it did not hit a "home run" like some had hoped and goes down as fairly disappointing.

  15. 1995: 35 points, 1.4 AVG/player

    Key Players: McIntosh, Gibson, Burke, Merritt

    Comments: This class rates as the second worst of Alverz's tenure so far. What is amazing is that there are three studs in the class accounting for a gob of "recruiting points". Poor depth despite the obvious attributes of the stars. This should have been the real year when Wisconsin should have cleaned up, with the opportunity to recruit this batch for a full year following the first Rose Bowl year. This group was the main reason why so many freshmen and sophomores had to play in '97. Ironically, this class was rated very highly by the "experts".

  16. 1999: 30 points, 1.5 AVG/player

    Key Players: Evans, Mack, Sorgi, B. Tucker, M. Davis

    Comments: What a disaster. Terrible depth and terrible star power. Only Lee Evans saved this class from total disgrace. Sorgi, Mack, and Tucker were solid players, but after that.....ick. This was the year that Alvarez supposedly shot for the star players and came up short on most.

  17. 2006: 21 points, 0.9 AVG/player

    Scout Team Recruiting Ranking: 37th

    Key Players: Carimi, DeCremer, Moffit, Lance Smith

    Comments: Still too early to tell too much. As noted earlier, a lot depends on all the WR/DB types that need to get some starter points. The guys listed above will be solid.

  18. 2007: 13 points, 0.6 AVG/player

    Scout Team Recruiting Ranking: 41st

    Key Players: Jefferson, Gilreath, Henry, Brown

    Comments: Excellent start. They have a nice core of guys to work with.

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