Ohio State head coach Ryan Day isn’t a stargazer, which is fine because he doesn’t actually need a telescope to see all of the stars he’s been recruiting.
Ohio State is currently sitting with the No. 1 class in the nation, poised to set an all-time record in some recruiting circles.
And yet, when the Buckeyes are recruiting players, they don’t get hung up on whether they are looking at a 5-star or a 4-star or a 3-star prospect. For many of the kids they’re recruiting, they were in on them before any recruiting services even ranked them. And Ohio State is not alone in that. Offers and evaluations go out earlier and earlier, and sometimes well before any rankings are attached to those players.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons why some prospects get the rankings they do.
“Well, I think that a lot of the scouting sites base their rankings off of who the schools offer,” Day said. “I’m sure that they do their evaluations. I don’t know their process. But I would think that a lot of what they put weight into, in terms of giving guys three, four, and five stars, is based on the type of offers they get. So, we don’t base anything off of what stars you have.”
It’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Do offers come because a player is a 5-star prospect, or is the player a 5-star prospect because of the offers and subsequent evaluation. The answer is yes to both, it just depends on the timing.
Right now with no camps or combines going on, recruiting rankings are still being adjusted. Why? Well, the only thing changing right now is offers, so that impacts the situation somewhat. (The constant need for content should not be overlooked here as well, especially during a sports blackout.)
Rankings can certainly catch a coaching staff’s eye, but the offers from other schools is what they takes more seriously. Urban Meyer praised Michigan State and Wisconsin years ago for their evaluations and said that when those schools offered a prospect, he took notice.
Generally, however, the process is much more organic and is overseen by OSU recruiting director Mark Pantoni.
“What we do is, Mark starts with the evaluations. He watches the film and evaluates the film, watches the highlight film, and watches the game film,” Day said. “And then the position coaches and then coordinators and myself will watch the film as well and just give our evaluations of where we think they are and then where we think they’re headed.”
When Ohio State offers a prospect, that turns heads. When Alabama and Clemson and LSU follow, then clearly this prospect must be pretty good. If the recruiting services agree with the evaluations, that player can expect to be ranked fairly high.
But it’s not just about the offers and evaluations, rankings also come from in-person evaluations at camps and such. That being said, if a player looks like a million bucks and doesn’t have the offers to show for it, his rankings will be held back.
In Ryan Day’s mind, the rankings systems are fine and they make for easy information gathering, but there’s no need to get hung up on the individual rankings themselves when it’s the offers from schools like his that help determine who gets ranked where.
“And stars and all that stuff, sometimes it has to do with the exposure they get. Are they going to camps? Do they do different things?” he said.
“But at the end of the day, I think there’s a lot of influence based on the type of offers they get. And if the kid has offers from some of the best schools in the country, that means multiple staffs have respect for his talent level and his potential, then he probably deserves a higher ranking. But at the end of the day, rankings don’t mean anything once you get there. You’ve got to go produce.”