I hate National Signing Day.
That's not to say there aren't good things about Signing Day. I've covered it from both ends - the colleges (at UCF and the University of Georgia) and the high schools (in northeast Georgia). It's good that the kids get their day in the sun to celebrate going to college - most of them to smaller schools where you'll never hear from them again as they get their degree. That's never a bad thing.
It's the press conferences. The hats. The commitments and then the flips and then the flips again. The jersey-wearing fans standing outside the program's offices awaiting faxes (faxes!) from high school kids. The other jersey-wearing fans tweeting expletives at high school kids because they didn't choose their school. The "best class in school history" B.S.
And you know who agrees with me? Scott Frost:
But the biggest fraud of all is national recruiting rankings. These are largely arbitrary rankings of schools based on largely arbitrary rankings of players that do nothing but sell web and magazine subscriptions. Again, that's not to say that the work reporters do on the recruiting trail is good - Brandon Helwig and those like him bust their asses every day to such an extent that I question whether or not they follow the established rules of space-time, and they don't nearly make as much money doing it as they deserve (or as much as you think, either). But the system hovering above them at places like Rivals, Scout and 247 are selling a product that doesn't exist: instant football success through recruiting.
After all, how many national titles has Notre Dame won in the last 15 years thanks to their consistently top-20-ranked recruiting?
Recruiting is the lifeblood of all college sports. Any coach worth his salt will tell you that, and it's correct. But the only way to evaluate a recruiting class is after those recruits have finished school.
So look, I'm not doing anything about this year's class. If you want that, go here and knock yourself out. If you want visual confirmation that these kids actually played football, here it is:
Alright, enough of that.
I propose in this piece to do something that, to my knowledge, no one has done yet, and that is evaluate UCF's 2011 recruiting class. I'm even going to use a star system:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Star player and bona-fide NFL Draft talent. Need not have stayed all four years.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ - All-conference-level or solid starter, possible NFL late draftee or UFA.
⭐⭐⭐ - Played and finished career at UCF, graduated (or at least should have). Not NFL talent.
⭐⭐ - Played but didn't finish. Transferred, left football, or something like that.
⭐ - Never played, probably on a milk carton somewhere.
So, without further adieu, here's a revised look back at UCF's 2011 recruiting class, five years on:
|Player||Position||2011 Rivals Ranking||2016 Final Grade||Notes|
|Demetris Anderson||DT||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️||Missed senior season ('15) with knee injury. No word on 6th year.|
|Brandon Bragg||DB||⭐️⭐️||⭐️||Not listed on 2011 roster.|
|Terran Buck||LB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||JC transfer played sparingly in 2011|
|Tarik Cook||LB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️||Moved to OL, started as junior and senior|
|Raymond Cottman||LB||⭐️⭐️||⭐️||JC transfer played one game in 2011.|
|Jeremy Davis||DB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️||Scout teamer in '13, not on '14 roster.|
|Bruce Dukes||DB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||Limited action in '12, transferred to Georgia St. in 2013.|
|Mike Easton||DB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️||Special teamer/backup LB, 96-yard KO return vs. SMU in '14.|
|Joey Grant||DE||⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️||Moved to center and became solid starter. Injuries cut senior year short.|
|Troy Gray||LB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||Started at LB all four years.|
|Deion Green||DE||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||Saw sporadic action through '14, not on team in '15.|
|Rannell Hall||WR||⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||Workhorse speedster. Undrafted NFL prospect.|
|Cameron Henderson||DE||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||JC transfer contributed both years, landed on Browns practice squad.|
|Jared Henry||DB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||Played in '13 & '14, left program before 2015 season.|
|Kentorious Jackson||DB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️||JC transfer, never listed on any roster.|
|Toby Jackson||DE||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||JC transfer played in '11, dismissed from team in '12.|
|Jose Jose||G||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️||Kicked off team for rules violation in March 2012.|
|Jacques Mackeroy||WR||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️||Scout teamer in '12, not listed on '13 roster.|
|Kevin Miller||TE||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||Played in '13 and '14, not on '15 roster.|
|Willie Mitchell||LB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️||Played in '13 and finished in '14 despite legal troubles.|
|Thomas Niles||DT||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||UCF's best defensive lineman in 2015|
|Miles Pace||LB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||Left program before 2015 season, transferred to Virginia Union|
|Breshad Perriman||WR||⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||All-timer at UCF, 1st Round NFL draft pick.|
|Terrance Plummer||LB||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||Senior captain LB, undrafted NFL prospect|
|DaMarcus Smith||QB||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️||Recruitment scandal nearly brought down TWO programs. Would give -7 stars if I could.|
|Cedric Thompson||RB||⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️||Senior captain in '15, 117 career rush yds.|
|Dalton Wertz||DT||⭐️⭐️||⭐️||Scout teamer in '11, not on '12 roster|
|Rayshon Williams||WR||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️||Not listed on '11 roster.|
|Leilon Willingham||LB||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||Played 10 games in '11, transferred to Northern Colorado in '12.|
Some notes on this:
- Breshad Perriman. Two stars. LOL.
- Rannell Hall was really good.
- 17 of the 29 players in this recruitingclass never panned out.
- Nine out-played their recruiting rankings.
So the next time you talk about recruiting, remember that the results are out there.