Inside the Numbers: Ranking the 2005 (and 2004!) Recruits
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, 2/22/05

It's time for TechSideline.com's fifth annual "Inside the Numbers: Ranking the Recruits," in which we mash together recruiting rankings from various recruiting services into one complex ranking system that gives each VT recruit a composite ranking ... but wait, imagine my horror when I realized we never did this for the 2004 class! So buckle up, because you're about to get two articles for the price of one.

The concept behind ITN:RTR is simple: we take the recruiting rankings from SuperPrep, Rivals.com, and Scout.com (formerly TheInsiders.com) and mash them into one formula that assigns each recruit a composite ranking. Other longstanding recruiting analysts (Max Emfinger, Tom Lemming, etc.) are excluded because they don't have a player ranking system that has the required depth or consistency.

The first time we did this was for the 2001 recruiting class, and then we repeated it in 2002 and 2003 before taking 2004 off (for reasons unbeknownst to us). Previous articles ran in TSL Extra issue #4 (Feb. 16, 2001), TSL Extra issue #16 (Feb. 15, 2002), and TSL Pass "Ranking the 2003 Recruits" (Feb. 14, 2003) -- see "related links" at the end of this article.

In 2001, Kevin Jones, the top recruit in the nation according to Rivals.com and SuperPrep, nailed a near-perfect score of 44.8 out of 45 (PrepStar, for some reason, rated KJ the third-best recruit in the country, ruining his chance at a perfect score.). In 2002, Marcus Vick took top honors with a score of 39.4. In 2003, Vince Hall brought home the title with a score of 26.5.

As noted, we neglected to do ITN:RTR for 2004, so this article will bring you the 2004 and the 2005 results. Not only that, but since we now have five years of data, we can compare the classes for 2001-2005 inclusive.

Starting next year, something exciting (to us geek stat-boys, anyway) is going to start happening: we're going to be able to compare the recruiting rankings we compiled when the players first signed -- the type of article you're reading right now -- to our Tech career rating formula that we have used in "Rating the (Fill in the Blank) Recruiting Class" articles -- you know the ones where we assign scores based on what players did during their Tech careers and where they were drafted in the NFL. (Click here for an example, rating the 1995 recruiting class.)

In April of 2006, following the 2006 NFL Draft, we'll be able to throw the 2001 recruiting class into our post-Tech-career formula and compare it to our ratings from 2001's ITN:RTR for that class. We'll be able to name the most overrated recruits from that class, and infinitely more fun, the most underrated recruits from that class.

Let's get started, but first, our standard ITN:RTR disclaimer.


Standard ITN:RTR Disclaimer

If you're into this stuff, you may think that the formula and methodology that I use stinks. So let me warn you not to take this too seriously. I'm always under time constraints here at TSL, so when I came up with my ranking system, I probably put a grand total of 30 minutes of thought into it, tops. The remaining hours and hours were spent coming up with a spreadsheet full of formulas and entering everyone's rankings into it, and then wrapping this wordy article around it.


The Ranking Methodology

To do our rankings, we compile SuperPrep, Rivals.com, and Scout.com ranking information for each recruit and throw it into some fairly complex formulas. The basic concept, though, is simple: a player can accumulate up to 15 points from each ranking service, for a total of up to 45 points.

Each ranking service is broken up into three parts, from which a recruit can earn 0 to 5 points. So, essentially, a player can earn from 0 to 5 points from nine different sets of numbers.

Here's the breakdown:

SuperPrep: 1 to 5 points for being in SP's Elite 50 ranking of the top 50 players in the country; 1 to 5 points for being ranked a SuperPrep All-American; 1 to 5 points for being ranked in SP's applicable state/regional ranking. If a player is not included in a given category, he receives 0 points for that category. 0 to 15 points total.

Rivals.com: 1 to 5 points for being in the Rivals 100 ranking of the top 100 players in the country; 1 to 5 points for Rivals.com position ranking; 1 to 5 points for Rivals.com star ranking. 1 to 15 points total (since everyone at least gets one star).

Scout.com: 1 to 5 points for being in Scout's  (which was called TheInsiders.com in 2004) Top 100 ranking of the top 100 players in the country; 1 to 5 points for Scout.com position ranking; 1 to 5 points for Scout.com star ranking. 1 to 15 points total (since everyone at least gets one star).

That's the quick-and-dirty summary. If you want the mind-numbing details, including mathematical formulas, then check out this link, which goes into each service's ranking systems in more detail, plus gives the philosophy and formulas of TSL's ranking system.


And Without Further Ado…

To summarize:

  • A player can get up to 5 points from 9 different ranking sources (three services, three categories for each service, 0 to 5 points in each category).
  • 45 is the highest possible composite rank. For a recruit to be ranked as a 45, he would have to be the top player in the SuperPrep Elite 50, be the #1 player in the Rivals 100, and be the #1 player in Scout.com's Top 100.
  • The lowest possible composite rank is 2 (every player in the Rivals.com and Scout.com systems gets at least one star). For a recruit to receive a ranking of 2, he would have to be unranked in all services and earn just one star in his Rivals.com and Scout.com rankings.

Now, here are the results for Tech's 14 high school signees for the 2004 recruiting class and 22 high school signees for the 2005 recruiting class. Please note that junior college (JUCO) and prep school players are not included, because the recruiting services do not necessarily apply their rankings to prep and JUCO players. Also, players that signed with VT out of high school but then prepped are included with their high school class, not the class they signed with after prep school. Here's what this means for 2004 and 2005:

  • The 2004 class includes Brandon Holland and Sam Wheeler, who signed with VT in 2004, later prepped, and resigned with VT in 2005. The 2004 class does not include William Wall, who never signed an LOI with VT while in high school.

  • The 2004 rankings do not include rankings for Brandon Flowers (Hargrave), Justin Harper (Hargrave), Maurice Reevey (FUMA), and Josh Morgan (FUMA), all of whom signed with VT in 2004.

  • The 2005 rankings do not include Brandon Holland and Sam Wheeler, because they were prep players. It also does not include William Wall, a prep player. So Wall has the odd distinction of not being included with either class. But if you think about it, that's no different than, say, Josh Hyman, who committed to VT while in high school, but didn't sign an LOI with VT until he had prepped a year at Fork Union.

We'll show you the 2004 recruiting rankings first, comment on them, and then do the same for the 2005 recruits.

2004 Composite Recruiting Rankings
(out of 45 possible points)

Player

SP
Pts

Rivals
Pts

Insiders*
Pts

Total
Pts

Bell, George

5.4

8.2

11.2

24.7

Hicks, Kent

7.4

8.1

8.8

24.3

Royal, Eddie

8.5

8.4

7.2

24.0

Glennon, Sean

7.5

7.8

6.8

22.2

Bowman, Andrew

6.0

5.2

8.7

19.8

Howard, Carl

5.5

6.1

5.9

17.5

Gilchrist, Jeremy

3.6

5.6

5.4

14.6

Ore, Branden

5.0

2.0

6.5

13.5

Sturdivant, Purnell

3.5

2.0

6.8

12.3

Miller, Theodore

2.3

3.8

2.0

8.1

Holland, Brandon

1.9

3.0

2.0

6.9

Green, Michael

2.8

2.0

2.0

6.8

Shuman, Ryan

2.1

2.0

2.0

6.1

Wheeler, Sam

0.0

3.0

2.0

5.0

* In 2004, Scout.com
was still TheInsiders.com

2004 Ave:

14.7

Top Recruit: George Bell (24.7 out of 45) edges out Kent Hicks (24.3) and Eddie Royal (24.0).

  • SuperPrep ratings: Bell did not make SuperPrep's Elite 50 (0 points), but he did make All-American and was ranked as the #26 tailback out of 28 (1.43 points). He was also rated the #10 player out of 35 in the state of North Carolina (3.97 points). Total SuperPrep points: 5.40.

  • Rivals.com ratings: Bell did not make the Rivals Top 100 (0 points). He was a 4-star player (4 points), and the #12 tailback out of 52 (4.15 points). Total Rivals.com points: 8.15.

  • TheInsiders.com ratings: Bell made the Insiders Top 100, at #68 (2.32 points). He was a 4-star player (4 points), and the #6 tailback out of 134 (4.85 points). Total Insiders points: 11.17.

Total points: 5.40 + 8.15 + 11.17 = 24.72, rounded to 24.7.

This brings up an interesting twist: Hicks didn't sign with the VT recruiting class until the fall, when Maryland admissions rejected him, freeing him up from his Maryland LOI and making him available for other teams. The Hokies snatched Hicks up last summer.

Had we run our article on the 2004 class last February, like we were supposed to, Hicks would have slipped through the cracks. But since we're late, he's included in these rankings.

Bottom Recruit: Sam Wheeler (5 points out of 45) was not ranked by SuperPrep, PrepStar, or Rivals.com, and was a Rivals 3-star player and Insiders 2-star player. An interesting trend: this is the fourth straight year the rating of the lowest-rated player has gone up. With 5 points, Wheeler tops 2003's DJ Parker (3 points), 2002's Robert Parker (2 points), and 2001's Brandon Frye (1 point).

Now the 2005 recruiting rankings...

2005 Composite Recruiting Rankings
(out of 45 possible points)

Player

SP
Pts

Rivals
Pts

Insiders*
Pts

Total
Pts

Harris, Victor

9.3

13.8

11.4

34.5

Whitaker, Ike

8.8

8.7

8.6

26.1

Simmons, Deveon

7.3

9.9

7.9

25.1

Lewis, Elan

7.8

7.9

8.0

23.7

Green, Hivera

6.8

6.2

6.1

19.1

Boone, Greg

5.9

6.0

6.2

18.1

Nolen, Todd

4.1

7.7

5.6

17.4

Martin, Cam

3.6

6.4

6.8

16.8

Friday, Stephen

3.8

8.0

5.0

16.8

Render, Sergio

2.1

6.0

6.4

14.5

Jefferson, Kenneth

3.6

5.7

5.2

14.5

North, Antonio

3.2

6.4

4.8

14.5

Cheeseman, Jahre

3.1

6.4

4.7

14.2

Wang, Ed

3.5

6.8

3.0

13.3

Porch, Dorian

1.5

5.3

5.4

12.2

Taylor, Demetrius

2.9

5.0

3.0

10.9

Virgil, Stephan

2.3

3.0

4.0

9.2

Norris, Robert

3.5

2.0

3.0

8.5

Bowden, Brent

0.0

2.0

2.0

4.0

Davis, Eric

0.0

2.0

2.0

4.0

Graham, Richard

0.0

2.0

2.0

4.0

Thompson, Cordarrow

0.0

2.0

2.0

4.0

2005 Ave:

14.8

Top Recruit: Victor Harris soundly whips Ike Whitaker, Deveon Simmons, and Elan Lewis, thanks to Harris being present on the top 100 lists for both Rivals.com (#28) and Scout.com (#60). Deveon Simmons made Rivals.com's Top 100 list, but no other player made any top 100 lists.

Bottom Recruit: Brent Bowden, Eric Davis, Richard Graham, and Cordarrow Thompson, all of whom were unranked at their positions but were 2-star players in both Rivals.com and Scout.com. (Time will tell with Bowden, Davis, and Graham, but I'll go on record as saying that all recruiting services are missing the boat on Cordarrow Thompson.)


Comparison of the 2001-2005 Classes

In a moment, we'll list all 93 recruits, from highest-ranked to lowest-ranked, but first, let's take a look at the average ranking for all five classes that we have reviewed so far:

Recruiting
Class

Ave. Player
Ranking

2005

14.8

2004

14.7

2003

14.5

2002

14.3

2001

16.3

First of all, that's not a misprint for the 2001 class. Led by Kevin Jones, Bryan Randall, and DeAngelo Hall, that class was very top-heavy and thus had a high average recruiting ranking.

Secondly, the numbers show that while it is true from a ratings standpoint that each class has been rated successively higher on an average-ranking basis (with the exception of the curve-skewing 2001 class), it's not true that VT recruiting is improving by leaps and bounds each year. Every year, as always, the Hokies sign star players and a handful of two-star sleeper types. In 2001, those players were Andrew Fleck, Tim Sandidge, Reggie Butler, and Brandon Frye. In 2005, four years later, those players are Brent Bowden, Eric Davis, Richard Graham, and Cordarrow Thompson.

The average player ranking has been creeping up, not shooting up, and you can even argue that the incremental increase is due to "star creep" -- simply being signed by VT makes a player a two-star recruit, whether they have been on anyone's radar or not. Schools like East Carolina can still sign one-star guys (six of them, as a matter of fact), but the days of anyone signing with VT being classfied as a one-star recruit are over. (For the record, James Anderson and Brandon Frye were one-star guys).

Now let's take a look at all 93 players from 2001-2005, listed in order from highest-ranked to lowest ranked. This is interesting stuff.

Comparison of 2001-2005 Recruit Rankings

Rank

Player

Pts

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

1

Jones, Kevin

44.8

X

 

 

 

 

2

Vick, Marcus

39.4

 

X

 

 

 

3

Randall, Bryan

36.1

X

 

 

 

 

4

Harris, Victor

34.5

 

 

 

 

X

5

Lewis, Jonathan

30.8

 

X

 

 

 

6

Hall, Vince

26.5

 

 

X

 

 

7

Hall, DeAngelo

26.4

X

 

 

 

 

8

Lee, Fred

26.2

X

 

 

 

 

9

Whitaker, Ike

26.1

 

 

 

 

X

10

Carroll, Tripp

25.4

 

 

X

 

 

11

Adibi, Xavier

25.4

 

 

X

 

 

12

Simmons, Deveon

25.1

 

 

 

 

X

13

Bell, George

24.7

 

 

 

X

 

14

Hicks, Kent

24.3

 

 

 

X

 

15

Royal, Eddie

24.0

 

 

 

X

 

16

Lewis, Elan

23.7

 

 

 

 

X

17

Ellis, Chris

23.7

 

 

X

 

 

18

Hamilton, Justin

23.5

X

 

 

 

 

19

Glennon, Sean

22.2

 

 

 

X

 

20

Kinzer, John

21.0

 

 

X

 

 

Rank

Player

Pts

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

21

Gore, Brandon

20.7

 

X

 

 

 

22

Humes, Cedric

20.7

X

 

 

 

 

23

Bradley, Curtis

20.4

X

 

 

 

 

24

Walton, D.J.

20.0

X

 

 

 

 

25

Bowman, Andrew

19.8

 

 

 

X

 

26

King, Jeff

19.1

X

 

 

 

 

27

Green, Hivera

19.1

 

 

 

 

X

28

Welsh, Matt

19.0

 

 

X

 

 

29

Tapp, Darryl

18.6

 

X

 

 

 

30

Boone, Greg

18.1

 

 

 

 

X

31

Howard, Carl

17.5

 

 

 

X

 

32

Nolen, Todd

17.4

 

 

 

 

X

33

Martin, Cam

16.8

 

 

 

 

X

34

Friday, Stephen

16.8

 

 

 

 

X

35

Imoh, Mike

16.2

 

X

 

 

 

36

Rouse, Aaron

16.2

 

X

 

 

 

37

Pannell, Chris

15.7

X

 

 

 

 

38

McPherson, Brian

15.6

 

X

 

 

 

39

Brown, Duane

14.8

 

 

X

 

 

40

Williams, Jimmy (ATH)

14.6

 

X

 

 

 

Rank

Player

Pts

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

41

Gilchrist, Jeremy

14.6

 

 

 

X

 

42

Render, Sergio

14.5

 

 

 

 

X

43

Jefferson, Kenneth

14.5

 

 

 

 

X

44

North, Antonio

14.5

 

 

 

 

X

45

Cheeseman, Jahre

14.2

 

 

 

 

X

46

Lewis, Kenny

13.8

 

 

X

 

 

47

Wade, Cary

13.7

 

X

 

 

 

48

Ore, Branden

13.5

 

 

 

X

 

49

Hunt, Will

13.4

X

 

 

 

 

50

Wang, Ed

13.3

 

 

 

 

X

51

Veney, Lamar

12.9

 

X

 

 

 

52

Robertson, Kory

12.7

 

 

X

 

 

53

Schmitt, Nick

12.6

 

X

 

 

 

54

Booker, Barry

12.4

 

 

X

 

 

55

Sturdivant, Purnell

12.3

 

 

 

X

 

56

Holt, Cory

12.2

 

 

X

 

 

57

Porch, Dorian

12.2

 

 

 

 

X

58

McGrath, Danny

12.1

X

 

 

 

 

59

Warren, Blake

12.0

X

 

 

 

 

60

Hilton, Kevin

11.9

X

 

 

 

 

Rank

Player

Pts

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

61

Razzano, Joey

11.5

 

 

X

 

 

62

Taylor, Demetrius

10.9

 

 

 

 

X

63

Warren, Brett

10.5

 

 

X

 

 

64

Brown, Mike

10.3

 

 

X

 

 

65

Murphy, Jason

9.8

X

 

 

 

 

66

Powell, Carlton

9.5

 

 

X

 

 

67

Anderson, James

9.3

X

 

 

 

 

68

Virgil, Stephan

9.2

 

 

 

 

X

69

Minor, Roland

9.0

 

 

X

 

 

70

Rutherford, Antoine

8.9

 

X

 

 

 

71

Clifton, Chris

8.9

X

 

 

 

 

72

Norris, Robert

8.5

 

 

 

 

X

73

Marshman, Nick

8.1

 

 

X

 

 

74

Miller, Theodore

8.1

 

 

 

X

 

75

Burnett, Chris

7.1

 

X

 

 

 

76

Holland, Brandon

6.9

 

 

 

X

 

77

Green, Michael

6.8

 

 

 

X

 

78

Burchette, Noland

6.8

 

X

 

 

 

79

Clowney, David

6.4

 

 

X

 

 

80

Shuman, Ryan

6.1

 

 

 

X

 

Rank

Player

Pts

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

81

Wheeler, Sam

5.0

 

 

 

X

 

82

Fleck, Andrew

4.6

X

 

 

 

 

83

Bowden, Brent

4.0

 

 

 

 

X

84

Davis, Eric

4.0

 

 

 

 

X

85

Graham, Richard

4.0

 

 

 

 

X

86

Thompson, Cordarrow

4.0

 

 

 

 

X

87

Parker, DJ

4.0

 

 

X

 

 

88

Sandidge, Tim

4.0

X

 

 

 

 

89

Hill, Brenden

3.4

 

X

 

 

 

90

Hodges, Demetrius

3.0

 

X

 

 

 

91

Butler, Reggie

2.0

X

 

 

 

 

92

Parker, Robert

2.0

 

X

 

 

 

93

Frye, Brandon

1.0

X

 

 

 

 

For those who like to argue that "recruiting rankings don't matter" (there are a few out there), the truth is that VT has had much better luck with the players in the Top 20 as shown above than in the lower ranges, particularly #61-#93. If you look at the players from 2001-2003 listed in the top 20, only one -- Fred Lee -- was a total flameout. Tripp Carroll and John Kinzer are still TBD, but every other recruit in the top 20 that has been in the program for at least two seasons (2001-2003 recruiting classes) has been a solid recruit and good contributor. The 2004, and of course 2005 guys, it remains to be seen with them, but VT is having very good fortune with the highly-rated guys in the last few years.

Here's a fun little table to boil things down:

Number of Players from Each Recruiting Class
in Each Range of the Recruiting Rankings
(see table above)
Ranking Range 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
1-20 5 2 5 4 4
21-40 5 6 2 2 5
41-60 4 3 4 3 6
61-80 3 3 7 4 3
81-93 4 3 1 1 4

There are all sorts of things you can say about those numbers, and I'll leave you to look at them and draw your own conclusions. One thing I notice is the large number of guys from the 2005 class that are ranked in the bottom range. The 2003 and 2004 classes had very few low-rated, two-star types that landed in the 81-93 range, but the 2005 class has four of them. It will be interesting to see how that all falls out.


The Data

The spreadsheets I used for analysis are available for download at the following location (Microsoft Excel 2003 compatible):

http://subscription.techsideline.com/tslpass/2005/recruitingrankings2004.xls

http://subscription.techsideline.com/tslpass/2005/recruitingrankings2005.xls

To load the spreadsheets in your browser, left-click the link. To save it to hard disk, right-click the link and select "Save Target As…"

Warning: it is nearly incomprehensible, so download it and read it at your own risk. Hopefully, it contains no significant errors.

There is also a more in-depth explanation of recruiting service rankings and the TSL composite ranking system here:

Recruiting Rankings Explained -- TSL Pass, Feb. 14, 2003

Related Links

Inside the Numbers: Ranking the 2003 Recruits -- TSL Pass, Feb. 14, 2003

Inside the Numbers: Ranking the [2002[ Recruits -- TSL Extra #16, Feb. 15, 2002

Inside the Numbers: Ranking the [2001] Recruits -- TSL Extra #4, Feb. 16, 2001

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