With another National Signing Day in the books, it's worth it to look at beyond the recent signings and see how teams have fared over the past four years. I went through the 247sports Composite to come up with the following information.
One thing is easily evident no matter how you break things down: no one recruits like Alabama has over the last four cycles. No one.
|Team||2012 Class Rank||2013 Class Rank||2014 Class Rank||2015 Class Rank||Average|
The Tide has had the No. 1 overall class in each of the past four years. No other SEC team has even managed to crack the top ten in every one of them. LSU is the only school to even get to second in this span, and it did it once. I'll go over quality numbers later, and they make Bama look even better if you can believe that.
One thing we can see from this is that over half of the conference has ended up with a top ten class at some point in the last four years. Eight programs have had all four hauls end up in the top 25, and Arkansas makes a ninth if you look at the top 30 instead.
Furthermore, the average ranking of the SEC classes has been quite high. I went back a few more years to 2009; I had to stop there because before then, there are significant problems with Kentucky's data in the composite for some reason. The SEC's average class in those three extra years—which don't include A&M and Missouri, as they were Big 12 teams then—was 19.33 in 2009, 21.92 in 2010, and 18.91 in 2011. The past three years beat all of those.
What was the difference? A lot of it had to do with Vanderbilt moving up from the 50s and 60s to the 40s. The rest basically was not having a team randomly fall down from the 20s and 30s to the 40s. You can see that with Ole Miss clocking in at 47th with a tiny class coming off a bad year in 2012. Arkansas similarly put up a class rank of 41 in 2010, which is why that average rank is down.
I haven't run these same figures for the other conferences, but you can rest assured that no one else comes close. Having every single recruiting class in the top 50, and the vast majority in the top 40, is not something any other league can boast.
Of course, these ranks can reward quantity over quality to a degree. I looked at average rating over the last four years as well, again using the 247sports Composite. It gives players a rank on a scale between 0 and 1 with 1 being the best possible score. The table below has the ratings multiplied by 100, which is what the Average column on the Composite does, as it makes it easier to read.
For the record, the averages you see are done by total points divided by total players; they're not the averages of the averages. That's my way of saying I did the math properly.
|Team||2012 Avg. Rating||2013 Avg. Rating||2014 Avg. Rating||2015 Avg. Rating||Average|
To be a 5-star athlete, it looks like a player has to have a rank above about 0.9830. For a 4-star, it has to be above 0.8900. Any class you see above 89.00 in the table means its average player was a 4-star guy.
Remember how I said the quality numbers make Alabama look even better? Every single class Nick Saban signed had an average rating above 93. The closest anyone else got to that number is Florida's 91.50 in 2012. No one else can claim an average rating above 90 for the whole four-year span, and Bama is sitting on a 93.41. It's absurd.
What's really impressive is that six schools averaged at least a 4-star recruit over this four-year period. A seventh in Tennessee is not far off and will be there soon if Butch Jones keeps his current recruiting pace up. Florida's quality has tracking down, but it should come back up with a new coach solidly in place and Randy Shannon around to pick up blue chippers from south Florida.
In any event, half the league basically recruits at a 4-star level every single year. That's what makes things so tough. Beyond that, Steve Spurrier and Gary Pinkel regularly develop their players well enough to be divisional contenders and regular poll finishers despite being in the bottom half of the league in average quality.