It is the time of year when we Pitt fans spend way too much time and energy on an issue with questions attached that truthfully won’t be answered for another two or three years. Recruiting. Let’s talk about that and by ‘recruiting’ I mean high school recruiting – not transfers which are a different subject altogether.
One of the things Pitt fans love to do is point to a recruit’s “offers” as proof that the current crop of recruits are better or worse than other crops of recruits. We are hearing that crowed from the mountaintop this season with our 2018 class being filled with only three star kids from side to side (I’d say top to bottom but they are all the same star ranking).
I have written extensively about the smoke and mirrors surrounding recruits stating what offers they have received from what schools. My advice – take almost everything with a grain of salt and here’s why. A “scholarship offer” comes in a singular formal letter from the university’s head coach to the player and his parents definitely offering a scholarship in return for the student/athlete’s athletic talents and academic work.
What an offer is not is the hundreds of letters schools send out or the hundreds of phone calls and texts the football staff generates saying ‘We want you to play for the University of XXXX” Those contacts are not worth the paper they are printed on.
Below is an example of a ‘formal’ scholarship offer and only a limited amount of these go out from any individual school – as opposed to hundreds of ‘so-called offers’ a school generates. Pitt had well over 200 ‘offers’ out according to Rivals and you know they weren’t offering all 200+ kids scholarships. A good rule of thumb with this? if Pitt offers 5* players out on the West Coast you know they are just doing it to see Pitt listed on these blue chip kids’ offer sheets… it is an advertisement as it were.
Notice the phrase “I want to formally extend a scholarship offer to you“. If that ain’t in the correspondence a HS player receives it truly is not a scholarship offer.
Put this another way – I have a good friend down here in Maryland who is a true bona-fide legend in Maryland HS football coaching. He and I talked about this issue this same time last year and he told me that almost every player he had who had any contact at all with a D1 school, even if it was an invitation to an on-campus football camp, told the recruiting site scouts that those were valid offers to play ball at those schools.
When the truth is that very few HS players get D1 scholarship offers at all… and he sent a bunch of kids to D1, D2 and D3 schools over his 43 year Maryland Hall of Fame coaching career. He told me he laughs when he sees 3* kids with 20, 25 Power Five offers.
So these offers you see listed on the recruiting websites also cannot be verified through the universities themselves because the NCAA strictly forbids any institution to discuss HS players at all but especially ones they are actively recruiting.
The offers can’t be 100% verified by the recruiting sites either, and I know they work very hard to be accurate, as they depend on the information the players and the players’ parents supply them – and many times the parents are complicit in that they want their son to look more valuable as a recruit with the more D1 offers he has listed on the three recruiting sites.
All that said, I do think that most of the offers from the bigger schools can at least be taken into account if one wants to do that to justify a well sought after kid’s talents. I personally don’t do that for the above reasons but help yourself – and in doing so let’s take a look at a website that breaks down the listed ‘offers’ and then ranks schools’ recruiting classes based on that.
A new website –www.rankbyoffers.com – does just this and it is interesting to see if the offers change the recruiting sites’ team rankings all that much. From reading all the posts on here, other blogs and message boards apparently in Pitt fans minds it does.
For our 2017 recruiting class Rivals.com ranked Pitt #38th nationally. Not too shabby but not all that great either. Here is what Pitt was ranked according to offers received:
|Rank||School||Conf||# of Recruits||Commits||Offers||Offer Points||Average|
You can see that there is a minimal difference between the ranks based on the stars awarded at 38th and the offers at 36th.
For this 2018 class it is much the same but skewed in the ‘offers’ favor a bit more. As of today Rivals.com has our current class at 50th which pretty much sucks. The offers tabulations shows Pitt residing at 41st – better but not where most Pitt fans would think the way they pump up our recruits’ offers.
Now to break this down even further here are the individual players’ who had more than five FBS offers rankings:
|RANK||PLAYER NAME||FBS OFFERS||TOP 25 OFFERS||OFFER POINTS|
So our highest ranked recruit this year, 3* OL Jake Kradel, is still only the 283rd best player in the HS recruiting pool according to the offers he received.. but Rivals.com doesn’t have him ranked in their Top 300 at all. (I like him as a Panther though – he’ll be good in two or three years.)
What is scary also is that of all 12 of Pitt’s recruits who had over five FBS offers the average ranking of those 12 kids is #730.
Now we can parse recruiting even more in the ‘stars’ numerical sense by looking at the ‘ratings’ that in Pitt’s case span from the three stars’ 5.3 (2* is 5.4) to the three stars’ 5.7 (4* is 5.8). Here is an example:
Here you see what I mean above – we have ten players with 5.7 ratings, which is pretty good if all you have are 3* kids I guess. On the other end of our particular 3* spectrum we also have four kids who are rated 5.5; again – .1 away from having two stars:
Really, all of this is parsing recruiting info and numbers to the nth degree – the bottom line with this years class is that we didn’t pull in any 4* or 5* Blue-Chip recruits and that is a real problem. When that happens, and we have gotten only three 4* kids over the last two classes (all in ’17), is when Pitt fans default to sifting through what ‘offers’ our recruits received to try to make things appear better than they really are.
Every successful Pitt season in modern history we have had numerous 4* kids in the starting lineup. DW’s teams were shot through with them. Narduzzi’s first two eight win seasons had Peterman, Dorian Johnson, Boyd, Bisnowaty, Bookser, Hall, KK Smith, Grigsby and Whitehead in the starting lineups at one point or another- all 4* kids and all contributed very well over their careers.
We know 3* and 2* kids can play above their star rankings, some even reach stardom – but the reality is that more blue chip 4* and 5* kids you have out on the field the better the chances are that you’ll have sustained solid play and good winning seasons.
In my opinion it is a real problem that this class has been shut out of those blue chippers so far – and unless we see more transfers out, dismissals or players leaving the program we are pretty close to maxed out in scholarship now for this class.