The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

February 2, 2014

Don't judge class by recruiting rank

ENID, Okla. — One reason not to take recruiting rankings too seriously during the football national letter of intent signings on Wednesday would be a look back at the 2010 ESPN recruiting rankings.

No. 1 was Florida, which went 4-8 four years later.

No. 2 was Texas, which went 8-5, costing Mack Brown his job.

Oklahoma was ranked No. 5 — not too far off from the Sooners’ final No. 6 ranking in the Associated Press poll.

Nine players were mentioned in the Sooners profile.

Of those nine, only two — running back Brennan Clay and safety Quentin Hayes — started against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

One, “athlete’’ Tony Jefferson, was a three-year starter who left the Sooners early for the NFL. He made the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent.

Another, linebacker Corey Nelson, was having a standout senior season until he was injured in the fifth game of the season against TCU.

Blake Bell “could be the future under center at OU,’’ the report noted. He has had his moments with the Sooners, but appears to be the future backup to Trevor Knight.

The ESPN profile said Bell had such weapons as Austin Haywood, Sheldon McClain and Justin McCay to throw to. None of those three were around very long.

Defensive lineman Eric Humphrey was singled out as a  “significant signee.’’ Not significant enough to be around four years later.

Safety Aaron Colvin, who came out of that class, was rated just a three-star recruit by ESPN. He would go on to be a two-time All-Big Eight performer.

The year before, Gabe Ikard was rated as only the 14th best player coming out of Oklahoma by Rivals.com and the No. 15 tight end nationally by Rivals.com.

Ikard would end up as a second-team All-American center as a senior, and be the face of the program with a 4.0 grade point average.

Ten who were in the top 25 recruiting classes would not be ranked four years later, the others being No. 9 Tennessee, No. 11 Penn State, No. 12 Georgia, No. 13 Miami, No. 14 Michigan, No. 15 California, No. 24 North Carolina and No. 25 Mississippi.

Three teams that finished the season in the AP top 10 weren’t included in the top 25 recruiting rankings, including No. 3 Michigan State, No. 5 Missouri and No. 10 Central Florida.

Oklahoma State wasn’t ranked either, but the Cowboys were ranked as high as No. 6 nationaly at one point in 2013, thanks to a quarterback (Clint Chelf) who was rated only a three-star prospect coming out of Enid. The Cowboys finished the season at 10-3 and ranked No. 17.

Quarterback Johnny Deaton of Sand Springs was from that class. He was a Super Prep All-American and ranked as the nation’s sixth-best dual threat quarterback.

He ended up at Northeastern Oklahoma State.

But several of the Cowboys did live up to recruiting hype — linebacker Caleb Lavey was ranked as the No. 8 overall inside linebacker by Rivals.com; linebacker Shaun Lewis was ranked as the No. 4 outside linebacker in the country by Scout.com.

Both were the heart of the OSU defense throughout their careers.

Justin Gilbert, who had a standout career in the OSU secondary, came to Stillwater rated as the No. 41 cornerback prospect by Scout.com. He certainly exceeded that.

Recruiting, like the NFL, NBA and baseball drafts, are often a crapshoot. At that age, non-football issues (homesickness, academics or injuries) can certainly derail a career.

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.

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