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SportA history of outlier recruiting classes (and what happens next)

17:10  08 february  2019
17:10  08 february  2019 Source:   sbnation.com

7 CFB teams that just signed their best classes ever

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A history of outlier recruiting classes (and what happens next)© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Usually, things snap back to reality soon. But not always. Let’s run through a decade of notable outlier classes.

Most teams recruit at similar levels year over year. Huge outlier classes only come about every so often.

But what happens when a team that usually recruits stars doesn’t, or a team used to signing three-stars suddenly lands tons of blue-chips? I looked over years of 247Sports Composite class rankings to get a sense.

Let’s mostly ignore transitional classes signed right after a new coach took over. Does each year’s big outlier class on this list hint at a trajectory change, or is it a one-off?

The SEC just had best recruiting year in modern history

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2019: No. 17 USC

The eight blue chip-recruits in this class means this is USC’s only class besides Steve Sarkisian’s transitional 2014 class to sign fewer than 12 blue-chips in the last decade. This wasn’t officially a transitional class, but with six new assistant coaches (and a Kliff Kingsbury entrance and departure), it might as well have been. Seeing USC out of the top 10 is one thing, but the Trojans being this far down is jarring.

It’s a class that reflects the program’s state of decline and dysfunction.

Honorable mention: Purdue (25th, 40-some spots above its traditional ranking).

2018: No. 5 Alabama (lol)

The Tide had signed the No. 1 class seven years running. Not only did Alabama not finish No. 1, it finished outside of the top three for only the second time since Saban’s first full-cycle class in 2008.

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The last five years of recruiting in college football should forecast what happens next season. Here are the five best college football recruiting classes in the last decade of "National Signing Day". Then again, the fact that Georgia Tech is ranked last in the division may very well be an outlier .

And then what happened?

This may surprise you, but the Tide resumed their No. 1 role for 2019.

If you go by per-player Composite average, this is the most efficient group in Saban history, ranking No. 5 all time on the second list in this post. The class composition is heavy on the trenches, shoring up for some upcoming NFL losses.

Oh, it gets worse. The only three-star in 2019’s Bama group is No. 1 kicker Will Reichard, the latest man tasked with fixing almost literally the Tide’s only weakness. He’s the highest rated kicker since 2017, so I think we can call him the equivalent of a five-star kicker.

Honorable mentions: Penn State (6th, up from 14th-20th the previous three years) and Purdue (51st, up from between 62nd and 80th the previous five years).

2017: No. 25 Texas

Transitional recruiting classes are rough, and that’s why we’re mostly skipping them here, but Tom Herman’s was way below even conservative expectations. It was Texas’ lowest-ranked class ever. Sam Ehlinger was the best player they signed from the state, and he ranked 19th in Texas. Obviously, he’s turned out to be pretty effective. But it was disappointing in the moment when LSU missed out on targets like DE K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU) and DT Marvin Wilson (FSU).

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In statistics, an outlier is an observation point that is distant from other observations. An outlier may be due to variability in the measurement or it may indicate experimental error

And then what happened?

Texas got it rolling in a big way. Herman finished with the No. 3 classes in 2018 and 2019. The 2017 unit can still serve as the foundation for Herman’s Texas turnaround — particularly the DBs and WRs. The 2018 class was the most loaded DBs class in rankings history.

Honorable mentions: Clemson (16th, based on the defending champs signing a small class), Maryland (18th, its first top-20 class in a decade), UTSA (75th (it wasn’t a joke that former LSU assistant Frank Wilson could quickly upgrade recruiting).

2016: No. 36 Houston

So, I know that you’re thinking, something along the lines of “this is all about Ed Oliver.” He’s one of six five-stars ever to sign with a non-power team.

I did an experiment. To gauge his impact on the class’ Signing Day ranking, I took Oliver out of Houston’s 2016 class and replaced him with a normally talented Houston DT signee (mid-level in-state three-star). The mythical non-Oliver Houston class would have ranked 43rd in the team rankings. That’s still comfortably the best Houston class ever and one of the best non-Power 5 classes ever.

Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm will get $45,000 bonus for highly ranked recruiting class

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What is an outlier ? The word may not be a neologism but I have never heard anyone use it in conversation. According to one dictionary definition, an outlier is 'something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body'.

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The Cougars’ five-year recruiting ranking heading into 2018 was 71st. That should tell you something about this class besides the best recruit in school history.

And then what happened? Herman left for Texas, and the Cougars weren’t able to stay this hot on the trail. But Oliver had a great career, and UH was at least competitive.

Honorable mention: Ole Miss (5th, and we’ll come back to them).

2015: No. 27 Miami

Since we’re (mostly) steering away from transitional classes, Miami’s 2015 takes the cake, though Al Golden’s first class in 2011 was worse by ranking alone.

No school recruits itself, but Miami being outside of the to 20 in any year is hard to justify given that, well, it’s Miami. After that class flopped, this was the state of the program:

And then what happened? Mark Richt got the Canes back to nabbing good classes — two-straight top-15 classes. Manny Diaz took over after Richt retired, and will look to keep the momentum going as the Canes try to claw back to their early-2000s heyday. Their 2019 class ranked 28th, but this was a weird transition, and Miami’s added many transfers.

Honorable mention: Tennessee (4th, as Butch Jones built things brick by brick, remember?).

Alabama already has 10 commits for 2020 class

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2014: No. 5 Texas A&M

It was a simpler time when the Aggies signed a future No. 1 NFL pick (Myles Garrett), the best QB in that year’s class (Kyle Allen), an elite athlete (five-star WR Speedy Noil) and a JUCO player who’d start in the Super Bowl as a rookie (Josh Reynolds).

The Aggies have been a staple in the top 20, but this was the peak. They were supposed to take the next step, to prove they could hang with the SEC’s elite and continue the ascendency.

And then what happened?

  • 2014: 8-5
  • 2015: 8-5
  • 2016: 8-5
  • 2017: 7-5

No classes in those years were better than 12th.

Honorable mention: Old Dominion (77th, a massive upgrade for a program typically around dead-last in FBS).

2013: No. 8 Ole Miss

Well, well, well, look who we have here. The class that came out of nowhere to shock the world. It was Ole Miss’ second top-15 class in a decade, but the quality at the top is what set it apart. You remember the five-star names: Tony Conner, Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell. The last three were (in order) the best three recruits Ole Miss has ever signed.

Only USC and Alabama had as many or more five-stars that year. It was supposed to be the start of a rags-to-riches SEC tale. In a way, it was.

And then what happened?

Honorable mentions: Vanderbilt (26th; hello, James Franklin), and Georgia Tech (70th; recruiting the triple option is hard, but yikes).

2012: No. 7 Stanford

Distilling Stanford’s ethos, the best three players in the class were offensive linemen. The Cardinal actually signed two of the top four tackles in the country (Kyle Murphy, Andrus Peat) and the second-best guard (Joshua Garnett).

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And then what happened?

Ho-hum, they’ve only played for the conference title four times (winning three) since this class. They’ve only cracked the top 15 in the rankings twice since, however. And they’ve yet to crack the top 10.

Honorable mentions: Wisconsin (65th, bad even for a team that doesn’t recruit like an elite), UCF (96th, which makes that future 0-12 team make more sense).

2011: No. 34 Texas A&M

The Aggies are again on the list thanks to a class that didn’t include a top-30 player in the state of Texas. Its average rating was six points (about half a star on average) away from the next year’s. And that 2012 class was Kevin Sumlin’s transitional class.

But what we didn’t know was the impact of a three-star dual-threat QB from Kerrville. His name: Johnny Manziel.

And then what happened?

A history of outlier recruiting classes (and what happens next)© Provided by Vox Media, Inc. johnny manziel

Honorable mention: Texas Tech (19th, via signing four of the 10 highest-rated recruits in school history, a year after ranking 44th).

2010: No. 33 BYU

Anchored by three of the 10 highest-rated recruits in Cougars history, this was supposed to be the bedrock of something great for would-be BCS-busters. BYU was plenty good under Bronco Mendenhall, but this class punched above BYU’s weight.

And then what happened? Two of those three (QB Jake Heaps, WR Ross Apo) didn’t pan out. But Bronson Kaufusi did, eventually selected by the Ravens in the third round. The Cougars were a mainstay in the eight- and nine-win club for the next five seasons.

Honorable mention: Ohio State (18, well below its usual range).

2009: No. 36 Clemson

Twelve players signed. It was the fewest recruits Clemson had ever signed since the school tracked signings. It was the fewest signees among BCS schools that year. But Clemson will take quality over quantity.

A young assistant named Dabo Swinney had just been promoted to the head job. Around Clemson, they call this group the Dandy Dozen. And Swinney will credit them as the start of all the great things that followed.

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That best recruiting class in school history ? It could lose many of its best players before they make it to campus. It would be reasonable for any Baylor And the 2017 class has already lost basically everything. Prior to Thursday, Baylor had six commits for 2017, three of them four- or five-star players.

“I’m very thankful for those guys for choosing to stick with us,” Swinney said of the class that built his dynasty. “Tajh Boyd, I’ll never forget sitting up there in his house. [Mike] Belotti goes out one day, [Jim] Tressel is coming in next. And here comes coach Swinney. I’m like, ‘listen, man, I need a quarterback at Clemson. I don’t have anything to offer you. I’ve got no resume. I’ve never coached. I’ve coached just a few games as an interim guy here, but man I think we can do some great things.”

And then what happened?

A history of outlier recruiting classes (and what happens next)© Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson

Honorable mention: South Carolina (14, which played a huge role in establishing one Gamecock team’s future success).

Don’t get too high or too low about one year.

Your team will likely regress to its mean, whether it’s doing well or poorly right now. But in the rare instance, a great class can start a dynasty.

Because of the multiple factors that go into a team’s success and even an individual player’s success, most of the time, an outlying class is just that.

Related slideshow: Photos of the CFP National Championship (Provided by imagn)

A history of outlier recruiting classes (and what happens next)

Trump touts proposed Bible literacy classes in state schools.
President Trump on Monday embraced a proposal from lawmakers in six states that would allow public schools to offer Bible literacy classes shortly after the subject was discussed on "Fox & Friends." 

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