One of the more interesting notes about the 2019 class for Florida State is how radically different its signees are viewed. Of the 20 players who signed with Florida State, at least five have a stark divide between how the recruiting services and others evaluate them.
While we can only speak so much about what various staffs think, we have numbers to show the recruiting outlook. Mainly, through the 247Sports Composite rankings vs. the 247Sports rankings.
The difference is staggering. Players like Dontae Lucas (-294), Jaleel McRae (-373), and Raymond Woodie III (-462) have 247Sports rankings that give a radically different view of Florida State’s class. Those are the three biggest divides of the enrollees, but the general sentiment doesn’t stop there.
Of the 17 enrollees we looked at, 247Sports had a notably lower rating than the Composite on 13 players. Two were ranked higher (Darius Washington and Malcolm Ray) and two were ranked in the same area (Quashon Fuller, Travis Jay).
Some of it had to do with the shuffling in the recruiting services after Scout.com went away and left three remaining. The rankings last year had quite a bit of variance and not just with FSU players.
Having a lesser opinion of a player can be justified, though it would seem odd at first if a site had a consistently pessimistic view on a team’s players. This author was aware of the 2019 class phenomena, but it got me thinking: are the other classes similarly divided?
To get a better look, we went through the five most recent signing classes and looked at the difference between their 247Sports rating and the Composite rating. We then classified whether 247Sports had them ranked higher or lower than their composite score. We did not count JUCO players or kickers.
When we say “Higher” or “Lower”, we are looking for a substantially different ranking. For the purposes of this article, we tried to make a cut off of 20-30 spots. We also included a sliding scale. For players who were ranked lower, a variance of 30 spots won’t mean much. The difference between being the 220th-ranked player and the 250th-ranked player is smaller than the difference between being the 10th-ranked player and being the 40th-ranked player.
Higher: 3 (Tre’Shaun Harrison, Keyshawn Helton, Jordan Young)
Equal: 3 (Camren McDonald, Dennis Briggs, Xavier Peters)
Higher: 3 (Tamorrion Terry, James Blackman, Ontaria Wilson)
Equal: 10 (Cam Akers, Josh Kaindoh, Khalan Laborn, D.J. Matthews, Zaquandre White, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Tre McKitty, Tre Lawson, Brady Scott, Decalon Brooks)
Higher: 6 (Brian Burns, Carlos Becker, Josh Ball, Cedric Wood, Josh Brown, Andrew Boselli)
Equal: 6 (Levonta Taylor, Landon Dickerson, Malik Henry, Dontavious Jackson, Kyle Meyers, Emmett Rice)
Higher: 3 (Abdul Bello, Auden Tate, Sh’mar Kilby-Lane)
Equal: 6 (Derwin James, Josh Sweat, Tarvarus McFadden, Jacques Patrick, Darvin Taylor, De’Andre Johnson)
There is an obvious divide between the views of Jimbo Fisher’s last few classes and Willie Taggart’s first two classes. While 247Sports had similar skepticism at viewing players as better than their composite ranking, their evaluations tended to be more in line with other services. Taggart’s first two classes have five players that had an equal rating. Fisher’s last three classes had 22.
So did 247 holding a higher opinion of a player correlate with their success? No.
The group of players ranked higher by 247Sports is a mixed bag. On one hand, guys like Brian Burns, Auden Tate, Tamorrion Terry, and James Blackman have arguably outperformed their composite ranking to this point. 247Sports rated Burns as the 5-star he probably should have been, and the two receivers have shown to be better than their original perception. The jury is still out on Blackman, but becoming the clear starter for the team probably isn’t what many expected.
Yet they also have a fair amount of bad misses. They had Josh Brown as a top-100 player when he has made negligible contributions in three years. The same could be said for Carlos Becker and Cedric Wood. The same cannot be said for players like Sh’mar Kilby-Lane and Abdul Bello; the former is no longer with the program. Granted, injuries affected Bello, Becker, and Brown to a varying degrees.
Not surprisingly, getting better players means less variance in the rankings. The types of guys who get labeled as top-50 prospects tend to not undergo wild swings in their perception. Perhaps at the beginning of the cycle, but most players in the top 50 by the summer will stay in that area.
If you’re wondering how the 2020 class is playing out so far: A majority of the class is either in the “Higher” or “Equal” category. In fact, it’s almost split equally between the three groups.
Overall, it doesn’t seem like 247Sports is particularly pessimistic when it comes to Florida State’s recruiting classes. How the 2020 class plays out will be another factor, but for now it’s too early to tell whether or not the site truly has a “bias”.