The recruiting process in college football has turned into what many refer to as a “never.” It’s an endless cycle where players are constantly re-recruited and moved from school to school. This is the case for both high schools and colleges, but it won’t stop until there is a change made by the NCAA or other governing bodies.
The “past recruiting class rankings” is a trend that has been present in college football for the past couple of years. The trend is exemplified by the fact that last year’s recruiting class was ranked No. 1, but this year’s recruiting class ranks No. 6.
On Dec. 5, 2018, Wan’Dale Robinson went from favored son to public enemy No. 1 when he revealed that he was switching to Nebraska after a year of being committed to Kentucky. Never mind that he had good reasons for wanting to play in a more open system when the Wildcats were ranked 127th out of 130 FBS teams in passing yards per game at the time. The outcry against the quick receiver, who grew up in Frankfort just down the road from campus, was immediate.
Vince Marrow, Kentucky’s tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, drew ire when he tweeted a half-hour after Robinson’s announcement: “I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you. I wish you all the best of luck.”
A couple of the responses to Marrow’s article have been removed, however there are a few interesting remarks left:
“We don’t need him.”
“He’s already to[o] dam[n] tiny.”
“F—- em up, coach,” says the narrator.
“It was not popular for me to support him at the time,” Marrow remarked.
Opinions have shifted in the two years since the recruitment fight. Robinson’s father claimed that although other instructors decided to tear bridges, his family never forgot Marrow’s unflinching support. “It was simple to select Kentucky based off the friendship with Vince,” Robinson’s father remarked when Robinson opted to leave Nebraska and enter the transfer portal in January of this year.
Now take a look at these two: For not breaking connections, Marrow seems to be a genius, and Robinson, in turn, has quiet his detractors.
When Robinson scored a game-winning touchdown to help Kentucky upset Florida at home for the first time in 35 years, it seemed that he was in desperate need.
Here’s to you, if you’re reading this. Mr. @wanda1erobinson pic.twitter.com/lrr3KNCvWw Mr. @wanda1erobinson pic.twitter.com/lrr3KNCvWw
October 5, 2021 — Kentucky Football (@UKFootball)
At 5-foot-11, he wasn’t too little to catch 94 receptions this season, which was fourth most among Power 5 receivers. He was chosen to the All-SEC team two weeks ago.
Robinson’s victorious return to his hometown highlights the current recruiting environment, which is never completely resolved because to the transfer portal. The location of a player’s letter of intent signature has become more of a starting point. The process has devolved into widespread free agency, with no guarantee of long-term employment. While many coaches are worried and seeking remedies to what they perceive to be a broken recruiting calendar, change may be a long time coming.
According to one ACC coach, staff is advised flat out not to unfollow prospects on social media.
“Don’t be irritated if they commit somewhere,” the coach said.
Take a deep breath and wish Jimmy Four-Star success as he holds up a dog while your school’s mascot is a tiger.
“You get into these hot confrontations sometimes,” one SEC coach stated. “With the end of the day, it’s easy to become furious at the youngster, but it’s always best to take the high road.”
“It’s much more necessary these days,” the coach remarked, referring to the site.
Coaches never know who could return the favor. There are others, like Robinson, who have more long-standing links to their final destinations than Kenneth Walker III, who transfers to Michigan State on faith.
In 2019, Tennessee signed linebacker Henry To’o To’o and Ohio State signed wideout Jameson Williams. Both athletes chose Alabama as one of their top three colleges, and both have returned to the Crimson Tide this summer. To’o To’o said he and the coaching staff “simply continued up where we left off when I was in high school” when he arrived at the gateway in January.
To’o To’o joined Alabama and is now the team’s tackle leader (101). He was one of ten previous transfers to be named to the SEC All-Tournament team.
Williams, who was in the portal five days before signing with Alabama, is presently second in both yards (1,445) and touchdowns among all Power 5 receivers (15). He was chosen to ESPN’s All-America team as one of six transfers.
“They believe good things always come back,” Williams added at the conclusion of the day.
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The same coach anticipates a high number of All-Americans from the Group of 5 and FCS divisions transferring up this summer. Schools like his are debating whether it is better to take a student out of high school and spend two years developing him or to hire a transfer who is already developed, he added.
“You have to consider the benefits and drawbacks,” the instructor said.
Several Power 5 institutions have already made significant investments in scouting departments, with more to come. SportsSource Analytics, for example, has developed systems that follow the transfer portal in real time and provide coaches with up-to-date statistics and game footage for each candidate.
Consider it like an NFL team with distinct pro and collegiate scouting departments, according to a Power 5 recruiting coordinator. A high school scouting department for more conventional recruits and a college scouting department that scours the transfer market might exist at a team like Alabama or Ohio State.
Given the present condition of college football tampering, it’s reasonable to question the quickness with which transfers commit. Jadon Haselwood of Oklahoma, the former #1 receiver recruit in the 2019 class, visited the portal only four days before committing to Arkansas. Aaron Brule, a Mississippi State linebacker who led the team in tackles and tackles for loss, was in the portal a week before committing to Michigan State.
The Spartans and their coach, Mel Tucker, have shown that there is no such thing as too much money in the transfer market. Tucker and his staff signed 20 transfers last summer, including 15 athletes from FBS teams. Michigan State won 10 games and earned a berth in a New Year’s Six bowl after going 2-5 in a pandemic-shortened 2020.
But only time will tell whether such an all-in strategy can be sustained.
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The “signing day rankings” are the rankings of top recruits that are released on National Signing Day. The rankings have become a never ending cycle of disappointment for fans, coaches and players.
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