The Athletic: What's Going on Here? The five most disappointing recruiting classes from the 2020 cycle

MaxyJR1

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Gophers not in top five, but listed as "Three other classes that underwhelmed." No mention that most of the class was committed before the season ever started. Does The Athletic Understand recruiting? They also list Baylor. Dumb.

Minnesota: P.J. Fleck just led Minnesota to one of the best seasons in program history, so you’d expect that to pay dividends on the recruiting trail. The Gophers finished with the No. 36 class in the country — nine spots better than 2019 — but the class also was just No. 9 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is in a major city, plays in a winnable division of the Big Ten and has a huge personality for a coach. The Gophers should’ve seen an uptick in their recruiting after such a special season.
 
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MplsGopher

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Writers write to an audience. I would guess the general CFB audience will consume the idea that a mismatch in the season's W-L record and the class ranking, must be some concerning thing.
 

Ski-U-Boat

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Hmmmm... still a great class with the majority committed before the season started. The uptick will come with sustained success (coach Fleck doesn't believe in momentum) to start next season. 2021 class is going to need a much bigger boat!
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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Call me crazy but do they have any information that indicates one big year and they expect a huge jump in crooting?

I'm sure some folks have done it here or there ... but generally I don't think that is a thing.

I mean USC and Texas has sucked ass for a LONG time and croots still come (USC finally saw a downturn) so I wouldn't expect if kids don't abandon big names quickly that they would run to one off big year teams.

I think premise here is all wrong.
 

Gophers1992

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Call me crazy but do they have any information that indicates one big year and they expect a huge jump in crooting?

I'm sure some folks have done it here or there ... but generally I don't think that is a thing.

I mean USC and Texas has sucked ass for a LONG time and croots still come (USC finally saw a downturn) so I wouldn't expect if kids don't abandon big names quickly that they would run to one off big year teams.

I think premise here is all wrong.
How do you define sucking ass and how do you define a LONG time? USC won the Rose Bowl in 2017 and Texas won the Sugar Bowl just last year.
 

MplsGopher

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Call me crazy but do they have any information that indicates one big year and they expect a huge jump in crooting?
You're not crazy.

Especially considering, as you approach the top of the nation (top 20? top 25?) there are massive barriers to entry. The elite croots you need to bootstrap yourself up into that echelon, are very picky, and very risk averse.

Other than Clemson and maybe Oregon, I can't really think of a program that has successfully bootstrapped itself up into that elite echelon from previously not being there.
 

LakevilleBro

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You can't get too hung up on ranked recruiting classes. It is obviously a giant crap-shoot, and often you will see a great NFL player or a high NFL draft pick, only receive a 3 star rating on Rivals. Remember when Rashod Bateman was not highly recruited, and PJ watched him for a short time and offered him a scholarship. THEN he started receiving other SEC offers. I just PJ's judgement on talent, until he proves me wrong. GO GOPHERS!
 

MNVCGUY

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Hmmmm... still a great class with the majority committed before the season started. The uptick will come with sustained success (coach Fleck doesn't believe in momentum) to start next season. 2021 class is going to need a much bigger boat!
Yeah, pretty short sighted by the author of the article. Recruiting is a multi year process. The kids we sign in December are going to be guys we have been recruiting for a while. Any dividends from the success of the 2019 season are not going to show up until the 2021 recruiting class at the earliest.
 

Gophers1992

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You're not crazy.

Especially considering, as you approach the top of the nation (top 20? top 25?) there are massive barriers to entry. The elite croots you need to bootstrap yourself up into that echelon, are very picky, and very risk averse.

Other than Clemson and maybe Oregon, I can't really think of a program that has successfully bootstrapped itself up into that elite echelon from previously not being there.
They all bootstrapped themselves at some point.....
 

MplsGopher

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They all bootstrapped themselves at some point.....
But you’re talking ancient history. The elite echelon have been there for decades at least, for the most part.

Now that they’re there, they want to prevent new people from coming up. Because it’s finite resources. You can’t have 50 programs that have recruits equivalent to a top 20 class of today.
 

Gophers1992

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But you’re talking ancient history. The elite echelon have been there for decades at least, for the most part.

Now that they’re there, they want to prevent new people from coming up. Because it’s finite resources. You can’t have 50 programs that have recruits equivalent to a top 20 class of today.
Of course, but is there evidence that it's harder to bootstrap yourself today than back then? Programs have had down years/periods, so why can't others take their spot, if not at least just temporarily?

Ancient history is a subjective term, but a program like FSU pre Bowden, or Miami pre-Schnellenberger (sp?) bootstrapped themselves in a somewhat more recent period. Now I'll grant that being in Florida probably opens up more opportunities, but long story short I don't buy the idea that non traditional powers can't break into the elite level of CFB.
 

Mitu

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You're not crazy.

Especially considering, as you approach the top of the nation (top 20? top 25?) there are massive barriers to entry. The elite croots you need to bootstrap yourself up into that echelon, are very picky, and very risk averse.

Other than Clemson and maybe Oregon, I can't really think of a program that has successfully bootstrapped itself up into that elite echelon from previously not being there.
This, AND the fact that even if you were expecting a recruiting bump, it would be in the 2021 class. Most top recruits commit their junior year, so our success in 2020 wouldn't have really had an impact on our ability to secure them.

Also, giving credit where credit is due, I would add Wisconsin to the list of programs that have steadily elevated the caliber of their recruiting. They were #9 in the B1G in 2018 (#45 nationally) and are #5 in the B1G in 2020 (#25 nationally). They are not in that elite echelon yet, but it's impressive.
 

HoustonTXGopher

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You're not crazy.

Especially considering, as you approach the top of the nation (top 20? top 25?) there are massive barriers to entry. The elite croots you need to bootstrap yourself up into that echelon, are very picky, and very risk averse.

Other than Clemson and maybe Oregon, I can't really think of a program that has successfully bootstrapped itself up into that elite echelon from previously not being there.
And to your point.....Clemson is geographically in the middle of some of the best athletes in the country, so that barrier is not as difficult to break. as for Oregon, see Phil Knight!
 

short ornery norwegian

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That is the next big hurdle - maybe the biggest hurdle for Fleck & co.

Can they elevate their recruiting enough to get the Gophers into - at least - the top 30 in the national rankings?

I think that is where they need to be to really sustain last year's success. Like it or not, you need a few star players to hang in there with the big boys. Johnson, Bateman and Winfield certainly qualified last year.

I would love to see the Gophers land a real stud RB - not someone who needs two years of grooming before he sees the field, but a guy who walks onto campus and is in the backfield from Day 1.

and the DL is an area where a big-time player can make a huge difference. Land a few guys like that, and then you are in that range of 25-30 in the recruiting rankings.
 

MplsGopher

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Ancient history is a subjective term, but a program like FSU pre Bowden, or Miami pre-Schnellenberger (sp?) bootstrapped themselves in a somewhat more recent period. Now I'll grant that being in Florida probably opens up more opportunities, but long story short I don't buy the idea that non traditional powers can't break into the elite level of CFB.
You're right and make a good argument. Obviously the other, more modern example is Clemson pre-Dabo. Although again there, proximity to 4 and 5 star recruits helps, on paper.

But this also goes to the finite, zero-sum game type of deal. Clemson has come up, and FSU has gone down in response.

Don't get me wrong, if Wisconsin needs to get bopped down in order for Minnesota to rise up, so be it. (y)
 

Gophergrandpa

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In another recent GH thread, there was an article by the Athletic re-ranking the recruiting classes of 2016. Gophers class was ranked 46th in the nation and 8th in the BIG. In the 2020 re-ranking, it was placed at 7th in the nation and 2nd in the BIG (one ahead of re-ranked Ohio State). People often say they want to see who actually signs before giving a ranking to a recruiting class. Perhaps an equally relevant way to judge a recruiting class is after 4 years of competition. Was there attrition or underperformance among highest rated players? Was there development and improvement among lower rated players? Did presumed impact players actually came through? Did lower ranked players go on to have high impact (ala Winfield)? Highly ranked players are good and I am sure we pursue many very hard (and want them), but you can have great classes w/o the blue chippers.
 
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60's Guy

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Maybe it just takes patience? We did move up 9 spots! That’s pretty good progress.

We were at an avg recruit ranking of 85.8 last year. We are at 86.3 this year. Not great but it is half a point higher.
I agree with SON ... somehow, it seems PJ being PJ we should consistently get to Top 30 and under classes.
And we are trending up. Couple guys can give you a pretty nice spike. Hopefully this class raises the avg recruit ranking by a bit more.
 

scools12

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It’s a good class. #36 overall and #9 in the B1G. The conference rank shows the strength of recruiting in the conference as a whole and the competition the Gophers are facing.
 

MNVCGUY

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In another recent GH thread, there was an article by the Athletic re-ranking the recruiting classes of 2016. Gophers class was ranked 46th in the nation and 8th in the BIG. In the 2020 re-ranking, it was placed at 7th in the nation and 2nd in the BIG (one ahead of re-ranked Ohio State). People often say they want to see who actually signs before giving a ranking to a recruiting class. Perhaps an equally relevant way to judge a recruiting class is after 4 years of competition. Was there attrition or underperformance among highest rated players? Was there development and improvement among lower rated players? Did presumed impact players actually came through? Did lower ranked players go on to have high impact (ala Winfield)? Highly ranked players are good and I am sure we pursue many very hard (and want them), but you can have great classes w/o the blue chippers.
The re-ranking the Athletic is doing is far and away the better way to evaluate how good a recruiting class actual was and it isn't even close. The high school rankings are just a "best guess" but they truly have no clue what is going to happen.

It is why the obsession over recruiting rankings gets annoying. There is value in them because the sites are able to get a pretty good read on most players but there is also way too much value attached to them by some people.

The overall rankings of our recruits is trending in the right direction and we are consistently bringing in players that are being recruited by other Big Ten and Power 5 schools. That combination should give us a good chance to have success on the field as well.

Then you also have to factor in things like the fact that in just 3 years, without the benefit of an 11 win season or anything along those lines on the field, Fleck has managed to find one of the greatest QBs and one of the greatest WRs EVER to play at the University of Minnesota. That says a lot about their ability to identify and develop players.

So I really don't know what this writer at the Athletic expected to see in our 2020 class but I don't think we deserved to be listed anywhere close to the most disappointing. Especially when things have continued to trend upwards on paper and the benefits from the 2019 campaign have not had a chance to manifest themselves.
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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The re-ranking the Athletic is doing is far and away the better way to evaluate how good a recruiting class actual was and it isn't even close. The high school rankings are just a "best guess" but they truly have no clue what is going to happen.

It is why the obsession over recruiting rankings gets annoying. There is value in them because the sites are able to get a pretty good read on most players but there is also way too much value attached to them by some people.

The overall rankings of our recruits is trending in the right direction and we are consistently bringing in players that are being recruited by other Big Ten and Power 5 schools. That combination should give us a good chance to have success on the field as well.

Then you also have to factor in things like the fact that in just 3 years, without the benefit of an 11 win season or anything along those lines on the field, Fleck has managed to find one of the greatest QBs and one of the greatest WRs EVER to play at the University of Minnesota. That says a lot about their ability to identify and develop players.

So I really don't know what this writer at the Athletic expected to see in our 2020 class but I don't think we deserved to be listed anywhere close to the most disappointing. Especially when things have continued to trend upwards on paper and the benefits from the 2019 campaign have not had a chance to manifest themselves.

The rankings are interesting....

HOWEVER

It's pretty clear that over a period of times rankings do fall in line with long term outcomes as far as W & Ls go. Granted everyone probabbly agrees with that, no surprise there.

I'm not sure that rerankings .... would be nearly as consistent. LIke I don't imagine we see a lot of what Minnesota pulled recently going from the 30s and 30s up to 7... very much, or at least not the same guys doing that all the time.

That is to say it's awesome, but I don't expect that's a thing you can maintain, at least not that dramatic a shift.

I assume those coaches / staffs able to pull that off just get better and then their rankings don't look as much as an outlier... or they just don't do it much at all again because it's pretty dang hard to do.

Thus my obsession over seeing even incremental improvements.
 

SixBySix

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The re-ranking the Athletic is doing is far and away the better way to evaluate how good a recruiting class actual was and it isn't even close. The high school rankings are just a "best guess" but they truly have no clue what is going to happen.
The problem with this is that it doesn't account for the quality of the team (at least outside of their 5-star ranking). A re-ranked three star (one year starter or key reserve) at Ohio State or Alabama would likely be a four star (multi year starter) here. It's a ranking that is inherently relative to the quality of the team over that period of time--which is great for some purposes, but will systematically overrate outlier classes, like the 2016 MN players.

Even improvements/regression over time can add noise: we're starting to see players from the 2017 and 2018 classes get squeezed out by better recruits from 2019 and 2020. Mayan Ahanotu (.8519) will be a zero star in the re-ranking while Merrick Jackson (.8352) is at least a two star. Which of those two systems better captures "good recruiting"?
 

MNVCGUY

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Thus my obsession over seeing even incremental improvements.
I see no problem with wanting to see improvement in the rankings, we all want that. But it is more the disappointment some have with things like being 9th in the conference or 36th overall. As has been discussed many times in here, once you get beyond the cream of the crop top classes the difference between classes from a talent standpoint is really subjective.

For example, looking at the 2020 Big Ten class rankings: It is clear that Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State are bringing in a significantly higher level of talent on paper. Nebraska might be on the verge of that as well but the results on the field haven't supported their class rankings at all. Once you get past those 3-4 though there is very little separation among the rest of the teams.

It sure looks like we are bringing in talent that compares very favorably on paper with what the majority of the conference is signing. As long as that is the case we should be in a good spot to compete.
 

Flash30

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I’d love higher rated recruits and like others have said that takes consistent success not just one year. I’d also rather have recruits that are hungry, willing to learn, and academically responsible who can be coached into 4 and 5 star guys.
 

Crosby

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Gophers not in top five, but listed as "Three other classes that underwhelmed." No mention that most of the class was committed before the season ever started. Does The Athletic Understand recruiting? They also list Baylor. Dumb.

Minnesota: P.J. Fleck just led Minnesota to one of the best seasons in program history, so you’d expect that to pay dividends on the recruiting trail. The Gophers finished with the No. 36 class in the country — nine spots better than 2019 — but the class also was just No. 9 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is in a major city, plays in a winnable division of the Big Ten and has a huge personality for a coach. The Gophers should’ve seen an uptick in their recruiting after such a special season.
See highlighted portion of post. So... nine spots better than in 2019. By my math, that's a 20% improvement. I wonder what an "uptick" would look like. I know that my boss would get very excited about a mere 20% uptick in sales volume. And, as others have stated, the class was virtually filled before some of the true magic of this season unfolded. Weird assessment.
 

Spoofin

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In another recent GH thread, there was an article by the Athletic re-ranking the recruiting classes of 2016. Gophers class was ranked 46th in the nation and 8th in the BIG. In the 2020 re-ranking, it was placed at 7th in the nation and 2nd in the BIG (one ahead of re-ranked Ohio State). People often say they want to see who actually signs before giving a ranking to a recruiting class. Perhaps an equally relevant way to judge a recruiting class is after 4 years of competition. Was there attrition or underperformance among highest rated players? Was there development and improvement among lower rated players? Did presumed impact players actually came through? Did lower ranked players go on to have high impact (ala Winfield)? Highly ranked players are good and I am sure we pursue many very hard (and want them), but you can have great classes w/o the blue chippers.
Of course, you are correct, waiting 4 years to judge makes perfect sense - but that requires patience that most don’t have and doesn’t make anyone money like the rating sites do now.
 

Spoofin

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See highlighted portion of post. So... nine spots better than in 2019. By my math, that's a 20% improvement. I wonder what an "uptick" would look like. I know that my boss would get very excited about a mere 20% uptick in sales volume. And, as others have stated, the class was virtually filled before some of the true magic of this season unfolded. Weird assessment.
Your boss may not have been as excited about the 20% loss in sales the previous year. The 2020 class was ranked w/in one spot of the 2018 class.
 

Crosby

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Your boss may not have been as excited about the 20% loss in sales the previous year. The 2020 class was ranked w/in one spot of the 2018 class.
You are correct. He would not have been. But that is not the point the author made. He pointed out the lack of an uptick with this year's class after a great season. 20% is an uptick in my book. If we can get another 20% next year, I will be very excited. We'll see.
 
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