I was planning on really following recruiting and doing some in depth analysis over at my site, The College Football Place, but I guess it is going to have to wait until next season. Thankfully, there are a whole host of sites out there that cover this stuff and hopefully I have some time in between all of my planned site launches to see how things transpire.
I have been around and I have followed the recruiting game long enough to know it isn't an exact science; I know the probability of a miss is a lot better than a hit, no matter what a paid subscription service is telling me. I've seen it all through the years, but there are a few basic reasons why classes hit and miss, let's look at a few of these:
1) Non Qualifiers
Schools are starting to wise up about these guys as they at least have an idea who is academically make and who definitely isn't. Recruiting is just as much of a numbers game as it is a talent hunt, you only have a certain number of slots to fill and if you have your slots filled with people who can't use them, you are blocking people who can and want to use them.
I personally blame this for the mild demise of the Florida State football program as Bobby Bowden can work the living room with the best of them, unfortunately he can't take their tests for them. What makes situations like this worse is the following year or after when the guy finally does qualify, he sometimes decides to go somewhere else. Recent examples are LeSean McCoy who signed with Miami originally and then went to Pittsburgh after a year at prep school. Another example is Keyshawn Johnson, who no matter what he says about being "born to be a Trojan", he was really just another non qualifier who switched after he became eligible.
2) Trouble Makers
Not all great athletes come from the best backgrounds, not all great people do either, but some athletes just don't handle the college campus life well. These days the kids have an out, it's called applying early for the draft, but some don't even make it that far. Sometimes the prized recruit who the future of the program is riding turns out to be a bad seed and doesn't make it far at one school or another or in the case of some even another.
Randy Moss burnt both Notre Dame and Florida State by getting tossed before winding up at Marshall. Ryan Perilloux is blamed by many as costing LSU a run at back-to-back national titles for getting kicked off the team. Oklahoma suffered a setback when Rhett Bomar wasn't around when his turn came, we see this all the time.
3) Over Hyped
Most recruiting info on just about every Web site is deemed "premium content" and requires a subscription fee for access. What happens is as players sign and others remain unsigned, a frenzy starts over the unsigned players which drives their recruiting rank higher.
If the frenzy catches a player just right, he can see his stock sky rocket though it doesn't necessarily make him any more talented. We see this less as more information is available and more rating services and All-Star games are popping up. We also get to see a lot more high school games on national TV; it still happens though.
They are simply just part of the game. I could write stories here that would make you cry on the spot.
5) Just don't pan out
This is the toughest part, projecting what a kid is going to be like in three, four, or even five years. I couldn't tell you what's going to happen on my walk to the subway station I'm going to take in a few hours let alone what the weather will be tomorrow.
In a best case scenario, another guy who was recruited or even walks on, steps up and simply wrestles the job away, in a worst case scenario, you have a player who you need to play who can't block or tackle at the collegiate level. This isn't an exact science, as much as we want to believe it is.
Even after all of this, I'm chomping at the bit to see who ends up where, it's always a fun day and the pictures of the kids with smiles on their faces from ear to ear make it part a of what college sports are all about.