Meyer is one of the best, and he has the track record to prove it. While Kelly is quickly approaching his level, he still has a ways to go.
Recruiting, contrary to what many believe, is not as much about rankings and stars, as it is about what a coach is able to do with those rankings and stars.
If a coach is consistently bringing in a top five recruiting class but fails to get tangible production out of those elite recruits, what is the point of the class? In actuality, recruiting is about the ability to coach more than it's about the ability to recruit, and that's where the best recruiters in college football really set themselves apart.
Great recruiting coaches are always more than just talk and hype. They can sell a recruit on all the wonderful things a school can offer them, but more than anything, they sell the recruit on their ability as a coach to get them to where they want to be as a football player.
An elite coach can take a three-star recruit and turn him into the equivalent of a five-star player. They can also take a 5-star recruit and mold him into one of the best college football players in the country. Their real accomplishment though is being able to take roughly 25 new, young players each year and integrate them into a successful program.
Coaches like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have a program and system that they believe in, and they find players that fit their mold. Their success is determined by what they're able to do with the collective class and not by what their recruiting rankings were on National Signing Day.
Recruiting is about results, it's that simple, and that's what currently separates Meyer from Kelly.
Meyer has two national championships under his belt with Florida, which points to his ability to take players and mold them into something great as a collective.
Even the most intense college football fans may have to look up some of those names, and they were all 5-star quarterbacks, so what is it that set Tebow apart?
His leadership had something to do with it as did his natural abilities, but one would be naive not to realize that much of Tebow's success had to do with his coach. Meyer molded him as a football player, put him in the position to succeed, and empowered him to be great. Tebow is just one example of Meyer's handiwork as a recruiter and a coach.
So where does this leave Kelly?
As stated earlier, there's no doubt that he's become one of the best recruiters in college football, but now we need to wait on the results.
His current recruiting class is ranked No. 3 in the nation by Rivals.com, but rankings and stars are just used by us as a very educated reference and starting point with players. Were they finish is what really matters. It's better to look at Kelly's past classes with Notre Dame and see how those players are performing.
From 2010, three-star quarterback Tommy Rees has played a big role this year, as has four-star defensive tackle Louis Nix. His 2011 class features three-star quarterback Everett Golson, who is quickly becoming a star and may be Kelly's featured recruit; and five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel and four-star wideout Davonte Neal look to have a ton of potential from the 2012 class.
Overall, the framework is there and it's safe to say that Kelly has done a phenomenal job recruiting so for the Fighting Irish. He'll get a huge boost in credibility if he can lead his squad to a National Championship win this season, but much of his ability as a recruiter will be determined by how successful his teams and players will be after this year as well.
Will Nix become a high NFL draft pick in the next two years? Will Golson become one of the elite quarterbacks in college football? Will players from his current class like 5-star linebacker Jaylon Smith or four-star cornerback Cole Luke become big contributors in the future? Will they help lead Notre Dame to another shot or two at the National Championship?
If those questions all come back with positive answers, then we'll be able to consider Kelly on Meyer's level as a recruiter.
He's quickly on his way to becoming an elite college football recruiter, but Meyer still holds the edge for now. Kelly can get there, and he just may, but we have to be patient and wait on the results.
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