There is a big difference between high profile and high quality—some of the schools on the nation's recruiting trail will see this firsthand over the next three years. A high profile recruit can sometimes make an entire class look better than it really is.
That and other missed evaluations lead to the dreaded overrating of recruiting classes. Here are two examples of that this year.
Georgia is coming on strong in the SEC, but its 2012 recruiting class is not worthy of the fifth spot ESPNU has given them. The Bulldogs did receive a boost from the late commitment of LB and Georgia product Josh Harvey-Clemons, but it doesn't substantiate that place among the elite classes.
Before Harvey-Clemons committed, OL John Theus and RB Keith Marshall were the crown jewels of the class. Marshall is indeed a very nice prospect—he has very good speed. He is a big play guy, who is dangerous every time he touches it. Theus, on the other hand, is more of an athlete than an accomplished and refined blocker at this point.
He runs an impressive 4.9 40—this is notable, especially for a kid of his size—but he projects as a tackle. Speed is nice in his situation, but strength and pass blocking is more important. Theus still has to improve in both of those areas.
Of course, these players need refining in some areas—that's the case for all of them—but Theus has some concerning issues. At 6'6", 292 pounds he doesn't have the bulk you'd prefer, and he must gain elite strength.
Mind you, he is headed into the SEC, which is the near equivalent to an NFL farm system, especially when matched against the defensive lines LSU, Alabama and others can bring. Theus is considered the 28th best player in the nation by ESPN, and 23rd by Rivals.com. Rivals likens him to Anthony Castonzo, formerly of Boston College.
Castonzo was a solid tackle at BC, but I certainly would not call a player that reminds me of him a can't miss prospect.
A look at their class overall shows other discrepancies. ESPN indicates that the Bulldogs have seven 4-star recruits, but others like Rivals.com only recognize five. This difference speaks to the fact that all talent evaluators aren't sold on prospects like DT John Atkins whom ESPN lists as a 4-star recruit, but Rivals only tabs as a 3-star.
Finally, the class is devoid of a 4- or 5-star QB. Aaron Murray will likely be gone after this year based on the his maturation, growth and experience last season. He will be a junior, and were he eligible this season, he could have been a second- or third-round selection.
This year will almost certainly be a breakout season for him, so where does that leave the Bulldogs without a notable QB in the class if he leaves? It would be ideal to have a top-notch recruit ready to step in for him as a sophomore in 2013. The Bulldogs didn't nab a top-notch prospect to create that opportunity.
Overall, it's a solid class for Georgia, but it isn't as elite as the top five ranking would indicate.
This starts with Gunner Kiel. He is considered the top pro style QB by some, but only the 52nd best player in the nation, according to ESPNU.
He is the most high profile, thanks to the circus that surrounded his recruitment, but he hasn't been recognized as even the top QB in the class. There are three players ranked higher than him.
The fanfare behind his signing has given the Irish a little more credit for their class than they deserve.
Notre Dame doesn't have another recruit committed inside the top 75 players, according to ESPNU. That makes it hard to understand how to justify a top 10 ranking class. The Irish are currently ninth, according the ESPNU.
The overall strength of the class was hurt by the late losses of Ronald Darby and Taylor Decker. Darby especially was painful loss, as he was a top 100 player that has yet to decide where he will play his college football. He could still choose Notre Dame, but it is impossible to say at this point.
Taylor Decker was one of Urban Meyer's pillages. Meyer has made a habit of snatching Irish personnel and players. He also plucked as two assistant coaches from the Irish staff. Decker is a 4-star offensive lineman, whose mean streak, size and ability would have been a great asset in South Bend.
With the losses, the void of a 5-star player and top 75 players, the Irish class seems more like a top class than a top 10.
As always, only the field will tell the true story, but both Georgia and Notre Dame seem a little higher in the rankings than they deserve.