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My Pac-10 counterpart Ted Miller did this earlier in the week, and I'm blatantly stealing the idea. Want to know how accurate recruiting rankings are? Let's take a look at this year's All-Big East team and see how each player was rated by the two major star-system recruiting services (where the two differ, I note the high and low end):
QB Pat White (two to three stars)
RB Donald Brown (two to three stars)
RB LeSean McCoy (four to five stars)
WR Mardy Gilyard (two stars)
WR Kenny Britt (three to four stars)
TE Nate Byham (four to five stars)
OT Will Beatty (one to two stars)
OT Ryan Stanchek (two stars)
OG George Bussey (zero to one star)
OG C.J. Davis (two stars)
C Eric Wood (two stars)
DL Connor Barwin (two stars)
DL Cody Brown (two stars)
DL George Selvie (one to two stars)
DL Arthur Jones (three to two stars)
LB Scott McKillop (three stars)
LB Tyrone McKenzie (two to three stars)
LB Mortty Ivy (two stars)
CB Mike Mickens (two stars)
CB Darius Butler (one to two stars)
S Brandon Underwood (three stars)
S Courtney Greene (one to two stars)
Big East teams don't get a lot of "five-star" guys, but plenty of four-star players make their way into the league. I find it very interesting that the only two players on this list to reach that level were McCoy -- a no-brainer -- and Byham, who had a solid but hardly spectacular year in a league without many productive tight ends.
Offensive linemen are probably the hardest guys to evaluate, and whoever was evaluating the Big East prospects proved that. Not one of the All-Big East first team offensive linemen earned more than two stars, and the former walk-on Bussey and left tackle Beatty were rated the same as your average throw-in prospect. This isn't a bad crop, either; Wood, Beatty and Stanchek should all get drafted, with Davis and Bussey having a shot, too.
And, yes -- someone really watched Selvie and Butler play and rated them as one-star prospects. That really happened. To be fair, Selvie played center in high school and his best quality -- desire -- is hard to measure. But we're talking about a two-time All-American. And Butler's athleticism is hard to deny.
I get that White was hard to judge as a quarterback, and that a lot of teams were recruiting him as a receiver or just an all-around athlete. But for him to garner only two or three stars is absurd. Here are some of the players who were ranked as the top dual-threat quarterbacks in 2004: Robbie Reid, Kirby Freeman, Nick Patton, Larry Lerlegan and D.T McDowell. Would you trade any of them for Pat White? Heck, would you trade all of them for Pat White?
There are always going to be can't-miss prospects, and there are going to be players who improve greatly through sheer hard work and maturation. Recruiting rankings can be a useful guide and fun to look at, but if you think they predict which players will turn out to be the best in their leagues, think again. Keep this list in mind come next Wednesday, and remember to curb your enthusiasm.