Prep "star" rankings and their connection to the NFL combine


Today marks the beginning of the 2011 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where the nation’s top college football players strut their stuff for the scouts and try to make a good enough impression to bolster their value in April’s draft.

Three Jayhawks — safety Darrell Stuckey and wide receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier — tried their luck at the showcase in 2010, but this year’s Combine will take place without any former KU players.

Still, there’s gotta be some sort of connection between one of the premiere college football events of the year and KU, doesn’t there?

Well, yes and no. Stick with me here.

Last week, a friend’s father-in-law forwarded me some research he had done on the 2010 Combine and how the invitations related to each athlete’s standing coming out of high school.

Pay close attention: Here’s where the pseudo-KU connection comes in.

Of the 327 players invited to last year’s combine, more than half were three-star, two-star or no-star players coming out of high school. In fact, nearly one-third were three-star guys — KU’s most recent recruiting class is made up of 21 such players — and the number of combine attendees who were not ranked by the oh-so-popular star system coming out of high school more than doubled the number of five-star studs on the list.

It should be noted that the number of four- and five-star guys named each year is always smaller, but, still, I think this list shows that being a big-time player out of high school does not guarantee a ticket to the NFL.

Here’s the breakdown:

5-star prospects — 24
4-star prospects — 80
3-star prospects — 102
2-star prospects — 69
0-star prospects — 52

So what does all this mean? Well, not much, actually. Four years — three, in some cases — is a long time, and expecting players to carry those rankings with them throughout their college football careers is a little ridiculous. Some improve. Others tank. And still more shock the heck out of people. Remember, Aqib Talib was a two-star guy out of high school and he went on to become a first-round pick.

I guess the point is this: Whether you needed it or not, this is just another way to hammer home the notion that these star rankings don’t really matter. I’m not saying they’re worthless. Far from it, in fact. I know the guys that put them together spend a lot of time and watch a lot of film to come up with some sort of way to rank thousands of high school players from all over the country. I’m glad they do. It sure makes writing about these players more interesting.

What’s more, it gives the fans something to talk about and be excited about. “Did you see we landed that four-star receiver from Texas,” they’ll say to their buddies. Or, “Any chance we’re gonna get that five-star back out of Florida?” The list goes on and the conversations are long.

Just remember, four-star, five-star or no-star, when these guys get to the point where they’re ready to become pros, all that really matters is how they do in Indy. The Combine is a beast unlike any other and a good showing there can turn a former no-star high school prospect into a can’t-miss first-round NFLer. It can also work the opposite way, too.

Signing Day’s gone and spring is upon us. Although spring football doesn’t start for a few more weeks (April 1, to be exact; no kidding), I’ve always considered the first whistle at the NFL Combine to be the first true sign of spring.


phi4life940 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree with the underlying message however don't forget to factor ratios in. 24-5 star players out of what...50 or less? As opposed to 52-0 star prospects out of thousands. The number of stars DO matter. I would say they are significant indicators a player will play in the NFL...if anything statistically a 5 star players chances are significantly better.

Here's to hoping our 2 and 3 star guys are one of those 171 that will become big time players!


minipman 10 years, 9 months ago

i agree .. there are a heck of alot more kids coming out of high school with a three star of lower rankin compared to 4 and 5 stars.. lookin on espn there are bout 15 guys that are 5 star prospects..with well over hundred 4 star guys.. u figure u get alteast half them staying until there senior year with half the 5 star juniors leaving as well.. that gives u just about all the 5 star players going to the combine at some point.. whether its after their junior year or waitin till after their senior year..

Ashwin Rao 10 years, 9 months ago

Excellent point phi4life940! If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment. Get some 5 Stars! :)

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 9 months ago

Atta boys! My instant reaction was there are obviously more lower rated players than 4-5 star guys. Apparently the father-in-law from KU's PR department didnt spin it good enough Better analysis woul be what percentage of those rated 4+ vs 3- made it (maybe its in the article, to lazy to read again) My second reaction is those that are 3 or lower stars more than likely attended/developed at a big time football program.

Rastaman 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree that the percentages of 1,2,3,4,5-star athletes would make this write up meaningful.

The way it is written up now and the logistics behind it is a waste of kilobytes.

Dan Spurgin 10 years, 9 months ago

+1. Boil it down and this piece insinuates that KUs incoming class of 3 stars guys is on equal footing w/ the Alabama and Ohio States of the world. Pretty evident that's not the case. Can Texas fail with 5 stars? Yes. But can they also win it all w/ 5 stars? Yes. Anyone think KU, with its 3 stars, is going to win it all?

Sam Brockert 10 years, 9 months ago

TCU never got the greatest classes before either...look where they are now? Same thing with Boise... Heck TCU Has almost KUs EXACT number of star rated palyers KU- 21 3-star: 2 4-star TCU- 23 3-stars: 2 4-Stars. And TCU went to the Rose Bowl last season...

Sam Brockert 10 years, 9 months ago

we won't know if it is coaching until another year or two. I have been in successful college programs. 2 to be exact. I remember how hard it was getting used to each coaches style. It really does affect how well you perform.

Jonathan Briles 10 years, 9 months ago

Saying that most 3 or lower players that made it to the draft did so by going to large programs and developed is a little off. A large chunk of the no star players are actually from FCS schools. They did not have a lot going for them out of HS because of competition they went up against or a low skill level around them and went to an FCS team and flourished and it became easy to stick out around a lot of lower level guys. While I do agree that it would be a little easier to flourish around great players in a good program I think a large number of the no star guys come from FCS teams.

On a different note I wonder how things are skewed by the kickers? I have never seen a 4 star or higher kicker. I wonder how the kickers at the combine were ranked out of HS.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 9 months ago

I know not every player is from a big time school but I can assume that there are more players in the NFL from a big 12 school like Kansas than say a FCS school like North Dakota State. Ewwwww, sorry, bad reference!

T_Time 10 years, 9 months ago

NFL combines are for seniors. Most 5 * are really good, and leave before their senior year. Pops in law needs to do another study.

Christopher Hauser 10 years, 9 months ago

I am pretty sure the NFL combine is not just for Seniors. Briscoe left after his Junior year and was in the combine as well as many others.

Christopher Hauser 10 years, 9 months ago

Cam Newton will also be in this years combine and he is not a Senior.

Mike Johns 10 years, 9 months ago

does this factor in the guys who do not work out at the combine - I assume that there could be some 4-5 star guys who do not go through the combine...

Ted Toulouse 10 years, 9 months ago

Another thing to consider is how many 4-5 star players feel they are too good for the combine and rather showcase themselves on their respective school Pro Days. Most 4-5 star players go to the top programs whose Pro Days will have just as many scouts as at the combine, so travel away from home?

number1jayhawker 10 years, 9 months ago

You are correct. A lot of the big-time can't miss players avoid the NFL combine because the only way their stock could move would be to go down if they had a bad 40 time or weight lifting reps.

I heard Blane Gabbert and a couple of other high profile Qbs will not throw or run at the combine. They will just go through the measuring and mental tests.

Ryan Gerstner 10 years, 9 months ago

It's tough to argue against the 5 stars. There's 25-30 each year. Granted some of those invitees could be underclassmen, but that tells you they're not missing on those very often.

DevilHawk 10 years, 9 months ago

The purpose of the Combine is to get a better look at the players that haven't clearly impressed the scouts. Example: for Meier and Briscoe, one of the big questions was how much of their play was them and how much was based on the performance of the QB.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 9 months ago

One of the 0 star players lead his team to a national championship and will be one of the top QB's selected.

Phoggin_Loud 10 years, 9 months ago

Here's my question:

Out of the 104 4-star and 5-star kids, how many were drafted in the first 3 rounds of the NFL Draft compared to the 223 3-star or lower players?

The reality is that not everyone at the combine gets drafted. Also, those drafted in the first 3 rounds will be given every opportunity to succeed and make the NFL team, where the lower rounds will have a "shorter leash", so to speak.

Phoggin_Loud 10 years, 9 months ago

Here's the another issue that wasn't discussed: Position changes.

Take Nate Solder of Colorado. Rivals listed him as the 45th tight end in the nation and the 8th overall prospect in the state of Colorado.

He is now projected as the 13th overall pick by the Detroit Left Tackle.

Solder was considered a "blocking" tight end & gained 25 lbs as a redshirt.

There is no way to predict this regarding a high school senior. However, I do agree that the "star" rankings add to the fun of the recruiting "game".

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