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Recruiting, vital as it is, is too often viewed as the raison d’etre for a program’s existence. It’s actually better understood as a tool to feed the development process, which ultimately yields a program. For sick programs, three- and five-year recruiting rankings are always a deceptive theoretical measure of actual program talent. Recruiting enthusiasts who don’t understand this have a hard time reconciling the wide divorce between Texas recruiting rankings and on field performance since 2010.
The Evaluating Football Athletes series illustrates the physical attributes competent evaluators should be looking to feed into their development process. It’s also a caution to focus on what players CAN BE. Film can be self-evident – it doesn’t take many clips of Adrian Peterson or Shaun Rogers in high school to understand what you’re seeing – but they’re exceptional athletes with floors already higher at age 18 than most athlete’s ceilings at age 25. That’s why you recruit them. Scarcity dictates that they’ll never form the bulk of your roster. Programs have to develop their other talent and smart programs understand that ceiling is as important to chase as guaranteed floor. Even if that ceiling doesn’t fully manifest itself until Year 3 or 4 in an environment where too many fans write off a true freshman if they struggle in the Spring game.