CU Recruiting Class of 2016 – Rating the Rankings

History will show that the University of Colorado Recruiting Class of 2016 was ranked 64th nationally by, nestled between No. 63 Wake Forest and No. 65 Western Michigan.

Amongst teams in the Pac-12, Colorado came in 12th – again – well behind the No. 11 team on the rivals list, No. 53 Washington State.

Over at Scout, the story was similar … Colorado ranked 66th nationally; 12th in the Pac-12 (closest to the Buffs: No. 55 Oregon State).

247 Sports? … Colorado 68th nationally; 12th in the Pac-12 (Washington State: No. 55).

ESPN? … Colorado outside of the top 75; 12th in the Pac-12 (Washington State: No. 56).

The national experts were able to reach a consensus about the latest Buffs: nice list of prospects for a mid-level Mountain West team (CU finished behind Colorado State in three of the four rankings), but certainly not worthy of a contender in the Pac-12.

So why did 77% of you give the CU Recruiting Class either an “A” or a “B” in a CU at the Game poll the day after the Class was announced?

Because that is the acclaim this Class deserves.

Let’s start with how the ranking services derive their rankings

On Signing Day, CU head coach Mike MacIntyre introduced 18 new signees to the Buff Nation.

If you check out the Rivals rankings, however, only 17 players are listed.

At 247 Sports, there are only 16.

How is that possible?

Well, at Rivals, quarterback Davis Webb – arguably the most important recruit of this Class – is not considered since he is a senior transfer. Meanwhile, at 247 Sports, neither Webb nor junior college linebacker Drew Lewis are listed

(Not listing senior transfer Davis Webb is understandable, but why would 247 Sports list not list Drew Lewis? After all, 247 Sports did list wide receiver Juwann Winfree – a teammate of Lewis at Coffeyville Community College).

So the recruiting services can’t even agree on how many players signed with Colorado.

Then there is the discrepancy in the number of recruits signed by each school in a given year.

The final rankings are based upon accumulated points for the players who are signed. Colorado, according to Rivals, had a total of 1,099 points for its 17 recruits. UCLA, meanwhile signed 29 recruits.

In order to help taking into account for the discrepancy in the number of signees, Rivals only counts the 20 highest-ranked players for each team.

While this does help to level the numbers somewhat, it still skews the final results.

Of its 29 signees, UCLA got to count its one five-star prospect and all ten of its four-star prospects, while dropping from consideration its six lowest rated three-star prospects … and all three of its two-star recruits. Colorado, though, only had 17 players – including six two-star prospects – to offer up for consideration.

(The next two Signing Days – 2017 and 2018 – Colorado will benefit from the 20-player rule, as the Buffs will be signing full Classes both years).

But, in 2016 … the Buffs were not on a level playing field when the ranking scores were tallied.

How about just looking at points per recruit?

Colorado’s recruits had an average of 2.76 stars, according to Rivals, making the Buffs 11th in the Pac-12, and 49th out of the 65 Power-Five conference schools.

At Scout, the numbers: 2.83 average stars … 10th in the Pac-12, ahead of both Washington State and Oregon State, and just behind Cal (2.88).

According to 247 Sports, the average score for the CU recruits was 83.86 … 10th in the Pac-12, ahead of both Washington State and Oregon State, and just behind Arizona (84.03).

This is a better measurement of value of a Class than just adding up total points, and it does show CU’s improvement.

True enough, the Buff Nation will not be happy with finishing 10th in the Pac-12 recruiting rankings … but it beats finishing 12th.

By this matrix … the Buffs are getting closer to other teams in the Pac-12 in terms of the quality of recruit.

Even better … looking at the list of offers

Recruiting is by definition subjective.

After all, we are talking about judging the value and potential of 17-year olds.

Factor in the needs for each team’s roster in a given recruiting cycle, the style of play of the team and how it relates to the recruit’s talent, injuries, the player’s academic potential …

There is simply no good way to project how a player is going to pan out over the next four to five years.

Perhaps the best way for an average fan to judge the potential of how a recruit is viewed by the coaches who (should) know best is to look at how other teams view their team’s recruits.

By that measure, things are looking up for the Buff Nation.

In the Class of 2016, almost half – eight out of the 18 – had at least four Power-Five conference offers. Six of those recruits – Beau Bisharat, Ronnie Blackmon, Johnny Huntley, Tony Julmisse, Pookie Maka, and Juwann Winfree – had at least seven offers from other schools with which Colorado normally competes.

Compare the Class of 2013, Mike MacIntyre’s first Recruiting Class.

There were 21 recruits in that Class, and only one – Devin Ross – had as many as four offers from Power Five conference schools. Of the remaining 20 players, three had two Power-Five offers, eight had one other Power Five offers besides that of Colorado, and nine – almost half of the Class – had no other offers from Power-Five schools.

Or, put another way …

The CU Recruiting Class of 2016, with 18 members, had a total of 78 Power-Five offers.

The CU Recruiting Class of 2013, with 21 members … had a grand total of 18 Power-Five offers.

That, my friends, is progress.

And all of the above doesn’t take into account the signing of quarterback Davis Webb

The above numbers do not count perhaps the most important signee this spring, senior transfer quarterback Davis Webb.

A graduating senior at Texas Tech, Webb was a three-star recruit from that Class of 2013 (he would have been up there with Devin Ross with the most Power-Five offers had he signed with CU back then). Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has said the 20-year-old senior-to-be has the tools to be a top-five overall NFL Draft pick because of his size, arm strength and mind. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder Webb has 46 touchdowns against 22 interceptions in his career.

The former Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP (Webb had 403 passing yards and four touchdowns, leading Texas Tech to a 37-23 romp over No. 14 Arizona State … a team CU has never beaten), Webb could be the difference between Colorado making a bowl game and sitting home yet again.

Bottom Line

Would it be nice to see Colorado once again post a nationally recognized top 25 Recruiting Class?

Would it be nice to see Colorado regularly compete – and beat out – other Pac-12 schools for quality recruits?


And with Jim Leavitt and Darrin Chiaverini leading the charge, Colorado recruiting is again becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Even if the national recruiting services are not yet ready to agree.



10 Replies to “Rating the Rankings”

  1. Well stated and agree on all points, would add that it’s great to grab all-city/county skill players from FLA, LA, GA would rather have them then all-46 other states. Important that they find success on/off the field so we can re-establish our recruiting base in the South.

    Trenches are clearly a volume game hoping to find a few more D-Macs and Nembots (though what’s up w/our coaching, how can he have ‘no clue to what he’s doing’ according to Mayock at the Shrine Game??) so the sheer number of 1-2 star lineman is going to bring down any ranking.

    Also signing kids that on the surface appear to have character issues is interesting to note as we’ve slowly go back here since the debacle of Hawks 2nd class (or was it his first??…ahh the heady days of early Hawk), which was our initial foray into ‘risk’ players since The Debacle.

    Speaking of HawkLove..why does Sefo/Mac remind me so much of Cody/Hawk Sr??? Hopefully Davis Webb changes all that.

    Go Buffs!!

  2. Yo Stuart, Yo MarkDevil, Yo VK and Yo AZ.

    For the greater portion of those of us who don’t have time to research stats (or choose to do other things with the time we have), we usually depend on the people who research the stats and follow recruiting closely to help us understand the greater picture…..or, at least I do.

    I, for one, really enjoy following each of you to help me understand how our beloved Buffs are doing in the recruiting trenches. Your closer observations of the minutiae involved really does help me…and I’m certain, many others.

    Thanks. Buff up.

  3. First, a very well written analysis by Stuart, secondly a good discussion by BD and VK, equally as informative and analytical. I don’t know follow the recruiting that much during the year but it certainly seems like a very iffy subjective process in many instances.

    CU recruiting in the last few years it seems to me has done pretty well considering where they’re program has been positioned for the past 10 plus years. Football being a team game playing against an equal number of guys of various skills and athletic ability on the other side of the ball is a tough sport and really does reacquire a lot of elements to be successful in the game. It is really a tough long slog to get to a position just to compete but as slowly as this has taken it looks like maybe the Buffs are finally on the cusp to some success.

  4. Yo Stuart,

    The recruiting services are a joke, especially the ones that charge for their opinion. They know where their bread is buttered (primarily the south). IF a kid has an offer from Alabama or USC, he is immediately considered a possible four star prospect, even if most people had never heard of them.

    Also, recruiting at the Division 1 level is all field work and relationships. The coaches at CU and every other school talk to high school coaches, run camps, and watch these kids play and talk to them and their families. They make up their own minds. NONE of them are using scout and rivals or any other services to find kids for them to recruit.

    It’s fun for fans to go online and talk (chat, blog, tweet, etc.) about the recruits for their schools. But no one should really take the class ratings seriously. There are about a dozen or so that are “darlings” of the services, which means their fans like to pay money to follow them on the service.

    Some “recruiting services” are not even a joke, they are downright scams that charge the families of high school players serious money to promote the young man by making videos and putting together generous “stats” of the young men and putting them online or making vids that the kids can send to schools to showcase their talents. These ones tend to alter the real height, weight and 40 yard speed of the young men they are promoting.

    None of the recruiting services focuses on whether the kids has the classes to graduate, or is unlikely to make it in a serious academic environment.

    College football success comes down to:
    –Player Development.
    –And recruiting.

    And the first two are the most important. The recruiting services have a financial interest in having fans believe otherwise.


    1. BD another nice job by you.


      #1 Coaching This is not easy. Takes a special skill. But without excellent coaching at all positions, the development never happens.

      #2 Player Development (Physical/ Mental/Technique)

      #3 Recruiting (Get kids that love the game/ have talent that can be coached up/ have the capabilities to develop in all phases.

      Coaching is the key. Always has been always will be..

      Interesting…see below

      1. Yo VK,

        As a statistics geek myself, I find serious problems with the article. Not only for Colorado but lots of teams.

        Take Alabama, for instance. They have had the top recruiting class every year for 5 or 6 years (according to one article). If that is true, how could they possibly EXCEED expectations. If recruiting is all that matters (it doesn’t, of course), then Alabama would fail to meet those expectations any year they did not win the National Championship.

        USC should be shown to be massively underperforming since they have top level recruiting classes every year yet have only managed a #6, a #19 and a #24 (and twice unranked) over the last five years. USC had the #1 recruiting class twice in the last five years according to one service. IF recruiting was all that counted, the Trojans should be playing for the national title every year.

        Of all 63 the teams listed in the article, Colorado has probably had the lowest rated recruiting classes over the last five years. The exception to that would be 2012, when the Buffs were rated up in the 30s with a class with 65% attrition by the time their class graduated. 2012 was the worst class as far as guys being here for four years, yet the recruiting services rate that as our best class. They obviously don’t know squat.

        And since Colorado had the worst recruiting rankings of the bunch, the fact that they have not won consistently SHOULD mean they have performed EXACTLY as expected if their ratings were worth a damn.

        The real measure of a recruiting class is how they perform after three years. Two years as backups and one redshirt. Just as an NFL team’s rookies are not counted on to be the biggest contributors, the same goes for Division 1 football. The first year they should redshirt and learn how be college students. Then they should work their way up the depth chart so that by the time they are juniors they are major contributors.

        Take a look at the season ending Top 25 from 2010-15 and you will find lots of teams that don’t recruit well according to the services. Boise State is probably the highest achiever there on a consistent basis. But of teams with poor recruiting (according to the services) have made the final top 25 over the last six years.

        Memphis, Marshall, Houston, Navy, Northern Illinois, Western Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, Tulsa, Utah State, Cincinnati, Nevada, San Jose State, and Kansas State are just some of those that should never make the top 25 according to the recruiting services. But they have managed to do so. Some more than once, and others almost every year.

        The recruiting services are just trying to get folks to BUY their crap. So they spend all their time trying to tell everyone how important their opinions are. If they were any good, they would be working as recruiters/coaches for a division one school.


        1. He Devil,

          The rating services are pretty much a funny deal. Subjective stuff. I thought this was an interesting exercise. Especially if you go look into the Massey Ratings.

          Certainly there is a Margin of error here but. And again he is comparing the massey ratings prediction against what happened

          Over a 10 year period Alabama and even usc with a certain margin for error could be better than predicted. Same with USC and all their problems over the ten year period. And Michigan looks right on.

          Anyway there is no question coaching has been the issue on all fronts and here is to some powerful kool aide that says we are over the hump.

          Go Buffs

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