Recruiting Rankings: CU’s True “Star” Power

In December, during the Early Signing Period, I went off on a “Recruiting Rankings Rant“.

In the essay, I detailed the “fall” of several CU recruits in the eyes of the recruiting rating services, and the meteoric rise of a junior college linebacker … the day he committed to Nebraska.

Briefly, here’s a look at how those three players were rated in the final Rivals ratings:

—  New Orleans running back Ashaad Clayton, a CU commit since November 11th, was down-graded by Rivals. Still a four-star recruit, Clayton, who once was ranked as the second-best player in the state of Louisiana, was moved down to No. 11 on the list. Clayton had also been ranked as one of the top 50 players in the nation, but in the “revised” rankings, didn’t even make the list of the Top 250.

… Clayton finished up as a four-star recruit, the No. 6 player out of the state of Louisiana, and the No. 153 overall player in the country (perhaps the late bump was a hedge … in case Clayton decided to go with Florida instead of CU).

CU offensive tackle commit Jake Wray was considered by Rivals to be the No. 29 prospect out of the state of Georgia last spring. He is currently rated as the No. 98 state prospect. At 247 Sports, Wray went from a .9643 rating to a .8643 rating. On both sites, Wray was a four-star prospect before he committed to Colorado, but is now considered a three-star prospect

… Wray finished as a three-star recruit, down-graded even further. Once the No. 29 prospect out of the state of Georgia (back when he was an Ohio State commit), Wray, who had 33 offers from around the country, finished outside of the top 100 on the list of top Georgia athletes.

Junior college outside linebacker Eteva Mauga, a 6’2″, 210-pound outside linebacker at Diablo Valley Community College, was an unrated prospect by Rivals … zero stars. Maugu had offers from four schools: New Mexico; San Diego State; South Alabama; and Southern Mississippi. On December 6th; Mr. Mauga took an official visit to Nebraska. On December 11th, he committed to Nebraska. He is now listed as a four-star prospect.

— Mauga remained a four-star recruit, having picked up a late scholarship offer from … Alabama-Birmingham.

So, if we can’t rely on star-ratings, and team rankings which represent a compilation of those ratings … what’s a Buff fan to do?

Well, there are two ways we can judge the CU Recruiting Class of 2020, and both will leave you with a smile.

First, we can compare apples to apples … 

Assuming that the CU recruiting rankings are skewed compared to other teams in the country (see above), we can also (rightfully) conclude that the bias against schools like Colorado is not a new phenomenon.

So, while comparing CU’s rankings to those of say, Nebraska, yield improper results, we can compare CU’s rankings with … CU’s rankings.

Here are CU’s Class Recruiting Rankings, dating back to the start of the Mike MacIntyre era:

  • Class of 2013 – Jon Embree/Mike MacIntyre … 65th
  • Class of 2014 – Mike MacIntyre … 63rd
  • Class of 2015 – Mike MacIntyre … 69th
  • Class of 2016 – Mike MacIntyre … 65th
  • Class of 2017 – Mike MacIntyre (after 10-4 season) … 32nd
  • Class of 2018 – Mike MacIntyre … 51st
  • Class of 2019 – Mike MacIntyre/Mel Tucker … 45th
  • Class of 2020 – Mel Tucker … 32nd

By this metric, it’s clear to see that recruiting has risen in quality under Mel Tucker. In his first full season of recruiting a Class at Colorado, Tucker – coming off of a 5-7 season – has matched the best Class Mike MacIntyre was able to produce.

But wait, there’s more …

Power-Five offers as a true measurement of Mel Tucker’s recruiting prowess … 

Granted, the number of offers a player receives can be skewed. There are players who shut down their commitment process early, and receive fewer offers as a result. Quarterback Blake Stenstrom is a good example. Stenstrom, a three-star recruit from Valor Christian, committed to Colorado in December of his junior year, a full year before he could actually sign a Letter of Intent. Stenstrom made it clear that he wanted to be a Buff, and ended his recruitment before it really began, finished with one Power Five offer – CU.

Other players are injured during their high school careers, limiting their offer sheet. Running back Phillip Lindsay is a good example here. Lindsay suffered a knee injury in the first game of his senior year, and wound up with only two Power-Five conference offers, Colorado and Utah. Had Lindsay played his senior year, he most certainly would have received more scholarship opportunities.

That being said (and we could get into an entire discussion about “commitable offers”), these are issues which are common throughout college football, and tend to average themselves out.

So, how did the CU Recruiting Classes since the dawn of the Mike MacIntyre era fare in terms of Power-Five offers? And how many CU signees only had no Power Five offers other than the one they received from CU?

The results surprised even me:

  • Class of 2013 – Jon Embree/Mike MacIntyre … 40 total Power Five offers … Highest: WR Devin Ross (5) … 10/21 players had CU as their only Power Five offer
  • Class of 2014 – Mike MacIntyre … 42 Power Five offers … Highest: WR Shay Fields (5) … 12/23 had only one P5 offer
  • Class of 2015 – Mike MacIntyre … 34 Power Five offers … Highest: OL Tim Lynott (8) … 14/18 had only one P5 offer
  • Class of 2016 – Mike MacIntyre … 77 Power Five offers … Highest: RB Beau Bisharat (17) … 8/18 had only one P5 offer
  • Class of 2017 – Mike MacIntyre (after 10-4 season) … 160 Power Five offers … Highest: OL Grant Polley (17); OL Jake Moretti (16); WR K.D. Nixon (15) … 4/28 had only one P5 offer
  • Class of 2018 – Mike MacIntyre … 92 Power Five offers … Highest: RB Deion Smith (11); WR Dimitri Stanley (10); DT Israel Antwine (10) … 3/23 had only one P5 offer
  • Class of 2019 – Mike MacIntyre/Mel Tucker … 149 Power Five offers … Highest: DT Lloyd Murray (36); RB Jaren Mangham (34) … 10/26 had only one P5 offer (7/13 MacIntyre; 3/13 Tucker)
  • Class of 2020 – Mel Tucker … 215 Power Five offers … Highest: Highest: OL Jake Wray (30); DB Christian Gonzalez (26); DE Jason Harris (23); WR Brenden Rice (20); OL Carson Lee (16); RB Ashaad Clayton (15) … 5/23 had only one P5 offer

Or … put a few other ways …

  • Mel Tucker’s first full Class had more Power Five offers (215) than did Mike MacIntyre’s first four classes combined (193)
  • 58 out of 144 of Mike MacInytre’s recruits … or 40.3% … had CU as their only Power Five offer. Under Mel Tucker, the percentage is 22.2% (8/36)
  • Even some of Mel Tucker’s “one offer” recruits are understandable, like this year’s Australian punter Josh Watts; (Colorado 5A player of the Year) running back Jayle Stacks, and offensive lineman Gerad Lichtenhan, a 6’8″, 320-pound hulk (who was also the 89th-best player in California)

As college football fans, we will continue to track player ratings and team rankings.

As CU football fans, we will continue to be frustrated by how CU’s recruits are being treated relative to other teams.

But, using different matrices to review CU’s Recruiting Class … we have a great deal to be excited about!!




17 Replies to “Recruiting Rankings: CU’s True “Star” Power”

  1. I think we all agree, however you slice it, this recruiting class is the best CU has had in a while. A long while. The sad thing is, it’s still miles away from the caliber of players across the board on the top teams. But, it’s progress nevertheless.

    All that aside, I think the best measure of a class is how many of them a team can put in the NFL. That covers the spectrum of finding and developing overlooked kids, projecting their mental and physical development, and taking the natural beasts out of high school, etc.

    And, I think our Buffs should see that trend of putting more guys into the NFL continue to improve. That’s what’ll win more games. Having professional caliber players playing at the college level. That’s how the glory days at CU were built, and it’s how the current top dogs are staying on top (along w/ maybe some PEDs and extra pay days, allegedly).

    Go Buffs

  2. Nice analysis. I like the Power 5 offer view. I would be curious within that view, on what the National ranking of the offering schools are. It seems (maybe wrong) that more of the recent power 5 rankings are coming from top programs like LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, etc. I don’t expect a bowl this season given the toughness of schedule and breaking in a new QB but if the Buffs can get to one, I would imagine we land yet another top recruiting class which would bode well for the future.

  3. At some point does it not become a legal question? For people who actually pay to subscribe to these services, do they not expect a level of fairness and candor when it comes to rankings? Is it not a blatant source of false advertising when one expects a certain service but get hoodwinked instead by a service that lacks veracity.

  4. I posted this elsewhere a couple of days a go elsewhere, but it belongs here.

    So the class is filled. A really good class. Really good. Rankings are neat and each service has its own way of putting the rankings together. Looking at it just for 4 stars

    Clayton 4 star on 247, rivals, ESPN
    Harris 4 star on 247, ESPN .1 away on rivals
    Gonzales 4 star on 247 4 star on Rivals 4 star on ESPN
    Lewis 4 star ESPN, .0053 away on 247 .1 away on rivals
    Wray 4 star on ESPN .2 away on rivals, .0057 away on 247
    Rice 4 star on rivals .0038 away on 247 2 away on ESPN
    Thats 6 with at least 1 4 star ranking

    And there are 7 others who are close on at least one board.

    Not bad for a staff in their second year.

    Will they get a bowl this year with the talent they developed last year and with the new guys?

    Tough schedule. But?????


  5. I really wish high school players could take NFL Combine tests at some point before the recruitment day.
    It would be interesting to compare 40 times, # of 200 pound bench presses, vertical leap, standing long jump etc, instead of someone’s “star” rating.

    Then if one team gets a LB who runs a 5.24 40, benches 14 reps, and has a vertical of 28″, and another team gets a LB who runs 4.65 40, benches 20 reps, and has a vertical of 34″, you get a better picture of who got the guy with the most potential. If some has 3 stars, and someone else has 4 stars, you don’t know much at all.

  6. Follow recruiting quite a bit, kind of a hobby actually. Have not been blinded by the obvious drop in “stars” of players upon being recruited by CU. Nor the fact others go up if recruited by such schools as Michigan, Alabama, Ohio State, etc. Even Nebraska…go figure, not as if they’ve been anything but mediocre in recent years. Only time will tell, and hopefully prove those nose pickers at those recruiting services as wrong as they could be.

  7. So, the last 4 classes (CU’s current roster, basically) averaged 154 power 5 offers, which is basically equivalent what Mickey’s ceiling (as coach of the year).
    We already know it, but the 2020 team has talent like we haven’t seen in decades. The hopes for a competitive team and a bowl game should be officially transitioned into expectations.
    Go Buffs!!
    PS. what happened to Grant Polley?
    PPS. What ranking system has CU at #32nd this year, and was it updated after the 2/5 signings?
    PPPS. Remember none of this data even attempts to account for Alfano!

    1. Grant Polley redshirted his 2017 season, then sat out the 2018 season for “personal reasons” … and didn’t return.
      Rivals had CU at No. 32 after the 2/5 Signing Day. At 247 Sports, CU ended up at No. 35.
      Duly noted on Antonio Alfano … also not considered are graduate transfers like OT Arlington Hambright and S Mikail Onu, who both were full-time starters last fall.

  8. I was listening to ESPNU on XM radio a few days ago when one of the hosts, Rick Neuheisel chastised the other host, Chris Childers, who used to work for rivals and maybe still does, over this very subject ( but related other recruits than the Buff’s).
    Childer’s instant and vehement reaction seemed to me to think even more that there was something to this.
    1. How do a handful of wannabes and never was actually thoroughly vet up to 2000 high school football players?
    2. Money plays a major hand in almost everything in college football these days and I would bet the farm it does in the player star rankings as well. Nebraska with it’s huge and rabid fan base is a perfect example.
    Neuheisel, who still has nothing good to say about Colorado, is a plodding speaker with a large chunk of wood embedded you know where but he was spot on this time.

  9. Stuart I hope you stay on this rant/topic throughout the rise of the Mel Tucker era. It will be interesting to see if it changes as the Buffs get more respect (and as the Scott Frost Huskers continue to lose respect). It’s so blatantly unfair to these players to have amazing HS careers only to have their perceived value affected by where they choose to play college ball. But hopefully it serves to fire them up – like I’ve seen it on a few of Brenden Rice’s Twitter feed!

  10. Recently, 247 Sports ran an article on the star ratings of all the Super Bowl starters ( The results were quite interesting :

    Five-star: 8
    Four-star: 22
    Three-star: 41
    Two-star: 15
    Not ranked: 19

    Overall, 38.7 percent of players in the Super Bowl were three-star recruits. The rest of the breakdown goes like this: Five-star (7.6%), four-star (20.8%), two-star (15.1%) and not ranked (17.9%). The biggest surprised IMO is that more that 1/3 of the Super Bowl starters were ranked as 2 star or 0 star. What this tells me is that college coaches should not only be recruiting for talent but looking for guys who work at getting better each and every day.

    BTW – Patrick Mahomes, the SB MVP, was a high 3 star recruit.

    1. An analysis of the breakdown by percentage of each category on a yearly basis would be a more accurate picture of the true accuracy of the star rating system. In regard to being drafted, 57% of players originally rated as 5 star players were drafted in 2014. By comparison, that number was 23% for 4 star, 7% for 3 star and 1% for 2 star.

      Looking at it from a sheer number standpoint, in 2014, there were 33-5 star players, 296-4 star, 1541-3 star and 1666-2 star. So the make up in the class was 0.9%, 8.4%, 43.6% and 47.1% respectively. In the superbowl, those percentages were, as stated, 7.6%, 20.8%, 38.7% and 15.1% meaning a disproportionate number of high star (4 & 5) players, relative to the overall number that are rated that high in the first place, actually were in the superbowl.

      That tells me that the 5 star recruit is much more likely to become a pro player. In fact, you have better than a 1 in 2 chance of getting a pro caliber player if you get a 5 star recruit. Those odds are 2 out of 29 for 3 star prospects.

      Net sum – give me a 5 star any day. I’m not saying you can’t do with 3 star guys, it’s just that you better really be good at assessing tallent. It also tells me that the ratings do identify talent relatively accurately.

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