Evaluating the Recruiting Class of 2006–by Jeff Dunbar
In the world of college football recruiting, writers and analysts attempt to project a 17-year old kid’s talent to the next 4-5 years. Many skeptics are quick to point out the over-hyped and underperforming players like 5-star phenom Willie Williams, who made headlines of his many altercations with the law, while in high school, but due to his sub-4.5 forty time and his amazing abilities, he still signed a letter of intent to play for the Miami Hurricanes.
Williams never panned out at Miami or Louisville, where he transferred due to limited playing time with the ‘Canes. Williams’ story is all too familiar, but you have to admit that the business of projecting how a high school football player will do in the spotlight of bigtime Division I football is somewhat of a crapshoot.
Rivals dubbed 28 players that year with the coveted 5-star status, and of those former blue chip recruits, four of them have already been selected as first round draft picks in the NFL, after leaving school early–Matthew Stafford, Andre Smith, Percy Harvin and Beanie Wells.
Five more, Gerald McCoy, Taylor Mays, CJ Spiller, Brandon Graham and Sergio Kindle are expected to go in the first round of this year’s draft, with Florida Linebacker Brandon Spikes and Clemson DE Ricky Sapp likely to go early in round 2.
When the dust settles, Rivals will have likely correctly tagged 15 out of their 28 selections as young men who will be playing on Sundays next fall. That 54% hit rate is very impressive when you consider all the variables that must be considered.
Some players cannot make the grades to get into a university, let alone stay eligible at one. Injuries can and do happen. Stafon Johnson was one of the 5-star players listed, and although he will likely get an opportunity to play in the NFL, his freak accident in the weight room will have an effect on his draft status. Finally, some of these players either never reach their full potential, or they may have already reached that full potential in high school, and the rest of their college peers pass them by.
No one knows how Tim Tebow, Stafon Johnson and the rest of these players will fare in the NFL, but rest assured–they will have a shot to make an impression. The analysts and writers have no way of predicting the future, but with Rivals’ class of 2006, they did as good a job as possible, given the circumstances.
For the complete list of the top 100 players from 2006, check out rivals.com.