Crunching the NSD Numbers: What Does Syracuse’s Recruiting Ranking Mean?

In the aftermath of Syracuse’s National Signing Day ’13, it’s fair to wonder whether the hype equaled reality. The College Football Matrix is a website that crunches the numbers on class rank, and highlights an Orange group that was less than dazzling in its ratings.

SU’s class was ranked #71 in the country by Rivals, #75 by Scout and #77 by 247Sports. That put it as the composite 72nd rated class in the country, just ahead of Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulsa and SMU. As far as BCS schools that Syracuse topped in such a ranking: Georgia Tech and Boston College. That’s it. That’s the list (we’re not going to include Temple or the newbie Big East schools).

As far as national prestige goes, not good for the Orange. Duke, Colorado, Wake Forest, Kansas and Iowa State all ranked ahead of Syracuse in the composite. Last year’s composite rank for Syracuse was nine spots higher, #62. Over the past four years, SU averaged 73rd in the country in composite rank. That means SU’s ’13 spot was one place higher than its four-year average.

This is slightly discouraging for Orange Nation because the schools surrounding SU all made major jumps this year compared to the previous four-year average. San Diego State and Fresno State came in just ahead of SU, at 70 and 71 respectively, and both jumped 10 spots compared to their four-year ranks. UL-L came in just behind the Orange at #72, but made an incredible 41 spot jump from its four-year.

So while SU essentially treaded water at that spot nationally, everyone around them made major gains. What do we make of this?

Let’s first get this out of the way: Rankings can be sh*t. They assign number values to dynamics that simply can’t be quantified. To try to grasp the limitations of the ranking system, let’s do a simple exercise. Go back over your last month, and think about every day. Now boil that day down to a ranking of 0-5 stars. Take the average of those 30 days, and that’s how you’re month ranked. But that doesn’t necessarily dictate how your next month will be. Or your year. And while you ranked January 12th as a 4-star because you had an amazing filet mignon dinner, your vegetarian girlfriend rated it a 1-star. But your “Glee” marathon on the 26th was a 2-star night in your eyes (you found 55 cents in the snack machine at work), while to her it was a 5-star evening.

Boiling down each athlete to the very confining values of 0-5 stars is somewhat ridiculous. And then grouping 20-25 high school seniors, averaging those stars and believing you have some tremendous grasp on that school’s future success is even more presumptuous.

But let’s be fair. If Syracuse landed the #27 class in the country, we’d all be using trumpeting that as evidence the program has turned the corner and is headed for greatness. It always depends on your perspective.

Class ranking can be a useful tool to identify (generally) where schools rank compared to its peers. In this case, Syracuse slightly beat two similar sized ACC universities (Boston College and Georgia Tech). It also ranked marginally lower than lesser programs it now meets on the gridiron (Duke and Wake), and a regional rival it wants to distance from (UConn). It got beat badly by another regional rival (Rutgers at #40).

Overall, the SU class was hurt by the coaching change. Had Gus Edwards, Laray Smith, and Malik Brown stayed loyal to the Orange the class would’ve been ranked much higher (potentially in the 50s). Did Marrone’s departure push Ebo Ogundeko away? Maybe. But I still find it hard to believe he would’ve chose Syracuse over Clemson no matter the staff.

But George McDonald’s addition clearly helped cushion the blow. His ability to reel in Corey Winfield, Corey Cooper, Brisly Estime, and Mitch Kimble were huge coups late in the game. Without them the Orange would have dropped into the 80s. Hopefully the new staff adjusted the focus to a broader net, looking beyond just the NYC area. If SU can meld both it would be ideal. The rankings aren’t exhilarating for the ’13 class, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. And giving The Mailman a full year to recruit will undoubtedly upgrade those ratings.

Posted: D.A.


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  1. Brian says:

    Stars do matter. Yes, some 2 or 3 stars will become All Americans, pro bowlers and even the Heisman, but on average, a five star will be better than a 2 star. That being said, I’m happy with the class Coach Shafer and staff have brought in this year under the circumstances. As the article notes, the 2.58 star average is still a solid class in Syracuse’s recent history, plus this class addressed needs. Luke Arciniega will probably come right in and start at MLB, filling in for a graduating Diabate. John Miller will come in and compete with Ivan Foy & Rob Trudo for starting guard spot to replace Zach Chibane. Darius Kelly will come in and compete with Jeremi Wilkes and Durell Eskridge for a starting safety spot vacated by Shamarko Thomas. SU graduated two WRs this year and 3 more next year, so we went out and got a high 3 star and two other 3 star WRs who have great physical tools (Estime with a sub 4.4 40 yard dash & Winfield with a 4.4 40, 40 inch vertical at 6′ 2″ tall). (Notably, Marrone and staff had ZERO WR commits and didn’t look like any were forthcoming and didn’t sign any last year either). Syracuse lost one of its best QBs in its history, statistically, and then lost a highly rated recruit when Marrone left, so the coaches went out and got a second highly rated QB to come in and compete for the starting job. So, with only a month to recruit (when other teams had been recruiting for a year or more), Syracuse did well.

    That being said, Syracuse will have to begin successfully recruiting higher rated recruits next year to able to consistently compete against the ACC. Right now Syracuse is on par with most of the ACC; however, schools like Miami, FSU & Clemson consistently recruit several four stars and the occasional five star. Syracuse needs to win recruiting battle against those caliber of programs to ascend to the next level of competition and compete for ACC Championships year in and year out. Syracuse will have holes that need to be addressed in recruiting next year, including OT where a JUCO may be desperately needed (Sean Hickey and Andy Phillips will be graduating)(interestingly, there is a highly regarding JUCO OT who is 6’6″ 320 coming out of Nassau CC, John Anselmo’s old stomping grounds), and RB where Syracuse whiffed this year (Jerome Smith & PTG will be graduating). Coach McDonald has promised a top 25 recruiting class next year and I’m excited about the possibilities, so lets see what this staff can do with a full year of recruiting.

  2. Ron says:

    @D.A.

    How does the rating system rate the intangibles? A players attitude,feelings about the game or the school that he’s committed too. What about social networking,is he going to build relationships with his team mates. Heart,does he play the game with heart? Or does he show up to practice and just go through the motions of what the coach tells him to do. Does he listen? Coming out of high school ranked a 5* athlete is probably thinking to himself that I’m going to do as I damn well please. These guys(coaches)really don’t know what their talking about.

    The ranking system doesn’t take any of that into consideration,because there is no way to measure it.

    The ranking system is flawed,but people get drawn into their bulls**t reporting all of the time and don’t understand it’s only their opinion.

    I agree that the rating system means absolutely nothing.

    Alabama again had the #1 recruiting class in 2013. It will take at least 3 years for any of those players to see the field. They were 2013 national champions and only sent 6 players to the NFL Draft,how come? Why didn’t the whole damn team go pro? Let’s see if all of those 6 players are drafted in the 1st round,I betting they won’t be.

    Syracuse being ranked by them is a God send for me. Come football season our 71st ranked team is going to surprise a lot of different people. Syracuse is going to be fine in it’s first year of the ACC.

  3. chris says:

    There ae player in this latest recruiting group who are going to make big plays and give reasons for cheersThere is speed that we desperately need. I think nearly every position on the field was addressed to some extent. The 2014 edition should be far better.

  4. orangeinva says:

    Can attitudes, hard work and coaching have an impact?

    In the previous 5 recruiting classes, 2008-20012, two schools were ranked by SCOUT.

    TEAM A had recruiting class rankings as follows:08// 36..09//22…10//30..11//53 AND 12//26.

    Team B had recruiting class rankings as follows: 08//50..09//102..10//53..11//51 AND 12//54.

    Teams A and B met in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl where team B smoked Team A 38-14.

  5. thesackster says:

    i liked what syracuse accomplished under the odd circumstances. moving foward this staff needs to hit the recruiting trail hard for next year. i wish we could host a nike combine here in the winter or spring to get to see recruits around the east coast. i also beleive syracuse needs to make a commitment to the football program and invest in the facilities. su needs to be agressive and invest in all there athletic programs heading into the acc conference.

  6. DA says:

    Ron, Its those intangibles that the star system can’t quantify and where it comes up shortest. Great players are often not made based on talent alone – but sometimes the stars can describe how a player uses his intangibles to get the most of his talent. Its inexact undoubtedly.

  7. Terry says:

    You can’t build a constant winning program on 2 star players. Other words Alabama, ND, LSU,Floria, Florida ST, Ohio St, Mich, Penn St, USC,Oregon and etc would sit in their offices and fax to every 2 star kid out there. It does not work out that way. Even if SU kept-ed the verballed kids before the dougie dump SU would only be in the mid 60′s which is shameful and you know that. SU has to get to at least the 40′s to compete for an ACC champ let alone a NC. A rating of 71 to me for SU is not just. I feel its rated to low!! But this coaching crew brought in some better talent. At one time, many moons ago SU was a top 25 raked team(recruiting). SU is a long way from there. But still give SU a smattering of 4/5 stars any time in order to constantly win.

  8. Chris says:

    Bosie does it and they smothered some impressive teams. To get higher ranked recruits, to get higher ranked recruits douche fans have to shut up, I mean the team has to win. And the only way they’ll win is by having a quality coach which we do. Some of you act like it easy to sway recruits to come to the cold north east with a half filled. Get real, if we win with 2 and 3 stars I could care less

  9. OrangeCrush27 says:

    Agreed Chris. Well put.

    It’s all about coaching players. It’s always nice to get some 4-5 star players, but that’s not what ‘Cuse gets.

    Besides, how many 4-5 star players in the history of the ratings system have bombed when they have gotten to college???

  10. Russell MacEachern says:

    I have a hunch were not going to be seeing many more football articles soon untill the spring practice and game…boy talking hoops all the times gonna be boring for me as I love football!!

  11. Russell MacEachern says:

    Like Chris says u can win with 2/3 star players like BSU but if you can stockpile good 3s with good coaching u can be a top 25 team and in the BCS mix yearly esp in a watered down ACC!!Only FSU and Clemson recruit on a higher level!!MD w/Locksley’s worked magic as Edsall is a lousy recruiter!!Locksley saved REs job!!

  12. Derek says:

    I guess we just offered a stud running back in IL for 2014, Matt Domer. It’s good to see the recruiting cycle start again.

    Anyways, how much do you figure bringing in so many JUCO kids affect the rankings? I mean, while a lot of them will make an immediate impact, they’re not always rated and, if they are, not necessarily highly.

  13. BigDip says:

    1. Syracuse.com article on STAR system was great! DA…this ain’t ya best work, but anyway.. unlike this ARTICLE/post, it showed SU 2-3-4-5 star players: comparing ALL PROS vs ncaa AAU & their ratings. It was informative, unlike this post by the fuzz. Try making comparisons to what SU HAS DONE WITH THE 2* ATHLETES THAT HAVE COMMITtED.

    1b. Art Jones 2* (superbowl champ) & Chand Jones 2* .. SU has a history of over achieving, so when a reporter doubts the “hype” of SU recruits, he’s actually done an injustice to the fanbase….those recruits are being added to a 8-5 team w/ key pieces returning! As fans we believe until it isn’t possible that the BCS Championship is attainable! Whether our recruits are collectively #1 or #102… SU HAS won with every team its fielded! Nobodys losing sleep for anything..those our,our guys now… real fans have accepted this, and can’t wait til
    Summer ’13.

  14. Ron says:

    @Russell MacEachern;

    If all else fails Russell,we’ll have our gardening to talk about. That should drive some crazy.

    But on more serious subject matter,football. Coach McDonald has in his sights on a 4* DE/LB out of New Jersey for 2014. The article on this kid was run I think 2 weeks ago and said he will enter his senior year in the fall. He plays for one of the power house programs and I guess this kid is legit.

    Based on past experiences Russell you and I will always carry a conversation and it really doesn’t matter what the subject is. We’ll make it through the down time. keep the faith bro.

  15. Ron says:

    @Russell MacEachern;

    Russell with fellow posters like Derek and Bigdip keeping us informed about who Syracuse is going after for 2014,should keep us busy until spring practices start. I’m looking forward to the Spring Football Game.

    I’ve had the opportunity to talk with John Kinder and some of the other players over the last couple of weeks and they’re all saying that they love the new coaching staff. They start team get togethers today with the team meeting in the weight room for conditioning and that the team is very young this year. Without missing a beat,their attitudes are very positive and all are looking forward to the 2013 season.

    If all else fails Russell, we can talk about the possibility of going to the Penn State game together at MetLife Stadium on August 31st. Everything goes in cycles Russ, we’ll be ok,just remember you and I have friends here that will get us fired up,that will get us through the down times. Stay positive old friend,stay positive.

  16. Smitty Section 129 says:

    Lets start making predictions on who will be the starting QB, next year. I truly believe that either Hunt or Kinder will start next year. I have yet to see Wilson or Kimble play yet so time will tell but it is rare for a non redshirting freshman to come in and start at QB. I do recall a few years ago when I attending a spring game and I thought Charlie Loeb clearly out played Nassib so maybe Loeb is the guy. Time will tell.

  17. Terry says:

    Chris says “if we win with 2/3 stars I could care less”. Well history says your partly right. You will win part of the time. Yeah you will win 6/7 times a year. And yes you will have the “OZ” year and maybe win in double figures. With a short shot at a NC!! But the majority of the time you’ll have losing seasons. The top schools don’t look for 2 stars players. I believe SU will not get back to the late 50′s early 60′s for awhile!! But that’s my dream. I’m tried of average! The last 20 yrs or so we have been below average at times. Talent will defeat average a great majority of time!! It will take more wins(a gamble with majority of 2 star players) and much better talent/coaching to get back to OZ!!

    Russ keep reminding DA about the lack of SUFB articles. Hell the SUBB stuff was there in July 2012. Yes now I’m into SUBB, but SUFB is my first passion. Any kind of info is something.

    Also why does a SUFB player disappear if academics is an issue while SUBB players come back and forth from the team!!

  18. Shane says:

    Lets put the star system to perspective. The under armor game has been around since 2008… 240 kids have played in the game from 2008-2010. You know how many have been drafted? A total of 18 or 7.5%.

  19. Ron says:

    @Russell MacEachern;

    Well Russ i guess the recruiting game for the 2014 class has started. I’ve come across three names that Syracuse I guess has already made offers too.

    a) OL David Beedle out of Michigan
    b) WR/DB Juwann Winfree (Dwight Morrow High School) in NJ.
    c) RB Naesean Howard (top prospect out of Syracuse area) attends West Genesee High School in Camillus NY.

    Terry the last recruit should make you very happy. I will have to attend some of their games to see what this kid has and hope they make the Sectional Playoffs come November. Hope he lives up to his billing.

  20. Chris says:

    @Terry Bosie state 12 straight winning season TCU 8 straight, 2 and three stars. We are a north eastern team, we will never be Alabama we don’t have the money or the fan support. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for you to grasp that we are blessed to have an average team as opposed to a bottom feeder of the sun belt. We will get the occasional 4 star but never will we be a Alabama or Oregon.

  21. Ron says:

    @Chris;

    Terry doesn’t seem to understand the fact that we already have 4* athletes on the team.
    past players
    Marcus Sales was a 4* receiver coming out of CBA in Syracuse.
    Greg Paulis a 4* athlete out of CBA.

    Current players
    Ron “Sugar Bear Thompson” 4* tight end out of Michigan.
    Quinti Funderburk 4* receiver transferred in from VA.
    Ashton Brould 4* pure athlete from Rochester NY
    John Raymon 4* DE transferred in from Iowa

    I know it’s not a team full of 4 star athletes but we do have them.

    I just want to repeat myself by saying to everyone that this team has a ton of talent. The 2013 season is going to be awesome baby,just awesome. Clemson should be worried about coming North to play Syracuse in the dome. Why you ask? MAJOR UPSET,start thinking about the Nebraska game and how Syracuse didn’t have a chance in hell against the #1 team in the land.

  22. Ron says:

    @Terry;

    I know that I’m beating a dead horse here,but I wanted to show the difference between Tyler Rouse and Naesean Howard.

    As we all know Tyler didn’t get any DI offers to play football until the very end when Boston College came to his rescue.

    Look at the schools that have already offered a scholarship to Naesean Howard,Syracuse, Boston College, Buffalo, Connecticut, Nebraska, Penn State, Utah,and it’s only February.

    Can you see the difference Terry?

  23. Ron says:

    @Russell MacEachern;

    Hey Russell this Juwann Winfree kid out of NJ looks like he’s a pretty good football player with the following schools already after him. Maryland, Old Dominion, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse.

    Looks like a good old fashioned battle is starting to brew with all of the major NE Schools offering him already. Should be fun to watch this one all season long.

  24. Terry says:

    We’ll see on the field if there’s a difference=Mr RONETTE!!

  25. Ron says:

    @Terrie;

    Had to start again didn’t you? Your never going to change and how sad it is to be you.

    I know one thing Tyler Rouse will never get 50-60 touches in DI football no matter what school he play’s for Terrie.

  26. Russell MacEachern says:

    Ron,yea Im familiar with Juwan Winfree thru the Jersey papers and on RUs board as he goes to their Big Mans Camp every summer!!He’s from Englewoods Dwight Morrow HS butI doubt either us or any team in our area including RU will get him but who knows if we use McD to recruit him!!RU in January got a RB from Fla’s Palmetto HS in Tampa area to verbal for next year….5’10″185 lbs the #4 rb in next years Fla class supposedly?4* I think?Im looking forward to spring practice as HCSS should let u and the Press in Haha!!Glad DMs paranoia is “gone fishing”lol..in Buffalo..

  27. Ron says:

    @Russell MacEachern;

    Here’s the kid I was telling you about earlier Russell. Syracuse is going hard after this 4* athlete.

    Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic defensive end Kurt Holuba is starting to see his recruitment take off. In the past month he had added a few offers and one of them came from Syracuse.

    I guess our new coaching staff isn’t afraid to go into the lions den and try getting some of those recruits. Let’s all hope that they’re successful.

  28. Ron says:

    When I read an earlier article on the DE Kurt Holuba that Syracuse is going after,I thought the article indicated that he was a 4* athlete.

    I looked at CuseNation.com and found that the kid is NR.

    here are the schools that have offered early for Kurt. Boston College, Massachusetts, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse.

    I apologize for the mis-information guys. That goes for you to Terrie.

  29. Russell MacEachern says:

    (contd)…his name is Joshua Hicks!!

  30. Russell MacEachern says:

    Yes Ron his two younger brothers I think or cousins/uncles? went to RU,I vaguely remember the eastern European name….Im not sure he’ll commit before summer cause I think he wants to make some visits but he’d be a GREAT get!!Lets hope they dont give up our NYC pipeline or like DM concede NJ!!I think thats the key….we’ve been cursed since we quit on NJ!!

  31. Russell MacEachern says:

    Ron,I dont think the ACC realizes or respects how good or tough nosed we actually are!!There in for a big surprise tho we may take a yr or two to hit our stride esp at QB!!BE football is better than people realize “Louisville thrashes Florida” and we were 4-0 against the ACC last season and have an overall winning record against the SEC(BE) since “98″!!

  32. Russell MacEachern says:

    Ron,I meant 4-0 against the SEC not ACC last year,pardon me!!

  33. Ron says:

    @Russell MacEachern;

    Good post(all of them)Russ and thanks for the information. I agree that Syracuse isn’t going to be the push-over that everyone seems to think.
    Syracuse was damn good when they went into NJ and recruited that state heavy. Let’s all hope that they can be successful and start bringing some of those kids back to the dome to play.

  34. Russell MacEachern says:

    Ron,ur not wrong on Kurt Holuba Ron he just has’nt been rated yet he’ll be a high 3* or a low 4*…..sometimes the recruiting sites are a little behind the schools this early in the process so no apology was neccessary on the Bergen Cath. powerhouse star….they beat DonBosco last season and UConn and RUs sites rave about him!!btw Miami Central HS comes to NJ in Sept to play Bosco who ducks NO ONE…the pride of NJ HS football!!

  35. Ron says:

    When I first read about him I thought that they had already rated him a 4* and was surprised when I looked at CuseNation.com and found that he hadn’t been rated yet. He looks to be a stud Russell. It’s early in the season,and with the names that is getting listed that Syracuse is going after is impressive. Let’s all hope that they are successful and bring home some of these big name athletes this year for the 2014 class.

  36. Russell MacEachern says:

    Ron,Im not looking for miracles just 2 or 3 NJ 3*types to break the ice….getting only one or two leftovers from NJ every now and then aint good enough for us in that rich SU footprint…I dont expect anymore than BC or UConn there…we have to be respected and relevant their or why bother playing there?

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