Talent is in the eye of the beholder. That's why, it seems to me, that it is always fascinating to examine how the major recruiting services establish their top 100 rankings in football and basketball.
Take the case of Mount Carmel linebacker Steve Filer.
According to CSTV's Tom Lemming, Filer is the No. 35 player in the country.
He is No. 72 on Scout's list.
He is No. 115 on ESPN's list.
He is No. 143 on Rivals' list.
In fact, Filer dropped 100 spots on Rivals' list after what they determined was a "lacklustre performance" at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this month.
"There were seven linebackers on the East squad and (Filer) was clearly No. 7," e-mailed Mike Farrell, Rivals' national football recruiting analyst. "When going against top competition as he did in San Antonio, his limited lateral quickness was exposed a bit so we had him overrated. We saw him in practice all week and in the game itself so we had plenty of time to evaluate him."
Farrell's comment about Filer being "overrated" was a reference to Rivals' earlier evaluation that the 6-3 220-pound Notre Dame-bound linebacker was rated No. 1 in Illinois by Rivals' Chicago-based analyst, Tim O'Halloran aka Edgytim.
"I did see Filer at Soldier Field for the tripleheader (in August) but I felt that Darius Fleming (of St. Rita) was the best player I saw that day and reported as much," Farrell e-mailed. "Our rankings process is a cooperative effort so no one person makes these decisions."
Farrell also pointed out that despite being dropped to the No. 143 spot in Rivals' rankings, "(Filer) still is very highly thought of and is a top 10 player at his position."
Lemming, who is often accused of being a Notre Dame booster (which he vehemently denies), claims Filer is getting a bad rap, that he is a victim of the politics that are played by some recruiting services.
"At San Antonio, Filer played out of position at outside linebacker. The East squad didn't have enough outside linebackers so Filer volunteered to play the position. He had only four days to learn the position, a position he had limited knowledge of," Lemming said.
"Based on his production in the game, I gave him a B-plus grade. It's ridiculous for a player to be dropped 100 spots on the basis of one game. It almost seems personal. You should never go by the performance in one game, especially when a kid plays only one-third of the game. Reggie Bush, Mitch Mustain and Brady Quinn had bad games at San Antonio but they didn't get dropped."
Lemming noted that Filer had an outstanding season and was named Gatorade's Player of the Year in Illinois.
But politics play a role in some evaluations. If a player doesn't attend a certain summer camp, he can risk being dropped in a recruiting service's ratings. They don't talk about it but some services favor certain colleges while some purposely devalue the classes at certain colleges.
Lemming said T.J. Prunty of Hargrave Military Institute in Virginia, who coached the East squad, praised Filer's play. "He was tentative early because he was learning a new position but he got better as the week progressed. He played well in the game," Prunty said.
"Obviously, Rivals didn't see what I did," Lemming said. "Filer did nothing to warrant being dropped 100 spots in their ratings."