It happens every year. While the leading recruiting services usually come to some agreement on the top 100 football players in the nation, it never fails that a few fall through the cracks. One service will rate a prospect in the top 10 while another won't even rate the same player in the top 100.
For example, recruiting analyst Tom Lemming rates C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg as the No. 13 player in the nation. But Rivals rates the Illinois-bound tight end as the No. 108 prospect. A few months ago, he wasn't even rated in Rivals' top 200.
Even more glaring, Lemming rates Christian Lombard of Fremd as the No. 30 player in the country. But Rivals doesn't even rank the Notre Dame-bound offensive lineman among its top 250 senior prospects.
It goes a long way in explaining why one service rates one way while another service rates another way, how analysts evaluate players, the politics involved in the system.
At some point down the line, Lemming believes the other services finally will realize what he has believed since he first saw Fiedorowicz and Lombard, that they are big-time players and are well deserving of their lofty rankings.
"They'll see what I see," Lemming said. "They'll see it but they'll see it later than I did. Eventually, Fiedorowicz will rank where I have him. They will see a great athlete, a 6-7, 252-pound kid with 4.6 speed. The athletic ability is there. I saw all the tight ends in the country and no one is as good as him.
"I don't know how many saw him or just talked to him on the phone. Some ranked a kid in Las Vegas as the No. 1 tight end but C.J.'s statistics are better in one year than that kid's in two years. C.J. has production and four-sport athleticism and size, everything to be a great one."
Lemming cautions that Fiedorowicz isn't a finished product yet. "He is someone great to build on. He has to be coached. He doesn't know how to block yet. But the only thing that will hold him back is himself. He must put in an effort. He can 't stay stay the same as a college senior as he was in high school."
Lombard is a victim of circumstances. According to Lemming, he committed too early to get rated highly. And he ruffled some feathers. When he committed in January at the U.S. Army All-America Game in San Antonio, he had 24 scholarship offers. At the time, the next closest player in Chicago was Fiedorowicz with seven.
"Once a kid commits, everybody stops talking about him and he usually gets dropped in the rankings," Lemming said. "I've seen Lombard play in six games in person. He dominated as a sophomore and more as a junior. One Pac-10 coach said he was better than Seantrel Henderson (the top-rated player in the class of 2010) on film. He has great athletic ability."
Another reason why Lombard fell out of favor in the minds of some services is he opted to make his oral commitment at the U.S. Army combine (to Lemming) and didn't bother to inform the other services.
But Lombard, like Fiedorowicz, isn't a finished product. "He must work on his strength in college. He will benefit from a red-shirt year. It would be a mistake if he isn't red-shirted," Lemming said.