The old-fashioned way

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Some critics argue that I evaluate high school football players "the old-fashioned way," that I'm a relic of the past, that the way it was done 30 years ago hasn't kept up with the times, that today's methods are better.

Well, I take it as a compliment when they say that. Why? Because that's the way the NFL does it, the way I've been doing it for 30 years. The NFL goes out and sees kids in person and evaluates them. Today, Internet services call kids on the phone and talk to them and wait for film to be delivered to them.

The best way to evaluate a prospect is to go to a kid's high school and analyze his film with him and his coach then get views from other coaches in the area for a consensus. Collective opinions are better than individual opinions.

Sure, recruiting isn't an exact science. Ratings are done for fun. That's how people should look at them. Fans want to know where a kid is leaning and what school he is going to. And that is what Internet sites are geared to do. That's how they generate money. They aren't geared to evaluate how good a prospect is.

I have an advantage because I'm out there all year and I see film. I'm the only one who sees 99 percent of the top players in the nation. I'm not bragging but I'm on the road for five months. I don't have a family life. I see everybody in person and on film. I gear my work more to the evaluation process, not to where a kid is going to school.

Internet services watch film and make phone calls. No one person sees all the players. I only talk to a kid once or twice a year, not daily or weekly as some Internet sites do. My thing is evaluating them and ranking them and talking about them.

The star system is a popularity contest. Kids often are assigned stars based on the college they signed with. A kid can go from two to four stars because he signed with Notre Dame or USC or Alabama or Texas or Ohio State. It validates his stars more than his production.

I am guilty of it. Sometimes when I see a kid is signed by USC and I had him with three stars, I think I should re-evaluate him because USC has its pick of anybody. USC doesn't have to sign three-star players.

For example, quarterback Peter Thomas of El Cajon, Calif., was listed by most services as a two-star player. But I loved him on film. He had no offers when I gave him four stars. Now he is going to Arizona State. No one else rated him so highly. But now he will go up on the charts because he is going to Arizona State.

Last fall, I gave Maine South quarterback Charlie Goro four stars when he had no offers. Then he started to get some offers but Vanderbilt was the only big one. But his stature was raised by other services. He chose Vanderbilt.

I've been doing this for more than 30 years. When I see a kid and I like him, regardless if he has any offers or not, if he has size and fits that position and has good production, I will give him four or five stars.

What is my star system all about?

Five stars is for somebody who will play instantly in college. He should be an impact player. He won't sit on the bench as a freshman.

Four stars plus is a player who shows five-star ability but isn't quite there yet.

Four stars is a player who can come in and red-shirt and be a three or four-year starter. He is a year away from being a college starter. But he has the potential to be a five-star player.

Three star plus is an overachiever. He may have normal size and speed but he has great production. He is another Mike Singletary. He has a three-star body but a five-star mind. He plays like a five-star player but doesn't have the size that colleges are looking for.

Three star is a Division I player.

Two star is a player with Division I potential but he isn't at that level yet.

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6 Comments

A player under the radar is #7 at St. Patrick, WR Tim Pennino. He is a the very least a two star. Last year St. Pats ran a double wing offense, and wideouts were basically downfield blockers. This year the Shamrocks will throw the ball alot. Tim gets to go up against Corey Cooper Aug. 29 at Proviso East. If you get to see it, you will see a very good player.

Any word on a running back I saw in last year's state playoffs his name was Horatio Banks of Simeon in Chicago,Il. This kid had i74 yards on 7 carries with 2 touchdowns.I believe the game was Naperville South vs Simeon of Chicago a class 8A or 7A division.

Tom,

It is great to read your posts! High school football is only a few weeks away from starting. I can't wait to see some of the top ranked players in actual games. But I admit to enjoying seeing the guys you call 3 Star players raise up their level of play. I look forward to more of your posts. Here's to a terrific 2009 season!

I don't know what T.F. South linebacker's name is but he is was a soph. starting both ways on varsity. Excellent run stopper and explosive at point of attack.

Tom,

Out of curiosity, do you have a accuracy scorecard of how you rated players in HS and how they actually fared in college? I realize what you do is not a science and is subjective, but I would be fascinated to see your track record. Obviously, you do a pretty darn good job or you wouldn't have had the longevity and reputation that you have had in the recruiting business. Thanks.

Do you only rate high schools that are 5A and higher. Do you consider the ones below in class 4A,3A etc.? After all Elgin News is a suburban area surrounded westbound by smaller towns!

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on July 29, 2009 4:42 PM.

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