A reader from Los Angeles was curious about what he called my "accuracy scorecard." He wondered what my percentage was for predicting that high school football players would succeed in college. He correctly assumed that it must be within the parameters of acceptability or I wouldn't have been in business for 31 years.
In my opinion, if you hit 50 percent, then you are doing a good job. Remember, I'm dealing with 16- and 17-year-old kids when I rank them. The NFL is lucky to get 50 percent and it is dealing with a much smaller group. I'm dealing with 3 million kids who play high school football.
Normally, I get 50 to 70 percent right each year. It varies from year to year. So many things can happen. Will a kid reach a level of maturity? Will he make grades to qualify for college? Will he suffer injuries? Will he have off-the-field problems? You're dealing with a lot of things that could go wrong, things that could turn a potential superstar into a non-qualifier.
As fans, you can't get too caught up with the process. At this stage, we're dealing with children. Even the greatest player of all time could get hurt. Or the best prospect in the sophomore or junior class might not play up to his potential as a senior or in college.
Remember Boo Boo Thompson of Proviso West? He was a no-brainer, the best defensive lineman in the country coming out of high school. He went to Michigan State. But he had academic problems, then got into personal troubles and never realized his enormous potential.
Or Philip Macklin of Proviso East, the 2001 Player of the Year in the Chicago area. He had bad grades. Now he's in jail.
Ben Olson, a quarterback from Los Angeles who went to Brigham Young, was the No. 1 player in the nation as a senior. But he went on a Mormon mission, didn't play for three years, came back chubby and never fulfilled his potential.
Maurice Clarett was the No. 2 player in the country behind Olson. He went to Ohio State and led the Buckeyes to a national championship as a true freshman. Then he got involved in off-the-field issues and never played another down. He sat out three years, was drafted by the Denver Broncos, reported out of shape and now is in jail.
Faced with those unforeseeable circumstances, I think an "accuracy scorecard" of 50-70 percent is pretty good.