Take a look inside how the recruiting services operate

On the eve of national signing day, this is an appropriate time to look back at a project I completed this time last year.

With all the focus placed on football recruiting, I thought it was important to look at the growing influence of the news services that feed the interest. So I wrote a multi-story package that ran before last signing day.

Take a look back since the idea behind remains relevant this year.

Story 1: Science of the stars

Not too long ago, Scott Kennedy’s friends thought he went nuts.

Follow recruiting?

As a career?

“Flash forward about five or six years and my friends’ wives are asking me where Terrelle Pryor was going to school,” Kennedy said.

And so the machine turns.

As the director of scouting at one of the two empires to college recruiting knowledge — Scout.com — the former high school soccer player and self-described “football geek” helped turn a hobby into a national obsession.

Annual subscriptions can run upwards of $100 for all the latest information, evaluations and insider information regarding the college decision-making process for 16-, 17- and 18-year-old blue-chip football and basketball players.

Click here to read the whole story.

Story 2: Coaches hope their puppies will hunt

TUSCALOOSA — The ink was barely dry on the 2010 signing class when Nick Saban stepped to the podium last February.

His preemptive strike was planned well in advance. He wasn’t waiting to face a single question about the strength of his latest recruiting class at the signing day news conference.

Saban said it was too early to claim victory or defeat with the 18 players who faxed their futures to Tuscaloosa that Wednesday morning.

Champions aren’t crowned by simply adding up stars on a website.

“Every year, I try to come up with some analogy to sort of put in perspective how you should rate recruiting classes,” Saban said that afternoon. “If we went out to buy a hunting dog and it was a puppy, we would buy it based on its potential, its lineage or whatever you want to call it in terms of breeding, and we would know probably when that dog grew up whether it was a good hunting dog or not. We’d never know until we put him out in the field and saw him actually go hunting, but we would buy it without knowing for sure what that result would be.

“I think recruiting is not an exact science and it takes about two years to really evaluate whether you had a good recruiting class or not.”

Click here for the rest.

Story 3: Saban’s 2008 recruiting class proved fruitful

TUSCALOOSA — The two main recruiting services don’t always agree, but there was a solid consensus achieved two years ago.

Nick Saban was sitting on a gold mine.

His signing class of 2008 sat atop both Scout.com and Rivals.com rankings of recruiting classes. The group was stockpiled with big-name prospects such as Julio Jones and Mark Barron.

But since the class also included a few high-profile misses, it’s an interesting study in how recruiting services can hit some spot-on and miss completely on others.

Rivals assigned just three stars to both Marcell Dareus and junior-college transfer Terrence Cody. Both were stars as Cody went in the second round of last year’s NFL draft and Dareus is expected to go in the first round this year.

Then there is the case of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram — a three-star player coming out of Flint, Mich., according to Scout.

Click here to read the rest.

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