Rivals, Scout, ESPN, 247: Star rating systems explained

Dominique Williams was a consensus three-star recruit in 2011. - William Mancebo

Just what do those stars mean? We explain.

National Signing Day is on the horizon, and we -- like everyone else -- are going to be throwing around a lot of "star" ratings tomorrow.

The star ratings are a quick and dirty way for recruiting services to convey the talent level of a specific recruit, ranging from two stars to five stars. (Don't ask me why there are no one star recruits like on NCAA 13 -- I have no clue.) It's not hard to figure out that more stars are better, but just what do those stars mean? If you're a newbie to recruiting -- or if you've never actually looked into it -- here you go.

The Consensus Rating

This is the number you'll see most often around CougCenter tomorrow. As you'll see shortly, the method behind the madness of star ratings can vary from site to site, never mind the differences in opinion on a particular player. At CougCenter, we have chosen to use 247's Composite Rating for our standard rating of a player since it takes all four major recruiting services into account and is the simplest idea to communicate. When you read us referring to a player as a "consensus [x]-star" recruit, this is what we mean:

The 247Composite Rating is a proprietary algorithm that compiles prospect "rankings" and "ratings" listed in the public domain by the major media recruiting services. It converts average industry ranks and ratings into a linear composite index capping at 1.0000, which indicates a consensus No. 1 prospect across all services.

However, we know that many readers frequent the various services and see the differences. Here's a more detailed breakdown.


Given the preeminence of Cougfan.com in the WSU recruiting sphere, this is the system you likely find yourself looking at most often. The key to remember with Scout is that the number of stars next to a player's name is not reflective of a player's true ability -- it's a reflection of the player's skill level relative to his peers:

Understanding Scout.com's Top 300 is really not that difficult. A five-star rating is awarded to the top 50 prospects. A four-star rating is awarded to a prospect that is considered one of the next 250 best players, ranked No. 51 to 300.

That means a guy who is a three-star recruit in a very deep year, talent wise, might have been a four-star recruit in another year. Or vice versa. Tyler Bruggman is the only WSU recruit rated four stars by Scout.com. There are no five-star players in this class.


Not everyone does it that way. Rivals rates players based on the impact they are expected to have at their new school and their stars are a little more flexible -- and more generous -- than Scout:

A five-star prospect is considered to be one of the nation's top 25-30 players, four star is a top 250-300 or so player, three-stars is a top 750 level player, two stars means the player is a mid-major prospect and one star means the player is not ranked.

Rivals also assigns each player a number in their evaluation. Here's what they mean.

  • 6.1 Franchise Player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation's top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect
  • 6.0-5.8 All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation's top 300 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
  • 5.7-5.5 All-Region Selection; considered among the region's top prospects and among the top 750 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
  • 5.4-5.0 Division I prospect; considered a mid-major prospect; deemed to have limited pro potential but definite Division I prospect; may be more of a role player
  • 4.9 Sleeper; no Rivals.com expert knew much, if anything, about this player; a prospect that only a college coach really knew about
  • Once again, Bruggman is the Cougs' highest rated recruit by Rivals (5.8/four stars), but cornerback Daquawn Brown and defensive tackle Paulo Lepua are right behind (5.7/three stars).


    The Worldwide Leader is a relative newcomer to the recruiting game. Like Rivals, each player is assigned a number -- only this time, it's on a 100-point scale:

    Rare prospects: 100-90 [Five stars]
    These players demonstrate rare abilities and can create mismatches that have an obvious impact on the game. These players have all the skills to take over a game and could make a possible impact as true freshmen. They should also push for All-America honors with the potential to have a three-and-out college career with early entry into the NFL draft.

    Outstanding prospects: 89-80 [Four stars]
    These players have the ability to create mismatches versus most opponents and have dominant performances. These players could contribute as a true freshmen and could end up as all-conference or All-America candidates during their college careers and develop into difference-makers over time.

    Good prospects: 79-70 [Three stars]
    These players show flashes of dominance, but not on a consistent basis -- especially when matched up against the top players in the country. Players closer to a 79 rating possess BCS-caliber ability and the potential to be a quality starter or all-conference player. Players closer to a 70 rating are likely non-BCS conference caliber prospects.

    Solid prospects: 69-60 [Two stars]
    These players are overmatched versus the better players in the nation. Their weaknesses will be exposed against top competition, but have the ability to develop into solid contributors at the non-BCS FBS level and could be a quality fit for the FCS level of play.

    The Cougs have four players rated four stars by ESPN: Junior college transfer Vince Mayle, grayshirt WR Robert Lewis, Bruggman, and linebacker Peyton Pelluer.

    247 Sports

    This is basically the same as Rivals, which should come as no surprise - 247 was founded by the guys who sold Rivals to Yahoo! for a presumably large sum of cash.

    110-101 = A player ranked in this range is a "franchise player." He is one of the best to come along in years - if not decades (LeBron James, Adrian Peterson). Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can't miss" talent.

    100-98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 25 or so prospects in the nation. Player has excellent pro potential, and should emerge as one of the best players in the country before his college career ends.

    97-90 = Four-star prospect. Prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. All-America candidate who displays pro potential. Typically one of the top 300 players in the nation.

    89-80 = Three-star prospect. These are the players who will develop into reliable starters for the college teams. They are among the best players in their region of the country, and are generally among the top 750 players in the nation.

    79-below = Two-star prospect. These players make up the bulk of Division I rosters. They may have little pro potential, are likely to become role players for their respective schools or not enough is known about the prospect to rank them accurately.

    So there you go. While each service is relatively similar, there are some significant differences. Keep that in mind when looking at all those stars tomorrow.

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