The early National Signing Day for 2018 is coming up on Wednesday, and we — like everyone else — are throwing around a lot of "star" ratings these days.
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 the old NCAA Football video games — 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 Composite Rating
This is the number you see most often around CougCenter. 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 247Sports' Composite Rating for our standard rating of a player since it takes all the major recruiting services into account and is the simplest idea to communicate. When you read us referring to a player as a "composite [x]-star" recruit, this is what we mean:
The 247 Composite 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.
In addition to a composite rating, 247 comes up with its own rating from its own scouts that factors into the composite. If you visit Cougfan.com, you might hear them refer to this — here’s a good example ($) of a time when the 247Sports evaluation differs from the composite.
You might also recall that Cougfan used to be a part of the Scout network — 247Sports acquired Scout, and their two sets of talent evaluators merged. Here’s how they rank players, and what their own scouts’ star ratings mean.
Players are first grouped qualitatively with a star rating, then given a numerical rating based on their future potential, and finally ranked according to these numerical ratings.
110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. 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 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.
97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.
89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.
79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.
Something to note: Grouping a certain number of players into a bucket each year ostensibly means that a player who might have been a four-star prospect one year could be a three-star prospect in a different year in which the collective talent level is higher.
The Rivals process is very similar:
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.
Like, 247Sports, Rivals also assigns each player a number in their evaluation. The scale is different, though. Here's what the numbers mean:
6.1 — 5-star/Franchise Player: considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 30-35 players overall, a potential first-team All American candidate and a player deemed to have first round NFL potential.
6.0-5.8 — 4-star/All American Candidate: considered one of the next-tier elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 300-325 prospects overall, a national All American candidate and a player deemed to have first to third round NFL potential
5.7-5.5 — 3-star/All Region Selection: considered among the region’s top prospects and generally among the nation’s top 800-850 prospects overall, a potential All-Conference candidate and a player deemed to have mid to low-end pro potential and ability to impact at the college level.
5.2-5.4 — 2-star/Low End FBS prospect: considered a mid-major prospect with limited pro potential and expected to contribute 1-2 years at a high level maximum or often as a role player.
Related: WSU’s 2019 class via Rivals
The World Wide Leader also assigns each player a number — only this time, it's on a 100-point scale. It’s also flipped from the 247Sports and Rivals process: The number is assigned, then the stars are assigned. So rather than being given stars relative to their peers, players are given a rating against a standard, which means there might not be 30 five-star prospects in a given year.
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.
Related: WSU’s 2019 class via ESPN.com
This article by John Talty at AL.com is a few years old, but is a really excellent read if you’d like to peek behind the curtain of the evaluation process. He has interviews with Brandon Huffman (formerly of Scout, now of 247Sports), JC Shurburtt (247Sports), Tom Luginbill (ESPN) and Mike Farrell (Rivals).