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Recruiting rankings predict National Champions… But there’s a catch

Recruiting rankings predict National Champions… But there’s a catch

Most people are either all the way in or all the way out on recruiting rankings. There are plenty of examples as to why they matter, as well as plenty of cases where players and teams either outperform or underperform based on recruiting rankings. Recently, these rankings have been a fairly accurate predictor of who can compete for a national championship. Each of the last six national champions had a four-year average recruiting rank in the top 10.

Now, let’s take a look at this year’s college football playoff teams and how they fared over the past four years on the recruiting trail.

Using rivals.com-recruiting rankings beginning in 2014, Alabama had classes ranked 1, 2, 1, 1. Tough math here, but that should give us an average just a shade higher than 1.

Georgia’s classes ranked 7, 6, 9, 3, yielding an average just greater than 6.

Clemson had classes of 13, 4, 6, 22, which results in an average rank a little higher than 11.

Finally, Oklahoma had classes of 15, 14, 16, 7, giving the Sooners a four-year average recruiting rank of 13.

For those keeping count, that gives Alabama and Georgia four-year recruiting averages inside the top 10, with Clemson and Oklahoma finishing just outside.

SEC fans will love those numbers, but there’s one important thing to remember as we look at these four teams.

The Heisman Trophy winner walked on at Oklahoma. Recruiting rankings don’t account for a walk-on Heisman Trophy winner at the most important position on the field.

Can OU buck the trend of top-10 recruiting teams winning the National Championship? If they do, look no further than Baker Mayfield, who no one could have predicted would turn in to the elite player Georgia will face on January 1st.

 

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