For those of you old or cultured enough to fondly recall the Rocky & Bullwinkle show, you will doubtlessly recall Mr. Peabody & Sherman, his trusty companion, & their contraption the WABAC Machine. This machine allowed the duo to travel back in time, witnessing historic events as they unfolded right before their very eyes. The twist? The events never went according to history, something always going awry & forcing Peabody & Sherman to intercede in order to keep history on its correct course. This is essentially college football recruiting in a nutshell; great predictions & high hopes, some of which come to fruition, others that simply fall flat of their mark.
It's a fallacious & frankly idiotic process to rank recruiting classes as they are signed. The recruiting services may try as they like but there's no way to predict the future of an 18 year old (although my objective standard of the facial/neck tattoo stands: if you've got ink on your face or neck you have, or will be, incarcerated at one point in your life. Mark it down. Never been wrong...). Look at our neighbors at the Cesspool. Every year U(sic)GA is ranked in the top ten in recruiting classes. What have they won for that? Jack shit. Nada. Nothing. You get nothing for Rivals or Scout declaring that you have the "best recruiting class" in the nation. We won't say it means nothing; there are ancillary benefits (publicity, hype) that come with highly ranked recruiting classes, but college football is about winning games on the field.
So instead of ranking classes as they come in, why not rank them as they leave school? You mean actually looking at how the classes fared on the field? A novel approach & one we'll try here with the Tech class of 2005. How did this class fare & how did they stack up against the recruiting rankings?
Just to be clear, we're using the Rivals database on recruits. It's not the greatest standard but it is a standard which is constant & we can access. So what about the class of 2005? Well, first & foremost many of them can lay claim to the 2009 ACC Championship & a berth in the Orange Bowl, Tech's first ever BCS bowl. Well done, gentlemen. Overall, they had a five year record (have to account for the redshirt year) of 43-23 (.65 winning %), playing for two conference championships (2006, 2009) & as we said earlier, winning one. They were a disappointing 1-4 versus U(sic)GA & lost all five of the bowl games they played in. Overall, their accomplishments were certainly above average.
According to Rivals, in 2005 we signed 19 players: 7 three star (***) players & 12 two-star (**) athletes. Let's take a look & them individually & see how they ended up:
- Anthony Barnes (***): did not enroll until 2006 & the only one of this class with eligibility left. May benefit from our switch to a 3-4. Has seen some but not much time on defense while at Tech but has been a special teams contributor.
- Jake Blackwood (**): Son of former Dolphin great Glen. Rarely played except on special teams.
- Matt Braman (**): Linebacker from Colorado was never really a factor at Tech.
- Tony Clark (***): played DB until his senior year in 2008 when he moved to Wolf. A steady if limited contributor over his career. 2008 was certainly his best year.
- Randall Cox (**): offensive lineman that we can't seem to remember. We think he transferred to Florida State. Any help would be great????
- Trey Dunmon (**): offensive lineman transferred to Georgia Southern with the arrival of CPJ. Had some not so nice things to say on Facebook after our Orange Bowl loss this year.
- Martin Frierson (**): contributor on special teams while at Tech.
- Jonathan Garner (***): QB was probably this classes most highly sought after player. Transferred to Marshall after his redshirt freshman year.
- Jason Hill (**): just graduated this winter. A backup at OL & DL during his time at Tech.
- Cordero Howard(**): one of the gems of this class. Two-time all-ACC performer at guard. We've since recruited 2 other players to Tech from his high school. Under appreciated during his time on the Flats.
- Michael Johnson (***): from three star tight end to All-American defensive end. #93 was a beast in all facets of the game, including special teams. His two sacks late in the game against Maryland to preserve the win & the pick 6 against Miami on Thursday night are great memories.
- Will Miller(**): offensive lineman didn't play after 2006 due to a knee injury.
- Colin Peek(***): tight end who transferred to Alabama upon CPJ's arrival. Has a nice big ring from 2009. Why some Tech fans hold a grudge we can't understand: he's a tight end & we don't use a tight end. What was he supposed to do?
- Brad Sellers (**): entered as a defensive end & ended up as a starting offensive tackle. Starter on this season's ACC championship team.
- Greg Smith(***): WR contributed early but role decreased upon CPJ's arrival. Transferred to Jacksonville State after the 2008 season.
- Taalib Tucker (**): played sparingly as a true freshman. Left the team after spring practice 2007.
- Dan Voss (**): started at center in 2008 & then capably backed up in 2009. Never complained & was the consummate team player after losing training camp battle to Sean Bedford. We'll always hold him in high regard for that....and his completely pimptastic mustache groom on the Jumbotron during player introductions. That sir, was high cotton....
- Vance Walker(**): as under-rated a player as we can remember at Tech. Twice All-ACC, he made every player around him better. Used leverage & played as hard & smart as any DT we can remember. Hopefully as time passes he will be remembered as a great player on the Flats...
- Jahi Word-Daniels (***): a solid cover corner whose injury in 2008 really hurt us down the stretch. Steady if unspectacular starter. Certainly one of the better players of this class.
Well, that's all 19. It's admittedly hard to judge this class based on attrition due to the coaching change; 7 of the 19 original signees either transferred or quit playing football while they had eligibility remaining. Of the other twelve, six started at one time in their career for an extended period (Howard, Johnson, Voss, Word-Daniels, Walker, & Sellers) & three were TWICE named ALL-ACC (Howard, Johnson, & Walker). Three are currently on NFL rosters (Johnson, Walker, & Word-Daniels) while two others (Howard & Peek) have a shot at playing in the League.
What's it all really mean? Well, it means that we won an ACC Championship with no four star players for one thing. And of our three all-conference players in the class one had three stars while the other two were meager two star guys. I guess what we're trying to say is relax about the recruiting rankings, they really don't matter too much. We're not saying talent isn't important; it is tremendously so. We love coach Groh's mantra: "coach's with schemes & no talent are coaches of unimportant teams". Very true. Talent is a key, one of many, to winning. What we're trying to get at is that our staff knows the talent that they want & are better able evaluate talent than the rest of us. That's why we buy tickets & they stand on the sideline. And one last illustration:
This baby faced 18 year-old....
Became this quarterback terrorizing 22 year-old MAN....
That about sums it up.....