The Fault in Our Stars


How would former Trojans be ranked according to recruiting ‘experts?’

Photo Courtesy of The Ohio State University Had recruiting ratings been around in the 1950s, former Trojan running back Bob Ferguson (46) almost certainly would have been a five-star recruit.


Anthony Weber | Troy Daily News Had recruiting ratings been around in the 1990s, former Trojan Kris Dielman (68), who went on to play in five Pro Bowls, likely would have been woefull underrated.


Photo Courtesy of the University of Michigan Recruiting experts likely would have held former Trojan Gordon Bell’s height against him had such services existed in the 1970s.


Stephen Shaner | Troy Daily News Former Trojan Ryan Brewer likely would not have received a high recruiting ranking — which fail to measure things like heart and passion — had recruiting services been around when he played for Troy.


By David Fong

[email protected]

TROY — Former Missouri Congressman Willard Vandiver would have fit right in as a college football recruiter in the days before the Internet.

Although some historians doubt the veracity of the tale, it is Vandiver who, in 1899, was credited with giving the state it’s nickname, “The Show Me State,” when he allegedly declared: “”I come from a state that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I’m from Missouri, and you have got to show me.”

Whether it was Vandiver or someone who else who ultimately gave the great state of Missouri its nickname, the underlying theme is the same — some things have to be seen with the naked eye to be believed.

There was a time when college football recruiting was the same way. College coaches would have to see high school players with their own two eyes before offering them a scholarship. The rise of the Internet — and Web-based recruiting services — has drastically changed the way recruiting works … and, in particular, the public’s consumption of college football recruiting.

What was once the sole provenance of underground newsletters and simple word of mouth has exploded online in the past 15 years, as recruiting services that chronicle seemingly every move high school football players make has become big business. Finding out everything you want to know about a highly recruited high school football prospect is just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks away.

There is, however, one problem with these recruiting sites …. accuracy.

Most of the high school recruits listed in recruiting sites are based on tangible measurements such as height, weight, bench press and 40-yard dash times. Often, however, intangible thing — such as mental and physical toughness, leadership ability and understanding of the game of football — are left out of the equation.

This sometimes leads to wildly inaccurate high school football recruit rankings.

For every five-star (the highest ranking given by recruiting services and experts) recruit that reaches his potential, there are many more who never quite live up to expectations. Also, nearly every college football roster is littered with two- and three-star recruits who exceed what is expected of them and go on to excel at the college level and beyond.

In last year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, none of the starters for either team was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. In fact, the average star rating for Super Bowl starters was a paltry 2.4.

Closer to home, a sampling of the recruitment of recent Miami County high school football stars proves just how flawed the system can be.

Perhaps the most famous — and mishandled — recruitment of a county high school football player was that of former Troy High School running back Ryan Brewer. In 1998, Brewer rushed for 2,856 yards in 10 games — then a state single-season rushing record — on his way to earning Mr. Football Ohio honors. Despite his accolades, he was lightly recruited following his senior season.

While recruiting ranking scarcely existed 18 years ago — the Internet, home of nearly all of the current high school recruiting services and experts, was in its nascent days at the time — few college coaches put much stock in Brewer’s accomplishments at Troy. Most notable among the many colleges that chose to overlook Brewer and not offer him a scholarship was former Ohio State coach John Cooper.

All of which led us to wonder — how would some of Troy’s all-time greats been ranked had recruiting services existed during their respective playing days? We decided to take a look at how we think college recruiting services would have ranked a handful of Troy greats — complete with “star rankings” — had such things existed at the time.

We decided to rank 10 former Trojans — two players each from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. We stopped after the 1990s, as by that time, most recruiting services had started ranking players.

Keep in mind, these rankings are not a reflection of actual abilities or post-high school accomplishments — merely speculation at how these players would have been ranked had “recruiting expert” been an actual job title when they played.

Because really, isn’t the entire process of ranking high school football recruits little more than speculation anyway?

Bob Ferguson (fullback)

Likely rating: ★★★★★

Scout’s Take: Physically, Ferguson — who graduated from Troy High School in 1957 and would go on to be a two-time All-American fullback at The Ohio State University — is the rare player who could have excelled in any era. At 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, his measurables at the running back position are as good today as they were in his heyday. His uncanny blend of power and speed make him a “can’t-miss” prospect in any era.

Max Urick (center/linebacker)

Likely rating: ★★

Scout’s Take: A Trojan Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Urick — a center and linebacker known by teammates as “The Babyfaced Assassin” — would have been considered way too small, even by 1950s standards, to be a highly-ranked recruit. Again, all of which just goes to show how flawed recruiting ratings can be, as Urick’s toughness and intelligence wouldn’t have been taken into consideration. Urick would go on to play at Ohio Wesleyan before going on to become a college coach and administrator.

Tommy Myers (quarterback)

Likely rating: ★★★★

Scout’s Take: Here we see yet another problem in the recruiting rankings. While Myers certainly had the skill set to be considered a five-star recruit, most services only hand out a limited number of five-star rankings for any given position. In 1961, Troy’s record-setting quarterback would have been in the same recruiting class as future college quarterbacks John Huarte, the Heisman winner from Notre Dame, Jerry Rhome, the Heisman runner-up from Tulsa, Michigan’s Bob Timberlake and Cal’s Craig Morton. Too much talent, not enough stars.

Tommy Vaughn (flanker)

Likely rating: ★★★★★

Scout’s take: Simply put, Vaughn could do it all. In addition to being a two-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Trojans, he still holds nearly every receiving record in school history. Like Ferguson, he had size and speed that would have allowed him to excel in any era. So good was Vaughn at Iowa State that he was named all-conference on both offense and defense. Until Kris Dielman came along, Vaughn had the longest NFL career of any former Trojan. An easy five-star pick.

Gordon Bell (running back)

Likely rating: ★★★★

Scout’s take: One of the fastest — and quite possibly the quickest — players in Troy history, Bell would go on to become one of the most productive running backs in University of Michigan history. One problem, however … Bell, for all his blazing speed, only stood about 5-foot-8. Recruiting experts almost certainly would have held that against him — because recruiting experts tend to do those sorts of things. His stature keeps Bell — one of the most highly recruited running backs in the Midwest at the time — from getting a fifth star.

Dave Starkey (defensive lineman)

Likely rating: ★★★★★

Scout’s take: Starkey may have been the greatest physical specimen in Troy football history. At 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds — at a time when the average high school lineman was 6 inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter — Starkey could step in and be a five-star recruit in today’s day and age. After receiving offers from every major program in the country, Starkey would go on to the University of Florida, where injuries and disciplinary issues derailed his career — again proving that while recruiting ratings may be an indicator of possible success at the next level, there are no guarantee.

Mike Delwiche (running back)

Likely rating: ★★★

Scout’s take: A nagging hamstring injury his senior year almost certainly would have affected Delwiche’s rating. Those are the types of things that scare off recruiting experts. Delwiche had all the physical gifts to be a four-star running back, but the recruiting services would have held that injury — which forced him to miss significant playing time his senior season — against him. There’s no hiding an injury in today’s Internet age.

Kevin Mescher (tight end/linebacker)

Likely rating: ★★★★

Scout’s take: Recruiting services love “measurable” — things like height and weight and speed. Mescher had all of those and more. At 6-foot-5 and a rock-solid 250 pounds, those who make recruiting ratings would have fallen in love with Mescher had they been around in full-force in the 1980s. College football coaches certainly did, as he had his pick of scholarships. He would eventually choose to play at Stanford.

Ryan Brewer (running back)

Likely rating: ★★★

Scout’s take: Finally, we get to the 1990s — the one decade in Troy football history that truly proves what an inexact science college recruiting can be. Despite the eye-popping numbers Brewer put up on the football field, many college scouts and coaches felt he was “too small” and/or “too slow” to play big-time college football. Brewer, of course, would prove them wrong during his career at South Carolina. Still, though, the lack of offers from major programs until late in his senior year would have certainly affected Brewer’s star rating.

Kris Dielman (tight end/linebacker)

Likely rating: ★★★

Scout’s take: Again, another sign of how flawed the recruiting rating system can be. Despite having great measurables, Dielman would have been dinged by recruiting experts for lack of production at tight end — despite the fact Troy rarely threw the ball during his career. He didn’t play linebacker until his senior year, which would have meant there wasn’t enough “tape” of him playing defense to appease the experts. Again, though, the recruiting ratings don’t take into account things like heart, passion or toughness — all of which Dielman had by the bushel. Which is why Dielman would have gone on to become a five-time Pro Bowl selection for the San Diego Chargers, regardless of what some recruiting services thought of him.

Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong

Photo Courtesy of The Ohio State University Had recruiting ratings been around in the 1950s, former Trojan running back Bob Ferguson (46) almost certainly would have been a five-star recruit.
http://tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_ferguson_action.jpgPhoto Courtesy of The Ohio State University Had recruiting ratings been around in the 1950s, former Trojan running back Bob Ferguson (46) almost certainly would have been a five-star recruit.

Anthony Weber | Troy Daily News Had recruiting ratings been around in the 1990s, former Trojan Kris Dielman (68), who went on to play in five Pro Bowls, likely would have been woefull underrated.
http://tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_dielman_action.jpgAnthony Weber | Troy Daily News Had recruiting ratings been around in the 1990s, former Trojan Kris Dielman (68), who went on to play in five Pro Bowls, likely would have been woefull underrated.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Michigan Recruiting experts likely would have held former Trojan Gordon Bell’s height against him had such services existed in the 1970s.
http://tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_bell_action-1.jpgPhoto Courtesy of the University of Michigan Recruiting experts likely would have held former Trojan Gordon Bell’s height against him had such services existed in the 1970s.

Stephen Shaner | Troy Daily News Former Trojan Ryan Brewer likely would not have received a high recruiting ranking — which fail to measure things like heart and passion — had recruiting services been around when he played for Troy.
http://tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_brewer-4.jpgStephen Shaner | Troy Daily News Former Trojan Ryan Brewer likely would not have received a high recruiting ranking — which fail to measure things like heart and passion — had recruiting services been around when he played for Troy.
How would former Trojans be ranked according to recruiting ‘experts?’
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