Recruiting Rankings 2014: A Long and Winding Road

For years, Aggies have complained about Geoff Ketchum’s ranking gymnastics when it comes to Aggie and Longhorn recruits.

I decided last year to track Billy Liucci and Ketch in their rankings of players. Billy publishes his Top 44 twice a year, once after the recruits’ junior year and again after their senior season. (NOTE: I know Billy is now doing a longer list, but I didn’t have that information when I started this project. In some cases in the analysis that follows, I have referenced Billy’s final version of his Top 114 in 2014 for guys who weren’t in his Top 44). Ketch publishes his Lone Star 100 at various times. I don’t know when he published the debut list, but his updates were on June 28, 2012, February 15, 2013, April 24, 2013, November 28, 2013 and January 30, 2014.

Ketch gets his initial list out there way before Billy and updates it more often, but comparing Billy’s initial list with the Ketch’s February 2013 list and Billy’s update/final list with Ketch’s January 2014 list is probably fair. Both lists come out at about the same time. For purposes of this, I’m going to mention Ketch’s debut and his initial June 2012 update only in passing, as both were published prior to the players’ junior season. The real meat is the rankings from the last 12 months or so.

Let’s start by where they each started last February:

Billy’s Top 10 (February 2013)

1. Hoza Scott
2. Tony Brown
3. Nick Harvey
4. Ed Paris
5. Myles Garrett
6. Derick Roberson
7. Solomon Thomas
8. KD Cannon
9. Davion Hall
10. Demetrius Knox

Ketch’s Top 10 (February 2013)

1. Tony Brown
2. Darrion Johnson
3. Hoza Scott
4. Myles Garrett
5. Jerrod Heard
6. Nick Harvey
7. Derick Roberson
8. KD Cannon
9. Davion Hall
10. Ed Paris

Lots of crossover, but there were some notable differences. Darrion Johnson is Ketch’s second best player in the state, while Billy had him at 25 at this time last year. That’s a huge difference for a player thought by one site to be an elite player. He finished 68 on Ketch’s final list and unranked on Billy’s final list due to grade issues.

The second notable difference is Jerrod Heard, who Billy had at 14 and Ketch had at 5. By that time, Heard was already a Longhorn commit.

Here’s where each finished.

Billy’s Top 10 (February 2014)

1. Myles Garrett
2. Nick Harvey
3. Jamal Adams
4. Tony Brown
5. Solomon Thomas
6. Davion Hall
7. KD Cannon
8. Dylan-Sumner Gardner
9. Edwin Freeman
10. Derick Roberson

Ketch’s Top 10 (February 2014)

1. Myles Garrett
2. Tony Brown
3. KD Cannon
4. Solomon Thomas
5. Demetrius Knox
6. Jerrod Heard
7. Davion Hall
8. Nick Harvey
9. Derick Roberson
10. Jamal Adams

Comparing each site’s list, both hit on seven of his original Top 10. Hoza Scott’s grade issues meant both missed on him. Same goes for Darrion Johnson and Ketch. The misses for Billy were Jamal Adams, Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Ed Freeman, who he started at 18, 42, and 13, respectively, in place of Scott, Ed Paris and Demetrius Knox, who each finished 27, 17 and 20, respectively. The misses for Ketch were Solomon Thomas, Demetrius Knox and Jamal Adams, who he started at 13, 11, and 15, respectively, in place of Johnson, Scott and Ed Paris, who each finished 68, 65 and 12, respectively.

Let’s look into each school’s Texas commits. First, a word about the formatting. The number in parenthesis after each name in the lists below is the number of slots difference between Billy’s final ranking and Ketch’s final ranking. For example, Nick Harvey is +6. That’s Billy’s ranking of 2 as the base line, and Ketch’s 8 as the variable. Billy ranked Harvey 6 slots higher than Ketch.

In general, there are a couple of interesting observations, one that might support the Ketch bias folks and one that might surprise them. First, the only two Aggie commits Ketch ranked higher than Billy in his final rankings are Otaro Alaka and Zaycoven Henderson – both Longhorn commits until late in the game. Conversely, Billy has four Longhorn commits ranked higher than Ketch – Armanti Foreman, Edwin Freeman, John Bonney and Cameron Hampton.

Second, assuming a +/- difference of 10 means Billy and Ketch relatively agree, they disagreed on six Aggies and seven Longhorns. Taking Armanti Freeman out of this mix, who Billy had 12 slots higher than Ketch, you get something really interesting. They’re pretty damn close in their disagreements, in that each gives the benefit of the doubt to their school. Billy, on average ranked the six controversial Aggies 27.2 slots higher than Ketch, and Ketch ranked the controversial Longhorns 27.5 slots higher than Billy.

So, here are the specific commits:

Aggie Commits

Myles Garrett (0) – Billy debuted Garrett at 5 and moved him up to 1. Ketch didn’t have Garrett in his debut list (how in the world do you overlook Myles Garrett?), but by June 2012, Ketch had him at 4 and eventually 1 on the final list. No debate on either list about who was the state’s best recruit.

Nick Harvey (+6) – Billy has always had Harvey in the top 3, bumping him from 3 to 2 when it became obvious Hoza Scott wouldn’t make it in. On Ketch’s June 2012 list, he had Harvey at 2. Harvey committed to A&M on November 27, 2012. Ketch dropped him from 2 to 6 on the next list (February 2013) and subsequently dropped him to 8 in the final list.

Otaro Alaka (-6) – Billy debuted Alaka at 36 and bumped him to 22 after the season. Ketch didn’t have Alaka in his initial list, but had him at 61 on his June 2012 list (before Alaka’s junior season). Alaka jumped from 61 to 21 on February 2013 (after his junior year). Why the 15 spot difference between Billy and Ketch? Could be that Alaka attended UT’s first junior day and got on offer. Ironically, Billy never had Alaka over 22 and Ketch has had him in the Top 20 since last February. The six point difference is noteworthy only because this is one of only two Aggie commits Ketch ranked higher than Billy and because of Alaka’s late switch.

Frank Iheanacho (+4) – Nothing to report here, because Iheanacho literally exploded onto the scene as a senior. Neither Billy nor Ketch had him in their rankings until after his senior year, where he finished at 15 (Billy) and 19 (Ketch).

DaShawn Washington (+11) – Washington wasn’t on Billy’s initial list, but he made a massive leap to 12 in his second list (biggest jump on Billy’s list). Ketch, however, debuted Washington at 17 at about the same time in his February 2013 list. Washington subsequently slid a spot our two in each of the next three updates to finish at 23.

Armani Watts (0) – Watts is another guy who Billy didn’t have on his initial list. Billy put Watts on the list at 25 after his senior year. Ketch moved Watts around a lot, ranging from a high of 65 in the summer before his junior year to a final ranking of 25, landing in the interim at 47, 40, 24 and 25 between February 2013 and February 2014.

Zaycoven Henderson (-6) – Henderson is an interesting case. Recall that Henderson toured the state with commitments before enrolling at A&M. He committed to TCU in March 2013, decommitted from them and committed to the Longhorns in December 2013 and then decommitted again after the Strong hire and finally enrolled at A&M. Billy didn’t have him in his initial Top 44 and slid him in at 39 in his update. Ketch didn’t have him in the LSR 100 for his first two lists before plugging him in at 74 (February 2013) and 63 (April 2013) while he was committed to TCU. In the next list (November 2013), Henderson jumped thirty-one spots to 32. What happened? He became a Longhorn target and committed to them ten days later.

Kealvin Davis (+16) – This is the first of our Aggie commits where we have a little controversy. Billy had Davis at 43 in his initial list and bumped him to 18 in his subsequent list. Ketch started Davis at 46, had him as low as 49 and as high as 29 before landing him at 34 in the final list.

Zach Ledwik (+5) – Ledwik’s story mirrors Iheanacho’s. Neither Billy nor Ketch had Ledwik on their lists until the post-senior year update, where Billy had him at 31 and Ketch had him at 33, initially, and 36 in his final list.

Jarrett Johnson (+14) – Johnson is another funny one. Billy didn’t have Johnson on his initial list, but had him at 24 in his second list. Ketch didn’t have Johnson on his radar until Johnson attended UT’s Junior Day last February, where he received an offer. Coincidently, Johnson showed up at 29 on the February 2013 list. Ketch bumped him to 27 in the April list, before subsequently dropping him to 34 in November and 38 last week. What happened between April and November? He committed to A&M in June.

Koda Martin (+29) – Martin is similar to Davis, in that Billy and Ketch simply do not agree on him, but this is the first of the final three where the difference of opinion is drastic. Billy had Martin at 22 in his initial list and 16 in his final list. Ketch debuted him at 67, had him as high as 36 before landing him at 45 in the final list. Although Martin had a UT offer, I don’t know how much of a player they were for him. had all of one update on him during the past year, so my guess is that they weren’t much of a player. This goes a long way in explaining how a player with on offer list that included Alabama, LSU, OU, and UT could only be the 45th player in the state according to Ketch.

Josh Walker (+40) – Walker is the kid who will get Aggies’ blood boiling at Ketch. It’s been widely known since forever that Walker wanted A&M and A&M wanted Walker. The Longhorns simply were never in the mix for Walker. Billy had him at 21 on both lists. Ketch started him at 52 (one spot behind Longhorn signee Donald Catalon and right in front of three players, none of whom signed anywhere today). Subsequently, Ketch dropped him to 63, 73 and 85 in April 2013, before bumping him back up to 68 and 61 in his final rankings. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a net drop of 9 places and a 40 spot difference between Billy and Ketch. Pretty sure that guaranties Walker will win a Butkus, so he’s got that going for him.

Jamal Jeffery (+53) – Josh Walker, Part II. Billy started him at 32 and bumped him to 29. Ketch started him at 31 and proceeded to drop him like a rock to end at 82. That’s an aggregate drop of 51 places. There are 20 players Ketch dropped more than 51 places, and three of these are Ced Collins (retired due to injury), Hoza Scott (grades) and Darrion Johnson (grades). Other than that, the list is a bunch of guys who either didn’t sign or who signed with directional and lower tier schools (Wash. St., Ill. St., UL-Monroe, TCU, Arks. St., Kansas, La. Tech, UNT and Rice).

Longhorn Commits

Jerrod Heard (-13) – This is an over/under-rated issue where Billy and Ketch never agreed. Billy started Heard at 14 and dropped him to 19 in his final rankings. Ketch has always had Heard in his Top 10, finishing at 6. Heard has been a rock-solid Longhorn commit since pledging in September 2012.

Derick Roberson (-1) – This is one where both Billy and Ketch agree. Roberson is a consensus Top 10 guy on both lists and has been since the beginning. Billy had him at 10 on the final list and Ketch had him at 9.

Armanti Foreman (+1) – Both had Foreman in the high 20s last February (28/29) and both have him in the low teens now (13/14).

Lorenzo Joe (-17) – Billy initially had Joe at 37 and bumped him to 32. Ketch agreed with Billy in February 2013, having him at 38. Joe made a leap to 16 three months later in Ketch’s April list. He stayed in that vicinity, finishing at 15. So what happened between February and April of 2013? No football going on. No 7-on-7 going on. Can’t say Ketch bumped him because of a commitment because Joe committed in August 2012. Maybe Ketch just forgot to bump him in February and made up for it in April.

Edwin Freeman (+12) – Billy likes Freeman, having him at 13 and 9 in his two lists. Ketch had him slightly lower, ranking him at 16 last February and bumping him down to 21 in his final list. Frankly, this is an anomaly and difficult to explain. This is the one and only time where Ketch ranked a UT recruit significantly lower than Billy.

Donald Catalon (-10) – Slight difference of opinion here. Billy had Catalon at 26 to begin and dropped him to 37. Ketch had him at 27 last February, bumped him down to the low thirties and back up again to 27 in the final list.

Dorian Leonard (-26) – Billy never had Leonard in his Top 44 and had him at 66 in his final Top 114 in 2014. Ketch initially had Leonard at 25 last February, but bumped him down to around 40 in April, where he basically hovered all year. He committed in June 2013 and finished at 40.

John Bonney (+4) – Billy had Bonney at 41 and 38. With Ketch, Bonney’s trajectory mirrors Leonard. He was 26 in February 2013, before sliding to 31 and 49 and bouncing back up to 42 in the final list.

Jason Hall (-35) – I have no idea who this kid is, but he has Ketch Special written all over him. Billy has never had him ranked, and he doesn’t show up in the Top 114 until 79. He didn’t show up in any LSR 100 until the November 2013 list, where he was ranked 39. He finished 44 in the final list. How does a guy go from being unranked/off the radar in April 2013 to being a Top 40 player in November 2013? Why, he commits to the Longhorns in July.

Cameron Hampton (+1) – Hampton went from 17 to unranked in Billy’s final Top 44 (finishing 57 in the Top 114 in 2014). Ketch had him as high as 16 in his June 2012 list (before his junior season) before bouncing him around last February (24) and April (29) before dropping him completely out of the Top 100 in November 2013. Hampton was back in the LSR 100 last week at 58. He committed to UT at their February 2013 junior day, so I don’t know why Ketch would drop him completely.

Roderick Bernard (0) – Billy never had him ranked in the Top 44 (62 in the final Top 114). Ketch had him at 28 last February, right after he committed to UT (as a side note, Bernard must have had a dominant junior season, because he went from being completely unranked in the June 2012 LSR 100 to 28 in February). Bernard bumped up to 25 in the April list, but subsequently dropped throughout the rest of the year to finish at 62, right where Billy has him.

Garrett Gray (-35) – Gray is another commit Billy didn’t have ranked on either of this Top 44 lists. In fact Gray barely slides into Billy’s Top 114 at 104. Ketch didn’t have him ranked until last February, when he was 92. He had a miraculous 27 point jump after his senior year, which happened to coincide with UT’s recruiting efforts, and finished at 69. Gray committed to the Longhorns two weeks after Ketch published the November list containing the big jump.

D’Onta Foreman (-39) – Billy never had him ranked. Not even in the Top 114. Ketch had him in the 70s all year, finishing at 76. Foreman was the highest two star who wasn’t a grade casualty. Assuming anyone not in Billy’s Top 114 is 115, that’s a 39 spot difference for Ketch in favor of Texas.

Terrell Cuney (-15) – Billy never had him in the Top 44 and has him at 96 in his final Top 114. Ketch debuted Cuney at 75 in February 2013 after Cuney attended their junior day. He committed in March 2013 and hovered between 75 and 83 all year, finishing at 81.

Jake McMillon (-4) – Another Ketch Special. Billy never had him in the Top 44 and had him at 94 in his final Top 114. Ketch didn’t have him ranked at all until he committed in April 2013. By the April 24 list, Ketch had him at 62. With no football to go on, McMillon had an amazing 39 point – at least – jump based solely on a commitment. Ketch subsequently dropped him to 90 in the final list.

NOTE: I didn’t include either Cedric Collins (A&M) or Kevin Shorter (UT), both of whom signed today but have retired due to injury. Good bull by both schools to honor their scholarships.

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