Texas A&M got an early start on their 2019 recruiting class, and with 11 recruits already committed, the Aggies have had a class ranked among the top 10 in the country most of this year. They saw that ranking move up from #5 to #4 over the weekend with the commitment of four-star Georgia WR Kenyon Jackson, but the real movement happened on Monday. The Aggies moved from #4 to #2, leapfrogging Jimbo Fisher’s former school FSU and SEC juggernaut Alabama.
“Ooh, we must have gotten some monster recruit to commit to our school!” Well, actually no. We still have the same 11 commits that we had before.
“Oh, OK. Well I guess the recruits we do have must have done something really big in a football game.” Nope. No actual high school football games have been played in months.
“Then I give up. Why did the ranking of our recruiting class suddenly get such a huge boost?” Well Timmy, to know that, I’ll have to tell you about something people in the industry call “#TheIndustry.”
You see, across our great country, grown men make a living by evaluating the football talents of teenagers. They ascribe “star” values, they mention established players they might compare to, and make up jargon like “wrist-load” and “elite wiggle” to convince the subscription-paying public that their content is worthwhile. Most notably for our example, they also rank these players by position, by state and across the nation.
“Cool, so this is all based on how the players do in the fall.” I wish it were that simple, Timmy. If you want to know how well a player plays football, you need to see them do a lot more than just play football. That’s why we have 7-on-7 leagues, satellite camps and countless other ancillary activities that these players participate in year-round. Not only is it a money-maker for the people who sponsor these activities, but it also helps our friends in #TheIndustry justify their existence from mid-February through August!
“This sounds like a bit much. But at least it creates an objective source for recruiting information.” Oh far from it. In fact most members of #TheIndustry are loosely affiliated with a college team, and while they’d hesitate to admit it, their team doing well in recruiting is what lines their own pockets. So not only is it plausible that the people ranking these players might be biased to those committed to the school they cover, it’s a virtual certainty.
“Wait, are you saying #TheIndustry’s primary goal is to pump-up the image of the school they cover?” You catch on quick, kid. This can come from inflating a player’s ranking, to downgrading players committed to rival schools, or sometimes flat-out lying to subscribers about the likelihood of a “stud” player committing to your school. After all, false optimism is better than no optimism. Also, they unironically use the word “stud” regularly when discussing teenagers.
And we haven’t even touched on the aspect of their job that involves texting/calling high school kids or waiting in parking lots for them after practice for the latest scoop on their recruitment.
“Golly, I had no idea that recruiting was so subjective, and to be honest, kinda creepy. But wait, you never really told me, why did the Aggies move up to the #2 class in the nation?” Oh, it’s because some website updated their rankings based in no way on any actual football games that were played, and the seemingly arbitrary movements of a couple key players benefited A&M.