Tuesday, February 06, 2007


On LOI Day 2002 Bob Toledo was ecstatic. He had just inked the 7th best recruiting class in America according to Scout.com, and the talented youngsters were just what he needed to keep unhappy alums at bay. He had done so well that a frustrated Washington coach Rick Neuheisel publicly accused him of negative recruiting. UCLA's class that year averaged 3.62 stars per player - a high number given the large size (25 players) of the Bruins' class.

Five years later the UCLA class of '02 serves as a cautionary tale to those who would put too much emphasis on recruiting rankings. The class is littered with injuries, defections, discipline problems, and missed potential. Just for fun, we went back and assigned new ratings to the class based on their contributions to the Bruin program during their stay in Westwood. It's highly subjective, of course, but isn't everything related to this topic?

Ratings key
* Didn't play, or played sparingly
** Contributed in a reserve capacity
*** Starter
**** All-Conference level performer
***** All-America level performer

***** (from Scout.com in '02)
Marcedes Lewis, TE - Terrific tight end ***** (career rating)
Ryan Boschetti JC - a starter and an OK player for UCLA on the defensive line ***

Jarrad Page, CB - excellent safety now in the NFL ****
Eric McNeal, S - career backup **
CJ Niusulu, DT - kicked off the team *
Kevin Harbour, DE - left school - **
Robert Chai, OL - solid if unspectacular starter on the OL - ***
Joe Garcia, CB - transferred to Nevada - *
Idris Moss, CB - kicked off the team; transferred to Tulsa - *
Justin London, LB - solid starter at LB - ***
Antwuan Smith, WR - didn't enroll - *
Mike Nixon, S - played baseball for a while then went to ASU *
Glenn Ohaeri, RB - transferred to Colorado State *
Justin Medlock, K - terrific kicker ****
Drew Olson, QB - pretty darn good ****
Matt Moore, QB - started five games; transferred to OSU **

JJ Hair, TE - backup tight end **
Xavier Burgess, LB - dropped out of school, transferred to Sac State *
Kirby Joseph, LB - transferred to McNeese State *
Jebiaus Brown, CB - quit the team *
JD Groves, LB - quit the team *
Thomas Patton, DE - transferred *
Wesley Walker, LB - good player ***
Patrick Pierre-Louis, LB - didn't do much *

Alex Potasi, OL - kicked off the team *
Elliot Vallejo, OL - transferred to Davis *

On the revised rankings, UCLA earns a grand total of 1.94 stars per recruit, placing them at the bottom of the conference. UCLA's is an extreme case, but a look at the rest of the conference in 2002 and 2003 shows that the experts had as many misses as hits when it came to evaluating recruits. We'll roll that analysis out a bit later in the day.


At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Ragnarok said...

Fascinating stuff, and a major reason why I pay as little attention as I can to recruiting. Though you're right in that UCLA '02 was an extreme case, and I'm sure the coaching turnover had a something to do with a lot of those transfers/quitters, it's still pretty shocking. The burnout rate looks comparable to the MLB draft, which is historically a complete crapshoot.

Perhaps the lesson here is that keeping kids on campus and in class is more important than getting the kids to sign on in the first place. Or maybe it's being able to coach the kids once the get on campus is more important than how good they looked in high school.

Love your blog; keep it coming.

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