Some time back, a reader pointed out in a comment the alternating nature of our recruiting classes, in which odd years are awesome and even years suck. This as you're likely to know is a trend going back to about 2004 or 2005, depending on how you think the 2004 class as a whole panned out. I answered the question - that is, will 2010 be any better? - optimistically. I wonder if I was right.
Since the 2004 class yielded Chris Long, Cedric Peerman, Chris Gould, Clint Sintim, and sort-of* Branden Albert, as well as sort-of Olu Hall who had a very studly star rating, let's arbitrarily say this trend began in 2005, when we plucked Eugene Monroe out of New Jersey. 2005 was a very good class. Now, what's got UVA fans really uneasy is the number of commitments at this point in the year: One. Duke has five. In past years, here's how we stood with commitments as of May 15:
There's a very clear up-and-down pattern to that, although I probably ought to caveat the 2009 number by pointing out one of those 7 is eventual decommit Alex Owah; what I didn't count was Caleb Porzel, who'd already committed and disappeared by this time. No matter how you slice it, the best even-year performance as of May 15 is half as good as the worst odd-year performance.
There's also no denying that the even years have been a disappointment in the star ratings. Rivals had all our odd-year classes 6th in the conference and our even year ones as high as 8th and as low as 11th. The best player we got out of the '06 class is Nate Collins, who was also the lowest-rated.
Taking stock honestly, I see no reason why this trend won't continue. If you like to go by nothing but star ratings and recruiting service rankings, you're probably going to be one sorry Wahoo come Signing Day 2010. All the factors are there. By this point in the year most teams have a list of commits; our list is one. It's going to be a small class; any genius who's been keeping track of the scholarships could guess that. We're already overbooked and losing only 12 to eligibility at the end of the year. The recruiting services, when ranking classes against each other, bias the rankings toward big-ass classes. And those who are most likely to commit sometime soon (Conner Davis, E.J. Scott, Marcus Rush maybe, Kyrrel Latimer, etc.) have low-to-medium three-star rankings. Nothing like 2007 when four-stars Peter Lalich and J'Courtney Williams committed within three days of each other in April.
Now. Not a lot of our offered targets have actually committed elsewhere. So while we're not exactly raking them in, we're not losing out in great numbers, either. The biggest losses are probably Silas Redd, Philip Sims, Mark Shuman, Seth Betancourt, and Justin Hunter. Redd and Shuman were in love with their particular school and the only thing that would have stopped them going was a lack of an offer; Sims, we had a shot at, but he was always going to be a hard get, and the same is true with Hunter only minus the part where we had a legit shot.
So there's that for consolation, but it's also very indicative of the coaching staff slow-playing this thing. They're not going to go all-out to fill up the class, because that's the last thing they want to do, lest they lose out on someone they want badly.
Conclusion, then: Star-gazers are going to be sorely disappointed. If this class ranks 10th or lower by the recruiting services, it won't surprise me one bit. But! You might notice I chose two flame-outs from the '07 class as my earlier example; that's on purpose. The strength of the '07 class is not in the seven four-stars, most of whom will probably not have four-star careers. Likewise, the '08 class was badly panned by UVA fans as a huge recruiting disappointment. It was small and sucked ass in the star department. It's also yielded at least seven players who figure to play a major role on the depth chart this year, and that's while these guys are sophomores or redshirt freshmen.
So, actual conclusion: Star-gazers, you're still going to not like the class. I think from a rankings perspective, the top end of the class will look a little better than 2008, in which Ausar Walcott and Torrey Mack were the only headliners. It's still going to be a small class though and most of them will be in the unexciting range. But I think, like 2008, a few years after the class is in the books, we'll learn the lesson for the umpteenth time that star ratings don't mean everything. Kevin Parks, for example, I think will be brilliant. If Ken Wilkins signs up, I think he'll be brilliant. There will be at least one really excellent receiver in the class, and I think we'll be happy with the quarterback we sign, whoever that is.
After some of our big summer events, like Big Fancy Blue-Chip Shindig Day in June and the camp in July, we'll have a lot better notion of how this thing is going to shake out.
*Sort-of, because they prepped and ended up in the following year's class.
Many many many apologies for skipping yesterday's post, but it was Game 7 of Wings-Ducks, y'see. All ended well in that department, and to make it up to you, the Maryland lacrosse game highlights will be on YouTube by Sunday evening.