The Empire Class of 2016 is now signed and ready to enroll at the U (for those that haven't done so already). This post will examine how this class looks compared to previous classes in the Kill/Claeys era. We'll also talk about what we like best about this class and about some disappointments on National Signing Day.
Visualizing the class
For the fifth year in a row, Minnesota's staff has signed a class with a higher average rating (according to the 247Sports Composite) than the previous cycle. To help show this, I've updated Matt's excellent chart from last year. NOTE: I don't have Matt's data set so I had to graft the 2016 class onto his table. Yes, I know that's a bad thing to do with #MATHS, which is why I'm noting it. That said, the trend in the data with the 2016 class is pretty clear and I think this is an honest way to look at it even if the exact distribution of the 2016 class on this table is not 100% in line with the form designed by Matt.
The vertical lines are the class averages. After the 2015 class Matt noted the following:
There's a noticeable difference in the form of the distribution from the class Minnesota just signed and the previous four classes: this year shows a much stronger concentration of players in the .83-.85 range. This will happen when every prospect you sign is a three star player, which would suggest Kill's classes have a higher floor in Year 5 than they did in Year 1 or 2.
Overall, the 2016 class followed the same theme, with a strong concentration around the .83-.86 range. In general, the lower end of the class was a little bit stronger than previous years (minus DaMarcus Williams, who is the lowest rated recruit we've taken since the 2012 class). The average composite score for the 2016 class was also the best under Kill/Claeys, coming in at .842. For comparison, the 2015 class (which had the previous best avg) was .829 and the 2012 avg (the lowest of all classes) was .812.
Things to like
- Carter Coughlin. No recruit is a sure thing and I'm certainly not claiming that Carter is a program savior or anything. But everything about how he handled his recruitment and the talent and athleticism he brings are simply exciting. I'm really glad he's a Gopher.
- DAT TREND THO. Recruiting keeps getting better. Every year. Is it crazy good right now? Of course not. Is that a source of concern to me? Nope.
- Limited amounts of drama: Other than Snelson's whole thing, this entire recruiting year has felt like it was pretty drama free. Given how easily people overreact to recruiting news I'm very happy about that.
- No late flips to benefit the Gophers: HEY AUBURN MAYBE DON'T OFFER AN IN-STATE GUY MINNESOTA LIKES ON NSD NEXT TIME. K THX BYE.
- What could have been: For a good portion of the summer/early fall, Minnesota was flirting with a Top 25 class. Does the fact that Minnesota didn't earn that plaudit mean much? No. But I'll admit it would have been a nice. More disappointing is the loss of a number of recruits to decommits in Dec/Jan who could have helped the Gophers in the years to come.
This is the best class since Kill's first full class in 2012. The trend we're seeing is one of Minnesota is signing classes full of stronger 3 star talent each year. The lack of 4 star talent (the Gophers have signed only 2 consensus 4 stars since 2012) remains a concern, but the overall trajectory in recruiting remains positive. Will this be enough to get the Gophers to break through further in the Big Ten? Possibly not. But the program continues to build on a stronger foundation each year.
What do you like best about the Empire Class?
What would you change about the class if you could?