UPDATE: 247 UPDATED RANKINGS LAST NIGHT, THIS CLASS NOW HAS A HIGHER AVERAGE THAN 2008 (.8442-.8431). THE FLOOR IS ALSO NOW HIGHER THAN THE AVERAGE FOR 2010 AND 2011. DeMARCUS WILLIAMS RATING WAS BUMPED UP TO .8026. NATIONAL RANK DROPPED TO 48 BUT THERE ARE NO CONSENSUS 2 STARS IN THE CLASS AND THE AVERAGE STAR RATING JUMPED TO 3.05.
Internet recruiting rating sites have given college football fans something to talk about during the off season for around 15 years now. The Gophers just signed their best rated class in the Kill/Claeys era. I was curious to see how this class stacked up with others and dove into the 247 composite ratings. What I found was that this is also the best Minnesota class since 2008 and the second best class since recruiting sites started popping up.
Individual player ratings go back to 2002, but those early ratings gave all 3 stars the same score, all 2 stars the same score, etc. so it's hard to really compare them to now. In 2006, the differentiation between players became more detailed so that's where I started keeping track of highest rated recruit and lowest rated recruit. I only counted the lowest rated recruit in each class, any unrated recruit was not used in the graph below.
What stands out to me is the Brewster bump. If you draw a line from the Mason classes to the Kill classes, you'll see that by the end of Brewster's tenure, it was as if he was never here. He was able to sign multiple 4-star players, netting four of them in 2008. As we all remember, Brewster had trouble getting players to actually enroll and many of the highly touted recruits did not pan out. His classes were also lacking balance which killed the Gophers, especially on the lines. By the end of his tenure, his recruiting was back down to where we might have expected Mason's to be.
The next thing that jumps out at me is the steady improvement of Kill's and now Claeys' classes. The 2012 class had a low basement but the two guys rated .7000 were Yoshoub Timms and Damarius Travis. The next 4 lowest rated prospects were Ben Lauer, Isaac Fruechte, Eric Murray, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun so that class has definitely performed better than it was rated.
It's great that the classes are improving, but it doesn't show how we are faring compared to the country as a whole and our B1G peers. 247 shows the class rank out of the current 14 teams even if you look back to 2000.
That 2008 class is still the only one to crack the top half of the conference and top 30 (26). It took a couple of years to fight off the stink of the Brewster regime, but the team is slowly crawling out of that hole. The Gophers national standing in the minds of recruits is just now starting to jump up. The drop off in 2013 was likely due to inly signing 19 kids. While the averages were good, class rankings reward higher numbers. The jump this year in class rank is the third largest, trailing 2002-2003 and 2007-2008.
The Gophers have stepped up from Power 5 bottom feeder to respectable Power 5 team. They still aren't a consistent division contender but are working their way up to that. They really need to capitalize on what look to be softer schedules the next two year to avoid slipping back into the muck. If Claeys can continue Kill's build, The Gophers should be able to slide up into Iowa and Wisconsin territory on a consistent basis.
The last thing I wanted to look at was the composition of each class. As others have talked about, the more 4 and 5 star recruits you sign, the better you will be. While Kill and Claeys have only signed 2 4 stars, they have done a great job bumping the floor from two stars to three stars. The two stars they have signed have panned out much better than expected (2012 in particular). The average composite star rating has stabilized around 3. Mason was around 2.4 while Brewster cratered at 2.2.
I've always heard that results on the field don't show up in improved recruiting for a couple of classes. If that's true, this class is the first reaping of the 8-5 (4-4) and 8-5 (5-3) seasons. In my mind, The Gophers need to maintain this level of recruiting for a couple more years to firmly escape bottom feeder status. I would like for them to continue to improve recruiting slowly, but steadily. Some years will need to be about getting high ceiling guys, others will need to be about pulling the floor up.
The schedule will be Charmin soft the next two years and the Gophers must capitalize if they are to take the next step in recruiting. Kill was able to hit on many lightly regarded recruits but had trouble getting the 4-star guys to stick around. To make that next jump, Claeys will need to hit on 3 stars and get 4-stars on campus and keep them here.