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Something to Consider When Talking Recruiting

Yes, it’s great to have great athletes sign on the line, but there’s so much more when it comes to making a championship caliber player come through.

Something to Consider When Talking Recruiting

By: Larry Burton

Beat the drums, yell “Roll Tide!” and beat your chests Alabama fans. Nick Saban has just delivered another number one recruiting class to add to the other top classes he’s signed since taking the helm of the Crimson Tide football program.

Certainly all that talent has helped bring home some trophies and championships, but in the end, it’s not always about the number of high star talented players you get from the high school pools, it so much more about the heart that beats inside these young men.

I talked to Andrew Bone, noted writer and college recruiting specialist once when he came and spoke at one of our Red Elephant Club meetings and he, someone who’s covered college recruiting as close as anyone I’ve ever met, said that you have to take the “stars” a high school player has with a grain of salt.

Just as there have been five star athletes who came to college and died, not in a blaze of glory, but went out with a whimper, so have unheralded high school players gone to college with one, two or no stars and far exceeded those with rankings far above them.

Javier Arenas came to Alabama as a walk on and left an All American and team captain and is now playing in the NFL. No one else wanted Arenas but Florida Atlantic University, but when Tyrone Prothro went down with an injury, Alabama started searching for a kick and punt returner and the rest they say, is history.

Looking at the blowout win that the Seattle Seahawks enjoyed at the recent Super Bowl game, one would think that their team must be built of that super star talent that worked its way up from high school to college.

Quite the contrary.

Over half the members of the winning NFL championship team that absolutely killed their opponent in that game was made up of a majority of players with two or less stars coming out of high school. In fact the game’s MVP was someone that wasn’t even drafted during the NFL draft.

Did you know that there are only 45 active NFL players allowed to play and dress out on game day. Counting the eight men that they are allowed to have on a practice/reserve squad, that means that there are only 53 men signed by the team at one time. Of that 43 of Seattle’s players are 3 stars or below.

Here’s the Roster’s Snapshot of talent as rated by the rating services coming out of high school:

Five-Stars: 3

Four-Stars: 8

Three-Stars: 19

Two-Stars: 12

Unranked: 12

Pre-Rivals: 7

The great thing about Nick Saban however, is not that he brings in the talent, but coaches up the people he’s got. Such was the case with Arenas and so many others. LSU has had talent similar to Alabama’s, but they have not enjoyed the same kind of results. The difference is not recruiting, it’s coaching ability to get them to continue to get better each day.

So Alabama fans, don’t just beat your chests and brag on another great recruiting class, although that is great. Be proud that the people who are coming are going to be coached up by a squad of coaches who have been “Sabanized” to make them even better. That is why Alabama is the flagship program of the NCAA, not just because they sign great players.

Now as Paul Harvey used to say, you know the rest of the story.

Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at

Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

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