Comparing the recruiting rankings of Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247

So you think you know a good high school football player when you see him. You think you can do better than the so called recruiting “analysts” out there?

We’re here to tell you that you can go ahead and try – but it’s a far more difficult task than you can ever imagine. In fact, all four of the services we looked at do an outstanding job. It’s actually pretty amazing how well they do and how they can differentiate one skilled high school player from another when they’re all playing in different parts of the country against different competition.

Sure, the big combines and regional and national 7-on-7 tournaments have helped a lot. But it’s still about putting the pads on and hitting and that’s not so easy to analyze all the time.

When you look at the four recruiting rankings, I don’t know whether to be amazed about how many of the same kids show up in each or about how different they can be.

For example, highly touted Christian Hackenberg out of Fork Union, Va. is ranked No. 10 overall by ESPN, No. 24 overall by 247Sports, 143rd overall by Rivals and No. 175 by Scout. That is a significant difference.

Let’s look at how how many kids from some of the big recruiting states and some of the Eastern states are ranked in each of services. We looked at the top 250 in each of the rankings (247 for 247Sports).

Rivals.com

Alabama – 8

California – 27

Florida -39

Georgia – 20

Maryland – 7

New Jersey – 7

Ohio – 16

Pennsylvania – 7

Texas – 28

Virginia 12

Scout.com

Alabama – 8

California – 29

Florida – 34

Georiga – 20

Maryland – 4

New Jersey – 5

Ohio – 17

Pennsylvania – 9

Texas – 41

Virginia – 7

247Sports

Alabama – 8

California – 31

Florida – 32

Georgia – 25

Maryland – 5

New Jersey – 10

Ohio – 15

Pennsylvania – 6

Texas – 32

Virginia – 12

ESPN

Alabama – 8

California – 23

Florida – 48

Georgia – 24

Maryland – 3

New Jersey – 9

Ohio – 16

Pennsylvania – 8

Texas – 37

Virginia – 12

Look at the discrepancy for Texas, which has 41 ranked in the top 250 of Scout.com but only 28 in Rivals.com. Virginia has 12 in three of the rankings but only 7 in Scout. Florida, a talent rich state, had as many as 48 and as few as 32.

Let’s take a look at the top 10s for each one.

Rivals Top 10

1.  Robert Nkmemdiche   Lawrenceville, GA (Clemson)

2.  Reuben Foster  Auburn, AL (Alabama)

3.  Kendall Fuller Olney, MD (undecided)

4.  Jaylon Smith, Fort Wayne, IN (Notre Dame)

5.  Max Browne, Sammamish, WA (USC)

6. Kenny Bigelow, Wilmington, DE (USC)

7.  Laremy Tunsil, Lake City, FL (undecided)

8.  Su’a Cravens  Murietta, CA (USC)

9.  Vernon Heargraves  Tampa, FL (undecided)

10.  Montravius Adams  Vienna, GA (undecided)

Scout.com Top 10

1.  Robert Nkmemdiche   Lawrenceville, GA (Clemson)

2.  Reuben Foster  Auburn, AL (Alabama)

3.  Max Browne, Sammamish, WA (USC)

4.  Laremy Tunsil, Lake City, FL (undecided)

5.  Su’a Cravens  Murietta, CA (USC)

6.  Montravius Adams  Vienna, GA (undecided)

7.  Antonio Conner  Batesville, MS (undecided)

8.  Kenny Bigelow, Wilmington, DE (USC)

9.  Eddie Vanderdoes  Auburn, CA (undecided)

10.  Robert Foster   Monaca, PA (undecided)

ESPN Top 10

1.  Robert Nkmemdiche   Lawrenceville, GA (Clemson)

2.  Reuben Foster  Auburn, AL (Alabama)

3.  Laremy Tunsil, Lake City, FL (undecided)

4.  Vernon Heargraves  Tampa, FL (undecided)

5.  Carl Lawson  Alpharetta, GA (Auburn)

6.  Mackensie Alexander  Immokolee, FL (undecided)

7. Ricky Seals-Jones  Sealy, TX (undecided)

8.  Dee Liner  Muscle Shoals, AL (undecided)

9.  Kenny Bigelow Wilmington, DE (USC)

10. Christian Hackenberg  Fork Union, VA (Penn State) (143 Rivals, 175 Scout, 24 247)

247Sports Top 10

1.  Robert Nkmemdiche   Lawrenceville, GA (Clemson)

2.  Reuben Foster  Auburn, AL (Alabama)

3.  Montravius Adams  Vienna, GA (undecided)

4.  Max Browne, Sammamish, WA (USC)

5.  Vernon Heargraves  Tampa, FL (undecided)

6.  Laremy Tunsil, Lake City, FL (undecided)

7.  Jaylon Smith, Fort Wayne, IN (Notre Dame)

8.  Su’a Cravens  Murietta, CA (USC)

9.  Kendall Fuller Olney, MD (undecided)

10.  Jonathan Allen  Ashburn, VA (Alabama)

There are a few differences – but not really a lot – when you consider the differences are mostly between players ranked inside or just outside the top 10. Hackenberg is the the outlier – with very high rankings and some considerably lower ones.

Incredibly, the top two are the same in all four rankings.

If one thing is to be learned by it all, it’s that recruiting rankings and the science of it all, although it has improved immeasurably over the years, is still an example of inexact science.

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