Recruiting matters, stars matter, development matters, and hell, YOU matter if you need a midweek vote of reassurance. The silly notion kept in small circles that stars do not matter in recruiting is preposterous. Now, this does not mean two- and three-star players are irrelevant, it just means they are less likely to be successful.
While nothing is decided until the prospects take the field, an early predictor of success is which team can win the offseason. Which team can recruit and collect the assets with the perceived highest ceilings and greatest chance of success at the college level.
247Sports does a great job with recruiting rankings and also with tracking which teams lead in terms of the blue-chip prospect ratio. This ratio tracks which teams possess more four- and five-star prospects than two- and three-stars over a four-year period.
Bud Elliott — the father of this ratio — explained the importance thusly, “Put simply, to win the national championship, college football teams need to sign more four- and five-star recruits (AKA “Blue Chips”) than two- and three-star players over the previous four recruiting classes.”
When the 2021 recruiting class was completed for Michigan, it was nationally ranked No. 13 (per 247) and consisted of one five-star, 11 four-stars and 10 three-stars. In terms of the four-year blue chip recruiting tracker, only 16 teams were over the threshold with the Wolverines ranked No. 10 with a ratio of 58%.
While the 2022 class rankings are still being finalized, the Michigan Wolverines currently sit with the No. 9 ranked class consisting of: one five-star, nine four-stars and 12 three-stars. While the blue chip ratio (45%) will lower their previous four-year average, the class will remain above the collective threshold for a potential national championship.
The 2022 class is headlined by five-star cornerback Will Johnson, but the biggest signing for the Wolverines in this cycle actually came in terms of a non-signing. Head coach Jim Harbaugh interviewed with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, but ultimately withdrew his name from consideration, and stayed with the University of Michigan.
Since Harbaugh’s first full recruiting cycle in 2016, he has never finished lower than No. 22 in the national rankings. That “lowest” class in 2018 featured some of Michigan’s better players over the past few seasons in Aidan Hutchinson, Ronnie Bell, Hassan Haskins, Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes.
But what has become a staple of Harbaugh’s tenure is his identification and development of two- and three-star recruits. Along with that foundational triumvirate in 2021, Harbaugh was also able to identify the vast talent of three-star players Andrel Anthony and Rod Moore. The latter would become a starter during his first season in Ann Arbor and the former flashed early brilliance reminiscent of Braylon Edwards.
Moreover, the examples are not just limited to last year. Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins is poised to become a starter next season and was a three-star recruit in the 2020 class. Defensive end Mike Morris, cornerback DJ Turner and wide receiver Mikey Sainristil were all three-stars from the 2019 class. In 2018, Haskins, Bell, cornerback Vincent Gray, tight end Luke Schoonmaker, defensive end Taylor Upshaw and linebacker Michael Barrett were all three-star recruits.
The same with three-star defensive end Kwity Paye, offensive tackle Andrew Stueber and safety Brad Hawkins in 2017, and pass rusher Josh Uche in 2016.
Harbaugh has been able to reel in enough blue chip recruits and develop the
maize chips lesser known players to maximize Michigan’s roster.
The Wolverines will again be in contention for a national championship in 2022 based on their blue chip ratio and will remain in this position because of their blue chip head coach.