It’s easy to get caught star-gazing when it comes to college football recruiting. If you pay any attention to recruiting at all, you’ve probably read arguments about how stars don’t matter while also reading separate stories about how obtaining five-stars is the barrier to entry into the CFP. As with most things in life, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Michigan has three five-stars on the roster: J.J. McCarthy, Chris Hinton and Daxton Hill. It’s hard to believe those three are the only ones when you see the production on the field out of the likes of Aidan Hutchinson (four-star), David Ojabo (four-star), Brad Hawkins (three-star), Hassan Haskins (three-star), Blake Corum (four-star), Andrew Steuber (three-star) and Erick All (four-star). It’s an ode to Jim Harbaugh and his ability to identify and develop talent.
Looking specifically at the quarterback comparisons for the Orange Bowl, Michigan will trot out the aforementioned McCarthy, a five-star freshman out of Illinois. Cade McNamara was a four-star himself out of Reno, Nevada. Georgia’s quarterback rotation consists of former three-star Stetson Bennett out of Blackshear, Georgia, as well as JT Daniels, a five-star mega-recruit out of Mater Dei in California. It’s interesting to note the comparisons as both schools start their less-touted recruits while the five-stars still see time.
At running back, Michigan’s Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum have shattered records and been as dynamic of a duo as one could reasonably hope for from Michigan’s perspective. Yet both came to Ann Arbor as “good-but-not-great” types of prospects. For the Bulldogs, Zamir White was the No. 13 overall prospect in 2018 and was the highest rated running back in the class. James Cook was a four-star himself and inside the top-100 in the same class. Star-gazers would tell you Georgia’s ground game should be far superior to Michigan’s, yet it very clearly isn’t. Props to the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line in Ann Arbor.
Defensively, it’s worth noting the monster that is Jordan Davis only came to Athens as a three-star in the class of 2018. He was rated No. 424 nationally and only the 29th best defensive tackle. Georgia’s other defensive star, Nakobe Dean, was quite the opposite. Dean was a five-star prospect out of Mississippi who shot all the way up to No. 21 overall in the class of 2019.
So far, we’ve highlighted some of the biggest producers on both Georgia and Michigan this season. We would be remiss not to mention just how bonkers Georgia’s recruiting actually has been though. Starting with the class of 2018 onward, the Bulldogs have gained commitments from five-stars in quantities of seven, five, four, four and five, respectively. This means each year Georgia has brought in more five-stars than Michigan currently has on its roster in total. Yet here we are with the Wolverines being the No. 2 team in the country and the Bulldogs No. 3.
Raw talent and skill is one thing. Development and talent projection is a whole different ballgame.