Below are the college football recruiting classes with the highest ratings of the internet era.
This doesn’t mean these are the best recruiting classes ever. There are a few distinctions there.
- Though publications have covered prospects for decades, national ratings were only formalized around the turn of the century by Rivals and Scout, with others joining and the 247Sports Composite eventually combining the major ratings into one.
- Rankings don’t equate perfectly to college success, so this is not a look to re-grade old classes based on college production. Ratings are predictive, of personal and institutional success, but nothing is perfect. Nobody would retroactively proclaim Florida’s 2010 class to be the greatest haul of the last decade, even though it remains the highest-scoring.
- A few years ago, SI’s Andy Staples went back to World War II to rank the 15 most valuable classes ever, with the benefit of knowing how signees performed in college. This post will focus only on ratings from the ratings era.
This goes back to 2002, when full classes at the top level began being somewhat reliably rated.
Highest-scoring recruiting classes, 2002-2020
|7||2018 Ohio State||317.1||26|
|12||2017 Ohio State||312.1||21|
But classes are differently sized, based on scholarship availability, current regulations, and other factors. That means every year, some classes earn higher overall rankings simply because they had more spots to fill.
So another way to look at it is by average recruit rating.
The Composite doesn’t just use a straight average when it collects overall class scores, but rather a [inhales deeply] mathematical thing.
Ranking classes strictly by average player rating would give us this top 15:
Top recruiting classes by average signee, 2002-2020
|1||2017 Ohio State||21||94.6|
|3||2018 Ohio State||26||94.3|
So Urban Meyer tops both lists, with Nick Saban’s teams showing up most frequently and a Saban spinoff, Kirby Smart, putting Georgia right around the top of both lists as well.
It’s fair to argue that the recruiting industry’s standards have evolved over time, so it’s hard to accurately compare a 2021 prospect to a 2001 prospect.
The process has improved greatly, due to exposure and experience, so it’s also hard to say for sure how 2003’s classes would’ve graded by 2020’s methods, and vice versa.
But! The same thing goes for yardage records on the football field, and we keep records for those all the same. This isn’t an attempt to declare these classes the best (but please feel free to weigh in), just a place to gather the numbers as they are.
Meanwhile, here’s a look at each FBS team’s historical recruiting norm. Who’s trending up or down?