It appears Texas simply signed a slightly better class, as far as evaluators are concerned.
In today’s episode of what Texas and Texas A&M fans are arguing about on the internet:
That’s the most recent recruiting ranking for the two blood rivals. You’ll notice the 3 and the 4, signifying where each ranked in the 247Sports Composite. The Horns edged ‘em by a razor-thin margin, despite the Aggies having a few more commits.
Some A&M fans are perturbed. The line of thinking is that 247Sports juiced some players’ ratings really late in the recruiting cycle so that the Horns would edge the Aggies — and most of the rest of the country. A few examples:
...after several insane post-season ratings bumps for multiple commits. Even by Texas standards what happened with Owens, Hookfin and Warren is pretty laughable. https://t.co/owvOlAIgdh— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) January 24, 2019
If you're buying that post signing day rankings push, more power to you buddy— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) February 4, 2019
247 rankings are really biased for one of those schools. Look deeper at offer lists for some of those “4/5 star players” and how quickly their rankings shot up after said school offered.— Eddie Football (@ATXsandman) February 10, 2019
Cliffs Notes version pic.twitter.com/J7Mh1sHk1t— 247 5 Star By Signing Day (@BradMoczygemba) February 5, 2019
The short answer as to whether 247 is juicing Texas’ ranking: no.
A note here: 247 has both a Composite ranking and its own in-house rankings. In the Composite, each major recruiting service gets combined into one number for each player and each class.
Going by just 247Sports’ own rankings (not the Composite), most of Texas’ class has actually gone down in rank since committing, one TexAgs message board poster noted this chart, with rankings current as of January 15th. We checked this chart out and it’s legit, but some players fluctuated even more in the final two rankings updates 247 posted on Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.
Also, going by 247Sports’ own rankings, Texas A&M’s class is one spot higher than Texas’ — fifth to sixth. Part of the point of gathering ratings from different services is to lessen the possibility that anyone’s bias (or any one ranking) gets to hold too much weight.
The Composite’s team ranking is a sum of all of its players’ individual rankings, with the best player worth 100 percent of his rating value, the second best worth nearly 100 percent, and so forth.
If anything, A&M’s class is a bit over-inflated by the way rankings work. If you just strip out number of signees and rank classes by average Composite rating, the Aggies drop a bit.
Texas’ class benefits from one unusual case, but even that one’s not as unusual as it might seem.
The decision to include McCoy in the 2019 recruiting class follows recent precedents of Ale Kaho (Washington to Alabama in 2018) and Bryan Addison (UCLA to Oregon in 2018) as players that have signed at one program only to ultimately enroll and count towards to recruiting class of a different program. What makes McCoy’s situation unique is his enrollment at USC but the timing along with the release from his LOI creates a logical step of returning him to the 2019 pool.
Taking McCoy out of Texas’ class, where he’s the highest-rated player, still keeps its average rating higher than A&M’s, because the rest of the class is really good.
Recruiting rankings change all the time, partly because players change.
Players changing in ranking is a normal part of a years-long evaluation process. There certainly could be a grand conspiracy by ESPN (which owns the Longhorn Network) and Rivals and 247, or is could just be coincidentally part of the game.
Sometimes players just aren’t on the radar until they are. For example, Texas A&M QB signee Zach Calzada’s ranking increased 950 spots after he received multiple P5 offers, including one from A&M. 2017’s No. 1 recruit, former UCLA DE Jaelan Phillips, jumped 375 spots in little over a year as his offer list grew.
Sometimes, evaluators just don’t have all the tools they need to to accurately evaluate a player at a specific time, so sometimes, those evaluations change ... as they should.
One tool is most relevant: film. If Player X’s junior year tape showed one thing, his senior year tape might show another. As a player comes under a closer microscope, his rating will either rise or fall.
Let’s take safety Tyler Owens, a clear example of a Horns recruit jumping a ton of spots. Owens ended up as the No. 3 safety in 247Sports’ own rankings — No. 24 overall — and the No. 9 safety and 104th overall player on the Composite. Early in his recruitment, Owens was just inside the top 1,000 players nationwide. He was 956th in mid-May 2018.
Owens’ 6’2 frame was the groundwork for his upward movement. Before his senior season, his coach told 247 Owens had grown in the weight room and had a unique combination of size and speed. He just needed to round out more as a football player.
It appears he did. 247Sports’ director of recruiting, Steve Wiltfong, said Owens’ senior film showed a more complete player and “his rise could continue.” His head coach is quoted in the same story, from September of 2018:
“As a sophomore he started the first game and through now he’s playing with a lot more confidence. I didn’t see this guy last year. He had some of the size but he wasn’t playing with that much confidence. All the things he did in the weight room, getting stronger, he’s number one in our power rankings.”
Owens also threw up a 10.34 100-meter in a track meet in the spring after his junior season. The major bump potential was there.
Recruiting rankings aren’t perfect, but this is why players moving a lot isn’t weird.
The industry consensus is that UT has a slightly better class. A&M’s class has three or five years to disprove that, even if they won’t go head-to-head.