- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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— Alpo (@alpodev25) August 21, 2013
The commitment of Curtis Samuel and the placement of Ohio State in our class rankings have been hot topics on Twitter lately, so let’s hit them head on.
First, let’s talk about Samuel, who we have as the nation’s No. 51 wide receiver. Camps and combines are a supplement to film study. They can enhance a prospect’s worth, give cause for concern or, in many instances, confirm what we already thought. We’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to position rankings, the difference between No. 23 and No. 50 can be negligible. Once you get past the top five-to-seven guys, it’s debatable.
Curtis Samuel is a very gifted athlete, a four-star player. Could he be in the ESPN 300? Sure. Are there 20-30 guys better than him? Maybe, maybe not. It’s an inexact science. But those clamoring for a five-star rating are those who believe there are 30-to-50 five-star recruits in every class, which is ludicrous. If that were true, there’d be 20 true freshmen a year making an immediate impact at BCS programs. We have always been very cautious with grading too high. Leave some room for upside and development to occur. If you over-grade, you have no room for a player to exceed expectations. You have nowhere to go but down. By under-grading, you give yourself a cushion. If we are going to be wrong on a guy, be wrong low, not high. Samuel is very fast, but also straight-lined. He sticks out like a sore thumb against this level of competition. Yes, he had a nice showing at The Opening, but we are taking a slower approach. It’s a long time until national signing day, with lots of football to be played.
As fans, whether it’s at Ohio State or anywhere else, it can be tough to understand and see things through an objective lens. However, we did not have a single Ohio State fan ask a question about Curtis Samuel in terms of where he was ranked until he committed to the Buckeyes. In fairness to Ohio State, if Samuel had committed to a different school, we would expect those fans to do the same—it’s human nature. Fans want to compare rankings and why one entity has a guy here or there and another is different. Keep in mind, different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong. It’s not our job to be liked. We know we will not please everyone. Was it popular when we had Trent Richardson ranked ahead of Bryce Brown? Nope. We thought QB Star Jackson who signed with Alabama was going to be huge flop and that backlash was harsh. Again, different isn’t always wrong.
I visit schools all across the nation (Ohio State included), sit in their meetings, visit with their staffs, look at their boards and no matter where I go, the boards generally all have the same premier players on it, but rarely in the same order. As fans, you would be surprised to see where players you perceive as the best are actually at on the board, regardless of what someone on the internet says. Sure, a guy may have an offer, but he might be the sixth or eighth guy they would take if they had their druthers. Offers rarely reflect priority.
I’ll leave you Ohio State fans with this: There were three players we had ranked, evaluated and graded with BCS-level grades coming out and some other services didn’t even have them ranked or give them a star rating -- Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby and Johnathan Hankins all turned out to be pretty darn good players, right?
It’s a long process, full of further evaluation opportunities along the way. It’s not a vendetta, it’s not a conspiracy, it’s just an opinion based off what we feel and see with the understanding that there are no guarantees.