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July 31, 2021 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
It’s natural to see the importance and value in rankings and reviews, provided they are being made by trusted sources.
It’s something that we do in many aspects of our lives – we see what the latest movie got on Rotten Tomatoes, we look at how many stars a restaurant has on Yelp, and for those in the sports world we pay attention to the star-rankings given to athletes on sites like MaxPreps and Rivals. While often these ratings help give the reader or viewer a solid general idea on how good or successful something may be, it should not be treated as a final defining evaluation. At the end of the day, people view things differently, and so only the individual will know what their opinion may be.
This heavily applies to the sports world and the star-ranking system that has become such a major influence over recruiting and how the world views up and coming athletes. Scouts and coaches take into account what the latest “Top 100 Quarterbacks in the Class of 2023” are when they’re looking to fill a QB spot on their roster. Of course, they are going to want to find those top-tier players. Many of those lists are fantastic starting points to find top-tier talent. But the thing is, is that those top-tier players are not only the ones that have been given 4- and 5-star rankings. They can be found amongst the 1-star and unranked athletes as well, which most certainly are not always “worse athletes” than those highly-ranked ones.
We could go through a list of athletes that have been “missed” by scouts and analysts who spend a lot of time putting together these rankings. This list would be very long. We’d start with some of the biggest names like Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, and Demarcus Lawrence. But instead of listing names to try and prove that star-rankings don’t matter as much as some may think they do, let’s look at it from a different angle.
When scouts and analysts are evaluating players to form their lists and rankings, they’re doing a very good job. They are visiting all the games they can, comparing game stats and game results, seeing who is winning and who is losing. But they’re doing it based on what they can see on paper and events that they can attend.
In reality, they simply cannot make it to every game and scrimmage that occurs across the nation. There are going to be players that don’t get equivalent attention and analyzation. Understandably, seeing as their time is limited, the scouts and analysts tend to primarily focus on the big leagues in the big sport hub locations.
Players like Rodgers, growing up in Chico, California have a much higher possibility of being undervalued due to their location and league they play in. But as is clearly evident, these players can contain the skills and abilities to make it to the collegiate level, the professional level, even an MVP-caliber level. One could even argue that the fact of going unranked motivates these athletes even more to prove the doubters wrong, to show the world what they are really made of and what extraordinary talent went overlooked.
There are athletes all over the place, for every sport, that go unnoticed because they may not have been fortunate enough to be at the right place, in the right game, at the right position. These athletes do not necessarily lack ability, nor motivation, nor dedication. They lack opportunity and fortunate timing.
This can be seen once athletes like Rodgers and Wentz get to the next level. After getting to the big stage, and having the chance to show their skills, people take notice. Wentz got himself from unranked in high school to the 2nd pick in the draft, and an eventual Super Bowl ring. Rodgers had to wait even more time before he truly got his chance to shine, drafted at number 24 overall in 2005 and not getting a starting opportunity until 2008 after backing up Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre. But what both examples show, is that a ranking does not determine a player’s full ability and potential.
Athletes should not get discouraged if they are not as highly ranked as they thought they would be. Coaches should not be reliant solely on star-ranking to determine who they approach and recruit. There are players that are currently unranked that can be impactful on your program and will make a difference.
On the inverse, athletes that are given those dreamed-about 4- and 5-star evaluations, should not think that the work is done. They should continue to hone their skills and put in the hours with the weights as well as with the books. Receiving a 5-star ranking is not a guarantee to make it to the professional level, as those unranked players will be working with a chip on their shoulders.
The same goes for the coaches. Make sure to properly evaluate athletes for their true skills and talents, and how they’ll fit with your program. Don’t be persuaded just due to a certain star-rating. It’s ultimately an unknown as to how things will pan out – nobody can predict the future. Use the right tools and platforms to help you see the most athletes out there and perform proper evaluations. Trust your own eyes and your own intuition when finding your next team contributor.
For athletes of all ages, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep at it with the work on the gridiron, in the weight room, and the classroom. Stars aren’t everything, so no matter what the ranking is or what place one is on the various annual lists, that does NOT determine how the results will be at the end of the day.