It’s National Signing Day in the college football world, the only day on the calendar where the fax machine is still relevant. It is also noteworthy because the nation’s top-rated recruits are picking their colleges while charting what they hope will be a path to the NFL.
Of course, five-star recruits are not destined for NFL glory and the ones with only a couple of stars, or even none at all, aren’t resigned to life in a 9-5 job after a few years of college ball. After all, you might have seen the factoid being tweeted around before and after the Super Bowl that there were no five-star recruits in the starting lineups for the Patriots or the Seahawks.
Which, as always on this blog, brings us to the Vikings. In the spirit of National Signing Day, let’s take a look at how some prominent Vikings were rated heading into college, according to Rivals.
Teddy Bridgewater: You probably know Bridgewater’s story by now. The four-star recruit spurned his hometown Miami Hurricanes to sign with Louisville. Seems to have worked out for him OK.
Sharrif Floyd: The five-star prospect from Philadelphia had a bunch of offers, including one from in-state Penn State, but Floyd took his talents to Florida and became a first-round pick.
Chad Greenway: Greenway, once a high-school quarterback in South Dakota, predates the Rivals database by a year. Needless to say, interest in recruiting has gone up just a bit since 2001.
Everson Griffen: Griffen was a five-star recruit and the top-ranked defensive end in the country, according to Rivals, when he chose USC over Arizona, Arizona State and many other schools.
Matt Kalil: Kalil, another five-star recruit, stayed close to home by committing early to USC. He ended up being the third-ranked offensive tackle prospect in the country in 2008.
Jerick McKinnon: McKinnon, a three-star recruit, chose Georgia Southern over a few other offers, including Air Force and Navy, who like Georgia Southern had option-based offenses.
Captain Munnerlyn: Munnerlyn, who hails from Alabama, didn’t have many offers as a two-star recruit, according to Rivals. But one was from South Carolina, where he ended up thriving.
Adrian Peterson: Peterson was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 player in the nation, according to Rivals, when he left the state of Texas and crossed the border to be the man at Oklahoma.
Cordarrelle Patterson: Patterson didn’t garner much interest in high school, but after starring at a junior college in Kansas, he was a top JUCO prospect and a four-star recruit. He picked Tennessee.
Christian Ponder: Ponder was a three-star recruit and the 14th-ranked quarterback prospect in 2005, but he had several Div. I offers. He chose Florida State over Arizona, Baylor and others.
Xavier Rhodes: Rhodes was a three-star recruit and just the 75th-ranked cornerback in the 2009 class. But he would shine at Florida State and become a first-round pick for the Vikings.
Brian Robison: Robison was a three-star recruit — at inside linebacker! — in the 2002 class. The Texas native stayed in state to play for the Longhorns and is now an NFL defensive end.
Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph was a five-star recruit and the top tight end in 2008. The Cincinnati native chose Notre Dame over schools such as Michigan, Miami and in-state powerhouse Ohio State.
Harrison Smith: Smith was a four-star recruit in 2007. Classified as an athlete, the 25th-best in the country, the Knoxville native choose Notre Dame over Tennessee, breaking Chip Scoggins’ heart.
John Sullivan: Sullivan, a four-star recruit and the third-ranked center in the 2003 class, passed on offers from Boston College, Miami, Michigan and others to play at Notre Dame.
Adam Thielen: Thielen doesn’t even register a blip on a recruit search on Rivals. That’s how under the radar he was before committing to Minnesota State Mankato. And now he’s in the NFL.
The answer to that question — for the highest-ranked teams and for the most recent seasons at least — is yes. The schools with top recruiting classes in 2011, for the most part, are on a successful four-season run. Alabama finished No. 1 in the 2011 recruiting race, and followed that with two consecutive national titles. Florida State and Oregon were close behind in both the recruiting and actual rankings. Only a few teams from outside the top 2011 recruiting rankings managed to rise up and finish in the top 12 in the past four seasons — and no top-two finishes. Michigan State is one school that made a jump, along with Missouri, Baylor and Stanford. On the flip side to that, Texas — and, to a lesser degree, Florida and Clemson — did not see their prized 2011 class produce the expected results. The full look at how the top of the 2011 class performed over four seasons is below.
The rankings are from Rivals.com. The final ranking for each of the seasons listed is from the Jeff Sagarin Ratings, which ranks every team for USA Today. Each of the No. 1 Sagarin teams won the national title. A school’s 2011 class ranking is listed in parenthesis if not in top 12.