In the second part of our look at how the 2012 All-Americans by CBSSports.com were evaluated as recruits, we take a look at the defense and specialists (except kickers and punters).
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2011 and was a consensus All-American this season as a sophomore. He could be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
In this breakdown, we look at what the player was rated/ranked according to the 247Composite, which equally weighs rankings and ratings from multiple recruiting media outlets and calculates a composite ranking and rating according to a proprietary formula. Then, that score is evaluated and placed into three categories- high, low or hit. Of course, high and low are pretty self-explanatory. That means the prospect was ranked/rated too high or too low by the industry. A “hit” means the prospect was ranked/rated just right. Since rankings are long-term projections, that is the criteria we use to judge the evaluation.
There’s also some inside perspective as to why the prospect was ranked/rated the way he was during his recruiting cycle according to industry insiders.
Of the 14 players listed here, there were four rated five stars, five rated four stars, three rated three stars and two rated two stars.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe
Rankings and Ratings- Clowney was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2011, was the No. 1 weakside defensive end and the top overall prospect in the state of South Carolina. His 247Composite rating of 1.000 equated to a five-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Hit. If Clowney, a consensus All-American and one of the most dominant players in college football as a sophomore, ends up being the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, it will be the first time in the modern era of recruiting coverage that a top overall prospect has gone No. 1 overall.
Inside Word- From the time he was a sophomore, analysts knew Clowney was special. Most networks that cover recruiting had made up their minds to rank him No. 1 overall shortly after his junior film was released. There was never any debate otherwise.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Salisbury (Conn.) Salisbury School
Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner moved to the United States from Germany during high school and had llimited football experience before blossoming into a terror his senior year of high school and in Tallahassee.
Rankings and Ratings- Werner was ranked as the nation’s No. 20 strongside defensive end prospect in the Class of 2010 and the No. 40 overall prospect in the state of Connecticut. His 247Composite rating of 0.8789 equated to a three star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Low. Werner was an All-American this season and has enjoyed an outstanding career at Florida State. The Seminoles have talent and depth on the defensive line and he was their best player this year. NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper recently compared him to St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long.
Inside Word- Werner flew way under the radar as a prospect. He came to the United States from Germany and had very little football experience prior to blossoming later in his high school years. It was a great find by Florida State assistant James Coley to get him to Tallahassee.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Corona (Calif.) Centennial
Rankings and Ratings- Sutton was ranked as the nation’s No. 36 defensive tackle prospect in the Class of 2009 and the No. 36 overall prospect in the state of California. His 247Composite rating of 0.8558 equated to a three-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Low. Sutton is one of the most dominant defensive players in the country and despite his size (6-1, 270), he has risen in the eyes of the NFL scouts. He’s the classic case of a “tweener” that should have been in the low four-star range based on his pure ability as a football player.
Inside Word- Sutton measured 6 feet, 248 pounds at a prospect camp prior to his senior season, so the recruiting industry saw him as undersized and that lowered his projection.
Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame
Monroe (Ga.) Monroe Area
Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt has been one of the key reasons why the Irish fielded a dominant defense this season and will play for the BCS National Championship in January.
Rankings and Ratings- Tuitt was ranked as the nation’s No. 32 overall prospect in the Class of 2011, the No. 3 strongside defensive end and the third-ranked overall prospect in the state of Georgia. His 247Composite rating of 0.9809 equated to a four-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Slightly Low. Tuitt was ranked highly by the industry (high four star), but has performed at a five-star, top 10 in the NFL Draft type of level during his career with the Irish.
Inside Word- During the 2011 cycle, Tuitt was ranked lower than he finished, but an outstanding senior year caused him to rise. There also was some question about where exactly on the defensive line to project him.
C.J. Mosely, LB, Alabama
Rankings and Ratings- Mosley was ranked as the nation’s No. 77 overall prospect in the Class of 2010, the No. 3 inside linebacker prospect and the second-ranked overall prospect in the state of Alabama. His 247Composite rating of 0.9628 equated to four stars.
High, Low or Hit- Low. Mosely was one of the best linebackers on Alabama’s roster from the day he stepped foot on campus and is one of the top playmaking linebackers in the country. He likely will be one of the first linebackers taken in his draft class.
Inside Word- There are times, with regards to state of Alabama prospects, that the industry slightly underrates those that only are considering Alabama or Auburn and don’t rack up a bunch of out-of-state offers. This happened here. Mosely was staying in-state, only visited the two in-state programs and was likely, in the minds of national analysts, more of a “regional” recruit than a national one.
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Notre Dame linebacker Mant Te'o was the highest-rated recruit every to come out of the state of Hawaii. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting this season and was a consensus All-American.
Rankings and Ratings- Te’o was ranked as the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect in the Class of 2009, the top-ranked inside linebacker and the top overall prospect in the state of Hawaii. His 247Composite rating of 0.9977 equated to five stars.
High, Low or Hit- Slightly high, depending on what you are projecting. There is no doubt Te’o was one of the best defensive players in college football this season and that he’s had an outstanding career at Notre Dame. If you are simply projecting high school players to college, as some networks do, then his ranking is spot on. If you are projecting long-term, highest upside, then he’s probably more in the 15-25 range. Obviously this could change with the combine moving forward.
Inside Word- Te’o was extremely impressive on film and during postseason all-star games, which led to his lofty ranking
Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Columbus (Ga.) Carver
Rankings and Ratings- Jones was ranked as the nation’s No. 49 overall prospect in the Class of 2009, the fourth-ranked outside linebacker and the third-ranked prospect in the state of Georgia. His 247Composite rating of 0.9732 equated to four stars.
High, Low or Hit- Slightly Low. Jones is one of the top playmaking linebackers in college football and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He has the chance to be the first linebacker taken in the NFL Draft.
Inside Word- Jones always had excellent potential. He contributed at USC then became a star at Georgia. Though a consensus top 50 prospect means he’s elite, he probably was not top 10 because there simply wasn’t enough of a feel for his true upside when he was in high school.
Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner was a highly-regarded prospect at his position for the entire recruiting cycle.
Rankings and Ratings- Poyer was ranked as the nation’s No. 41 cornerback prospect in the 2009 class. His 247Composite rating of 0.7889 equates to two stars.
High, Low or Hit- Low. Poyer has had a better career and projects at a higher level than at least 75 percent of the cornerback prospects ranked ahead of him in his class.
Inside Word- He was a state of Oregon prospect (under-scouted) heading to a program (Oregon State) that flies under the radar in recruiting every cycle, but makes great evaluations and puts players in the pros. Classic example of a sleeper.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama Millbrook (Ala.) Stanhope Elmore
Rankings and Ratings- Milliner was ranked as the nation’s No. 14 overall prospect in the Class of 2010, the top cornerback prospect and the top overall prospect in the state of Alabama. His 247Composite rating of 0.9930 equated to five stars.
High, Low or Hit- Hit. Milliner likely is a top 15-20 prospect long-term upside/ceiling-wise. He’s been one of the better cornerbacks for Alabama since his freshman year.
Inside Word- Milliner was well-known as a recruit, had dozens of scholarship offers and was generally regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2010 class for the entire recruiting cycle.
Matt Elam, S, Florida
Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer
Most analysts felt Florida's Matt Elam would end up playing safety in college, but there was some thought he could be an outstanding collegiate running back. Elam was one of the best pure football players to hit the field in the state of Florida during the last five years.
Rankings and Ratings- Elam was ranked as the nation’s No. 15 overall prospect in the Class of 2010, the No. 2 safety prospect and the No. 2 overall prospect in the state of Florida. His 247Composite rating of 0.99223 equated to five stars.
High, Low or Hit- Hit. Elam is one of the top safeties in college football and is an excellent playmaker. He may not be the biggest, but he’s one of the best by far.
Inside Word- Elam was one of the top all-around football players in the state of Florida for most of his high school career at Palm Beach Dwyer. He probably could have piled up a significant amount of rushing yards for the Gators this past season had he played running back. We felt that Elam not only was an outstanding prospect for college, but also if he played safety (which he did), he was one of those guys that was so good at the game, he could have a long NFL career.
Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State
Rankings and Ratings- At this time, the 2007 247Composite does not have Thomas ranked comparatively, but his 247Composite score of 0.7556 equates to a two-star prospect.
High, Low or Hit- Low. Obviously, Thomas is on numerous All-American teams and projects to play in the NFL, so two stars would be a low projection for him.
Inside Word- Just like Ryan Mathews, the running back who was from Bakersfield and ended up at Fresno State, was a first round pick of the San Diego Chargers and is now starring in the NFL, Thomas was overlooked by both schools and recruiting analysts. Situated between the state of California’s two most populated areas, perhaps geography and accessibility caused him to be undervalued and under-recruited. Or, he may have just developed. His case is not atypical for prospects in certain areas of California, though.
Tavon Austin, AP, West Virginia
Baltimore (Md.) Dunbar
West Virginia's Tavon Austin was slightly underrated as a prospect, but is one of the most explosive players in college football and has an NFL future.
Rankings and Ratings- Austin was ranked as the nation’s No. 163 overall prospect in the Class of 2009, the No. 21 wide receiver and the fourth-ranked prospect in the state of Maryland. His 247Composite rating of 0.9188 equated to four stars. High, Low or Hit- Low. Austin’s speed and outstanding college career likely mean he’s ticketed for the top two rounds of the NFL Draft.
Inside Word- It was tough to project Austin and still is, quite frankly. Is he a receiver? Is he a scat back? Is he just a return specialist? One thing is certain- he can play the game. That was known at the time given that he was one of the top 175 prospects in the country, but projecting him any higher would have been a guessing game.
Reggie Dunn, KR, Utah
Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei/Compton Community College
Rankings and Ratings- Out of high school in the Class of 2007, Dunn was ranked as the nation’s No. 191 overall prospect, the No. 22 receiver and the No. 17 overall prospect in the state of California. His 247Composite rating of 0.9000 equated to four stars. Out of junior college in the Class of 2010 JUCO, his 247Composite rating of 0.8778 equated to three stars,
High, Low or Hit- Hit out of high school. Slightly low out of junior college. Dunn obviously is one of the top returners in college football and projects to be a good return specialist in the NFL, but when you are considering position value, and you have to when ranking, it’s tough to project him higher.
Inside Word- Dunn’s recruitment was interesting. He was all set for Oregon State twice before heading to Utah. His talent and speed was never in question, but the long road he traveled knocked his projection down perhaps a notch or two.
Venric Mark, PR, Northwestern
Houston (Texas) St. Pius
Rankings and Ratings- Mark was ranked as the nation’s No. 122 receiver prospect in the Class of 2010 and the No. 169 overall prospect in the state of Texas. His 0.8220 247Composite rating equated to three stars.
High, Low or Hit- Low. Though three stars for a return specialist isn’t exactly off the mark, the bottom line is that Mark (how repetitive) is one of the biggest big-play threats in college football.
Inside Word- Mark flew under the radar at St. Pius in Houston and his explosive ability was not fully known during the recruiting cycle by analysts. There was also some question as to what position he would play, which is typical for many outstanding returners.