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Early recruiting rankings are suspect, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthless

Everyone knows February is a long way away.

Florida A&M v Miami Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Recruiting is a year-round sport. Therefore, recruiting coverage is year-round coverage.

But one thing that happens whenever a team starts getting more spring or summer attention than usual: rival supporters breaking the news that April of Year A does not equate to February of Year B, as if nobody else realized that.

"Too early for this kind of talk," the Actually, Signing Day Isn't 10 Months Early This Year, Despite What Everyone Besides Me Thinks,” man says.

This year's biggest example: anyone who doesn't like seeing Miami's continued No. 1 ranking. The Canes probably won't finish there, but they have yet to lose momentum and have a player average that'd be good for top 10, if it didn't slip much through NSD. (The flipside, because nobody got mad about it: celebrating Kansas' early top-10 class.)

Everyone knows Signing Day isn't here yet. This guy isn't unearthing wisdom. This is like seeing a touchdown and bragging about knowing there are 55 minutes left on the clock. Everyone knows games don't end early.

There are plenty of reasons to take early rankings with grains of salt. Player ratings are super incomplete. Coaching staffs will change. College depth charts will change. Commit lists are, as Rival Fan Avatar guy is scrambling to tell you, a long way from official.

But instead of scolding, the Please Stop Paying Attention To Anything I Don't Like crowd could direct people to what can be gleaned from early rankings.

  • Most commits will stick. Things will fluctuate like wild, but a team generally needs about 30 to 35 commits over a class cycle to sign 25.
  • Total commits are interesting — Northwestern and Minnesota are in double digits already and thus rank highly — but a class' average-player rating is a better predictor of quality. Ohio State's lowest-rated commit out of seven rates better than Northwestern's best out of 13.
  • Early QB rankings aren't all that volatile. Every year, most tend to go early and most tend to stick. For 2018, only three of the top 16 QBs are on the market right now.
  • And we can spot small-scale trends, like Minnesota's P.J. Fleck hinting at a Georgia pipeline after years of Midwest focus.

Also, the first Signing Day's coming earlier than Um, Actually February Is In February guy thinks. December's only eight months away.

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