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A catfishing might’ve just changed recruiting rankings forever

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247Sports is altering how the Composite rankings work after Rivals apparently rated a spoof.

Screenshot via Kentucky Prep Gridiron

Just over a week after National Signing Day, 247Sports announced a significant change to its recruit ratings service: its Composite will no longer list ratings for prospects who were not also rated by 247 itself. The reason behind this appears to be a recruit by the name of Blake Carringer, who doesn’t exist — or doesn’t exist as he was as briefly described by recruiting media, at least.

The 247Sports Composite is a collective rating that combines 247Sports’ own ratings, Rivals.com’s, and ESPN’s.

Here’s 247Sports’ own definition of its Composite:

The 247Sports Composite Rating is a proprietary algorithm that compiles prospect “rankings” and “ratings” listed in the public domain by the major media recruiting services. It converts average industry ranks and ratings into a linear composite index capping at 1.0000, which indicates a consensus No. 1 prospect across all services.

So if a fake prospect were to be added to Rivals’ or ESPN’s ratings, that would be reflected in the Composite as well.

Enter Carringer, who’d been described by some folks on Twitter as a 2020 offensive lineman out of Tennessee with several top scholarship offers (which does not appear to be the case).

Somewhere along the way, Rivals allegedly rated him a three-star, or a player with a good chance to be a contributor for a major program and a decent shot at the NFL:

That Rivals page would’ve then fed into 247Sports’ Composite. This screenshot appears to show a recruit with a three-star Composite rating but no 247Sports rating, meaning that rating came from a different service.

This link is now down, but the basic info is still on Google:

Google

Other folks noticed the page on both Rivals and 247:

(We haven’t seen anything confirming 247 actually listed Carringer as a four-star, rather than just relaying the three-star rating he received from Rivals.)

Meanwhile, 247 is describing this as Rivals’ doing alone. The site’s founder and CEO tweeted the following:

Yes, Terry describes Rivals as a “lil brother service.” Love you, recruiting.

Wait, so this Carringer guy didn’t exist?

There are no 6’6, 300-pounders at Grace Christian Academy with Alabama offers who go by that name.

The headshot photo of “Carringer” appears to actually be of Corey Stephens, a 2017 Arizona State signee (as noticed by Chris Karpman).

The internet recruiting legend’s Twitter account, @carringer2020, has been deactivated, but it seemed to be fooling at least some recruiting services and media — here’s a tweet from the high school sports account for the Knoxville News Sentinel, listing Carringer among actual football players:

It appears the account reached out to other organizations as well, including recruiting events. Here’s one message sent its way from shortly before Signing Day:

How long was this account in the works?

It looks like “Carringer” claimed an offer from Syracuse back in November, judging by some of the account’s old Twitter mentions.

A Twitter user claiming to be “Founder of ETHSFR (East Tennessee High School Football Recruits)” has tweeted a total of three times. Two of them were about Carringer back in November:

Grace Christian Academy did have a player last season by the name of Blake Carringer.

Albeit one listed quite a bit smaller than 6’6 and 315 pounds.

There’s a lot we still don’t know about how exactly some social media shenanigans ended up with major services showing a three-star rating for a player who sort of wasn’t real, but those are the basics for now.

If someone intentionally tricked Rivals, this would be far from the first catfish in recruiting history.

He might not be the last, either. In 2017, a “quarterback” who went by Unique Brissett fooled a whole bunch of folks while claiming offers from Michigan, Miami, Kentucky, and others.

The New York Post spoke with Brissett:

“Well me & my brother was watching college football & hudl’s & stuff,” Brissett told The Post in a message exchange over Twitter, referencing the recruiting website, “like that we was talking about it & then we both agreed we would do it (get fake offers ) then we was talking about what was our favorite college teams & then we started lying about the offers.”

He added that he probably would’ve given it up if his story hadn’t gotten so much attention.

“It was easy. I don’t think it was hard at all,” said Brissett, who said he would’ve simply stopped after a while if no one was giving him the attention — either for being a real hotshot prospect or for being a fake hotshot prospect.

“I was laughing. I was too hype,” Brissett said about the moment his story fell apart.

In 2008, Nevada athlete Kevin Hart offered himself a scholarship to Cal and committed in a gymnasium in front of his classmates and family. There were cameras and microphones and a victory walk! There was no actual scholarship.

As for how this will change recruiting rankings, beyond just the obvious, it switches things up quite a bit.

247 doesn’t rate every player in the country. Some players who are rated in the Composite were actually only rated by one or two of the three services. So going forward, smaller schools might not have all their signees counted in the Composite’s ratings. It will take longer for some more prominent recruits to be listed in the Composite as well, since Rivals and ESPN data would only factor into the Composite once 247 rated that player first.

A (mostly) fake recruit singlehandedly changed recruiting rankings, and that might be the most college football thing that happens all offseason.