Tom Herman’s first Signing Day at the University of Texas went less than ideally, with his 2017 class finishing as the 26th class in the country marking the lowest-rated class ever for the Longhorns. Typically, a new head coach’s first recruiting class is transitional, and doesn’t reflect the recruiting ability of a head coach right off the bat. Even still, these low numbers were still surprising to see for Herman’s first class.
However, it seems there was actually some strategy that went into Texas’ 2017 class. Herman said in a recent interview with Longhorn Network that he and his staff found research regarding first-year head coaches’ classes that prompted them to change their approach a bit. Below are some of Herman’s comments during the interview, which were transcribed via Football Scoop.
“We knew through all the metrics, all the analytics, all the numbers that point to most of the time in years of transition in coaching staffs, that signing class has the highest rate of attrition – meaning kids that quit – has the highest rate of off-field issues including academics, drugs and social, and has the highest rate of guys that can’t play, and don’t ever see the field.”
He also said that this occurrence was something that he saw when he was at Ohio State, where he served as the offensive coordinator from 2012-14.
“I even went back to check, and when we took over at Ohio State in 2012, we signed 19 guys, and it was considered the 5th ranked recruiting class in the country, and I went back five years later and looking back at it, there were only 3 of those 19 that saw significant playing time for us at Ohio State.”
On Signing Day, Herman wasn’t too concerned about the low ranked class he put together, which had just four blue-chips, which were all four-star prospects.
Big news here: Herman says recruiting rankings "don't crack a kid's chest open and look at his heart."— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) February 1, 2017
Herman added that one of the main focuses of his signing class for 2017 was adding guys who can provide depth, as opposed to ones who would see the field right away. This actually looks like a smart strategy, given that the Longhorns are No. 6 in returning production next season, bringing back 82 percent.
The Longhorns are one of only three teams (along with FIU and Tulane) to return at least 80 of their production on both sides of the ball. Charlie Strong didn't leave the cupboard empty.
“We don’t sign backups here at the University of Texas. None of these guys were signed for depth or anything other than we believe that they can either play now and help us win championships, or be developed into guys that can play for us in the near future to help us win championships. So a lot of effort was put into the evaluation process.”
Depending on how this year’s class pans out for Herman, he could be onto something by utilizing this strategy.
You can see the full interview below.