I posted this in Blitz, but wanted to expand on it here as well. Many people are looking for recruits to be factors this season. In the case of the big programs getting top-10 classes, that might be the case. The problem is that most top programs get top-10 classes every year. So if a player comes in and starts as a freshman, that means the program in question missed on some players the two or three classes before.
Recruiting is for the future.
If you get a player that starts right away, then you landed a star. The reality is that most classes of 20 or 25 players have just a handful of guys that actually see the field the same year that they signed. And usually most of those players only play on special teams. A true freshman that starts has to either be elite like Jaquizz Rodgers or James Rodgers were. Both of them are Oregon State Hall of Famers who started as freshmen, and both of them started because they were great players coming into a team that had openings at their positions. Had Yvenson Bernard been there Quizz’s first year, he might never have seen the field (and OSU would have beaten Stanford).
To view recruiting as help for the coming season, outside of JC recruits and transfers, in my opinion, is not realistic. OSU had to use Sean Harlow in 2013 because of a lot of injuries, but also because they only got two linemen in two years from 2010 – 2011. Had Darryl Jackson turned out to be the four-star stud we had hoped, he would have started and maybe for two years. But his degenerative hip injuries forced him to retire from the sport. So instead, you had Roman Sapolu and Justin Addie as the only remaining scholarship players and neither of them was a tackle.
When we look at this year’s recruiting class and people lament the players poached, the reality is, with the quality of the previous two classes, there is likely no one that is going to come in and start right away. Bowman and Torain would have had a hard time beating out the players around them. Bowman may be great, but Joshwa James and Dylan Wynn would start ahead of him. There’s no doubt in my mind. His only way of being a starter this year would have been injury or sickness. He might have been in the rotation, but Torain had no chance with the depth at offensive line. In fact, there are very few holes on the Oregon State team has that are not going to be filled by incumbents because the coaches recruited very well from 2011 to 2013.
Some things stay the same
Everything seems so fast these days, yet developing talent still takes the same amount of time. Getting players ready to play, even the most motivated ones, is not easy. Had OSU recruited better in 2009-2010, Dylan Wynn would have been a sophomore this season. We all have lamented a player coming in for two plays in a season (Kevin Cummings) or playing on kick offs and blowing their redshirt year for a handful of snaps. If you recruit well year in and year out, that is not a worry because players just redshirt. Unless they are amazing. And then you have no worries because, hey, you have an amazing player.
Hand-wringing about this class because of its effect on 2014 is misplaced angst. Next year would be fine if this class was ranked 30th or 80th. The worries should be in three years when these players that are seen as either diamonds in the rough or projects have to start showing their diamond shine or project compete status.
Ultimately, even if this year ends up being a step back in overall recruiting rankings, if OSU can win next year and get a solid class, it should be OK. One bad or lackluster class won’t kill you. It will force you to look hard at JC players in the future and it will give extra urgency to the results on the field in the coming season. For Oregon State, the biggest thing the coaches need to do after February 5th, is to work super hard to make sure that they beat Portland State, that they take care of business against SDSU, and that they dominate Hawaii in Hawaii so that they can roll into LA 3-0. Then they need to make sure that the next time they go to California after the Trojan game, they are no worse than 5-1. Do that or better, and recruiting will get a heck of a lot easier.
And the future a bit brighter.