For a couple of years now, I have incorporated recruiting rankings, in one form or another, into my portion of the preseason projections for the Football Outsiders Almanac. There is a very specific reason for this: while we often manage to overstate the importance of recruiting, the simple fact is that strong recruiting rankings tend to correlate quite strongly with strong performance on the field. The Mathlete at MGoBlog did a lovely job of reaffirming this last week. The takeaway:
Recruiting rankings have a huge correlation to future team success, especially on defense. Great teams can come from average talent, but more talent typically means more success. On defense it is virtually impossible to build an elite defense without elite recruits, and its equally true across all defensive positions. On offense dreams of 5 star skill position players are fun, but coaching, player development, system and luck play a much bigger role in future success than they do on defense.