As someone who covers recruiting and watches a lot of film of recruits, I try not to get too worked up over rankings. Some sites I agree with. Others I don't. In the end, I form my own opinions because I spend the time to watch film or see players live as much as I can.
I don't normally get annoyed when a player drops or rises that I think doesn't deserve it, but I am a little bit bothered by one particular change in ranking that was pointed out to me yesterday. I saw that 247Sports has now downgraded Notre Dame running back commit Tony Jones Jr. to a 3 star and the 20th ranked running back in the nation after The Opening. And that just doesn't make any sense to me.
This has nothing to do with my evaluation of Jones. I'm okay with disagreeing if someone sees something else different than me. I just don't understand the logic of downgrading a player after a camp where he was never supposed to do well. Running backs aren't supposed to stand out in 7 on 7. Very few ever do.
When I watched him, he exceeded my expectations in terms of his ability to catch the ball and what his future might be doing that for Notre Dame. He wasn't a burner who made people miss in the open field like a few other backs who were there, but that is not Jones' game. He was never going to go there and tear it up in a setting that involved a combine, one practice, and then a 7 on 7 tournament. Touch football is not his game. He is much better when they get to wear pads and helmets. That's the kind of football that he plays on Friday nights and is going to play on Saturdays for Notre Dame.
Maybe they didn't see what I saw. I am fine with that. But even if they didn't, I still don't get why a kid drops in the rankings when he is not in a position to succeed at what got him the ranking in the first place.
There is still plenty of time and actual football games this fall for Jones to jump back up in the rankings. Maybe I'm a little annoyed over nothing? It just doesn't make much sense to me and I don't think he deserved to drop and don't understand why he or any running back would after that camp.
Other recruiting observations
- I'll get back to Notre Dame recruiting after this, but I thought it would be worth it to point out that wide receiver Nate Craig-Meyers, a big time player that unfortunately isn't headed to Notre Dame, looks like he dropped as well. I did see an article noting how he didn't make many plays during the camp and I guess that is the reason why.
Shouldn't it matter that he played with the worst set of quarterbacks in the camp on his 7 on 7 team, though? Isn't that a pretty big reason why a guy wouldn't make plays in 7 on 7? He didn't have Shea Patterson throwing him the football like some other receivers did.
I was messaging with SB Nation's Bud Elliott on Twitter about it and he mentioned that Craig-Meyers also had poor quarterback play affect his production during the recent IMG 7 on 7 event as well. If you don't have a good quarterback in 7 on 7, then chances are that you aren't going to do very well. Craig-Meyers was awesome as a sophomore, but missed his junior season due to injury. Hopefully he dominates again as a senior and then shows he deserves to still be considered right near the top of wide receiver rankings.
- Notre Dame added a defensive end with big upside yesterday in Ade Ogundeji. He's the kind of recruit that usually draws a mixed reaction from fans because his offer list isn't that impressive (Oregon and Rutgers are probably the two biggest ones other than Notre Dame) and getting a commitment from him is a lot more about what he could be as a football player than who he is now.
I definitely think he is a player that is going to need time to develop and needs to not only improve his technique, but get a lot stronger as well. With that being said, if Notre Dame was looking to add another weak side defensive end in this class, there weren't a ton of options out there for them to land at this point. Even the ones I would have liked them to get commitments from like Auston Robertson or Josh King, both of whom committed to Michigan State, are both fairly raw too. They are further along at this point than Ogundeji is, but both of them aren't sure things. They are going to need some time as well.
You can read my "In the Film Room" on Ogundeji over at Irish Sport Daily ($). He is only 16 years old so I'm very interested to see what kind of leap he can make as a senior this season.
- I decided to make this more of a blurb than write something long about it, but it has to be stressed again how important winning this season is going to be for recruiting. The first game against Texas is going to matter a lot to Texas recruits. The USC game is going to matter at lot to California recruits. The Clemson game is going to matter a lot to recruits in the south. Just winning in general is going to be important with so many recruits scheduled to visit Notre Dame the first time on official visits.
The good news is that we found out at The Opening that the Irish are not out of it for several elite players who have yet to visit. So many players like athlete Demetris Robertson, defensive end Oluwole Betiku, and linebacker Jonathan Jones are guys that Notre Dame is in the race for, but definitely not leading for. If Notre Dame wants to land these types of players, then they'll have to deliver on the field this season.
- There is a lot of hype that takes place after The Opening and being there the last two years, I can understand why. It's an awesome event to cover and it's fun to see the best compete against the best even if I wish the format was changed for players like linebackers and running backs to be more involved in the camp.
Two players who were at the camp last year who had pretty much zero buzz after it was over were Jerry Tillery and Alize Jones. Tillery did not wear pads because of a Louisiana rule prohibiting him from wearing them and Jones was injured and was not really involved at all in the 7 on 7 portion of the event. A year later they are probably the two players who are considered to be the most likely to contribute as true freshman at Notre Dame.
It's just a reminder that there is still plenty of time for the recruits to develop before they even get to campus and to not to get too concerned about the lack of buzz created by a recruit after the camp.