Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana
The Texas Longhorns have recently ended their recruitment of Ricky Seals-Jones, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2013. Most recruiting services have Seals-Jones ranked as the top wide receiver in the class, and by all accounts he has the athleticism and potential to fulfill his ranking. But then again, what should these rankings really be taken as? There are a number of ways to view it. From one man’s perspective, however, recruiting rankings are simply an assessment of how much potential resides in a player. To narrow it down further, rankings are an assessment of how much potential a player has displayed up to the present point in time.
The thing is, assessing the potential of high school players, most of whom are not old enough to vote in this year’s presidential election, can be tricky. So many variables are involved when going from apparent potential to actual performance. Some players may have more room to develop physically, and some players have had vastly better coaching which allows them to better display their abilities. In addition, recruiting rankings often ignore a very crucial element: what a player has going on between his ears. This may be the single most important factor when separating players of similar athletic ability.
There are numerous examples of highly touted players who haven’t lived up to the billing, and just as many examples of players who have exceeded expectations. Teenagers are strange creatures. And though this comes as a surprise to no one, that idea is often lost on many fans take who recruiting rankings as scripture.
So while many Longhorn fans are upset about losing a potential impact WR, all hope is not lost. And a certain historical event should not be forgotten. Bring up the name Ryan Perrilloux to any Texas fan and you’ll likely get a response along the lines of "dodged a bullet there." I agree whole-heartedly with that sentiment, as Perrilloux got himself into trouble off the field at LSU, and made a less than impressive impact on it. Often in life, though, when one door closes another opens. Texas dodged a bullet in Perrilloux, but quietly they had landed a fully-loaded Colt. (Okay that was too easy, but you can’t really blame me, right?)
Yes, Daniel Colt McCoy. Some of you may have heard of him. But how excited were you to see his name on the list of Longhorn commitments in the 2005 class? After losing Perrilloux to LSU, the guy who was supposed to replace THE GUY (Vince Young), most Longhorns fans probably felt lukewarm about the QB haul in the small class of fifteen recruits. You see, Colt McCoy was a lowly 3-star recruit and Ryan Perrilloux was a sure-fire can’t-miss (enter redundant hyphenated phrase here) 5-star stud. This is a prime example of misleading recruiting rankings. Let’s revisit a couple of highlights from that recruiting class.
According to USA Today, the top-rated DL in the 2005 class was DeMarcus Granger, an OU commit. If you skim down the list, past the likes of Callahan Bright, Melvin Alaeze, and Ekom Udofia, you’ll find the name Ndamukong Suh. Look at Sports Illustrated’s class rankings from that year and Texas sits behind the likes of Tennessee (with big-time QB recruit Jonathan Crompton) and Iowa. Everyone makes mistakes. Those who rank recruits make a lot more than most of us give them credit for.
To be sure, the recruitment of RSJ is not exactly the same as that of Perrilloux, but there are some similarities. Perrilloux, like Ricky Seals-Jones, was the consensus top ranked player at his position. Perrilloux, like Seals-Jones, committed early to Texas. Perrilloux, like Seals-Jones, decommitted from Texas.
However, while Perrilloux switched his commitment late, Seals-Jones has left a window of opportunity for Texas to reach out to another recruit. That recruit is Laquon Treadwell, out of Illinois. It’s possible that Head Coach Mack Brown saw the writing on the wall, learned a lesson from his experience recruiting Perrilloux, and is taking advantage of the chance to land another player rather than wait around for a similar disappointment.
Now, Treadwell may not end up committing to Texas. He is rated as a 4-star recruit compared to Colt’s 3-star status. And for all we know, Seals-Jones may end up being a stellar player wherever he ends up. Lord knows I wouldn’t wish Perrilloux’s fate on any kid. But history says Perrilloux’s decommitment played out well for Texas. If Treadwell does take RSJ’s place in Texas’s 2013 recruiting class, surely Brown hopes that history will be repeated.