Phillip Marshall: Recruiting not always as it appears

Jan. 27, 2014

Four Auburn players played in last week's Senior Bowl and, by all accounts, performed well in the game and in the crucial practices watched closely by NFL scouts.They all had something in common, other than the Auburn helmets they wore. None of them created much of a stir when they signed out of high school.

Defensive end Dee Ford, named the game's Most Valuable Player and the top defensive lineman in practices, was a 3-star recruit out of St. Clair County High School. Fullback Jay Prosch was a 2-star from UMS-Wright and signed with Illinois. Cornerback Chris Davis was a 3-star out of Birmingham's Woodlawn High School. Cody Parkey was a 4-star and the highest ranked of them all. All of them will play in the NFL.

Of the players on the active rosters for Sunday's Super Bowl, 13 Seahawks and 10 Broncos didn't play for FBS schools at all, meaning they probably weren't offered scholarships by FBS schools.

With national signing day just more than a week away, folks might want to keep that in mind.

Recruiting matters. It matters probably more than anything in building a program. But developing players matters, too. Sometimes 2-star recruits turn into 5-star players. Sometimes 5-sar recruits turn into 2-star players.

This is not about recruiting rankings or any of that. Every school would like to sign only players who are already physically and mentally ready to play at the highest level. The thing is no school can do that.

Auburn had plenty of 4-star and 5-star recruits, including the likes of Nick Marshall, Tre Mason, Sammie Coates and Robenson Therezie, who made mighty contributions in the run to the BCS Championship Game. There were also some 4-star and 5-star recruits who mostly watched from the sideline. But without Davis, Prosch and Ford would the Tigers have been 12-2? We'll never know, but it seems unlikely.



Fans will cheer next week when prominent recruits choose their schools. And they should.

But they should remember a 109-yard return of a missed field to beat Alabama and a fullback who pancaked two Missouri defenders on the same play and the most dominant pass rushing defensive end in the Southeastern Conference.

The players who made those things happen weren't about star rankings. They were about hard work, leadership and winning.

There will be players like them in the next class, too. And it won't have a thing to do with how many stars are beside their names.

Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter: