The 2014 National Signing Day was an important day for the Mid-American Conference. Western Michigan put together the greatest class ever (on paper) by a MAC school. The Broncos pulled in 28 total (27 signed) recruits, with more than a dozen being of the high 3-star caliber. WMU signed several players regarded as Top 25 players at their position, and snatched up multiple recruits that the bigger BCS schools were clamoring for.
Of course Western Michigan didn't have all the fun. Per usual, Toledo had a strong recruiting class, and Northern Illinois signed one of the more sought after cornerbacks in the nation. Bowling Green signed a former 4-star recruit (long story) and a safety who is regarded as a 4-star by Rivals.
We already power ranked the MAC 2014 recruiting classes ourselves, but, admittedly, we're not the paid experts who obsessively read over 100s of scouting reports and watch tens of hours of highlight tapes a week to rank the players. That's what sites such as 247Sports, Rivals and Scout are for. Let's take a look at how each of the major scouting services rank the 2014 MAC recruiting classes, starting off with 247Sports:
247Sports MAC Football Recruiting Rankings
For the most part, 247Sports' rankings hold up with ours. WMU is by far the leader in their MAC rankings. Remember, 247Spots uses composite rankings to make up these lists, those same composite rankings we used in our recruiting reports. They have Buffalo at No. 3 instead of No. 4, which makes sense because the Bulls did sign more 3-star commits than NIU, and some fantastic ones at that.
Besides that, there's some major difference between how 247Sports views the classes and how we did. Eastern Michigan came in dead last, partially punished for its smaller sized class. The Eagles had a higher average recruit ranking than the likes of Miami (No. 11), Kent State (No. 12) and NIU (No. 4), but with just 16 being reported on 247Sports, it isn't enough to raise them out of the bottom.
This also presents the problem with these rankings. The site doesn't accurately list some of the classes. EMU signed 17, not 16. Akron signed 13, not 16. Part of the problem is the site is still listing players who committed to the teams, but didn't sign. There's no telling if the site will ever update that, because if the players didn't sign elsewhere, or announce a de-commitment, they are technically still committed to the schools.
Overall though, I think this shows a glaring problem, and that is that 247Sports just didn't know much about many of the MAC signees. Take for example, Ohio's Maleek Irons. This is a player, out of Canada, that Canadian scouting services considered the No. 1 prospect in the country. Yet until Signing Day, there was nothing about him on 247Sports, not even a listing. This of course isn't a problem solely isolated to 247Sports. The fact is there are hundreds of thousands of high school players out there, it's impossible for the scouting sites to accurately scout each and every one of them. Even the ones that do get scouted, the sites can have varying opinions. Such is the case with WMU's Lonnie Johnson. 247Sports ranks him a 4-Star recruit, but they're the only service that does.
|Scout MAC Football Recruiting Rankings|
Scout's rankings are the most different from ours. The service thinks UMass had the worst class by far, but again, it's not accurately listing all of the Minutemen's signings. The service also has the Zips at No. 12, and well bellow the EMU Eagles. Interestingly enough, the site is high on Ohio and Ball State, giving them seven, and eight 3-star recruits respectively; but the service is also incredibly low on Buffalo.
The Bulls come in at eight on Scout's rankings, down five from 247Sports'. Miami is way higher on Scouts, coming in at No. 7, while our rankings and 247Sports' ranking had them at 11.
|Rivals 2014 MAC Football Recruiting Class Rankings|
|102 (tied)||Central Michigan||18||0||2||675|
Lastly, there's Rivals, which again, isn't accurately listing all of the signings, but for the most part are close in the numbers. Again though, Rivals' rankings vary from ours. Miami, which actually has 26 signings, is the last class in the MAC according to these rankings, by a decent margin. We had them at No. 11. Kent State, out last place class, is No. 12, but is missing four signings.
Again, Buffalo's class isn't highly regarded here. The Bulls come in at No. 9, but were No. 4 in our rankings. Central benefits the most here, listed as the sixth best class in the MAC, while we felt it was the twelfth best class in the league this year.
Looking at all of these rankings together we can see one thing, it's generally the successful MAC schools with the best ranked recruiting classes. Northern Illinois' class is never ranked lower than fifth in the conference. Bowling Green's class, admittedly ranked lower in our rankings than anywhere else, is hovering at about the fifth best class in the conference. Schools such as Miami, EMU and UMass, all of which have struggled on the field and are transitioning over to new coaches, have poorly rated classes by the scouting services. It all stands to hold up the idea that success on the field begets success on the recruiting trail, for the most part. Of course WMU breaks that hypothesis with its class that is unanimously considered the top class in the MAC.
Of course none of this is a science, and in our rankings I tried to look past just size or player rankings, but also at how a class filled its needs, which these rankings can't do. But, it's interesting to note how these scouting services view the talent level of MAC recruits in order to get a sense of just how well the MAC's classes stack up nationally.
We'll discuss what these 2014 classes show about the MAC on a national stage next.