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March 3, 2013?
Because of high-profile success stories such as Sean Weatherspoon and Danario Alexander, Missouri's staff has developed a reputation for mining diamonds-in-the-rough in high school and turning them into all-conference performances.
Over the last few weeks, PowerMizzou.com has examined statistics for Missouri's 2002 through 2010 signing classes to determine what return on investment the Tigers' staff has received for recruits of each ranking.
Because statistics are hard to compare over multiple positions, we took a look at games played in, games started, all-conference honors, draft picks and signees who never saw the field at Missouri -- whether it was because of injury, dismissal or transfer. The belief is that the staff signs players with the expectation that they will contribute on the field, so that's why we decided on games played and games started as the biggest indicator for recruiting success.
We also limited the sample to those years based on two factors: Rivals.com records are not easily accessible prior to the Class of 2002, which establishes our starting point. We ended with the Class of 2010 because any players signed after that date are no more than halfway through their collegiate careers.
In the end, we looked at each ranking, determining an average "return on investment" based on starts and participation. We also looked at the percentage of all-conference honors, draft picks and "did-not-plays" at each ranking.
(NOTE: We only used All-Americans and first or second-team all-conference, as determined by the AP and coaches, for the "honors" category. If a player received recognition in multiple seasons, he only counted as one in the honors category. We also did not include Missouri players who were not drafted, but currently play in the NFL.)
Below is our data:
The results are mainly what you would expect:
-- Missouri signed two five-star recruits over that span (Blaine Gabbert and Sheldon Richardson), and they combined for 55 games, with 71% being starts. Richardson received all-SEC first-team honors in 2012, while Gabbert didn't meet our criteria for that category. Gabbert was drafted in the first round in 2011, and Richardson is sure to be drafted in a few months.
-- With such a huge number of three-stars, the bulk of Missouri's on-the-field contribution has come from that group. Over that span, a three-star recruit averaged about 27 total games, 13 starts and had an 8.5-percent chance of receiving an honor.
-- Missouri's diamonds-in-the-rough trailed in nearly every category, as one would expect. A two-star recruit averaged about 20 games played, six starts and had just a 3.4-percent chance of receiving honors. Also, Missouri's two-star recruits had the highest chance of not playing a down for the Tigers, a 27.1-percent rate.
-- Missouri's four-stars trailed the three-stars in games played (an average of 21) and starts (about 11). However, they had a 13.3-percent chance of receiving honors and a ten-percent chance of being drafted. Interestingly, though, the four-stars also had a higher chance of not playing a down at Missouri (20-percent) than the three-star recruits. A lot of that came in the early stages of the Rivals.com era. Three of Missouri's six four-star DNPs came from 2002-2004.
-- While it's clear the more highly ranked players signed have a greater chance of contributing on the field, it should be noted that a two-star and a three-star recruit at Missouri have very similar chances of getting drafted (5.1-percent vs. 5.9-percent, respectively). That's where Missouri's diamonds-in-the-rough have helped that number, with Weatherspoon, Andrew Gachkar and Stryker Sulak entering Missouri as two-star recruits and leaving in the NFL draft. Danario Alexander and Chase Daniel are NFL players, but were not drafted.
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