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How has recruiting ranking correlated with BC football success?

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 24 Wagner at Boston College Photo by Malcolm Hope/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jeff Hafley is in the midst of assembling one of BC’s best recruiting classes in years for the class of 2022, with 247Sports ranking the Eagles’ recruits #24 in the country, highlighted by four-star commits Sione Hala and Joseph Griffin. Rivals also has RJ Maryland listed as a 4-star recruit, and has BC #17 nationally.

This comes on the heels of BC’s 2021 class, Hafley’s first full haul, which 247 ranked #37 - BC’s best in those rankings since 2006, when Tom O’Brien and company recruited the 35th-ranked recruiting class nationally.

As we all know, recruiting rankings are an imperfect science, but generally speaking, teams that are near the top of these lists tend to have more success.

How has recruiting ranking correlated with success at BC? We took a look at the last 17 classes (basically going back to the start of the ACC era), took a look at who the recruiting services highlighted (and who they didn’t), and how many wins BC averaged over the following 5 years.

Obviously this is inexact - not everyone redshirted, some ended up coming back a sixth year, strength of schedule varies, etc. But it’s interesting to take a look back:

All rankings and star levels listed here are per 247Sports.

Class of 2004
National Ranking: #32
Average wins over the next five years: 9.6

The Class of 2004 was highlighted at the time by Brian Toal and Brandon Robinson, coming in as four star players. Ron Brace is there as a three star. A little further down the list: BJ Raji, who came in as a two star recruit

This class was part of the most successful stretch for BC in recent memory. This is the highest average five year win total you’ll see for the rest of this article, so enjoy it.

Class of 2005
National Ranking: #52
Average wins over the next five years: 9.4

The class of 2005’s top recruits included Razzie Smith, Matt Tenant, Clarence Megwa, and Rich Gunnell.

Class of 2006
National Ranking: #35
Average wins over the next five years: 9

TOB’s last full class was a good one, with Jordon McMichael and Rich Lapham coming in as 4* players. A notable 3* recruit in this class? Mark Herzlich...

Class of 2007:
National Ranking: #44
Average wins over the next five years: 7.8

John Elliott was the top-ranked recruit in this class, a 4* player. Ifeanyi Momah highlights the 3* players, and Anthony Castonzo came in as a 2*.

Class of 2008:
National Ranking: #38
Average wins over the next five years: 6

This was probably the peak of BC marketability, with Jags bringing in his “BC guys” to complement a team that had just gone to the ACC championship game. Among the heralded recruits to come in were Josh Haden and Okechuckwu Okoroha as 4* players. Kaleb Ramsey and Montel Harris were among those who came in as 3*.

Class of 2009:
National Ranking: #65
Average wins over the next five years: 5.6

This is where you start to see the national rankings decline after the GDF/Jags/Spaz brouhaha. Despite the low national rnaking this class still featured Luke Kuechly as a 3* player; Dillon Quinn was the top rated recruit coming in as a 4*.

Class of 2010:
National Ranking: #45
Average wins over the next four years: 5.4

It seemed like the recruiting ship had largely been righted in 2010-11, starting with a 2010 class that included Shakim Phillips, Kevin PIerre Louis, Chase Rettig and Seth Betancourt as 4* players. Andre Williams also came in this year as a 3*. While the ensuing years were a struggle some of these guys became key in Daz at least steering BC back to bowl contention in his first year.

Class of 2011:
Class Ranking: #39
Average wins over the next five years: 4.6

This class included Albert Louis-Jean as a 4*, with 3*s including Sean Duggan and Josh Keyes. Despite being Spaz’s top-ranked recruiting class, this group ended up being part of the bottom falling out in Spaz’s last two years, as well as the tough second year of Daz’s rebuild.

Class of 2012:
National Ranking: #69
Average wins over the next 5 years: 5.2

No 4* recruits came in in 2012 as the Eagles’ bowl streak became history and the program began to sputter. Justin Simmons came in as a 3* recruit.

Class of 2013:
National Ranking: #86
Average wins over the next 5 years: 6.2

Matt Milano was the top-ranked recruit as a 3* as this class reflected the departure of Spaz and arrival of Addazio in the offseason.

Class of 2014:
National Ranking: #51
Average wins over the next 5years: 6.2

This was a good class for BC, with 3* recruits including Jon Hilliman, Connor Strachan, and Harold Landry. Notable 2* arrival: Tommy Sweeney.

Class of 2015:
National Ranking: #60
Average wins over the next 5 years: 6

Despite the turnaround from the decline of the Spaz years, BC’s recruiting rank didn’t tick up much in Daz’s early years; this class did see the arrival of some notable three stars including Chris Lindstrom and Jake Burt.

Class of 2016:
National Ranking: #78
Average wins over next 5 years: 6.6

Daz’s recruiting never really improved much from a ranking perspective. The 2016 class was highlighted by 3* Kobay White.

Class of 2017:
National Ranking: #67
Average wins over next 4 years: 6.5

Not a huge rankings bump, but this class saw the arrival of a number of three stars that helped the program improve - AJ Dillon , Brandon Sebastian, Ben Petrula, CJ Lewis, Travis Levy and Hunter Long among them.

Class of 2018:
National Ranking: #71
Average wins over next 3 years: 6.33

This class saw Daz’s first 4* in a while, Finn Dirstine. The 3* recruits that year included Tyler Vrabel.

Class of 2019:
National Ranking: #64
Average wins over next 2 years: 6

Pat Garwo and Shitta Sillah were the top-ranked recruits in the class of 2019, per 247 (both at 3*).

Class of 2020:
National ranking: #62
Average wins over next 1 year: 6

The big story as Hafley took over the program were transfers in like Phil Jurkovec and Jaelen Gill. Ozzy Trapilo and Kevin Pyne were the 4* freshman recruits.

Class of 2021:
National Ranking: 37

Drew Kendall and Clinton Burton are 247’s top ranked guys here as 4*s.

What can we learn?

At BC recruiting ranking seemed to be more of a lagging than a leading indicator over the last 15-20 years.

BC’s recruiting remained not too far off where it was during the TOB years in the early years of Spaz, but as Spaz’s teams struggled in 2011 and 2012, the recruiting fell apart, too, dropping to #86 in 2013 the year Addazio took over.

Despite taking over after BC’s two worst recruiting classes, Addazio was able to patch some holes and at least put together bowl-eligible teams, other than in 2015.

Addazio basically stabilized the recruiting and the on-field results, staying pretty much in the 60-70 range for recruiting and producing 6 to 7 win seasons. That said, despite improving the on-field results from Spaz, recruiting wasn’t really improving much by the end of his tenure.

That has changed under Hafley (while duly noting that Hafley has had full benefit of BC’s improved facilities, something Addazio did not have to work with).

With the recruiting ranking ticking up for this year’s and next year’s class, the hope will be at least to a return to the kinds of results we saw in the early-to-mid 2000s.

One thing that is pretty obvious from a review of this history is that BC’s best players generally haven’t been their highest rated; the Eagles’ ability to take overlooked recruits and see them work their way into pro prospects is part of the program’s DNA even through coaching changes. If Hafley can combine higher-ranked recruits with the ability to still coach up the 2-to-3 star players, then we’ll be in business.