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Ohio State's 2015 recruiting class and its impact on advanced stats rankings

How does the 2015 class affect the Buckeyes' talent base and how will that affect on-field results in 2015 and beyond?

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting in the Jim Tressel era was exciting, but nothing like Ohio State's recruiting since Urban Meyer took over and made the Buckeyes regularly contend for a top-3 finish in the recruiting rankings. Sure, Tressel had his years -- like the 2008 class that featured Terelle Pryor, Michael Brewster, Mike Adams, and DeVier Posey -- but Urban Meyer has consistently produced top-5 recruiting classes in his short time at Ohio State.

Every year we can debate exactly how much recruiting rankings matter, even though better recruiting classes do tend to product better results on the field. But how exactly do Buckeye recruiting classes translate in to on-field results?

There are a lot of factors at work here and ranking recruiting classes is tricky. First is the problem of the evaluations themselves, as demonstrated by the number of three-star All-Americans and bust five-stars. Then there's the fact that measuring class ranking is usually done by quantity and not quality, so 30 three-stars equal a class are better than a class of 20 four-stars. Further, commits don't always address positions of need, so even if players pan out like their rankings suggest and stay out of trouble and on the field, they may not address serious team needs.

So it's impossible to totally capture the impact that a recruiting class will have on the field, but it's worth taking a shot anyway. In the table below is data from 247's Composite, with the recruiting class rank, recruit average ranking, total points per class, and then four-year averages for each of the previous two numbers. Finally, the last column is the following season's end-of-year F/+ rank to get a sense for how recruiting classes affect on-field performance. All of this assumes the Buckeyes' 2015 recruiting class stays the same between now and signing day even there's a slim probability that happens.

Year Rank Avg Points 4 Yr Avg Avg 4Yr Pts Avg Next Season F/+ Rank
2008 8 86.78 269.61 N/A N/A 9
2009 4 83.46 280.19 N/A N/A 8
2010 16 86.36 233.6 N/A N/A 4
2011 7 89.29 277.92 86.47 265.33 36
2012 5 91.1 281.66 87.55 268.34 14
2013 2 90.51 303.28 89.32 274.12 9
2014 3 89.06 296.06 89.99 289.73 1
2015 7 89.82 271.02 90.12 288.01 ?

Here's the same data in graph form:

OSU recruiting stats

The graphs make a couple of things clear:

  • The recruiting classes are getting more and more talented going by average star rating per recruit. Or put another way, the average Buckeye commit is better today than under Tressel. Further, the accumulated talent on the team -- captured by the poorly-named "4 Yr Avg Avg" column -- suggests that the average player on Ohio State's roster now is more talented than they were previously.
  • Not only is the average player more talented, there are also more of them per class, as the total number of recruiting points has gone up as well.
  • Out of Urban's three classes at Ohio State, the 2015 class is the lowest in total points and the second-lowest in average recruit ranking -- but the class isn't finished yet, either. The Buckeyes are still in the mix for recruits like KJ Hill, Porter Gustin, Isaiah Prince, and just signed Damon Arnette. But even if the Buckeyes don't add any of those blue-chippers, the class still raises the overall team talent base according to four-year recruit average ranking.
  • Since Urban was hired, the Buckeyes have steadily ascended the F/+ rankings while winning the national championship this past season. As the team's talent level grows, so does Ohio State's probability of cementing itself as an annual playoff contender.