What is going to make a high school player a top signing day recruit?  Obviously, they have to be a great high school player, but what are the other intangibles involved?  How fast does a football player have to be to get this national attention?

I think that the physical gifts of a high school football player come into play a heck of a lot more when they are being recruited for college than if they are trying to get drafted into the pros.  College coaches think if they have a great athlete who has the size, speed, and strength they are looking for it will supersede heart and they can make them a great football player.

All though that isn’t necessarily the case all the time, but for this post we’ll say it is true.  Let’s take a look at some of the top high school recruits that were signed yesterday and see what their testing results were AND see if we can establish a pattern of why they were so highly sought after.

The rankings for these players I got from ESPN.com.  I am also taking the skill position athletes (RB, WR, DB, and maybe LB) because they run some pretty fast times and it is easier for me to decipher them.  The number by their name is where they are ranked in this list I got from ESPN.

2. Jonathan Gray is a running back committed to Texas.  He stands at 5′ 10″ and 205 pounds.  His 40 time is a 4.53, his 20 yard shuttle is 4.03, and his vertical jump is 35.7″.  Those intangibles are pretty good for a running back trying out for the NFL draft so you know it is liked by the college coaches.  Great size, the shuttle time is excellent and coupled with his 40 time you know he is pretty shifty and quick.  Plus his vertical jump shows explosiveness.  Once you get him in that Texas weight room, all those numbers potentially could improve.

3. Dorial Green-Beckham is a wide receiver committed to Missouri.  This guy is a beast at 6′ 6″ and 220 pounds.  Big receivers are very popular at all levels.  Supposedly, he runs a 4.43 in the 40, benches 295, and squats 385.  You know those numbers will improve as he starts lifting more.  If you are a receiver and can post those numbers, as long as you can catch the ball just some of the time, you probably will be recruited.

5. Keith Marshall is a running back that has signed with Georgia.  He is 5′ 11″ and 190 pounds.  He runs a 4.43 in the 40, his shuttle time is a 4.40 (like to see that a little faster), and his vertical is 33.8″.  Bottom line is if you can run in the 4.4’s for the 40 at any position and have the appropriate size, you will get looked at.

6. Landon Collins is a safety who has committed to Alabama (like they need another stud).  This guy stands 6′ and weighs 210 pounds.  Nice size for a safety.  Safeties don’t have to be as fast as cornerbacks generally, but Landon runs a 4.39 in the 40, his 20 yard shuttle is 4.46 (generally like this faster than your 40), and jumps an astounding 43.6 inches in the vertical jump.  With those numbers, he probably generates a lot of power.  You send that stat line to a college coach, they will ask to see tape of you.

8. Davonte Neal is the coveted “athlete” position who hasn’t decided yet.  A slight build at 5′ 10″ and 175 pounds, he better have some speed.  He does, running the 40 in 4.47 seconds, the shuttle run in 4.13 seconds (nice time), and his vertical jump is 35.7″.  You can see him playing a receiver position or defensive back.  I’m sure he made a lot of nice plays in high school to put together a very good highlight reel.

11. Eddie Williams is another “athlete” who has committed to Alabama (they seem to be stocking up here).  He is 6′ 4″ and 210 pounds.  Here are his numbers: 40 in 4.67, a shuttle run in 4.68, and a vertical of 31″.  They say he could be a tweener – maybe a WR, S, or LB.  My guess is more of a LB or a TE.  His numbers are too slow for a WR.  He seems a little too big for a safety, so I think they put some pounds on him and make him a TE or LB.

15. Travis Blanks is a safety who signed with Clemson.  He is 6′ 1″ and 195 pounds.  Just so you think numbers aren’t the only things coaches go by, here are his numbers: 40 yard dash in 4.84 seconds (that is what I ran in September at age 40), 4.62 in the 20 yard shuttle (I ran a 4.54), and 29 inches in the vertical jump (I had 28 inches).  Obviously, those aren’t “WOW ME” numbers, so he must be a good player to be signed by a team such as Clemson.

18. Tracy Howard is a cornerback who committed to the U.  He is 5′ 11″ and 175 pounds.  They will probably want to put a little more muscle on the guy, but my thought is they will want to get this guy stronger so he can get faster.  He runs the 40 in 4.65 seconds, the shuttle in 4.44, and his vertical is 26.5″.  I don’t think those are numbers of a defensive back that will be starting anytime soon.  Let’s hope that numbers don’t tell the truth in this case.

31. Geno Smith is a cornerback who committed to Alabama (they got a lot of guys in these first 30…geez).  I wanted to get the next ranked cornerback just for comparison to Tracy.  Geno runs a 4.60 in the 40, but runs a 4.19 in the shuttle (means he can change direction pretty good), and his vertical jump is 30 inches.  He is also 5′ 11″ and 175 pounds.  I think what this shows is that the elite cornerbacks right now might not be in this class or they will change to this position in their college years.

I think to sum this up, here is what we can take away from this signing day recruiting class.  If you want a sure-fire way to make this list here is what you should have:

  1. The appropriate size for your particular position.
  2. An awesome 40 time.  If you can run in the 4.4’s for these skill positions and you have #1, it almost guarantees you a look from a college.
  3. A good vertical jump shows power and explosiveness.  The further above 30 inches you are the better.
  4. The rest of the stuff.  A good highlight film is more important than lofty stats, but try to have both.

You can get recruited by not having these things and yes I know there are tons of factors that go into this decision for coaches (I’m not disputing that), but if you do have these things, without question, I think you will get a scholarship offer somewhere.  I wrote about this stuff all day, but I got things to do, so hope you enjoyed it.  Feel free to place your comments below.