So, How We Doin? (Part I)

Jul 25, 2020

You have currently viewed 1 story this month.

IlliniBoard now offers two free stories per month, for more please subscribe.

I wrote part of this post on Thursday. I started the Khmari Thompson LLUOI post, and I veered way off course into "here's how these transfers compare to last year's transfers", and I realized that it wasn't fair to rant about that during Thompson's LLUOI post, so I copypasta'd that text over here (and then ranted about something else in the Thompson post).

This post will look at two things.

1. With Thompson committed, how did we do transfer-wise compared to last year?

2. With 15 players committed in the 2021 class, how close are we to the goal I set for the class?

Let's start with the first one. I set a bar for this in an earlier post, so let's revisit it (this is the part I wrote on Thursday, if you're curious).

I wrote about this in May, but this list below will update everything. With 247 starting to apply a transfer ranking to everyone (assigning a new score based on what player they proved to be at their old location), we can fairly easily compare this class of transfers with the last class of transfers. In that other post I was adding those recruits to their respective recruiting classes to see where the actual class would have landed in the rankings, but for this post, I'm just listing the rankings.

For most players, 247 assigned a transfer ranking. Richie Petitbon had a .9696 rating (top-100 player) when he chose Alabama. After four years of not playing at Alabama, he was given a new rating of .8500 (like, 900th-best player or so). I think that's fairly accurate. No, he's not the top-100 player everyone thought he'd be. But he's still better than any of the .8255 offensive linemen he'd be competing against here (no, they're not all that low, but you get my point).

Four players did not receive a new ranking from 247 (Peters, Bhebhe, Sidney, and Chase Brown). So I made up rankings for each of them based on how I see things. I'll also have to make one up for Thompson since he just transferred and doesn't have a "transfer rating" yet. I dropped Bhebhe to .9000, dropped Peters to .8900, boosted Chase Brown to .8700, and dropped Sidney to .8500. I'm also assigning Khmari Thompson an .8200 here (high school rating was .8527 but he didn't play at Missouri in two seasons).

With that established, here's the full list. 2020 transfers are in bold so you can see how those transfers compare to last year's transfers. One more time just so you understand: Peters, Bhebhe, Sidney, Brown, and Thompson received a rating from me (because 247 did not re-rate them). All other ratings below are the adjusted "transfer ratings" from 247.

Luke Ford - .9300
Josh Imatorbhebhe - .9000
Brandon Peters - .8900
Wole Betiku - .8700
Chase Brown - .8700
Blake Jeresaty - .8600
Brian Hightower - .8500
Richie Petitbon - .8500
Trevon Sidney - .8500
TreSean Smith - .8400
Brevyn Jones - .8400
Khmari Thompson - .8200
Derrick Smith - .8000
Chinedu Udeogu - .7900
Desmond Dan - .7700

I wrote a post last September after the UConn game asking aloud if transfers could be our Sweet Spot. The first two games of the season were all transfers all the time, so if we could sustain that, could it be our Thing? I'm still very much in favor of it becoming our Thing.

But it needs to be stated that these 2020 transfers do not equal those 2019 transfers. Peters and Bhebhe were simply low 4-stars that didn't last at their former schools because they weren't high 4-stars. These players, collectively, aren't at the same level. Yes, I think those re-ranks on Smith and Smith (especially TreSean Smith) are way too low. but still, if we just take all of these rankings and average them out...

2019 transfers: .8800
2020 transfers: .8213

That is a NUMBER number right there. .8800 is basically Florida State's #22 class last year (average player score .8797). Now I'm mad at all of you who said I was kool-aid drinking when I sang the praises of the transfers and I will stand by this statement until the end of time: with the transfers, the 2019 Illinois class is a top-30 class nationally.

.8213 is basically the 95th-ranked Rice class last year (their average player score was .8225). Is the difference between these two numbers sinking in yet? Last year, even after lowering their scores to fit their talent level, the 2019 transfers were still a Florida State recruiting class. This year, after lowering their scores, these transfers match up with Rice.

Yeah, this is going to be a two-part post. I can't move on to looking at the current class until we have a bit of discussion about this. Last year we brought in transfers who matched up with recruiting classes ranked 20-25. This year it's transfers who match up with recruiting classes ranked 95-100.

Looks like University of Illinois.

EDIT: Some good comments below. I'll put my response to those comments up here so that everyone sees them.

Basically the comments say "if they're under-ranking TreSean Smith they would have under-ranked Bhebhe as well". Very good point. So I should amend those numbers. When I did the first re-rank for those 2019 players, I did so attempting to find the actual ranking of those classes (with the benefit of 2019 season-long hindsight. From what we saw, that would put Peters right on the line between 3-star and 4-star, Bhebhe a little higher, etc.

I should really attempt to re-rank without hindsight. Peters as he was viewed leaving Michigan, Bhebhe as he was viewed leaving USC, and so on. What they would have ranked these guys had they chosen to re-rank these guys. Here's my guesses:

Chase Brown - Was ranked at .8403 in high school, put up 5 yards per carry as a freshman at Western Michigan, then transferred up to P5. I really do think he would have been boosted to .8700 but let's be more reserved and say .8600.

Trevon Sidney - .9360 in high school, transferred to Illinois, I don't think I can drop him any lower than .8500. I mean, Brevyn Jones got a re-rank of .8400 so Sidney's .8500 is probably way too low after starting at .9360. But let's keep it at .8500.

Josh Imatorbhebhe - .9314 in high school, but hadn't done anything at USC. If they dropped Betiku from .9884 to .8700, then let's drop Imatorbhebhe from .9314 to .8600. We could also use some of the receivers they did re-rank in their class. Juwan Johnson dropped from .9428 to .8800 when he transferred from Penn State to Oregon, so Bhebhe dropping from .9314 to .8600 feels low but I'm trying to be low here.

Brandon Peters - .9684 in high school. Let's go to the transfer quarterbacks in his class who did get a re-rank. Deondre Francois flamed out at Florida State and transferred to Hampton. They re-ranked him from .9678 to .8700. Brandon Wimbush from Notre Dame to UCF dropped from .9792 to .8800. Shane Buechle from Texas to SMU dropped from .9250 to .8800. So if Peters started at .9684, feels like it would have been .8800 but no worse than .8700. Let's go with .8700.

So the new math with those new rankings:

2019 transfers: .8700
2020 transfers: .8213

So yes, that does change things a bit. But I think the point remains. 2020 transfers {are not equal-to symbol} 2019 transfers.


Hoppy on July 26, 2020 @ 02:33 AM

Robert, you’ve been so mistrustful of the recruiting sites’ ratings before that you created your own system in the LLUOI posts.

Why start trusting them now? Create your own numbers based off your evaluation/LLUOI like you did some of last year’s guys. Then reassess. It might be worse, but at least it’d be consistent. ????

Hoppy on July 26, 2020 @ 10:26 AM

I wrote this post as I fell asleep last night, I’m guess that’s what all those question marks are from. #donttextanddrift

Robert on July 26, 2020 @ 06:18 PM

If I do it using Tom Cruises, it's just me evaluating my own evaluations to confirm what I want to say. But if you'd like to see this in terms of Tom Cruises...

2019 transfers: averaged 3.22 Tom Cruises

2020 transfers: averaged 2.31 Tom Cruises

To put that into context, I've done this since 2015 and the highest rated Tom Cruise class was 2019 (averaged 2.82 Cruises). The lowest rated Tom Cruise class was 2016 (averaged 2.30 Cruises). So from my individual player evaluations, this class of transfers = Cubit's 2016 recruiting class.

Hoppy on July 28, 2020 @ 12:05 PM

I guess what I meant was, give them a new numbered rating like you did with when you started the “re-rate the transfers” exercise. (.9100 or .8800...stuff like that)

Though, I’m guessing it would tell the same story so it might be futile.

Bd420 on July 26, 2020 @ 09:19 AM

Robert, I love your work and I’m a first time commenter, but I have to say this article is absurd.

How are you possibly okay with inflating BheBhe, Chase Brown, Peters, etc, ranking but then saying “meh, whatever” to 247’s clear low rankings of the smiths and others? It totally ruins what you were trying to do here

You know for a fact that if 247 re ranked BheBhe, he would not have been a .9000. That’s a four star, there is just no chance. Same thing with peters, you clearly gave them the benefit of the hometown cooking, which is fine, but 247 didn’t and you just kept it because it fit your narrative for this post.

Using two ranking systems, especially when you clearly gave BheBhe and peters a benefit, just ruins any comparison you might try.

Robert on July 26, 2020 @ 06:20 PM

Good comment - made me go back and add a postscript above.

But please also note my other comment above. I was avoiding using my own evaluations, but if I do, average Tom Cruises for the 2019 transfers was 3.22 and the average Tom Cruises for the 2020 transfers is 2.31.

NickSmithIsTall on July 26, 2020 @ 04:09 PM

Yeah, I dont see how bhebhe's ranking isn't with the benefit of hindsight. Bhebhe and Hightower had pretty much the same HS ranking. Robert gave bhebhe 2.5 tom cruises, and now bhebhe is a 90 transfer ranking simply because 247 didn't rank transfers then and bhebhe was awesome last year. Hightower is an 85 because 247 did rate transfers this year and he hasn't played here yet.

Robert on July 26, 2020 @ 06:08 PM

Good comments. I edited the post above to try to more accurately reflect how they might have been ranked.

McAdoo on July 26, 2020 @ 08:01 PM

Transfers want to go somewhere they can get substantial playing time. Most transfers have already missed out on one/two years of good college PT, and in almost all circumstances the act of transferring delays any potential NFL career by at least a year. Most transfers are looking for a chance to make an immediate impact when they're able to play for their new team. I know Robert has already done one re-write of this post, but I'm curious as to what the roster situation of 2021 looks like compared to what the roster situation of 2019 looked like at the time the Peters and Bhebhe's of the world made their transfer decisions. How many starting spots were available then compared to what will be available in 2021? I can only guess based on "feel", but in the moment right now it seems like the roster is more "set" than it was a couple years ago.

If you are the Illinois coaching staff, you can sell yourself as Transfer U and point to the success stories all you want... However, these transfers can read the rosters and depth charts just like the rest of us can. Right now, although things still aren't where they hopefully will be in the near future, the Illinois roster seems to be deeper than it was a couple years ago. In my opinion, that would lead to more transfers simply crossing Illinois off their list. This then begs the question of whether you take on a transfer with a little less talent but has at least gone through the college process for a year, or do you take the chance of recruiting the four-star high-school player who might decide to not even attend your school? It seems, for now, that the Illini coaching staff has generally decided to pursue the transfer route more often than the high school course. The impact of that "shift", for lack of a better term, was to the positive for 2019. What remains to be seen, of course, is whether that same "shift" leads to trouble for future seasons.

IBFan on July 26, 2020 @ 08:36 PM

This reply makes way too much sense. The level of reality is going to be hard for some to understand. Can we get some falling skies filled with ash please?

The staff is getting the best players they can based on THEIR evaluations. Whether they are from Timbuktu or Michigan, 18 or 21. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of shiny toys least not shiny ones according to Robert, all of us here, and all the other savants who the staff doesn’t call for advice.

thumpasaurus on July 29, 2020 @ 10:13 AM

Illinois was an attractive destination because of the holes in the roster of a P5 team. This is why I've been so concerned with the transfer market as a long term strategy: patching the holes and putting together a complete football team makes you less attractive to transfers looking for immediate reps.

uofi08 on July 27, 2020 @ 07:04 AM

Great article Robert. This is the perfect illustration for showing why many of us are worried about a drop in talent. Not only is the prep recruiting below expectations, the transfer recruiting is as well. I think your edit just makes your overall point stronger. Hell, I did a quick average if all the guys that weren't reranked were given a .85 and it still gave an average of .8642 for those 2019 guys. There is a substantial gap between last years transfers and this years. Imagine if they weren't bringing in Jeresaty. One thing I will say about the 2020 rankings, is that the Smiths do seem to be undervalued. They should be ranked closer to Hightower than to Thompson. Nonetheless, the point remains and your argument is clear as day. There is a clear lack of talent in this transfer class. When paired with the poor prep recruiting, it's obvious why so many are pessimistic about the future of the program.

NickSmithIsTall on July 27, 2020 @ 01:44 PM

Robert, do you know why Derrick Smith counts as a 2020 and Luke Ford as a 2019? They both committed last year, and both had to sit out a year. I initially thought maybe Smith committed after the season opener, but he actually committed before the Akron game.

I guess it just seems strange that Derrick Smith counts with the 2020s when he was on the team in 2019.

wingnut on July 29, 2020 @ 11:30 AM

The ridiculous decision from the NCAA on Luke Ford not only robbed him of his grandfather being able to watch him play at Illinois, it now may have robbed him of a shot at the NFL if the 2020 college season falls apart. A shame!

Chukwuwumba on July 27, 2020 @ 09:10 PM

Good article.

What a freakin year to rely on a large recruiting class. This would have been perfect to fit in one of the smaller classes from the past few years.

Speak Your Mind

Please login or register to post comments on the IlliniBoard.

Post Preview