Clemson football: 5-stars do matter, just ask Alabama – Rubbing the Rock

5-stars do matter to the growth of the Clemson football program

As Clemson football fans, we know that recruiting rankings don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things and that the Tigers have done an excellent job scouting, evaluating and carefully selecting the players that come through their program.

No one recruits like Clemson football does and there is an added emphasis on culture placed on evaluations of prospects unlikened to anything we’ve seen elsewhere.

We’ve seen players who weren’t recruited heavily- like Hunter Renfrow- come into the program and shine. We’ve also seen those with high star-ratings come in and never make an impact.

That being said, 5-stars breed success and that’s true for Clemson football. Just look at Alabama if you need more proof

A study from Bleacher Report showed that there were 522 5-star recruits from the years 2000-14. In that span, 53 percent went on to be drafted. In the last decade, Saturday Down South noted that about 33.8 percent of 5-stars went on to have notable careers.

Those percentages dip exponentially for 4-stars and 3-stars.

Let’s look at the Clemson football 5-star commits from the last decade, according to 247 Sports, starting with the Class of 2012 (which did not have a 5-star) and working through this most recent 2021 cycle:

  • CB Mackensie Alexander (No. 30 player nationally in 2013 cycle)
  • WR Deon Cain (No. 18 nationally in 2015)
  • OT Mitch Hyatt (No. 23 nationally in 2015)
  • DT Christian Wilkins (No. 24 nationally in 2015)
  • DT Dexter Lawrence (No. 2 nationally in 2016)
  • WR Tee Higgins (No. 19 nationally in 2017)
  • QB Hunter Johnson (No. 30 nationally in 2017)
  • QB Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 nationally in 2018)
  • DE Xavier Thomas (No. 3 nationally in 2018)
  • DE KJ Henry (No. 14 nationally in 2018)
  • OT Jackson Carman (No. 17 nationally in 2018)
  • WR Derion Kendrick (No. 26 nationally in 2018)
  • CB Andrew Booth Jr. (No. 23 nationally in 2019)
  • DL Bryan Bresee (No. 1 nationally in 2020)
  • DE Myles Murphy (No. 5 nationally in 2020)
  • QB D.J. Uiagalelei (No. 10 nationally in 2020)
  • RB Demarkcus Bowman (No. 20 nationally in 2020)
  • LB Trenton Simpson (No. 26 nationally in 2020)
  • OT Tristan Leigh (No. 13 nationally in 2021)
  • RB Will Shipley (No. 31 nationally in 2021)
  • LB/S Barrett Carter (No. 32 nationally in 2021)

Now, it’s not fair to really judge those players from 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 who are still playing but looking at this list as a whole, the one thing I notice is that the vast majority of these guys panned out pretty well.

Sure, there were a couple of transfers and flops from that group. But there were also some elite talents. As a matter of fact, I would make the argument that every single guy from 2013-16 was an impact player with the Clemson football program.

The point of this article, though, is to see the trend in 5-star commitments and the talent that Clemson is beginning to accumulate- similar, but not quite at the Alabama level yet.

From 2013 to 2017, Clemson had a total of seven 5-star commits. From 2018 to the present (the same amount of recruiting cycles), the Tigers have had 14 5-star commits. That’s double.

It’s easy to say that stars don’t matter and there’s no doubt that Clemson coaching staff never even takes a look at star-ratings when they’re evaluating talent, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used as an indicator.

Not all 5-stars work out- as we know- but a higher percentage within that elite group end up becoming impact players and that’s why we’re starting to see depth and ‘reloading’ become a common occurrence with Clemson.

It’s a ‘chicken or the egg’ discussion, but the main point is this: Clemson football fans should take notice at the increased amount of 5-stars coming into the program and know it means we’re seeing growth and we’re seeing an increase in talent base.

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