06/21/2024
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By Sonny Jones

So, Alabama and Georgia had the top rated football recruiting classes Wednesday, according to Rivals.com, as the early signing period opened. The Miami Hurricanes were the top ACC school at No. 5. In fact, Atlantic Coast Conference schools had 10 of the top 50 classes based on the rankings after the first day.

It all means … not much.

Oh, sure, Alabama and Georgia figure to have national championship contending teams over the next handful of years. Maybe Miami and Texas, which was rated No. 3, are on the rise and Clemson most likely will be in the title chase each year.

Surprise!

I’ve never been a proponent of player rankings nor recruiting rankings. Yes, it’s a popular industry gone wild with the rise of the internet and I have friends who have made a living off it or created a lucrative side gig. Good for web sites such as Rivals and 247Sports that have developed successful businesses. I’m happy for them all.

However, I’ve never understood the fascination nor how one player is ranked No. 23, for example, and another is No. 24. What does player No. 24 lack that player No. 23 has? Can he run faster? Is he stronger? Does he jump routes better? Same with ranking recruiting classes after signing days.

Admittedly, there is something to having a list of players who we think might could possibly be very, very good or very good or good at the collegiate level. Who knows?

Add in the transfer portal, which has devastated high school recruiting, and Name, Likeness and Image (NIL) rules — or lack thereof — and it’s likely less than half of the players who signed Wednesday will remain at that school for five years.

What happens if the player turns out not to be as good as he was ranked? Maybe the guy was overhyped and really wasn’t a 5-star recruit, but a 3-star and a solid college player. Should he be considered a bust or were the rankings wrong?

In the spirit of the season, here are Rivals’ rankings for some North Carolina-based schools. By the way, none of these schools signed what’s considered a 5-star recruit.

25. North Carolina
41. N.C. State
42. Wake Forest
50. Duke
66. Campbell
87. East Carolina
89. Appalachian State

The 247Sports site rankings include:
28. North Carolina
46. N.C. State
51. Wake Forest
52. Duke
77. East Carolina
78. Appalachian State
83. Campbell

If college recruiting floats your boat, then enjoy to the fullest. Talk, message and text. No hard feelings.

For me, I’ll watch the players — those who are very, very good and very good and good — play in the actual games. That’s what floats my boat.

BOWLS, BOWLS, BOWLS

The drive to watch every bowl game continues. Streaming is my friend.
Games played: 14 (through Dec 21). Games watched live: 5. Games streamed: 5.

• NEW ORLEANS BOWL: Western Kentucky 44, South Alabama 23
(Played Wednesday, Dec. 21, watched Wednesday, Dec. 21)
The Hilltoppers scored on five of their seven possession in the first half in building a 31-3 lead and cruised. Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed passed for 497 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was amazing watching Western Kentucky’s offense roll. Heck, South Alabama QB Carter threw for 360 yards and 3 TDs. The teams combined for 1,098 total yards. Certainly not a competitive game, but fun to watch.

• LENDING TREE BOWL: Southern Mississippi 38, Rice 24
(Played Saturday, Dec. 17, watched Wednesday, Dec. 21)

Frank Gore Jr., the son of the former NFL player of the same name, ran for a bowl-record 329 yards with touchdowns of 64- and 55-yards, and also threw a TD pass for the Golden Eagles in a chippy, hard-hitting, penalty-filled, official-conference game. Luke McCaffrey, the son of former NFL player Ed McCaffrey and brother of San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey, plays for Rice. Who said grades don’t matter? Rice won only five games, but was awarded a bowl game to fill the field because of its Academic Progress Rate.

• NEW MEXICO BOWL: Brigham Young 24, Southern Methodist 23
(Played Saturday, Dec. 17, watched Wednesday, Dec. 21)

BYU played prevent defense on SMU’s final drive and it almost cost it the game. SMU went for the two-point conversion and the win, but lost when Taylor Mordecai was stopped on a quarterback draw by BYU’s Jakon Robinson. Well played and entertaining game between a pair of 7-5 teams on a chilly night in Albuquerque. It was 33 degrees at kickoff and dipped into the 20s by the end of the game. The Mustangs rallied with a pair of TDs in the fourth, but came up a yard short in the end.

TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY

• 2020 – Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi scores his 644th goal for FC Barcelona during 3-0 win over Real Valladolid to break Pele’s record for most goals for one club; Pele, 643 goals for Santos 1956-74

POTATO PICKS TO WATCH TODAY

• TENNIS: Hawks vs. Kites, 8 a.m., TENNIS

• BASKETBALL: Louisville at N.C. State, 7 p.m., ACCN

• NHL: Carolina at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m., BALLY SOUTH

• NHL: Washington at Ottawa, 7 p.m., NHLN

• ARMED FORCES BOWL: Baylor vs. Air Force, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

• NFL: Jacksonville at N.Y. Jets, 8:15 p.m., PRIME VIDEO

• NBA: Washington at Utah, 9 p.m., NBATV

Sonny Jones can be reached at wibbyj@gmail.com.

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