When evaluating how good a high school recruit is or isn’t, too many people immediately check what star rating a national recruiting service gives that player.
If that player is given a 4 or 5-star ranking, he must be really good and bound for college stardom. A 3-star player is viewed as a good but not great get and a 2-star player is a reach and a longshot to contribute at a Power 5 school.
While that might be the perception that most fans have, many times we’ve found out that star ratings don’t accurately reflect how a recruit will eventually perform in college.
If you want some examples, there are three very notable ones on the 2020 Pitt Panthers roster.
Linebacker SirVocea Dennis and Patrick Jones II were named the ACC Linebacker and ACC Defensive Lineman of the week for their performances over the weekend against Boston College. Jones continued his dominant senior season by collecting 3 sacks while Dennis, in his first college start, registered 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
What do those two have in common? They both arrived at Pitt as Rivals 2-star recruits. Despite having offers from California, Duke, Illinois, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, Jones wasn’t viewed as a highly by recruiting services. He’s now proving them very wrong as he’s now in the conversation of being a 2021 1st round NFL Draft pick. Jones has registered seven sacks in just five games and has become one of the best defensive ends in the country.
Dennis was a late get for the Pitt staff, as he committed to them just a few days before February Signing Day in 2019. Originally, he committed to play for Air Force before backing out and choose Pitt over offers from Dartmouth, Elon, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, UMass and Rhode Island.
The sophomore linebacker from New Jersey impressed and surprised many people on Saturday but his head coach wasn’t one of them.
“SirVoecea Dennis is a football player,” said Pat Narduzzi. “I love that guy. If we were playing with four linebackers, he’s a starter, and I consider him a starter, period. He can go in and play all three positions. He’s smart. He obviously starts for us on 3rd down. That guy is as good a football player as you’re going to be around as a linebacker. That guy is going to be a future star in the ACC.”
Pretty high praise for a “two star” recruit and credit the Pitt staff for eyeing and zeroing in on talented players like Jones and Dennis. They’ve shown a track record of doing so. Back in Narduzzi’s first full recruiting class with Pitt, he got a commitment from a 2-star defensive end from Cooper City, Florida. That player turned out to be Rashad Weaver, another defensive stalwart who could be playing in the NFL someday.