Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stars Key, as Is QB Development

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stars Key, as Is QB Development

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

Sports would be a lot less entertaining without star power. It'll always be a desired commodity because nothing attracts fans to stadiums/ballparks/arenas, or eyeballs to television sets, like star athletes.

But the "star" factor takes on a whole new meaning, and a dangerous one at that, when it comes to college football recruiting. Because as national signing day unfolds Wednesday, all those designated stars next to the names of many recruits are nothing more than unfulfilled promise.

Sometimes it's legitimate, sometimes it's fool's gold, but it's always an educated guess by a myriad of services (Rivals, ESPN, 247Sports, etc.) looking to pry money out of fans obsessed with recruiting rankings.

Buy it if you must. Just be mindful of the biggest X factor of all in recruiting, which gets totally ignored on signing day: player development.

What gets lost in all the euphoria over which schools collect the most 5-star and 4-star players - the consensus going into NSD is the top three are Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia - is how each class will progress and fit into the team culture the respective coaches have created.

Stars are nice, and odds indicate a 5-star has a better chance of becoming a big-time player than a 3-star. But none of it means a whole lot without the coaching and environment to draw out that potential.

It's especially true at quarterback, where Florida, Florida State, Alabama, among others, have both risen and fallen in the last decade based on the development/stagnation at that position.

The stars don't always matter. Look at UF, which has had a seven-year quarterback dry spell. The Gators have fallen short under center with five-star recruits (John Brantley, Jeff Driskel), four-star recruits (Will Grier), three-star recruits (Tyler Murphy, Luke Del Rio) and a four-star dual threat (Treon Harris).

Yes, FSU and Alabama have built nationally-elite programs because coaches Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban, respectively, have been among the most dynamic recruiters in the business. Once again this year, they're bringing in a boatload of five-star and four-star players, but the Seminoles and Crimson Tide are nowhere near as successful without a consistent ability to develop players at the game's most important position. …

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