The Independent

Do stars need stars?

John Schlaefke, Sports Writer

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Signed to a six-year, $141 million contract extension with $90 million in guarantees, the NFL’s highest paid defensive player in league history and leader for the Chicago Bears, Khalil Mack, was not always accustomed to the spotlight. The talented linebacker played his high school career at Fort Pierce Westwood High School in Fort Pierce, Florida. While currently a household name for any football fanatic, Mack first drew attention to the college sports world when he entered into the recruiting database of 247Sports as a two-star inside linebacker without a profile picture. The all-pro NFL athlete committed to State University of New York at Buffalo which lead to being drafted fifth overall by the Oakland Raiders before taking the league by storm with 237 tackles, 42.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and a pair of touchdowns with just two games into his fifth year.

 

The two-star to superstar stories elicit hope for every young athlete who may not have received the recognition required to promote college attention and eventually play in the NFL. However, instances like these have been a rarity. In the 2018 NFL draft, the players selected are ranked by 247Sports as so; 19 five-star, 70 four-star, 106 three-star,19 two-star and 42 players without an official ranking. Keep in mind, not many five-star rankings are bestowed on players making the percentages of players drafted based on the ranking given out by 247Sports with the same year class provided above as 5-star: 33 (57.6%), 4-star: 296 (23.6%), 3-star: 1,541 (6.9%), 2-star: 1,666 (1.1%) and players without ranking: NA due to the unquantifiable amount of unrated players. In this case, numbers never have lied, and it will become clear that the higher ranked recruits are significantly more likely to be drafted in the NFL than the latter.

 

So how do will players achieve high recruiting rankings. Football camps, 7 on 7 leagues and obviously how a player performs throughout his high school football career all play important roles in the recognition of the athlete, but often it will be summarized as a numbers game proving it to be even more difficult for an average young man to reach his NFL dreams due to physical limitations.

 

According to Jamie J. Ghigiarelli, Ph.D., of Hofstra University, “On average, the 4- and 5-star players were about one inch taller and five pounds heavier than the 2- and 3-star players.  Average 40-yard sprint time was 4.76 seconds for the highly recruited players versus 4.84 seconds for the recruited players.

 

At a glance, these numbers seem attainable with a few extra cheeseburgers each week and a couple of folded over socks in the bottom of the shoe soles.

 

In addition, “the extra tenth of a second can easily be shaved off,” is what every human that hasn’t run a 40-yard sprint in his or her life. However, when looking at these numbers in great quantities, the differences become apparent and freak athletes emerge from the common hundreds of thousands of high school football players across the country.

 

One such athlete plays defensive end for the University of Michigan football team. Rashan Gary, a former unanimous number one overall recruit, has been a three year starter and is currently a projected top ten draft pick for one of the highest rated college football defenses in the country. Measurements recorded by the University of Michigan training staff elucidate the absurd physical abilities of the former 5-Star prospect. As a result, the 20 year old kid with a 4.57-second 40 yard dash and 31 inch vertical jump combined with a 6-foot-5, 287-pound frame can be safely admired from the comfortable couches in the homes of the plethora of players who were not given the pleasure to battle him on game days.

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Do stars need stars?