I think a quick introduction is in order before I begin. Hello loyal Field Gulls readers! My name is Nick Polak. I'm a recruiting analyst/writer for Black Shoe Diaries, which is the Penn State site for SB Nation. You may have seen an article I wrote last week about Penn State and how they are on their way to building a program that slightly resembles the Seahawks. As you can probably tell aside from being a Penn State student and fan, I am also a lifelong Seahawks (woo!) and Mariners (/cries) fan. Seeing as how National Signing Day came and went last week, I find myself with much less to do in terms of my recruiting coverage over at BSD. So I decided to reach out to Danny to see if he would be interested in me putting together a piece about our beloved Seahawks as recruits, which he thought was a great idea.
So here I am. After you're done reading this and looking back at Kenneth's piece from the other day, you will officially know everything you need to know about everything ever. But this introduction has gone on long enough, so let's jump right in.
*Note- This won't include every single player on the Seahawks. Some were omitted due to lack of viable information on them as high school recruits (Clemons, TJack, MRob, Bennett), and some were omitted because I decided to omit them.
Russell Wilson- Not Rated
BJ Daniels- 4 stars (#8 quarterback)
The fun thing about covering recruiting as a focus is imagining the potential of each and every recruit that I see. It's obviously a tricky exercise though, because of the insane amount of attention placed on stars. You really don't need to look any further than the quarterbacks on the Seahawks roster to illustrate this point. If given the choice between an unranked recruit and a 4 star recruit, you would take the 4 star every time.
We obviously know now not to ever doubt Russell Wilson, but anyone in their right mind would choose Daniels over him if they were in the same recruiting class. Do you remember the palpable excitement in the air when Wilson first trotted onto the field for his first preseason snaps? That's the feeling USF fans felt when Daniels took his first snaps for the Bulls. It's amazing how things can change so quickly.
Marshawn Lynch- 4 stars (#2 running back, #28 overall player)
Robert Turbin- 2 stars, not ranked
Christine Michael- 5 stars (#3 running back, #22 overall player)
There are also times where high school recruiting rankings end up being exactly right. As Kenneth pointed out in his article the other day, Lynch trailed only Adrian Peterson in the running back rankings. Fittingly, Adrian Peterson is the only running back in the NFL today that I would rather have than Beast.
Marshawn more than fulfilled his lofty expectations as the 28th ranked player in the country, and aside from his Buffalo sized speed bump, he has been playing at that level ever since. Turbin (along with Utah State teammate Bobby Wagner) was an unknown in high school, allowing Utah State to pick up the future 4th round pick with little fight. Although we have yet to truly see Michael in action, I have a hunch that he is going to join Marshawn as stud high schoolers that continue their success in the NFL.
Clearly we need to see Michael really get a chance to play in a regular season game before we can start making assumptions about his NFL career, but he sure looks the part of another great NFL back.
Derrick Coleman- 3 stars (#5 fullback)
I was disappointed that I couldn't find any good resources for Michael Robinson's rankings (being a Penn State fan and all), but we will push on anyway. Derrick Coleman had interest from Pete Carroll's Trojans, but not enough to sway him from his UCLA pledge. Time will tell how accurate Coleman's ranking was, as he will most likely get his shot next season, when MRob is unlikely to be re-signed (in which case I will cry, just as I did this year).
Percy Harvin- 5 stars (#1 wide receiver, #1 player in Florida, #1 player overall, #1 in my heart)
Sidney Rice- 3 stars (#55 wide receiver)
Golden Tate- 4 stars (#7 athlete, #2 player in Tennessee)
Doug Baldwin- 2 stars- not ranked
Jermaine Kearse- 3 stars (#72 wide receiver, #5 player in Washington)
Not so pedestrian, huh? Percy is obviously the jewel of this hypothetical Seahawks recruiting class, as he chose Urban Meyer's Gators over Carroll's Trojans and proceeded to prove why he was ranked the way he was. Percy was an absolute wrecking ball in college, and has continued filling that role in the pros. He is one of the can't miss products out of high school that everybody got right.
Golden Tate was a big name as a recruit, choosing to spend his college days in South Bend as a Golden Domer. He had a great college career that cemented his status as a borderline first round pick, and has pretty much stayed consistent in the pros. Despite not getting legitimate time on the field until his second season, Tate has been what a four star receiver should be - great, with flashes of amazing, but not consistently spectacular.
Rice and Kearse both had strong enough reputations to earn three stars. When healthy, I'd argue that Rice has outdone expectations, and Kearse is well on his way to doing so as well. While his value is sky high right now, another season of the same from Jermaine would give him the consistent factor to boast, as well.
Then there's the Russell Wilson of the receivers. I won't go into lots of detail on Baldwin since Kenneth already did so, but it goes without saying that Doug was very clearly under-appreciated in high school. Just like he was in college. And just like he is in the NFL.
Zach Miller- 4 stars (#1 tight end, #1 player in Arizona)
Luke Willson- 2 stars, not ranked
Anthony McCoy- 4 stars (#10 tight end)
Zach Miller may have been more of a statistical standout while with Oakland, but I'd argue that he is even more valuable to the Seahawks than he was to Oakland. Miller's ability to be a clutch receiver as well as a powerful blocker, definitely justify his lofty ranking as a high schooler. If he was still in Oakland, or on a team that passes the ball more than they run it, then he would most likely be a perennial Pro Bowler.
Anthony McCoy is one of the first big misses on this list for the Seahawks. As a four star recruit, you would like to think McCoy would be making more of an NFL impact. While he is certainly a solid number two tight end when healthy, I think most would agree that he is not up to his four star standard.
As far as Luke Willson, I would place him at the NFL equivalent of a three star rating. He's shown flashes during his time in the NFL so far, and definitely has the potential to be a bigger threat with his speed. However he needs to keep working, and with the likely drafting of another tight end this year, he will have to work even harder in the upcoming months.
Russell Okung- 3 stars (#33 offensive tackle)
James Carpenter- 4 stars (#2 offensive tackle Junior College transfer)
Max Unger- 3 stars (#45 offensive guard)
JR Sweezy- 2 star defensive end
Breno Giacomini- 2 star defensive end
Alvin Bailey- 3 stars (#27 offensive guard)
Michael Bowie- 3 stars (#30 offensive tackle)
Russell Okung and Max Unger were both underrated out of high school, and Carpenter seems to be a little overrated (even with the knowledge that he was a JuCo transfer and not a normal recruit). Aside from that, the rest of the offensive line is pretty accurately ranked, even with Sweezy and Giacomini being recruited as defensive ends.
Seeing as this offensive line still has plenty of work to do and pieces to add before it can call itself one of the more dominant lines in the NFL, it's fair to see the current makeup consist of mostly three and two star recruits. Okung vastly improved his high school self, going from the 33rd offensive tackle to the #6 pick in the 2010 draft. While Carp has showed flashes, and Bailey and Bowie are developing, there is clearly a need for some new blood on this offensive line. Look for an offensive guard to be drafted early this year, and expect them to come from a solid recruiting background.
Cliff Avril- 3 stars (#37 outside linebacker)
Red Bryant- 3 stars (#40 defensive tackle)
In recruiting, three stars is the rating you will see most often (unless you're Alabama, Ohio State, or LSU, in which case you get alarmed when you see someone who is lower than four stars). It's pretty much the cop out ranking more than anything else, kind of like a "he might do something, but he might not" kind of deal.
If you noticed, neither Avril nor Bryant were actually recruited as defensive ends. Position switches like these are extremely common, especially as players keep getting more and more athletic. And to be fair, Bryant was and still is built like a tackle as opposed to an end, and Cliff Avril is plenty athletic enough to play outside linebacker in the NFL. Defensive end is probably the most common position (along with quarterback) to see players move away from once they get to college, which means that is is also one of the most common positions to see players switch to, due to depth needs.
Brandon Mebane- 3 stars (#23 defensive tackle)
Tony McDaniel- 3 stars (#47 defensive end)
Jordan Hill- 2 stars, not ranked
As I mentioned up above, I couldn't find suitable data to include Michael Bennett, which is too bad. I was able to get information on three other current Hawks though, and all three are pretty interesting.
Mebane has become one of the most valuable defensive tackles in football. Without his constant presence in the middle of the line, the Seahawks defense would surely be knocked down a peg. Standing at just 260 going into college, #23 was a pretty fair ranking for Mebane then, but I know for a fact there are not 22 other defensive tackles I would take over him now.
McDaniel is another example of a guy who was recruited as a defensive end, and then switched positions. High school football is a very different world from college and the NFL, in that dominant players can be dominant anywhere. If you're a premier defensive line athlete in high school, you're not going to run into many people that can stop you. This means your coach can pretty much do put you wherever he wants on the line. Such things make it more difficult to accurately rank said high schoolers.
Seahawks fans don't know a ton about Jordan Hill yet, but the former Penn State star is going to make a name for himself sooner rather than later. Despite only having a two star rating in high school, Hill was one of the most dominant linemen in the Big Ten by the end of his senior season, saving his best for his last game in the Blue and White.
Bobby Wagner- 2 stars, not ranked
KJ Wright- 3 stars (#52 outside linebacker)
Bruce Irvin- 4 stars (#1 Junior College transfer)
Malcolm Smith- 4 stars (#8 athlete, #15 player in California)
As I mentioned with Robert Turbin, Bobby Wagner was a no name that Utah State was able to recruit with little interference. After seeing him rack up 260 tackles in two seasons in the NFL, I think it's pretty safe to say the professional recruiting analysts blew that one.
It was said by Rivals that KJ Wright would flourish at Mississippi State, but his ranking did not do much to reflect that belief.
Bruce was another junior college transfer, which means his rankings were only up against other junior college transfers. This can skew their rankings and lead to misleading numbers, but Bruce did a pretty good job of holding up his end of the bargain for West Virginia. He was a sack machine in college, and has continued to grow into a more complete player for the Hawks. He is fulfilling his four star ranking quite nicely.
Then there's our Super Bowl MVP. It was said that Smith was "a deadly athlete that could play all over". While Malcolm doesn't seem to fit anywhere else aside from linebacker and special teams, he certainly is on his way to proving his four star rating accurate. With increased playing time next season, he should continue to prove that this rating was very accurate after all.
Richard Sherman- 3 stars (#65 athlete)
Byron Maxwell- 4 stars (#18 cornerback, #5 player in South Carolina)
Jeremy Lane- not ranked
Walter Thurmond III- 3 stars (#68 cornerback)
Have you heard of this Richard Sherman fellow? Apparently he's a pretty good cornerback. I hear he's one of the best in the league. Sherman is a more complex recruit to analyze, due to his athlete tag. Athlete is a creative way of saying, "I don't know what he's going to be, but I want him on the field". This makes it a little harder to give a star rating, because it is unknown what exactly the recruit will be expected to do in college. Sherman may have been ranked higher with a true position, or he may not have. All I know is that he was an angry high schooler.
Maxwell was a fairly highly touted corner coming out of high school, which helps shed light on how he was so prepared to step right in for the Seahawks this season. Byron had been patiently waiting, and now finds himself at one of the most important positions in football- the corner opposite Richard Sherman.
Jeremy Lane being unranked is a crime, based on his special teams ability alone. Recruiting websites don't care about what you can do on special teams unless you are a kicker (and even then, barely), which knocks Lane down a little. If I was to be re-ranking them right now, Lane would be at least a three star recruit.
Finally, Thurmond was a solid pickup for the Ducks out of high school. He wasn't anything special or noteworthy, but was a solid college athlete and is now looking at a nice new contract in free agency this offseason. That's as prototypical three star as it gets.
Earl Thomas III- 4 stars (#12 athlete, #19 player in Texas)
Kam Chancellor- 3 stars (#27 quarterback)
I agree 100% with what Kenneth said about Earl Thomas in his post. I know for a fact that there are not 18 players I would take ahead of Earl Thomas in today's NFL. There may not even be five I would take over him. While a four star ranking and #12 athlete overall is very solid, it doesn't even come close to representing what Earl Thomas truly is.
There has also been plenty of talk about Kam Chancellor and his high school quarterback days. I'll just say that I'd be very curious to watch him play a few snaps at QB today.
Recruiting is a ton of fun to cover, and looking at current recruits to try to predict how they will turn out is part of that fun. However, looking back on how players were supposed to turn out is one of my favorite recruiting practices. From finding out that Kam Chancellor was a better QB prospect than Colin Kaepernick, to seeing Marshawn Lynch has turned out to be everything he was expected to be, there are always interesting observations to be found. I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the past of our Seahawks, and hopefully I will make my way back to Field Gulls again someday. Go Hawks.
REMINDER: Tarvaris Jackson played in mop up duty in the Super Bowl against the best offense in NFL history.
- NFL Combine 2014: Full sortable invite list
- Super Bowl 48 Thoughts: I can now die a happy man
- Seahawks Offseason: More notes on the Seahawks 2014 Salary Cap; Sherman, Wright, Thomas & Chancellor hit salary escalators
- 2014 NFL Offseason: Seahawk salary cap questions
- Championship Flashback: Pete Carroll's Trojans dismantle Oklahoma in 2005 Orange Bowl for National Title