FanPost

Impact of NIL on Recruiting

I will start off saying that we are still early in the ‘NIL era' of recruiting and it is still early in the 2023 recruiting cycle. But I think that there is enough data to start to get an idea of the impact of NIL on recruiting. Although, I will likely update my numbers after this recruiting cycle is complete. But because there could be some impact of USC and UCLA leaving the Pac12, I thought that a look now would reduce the impact of that change-which could be significant.

There isn't a question whether some or even many recruits, especially the top-rated ones, are being influenced by NIL. But there are only so many top-rated recruits; there aren't more 5-stars, for example, just because of NIL. So the question is about distribution: Is NIL impacting the distribution of the top-rated recruits between schools to be different than they were before NIL.

A common complaint among Husky fans (and fans of some other programs) is that NIL is impacting recruiting and the Huskies are going to be left behind as a result. I decided to test that by comparing recruiting so far this year (really the first full recruiting cycle with NIL) to the previous 10 years of recruiting. If there was a big impact from NIL, my thought was that we would see some difference in recruiting-some schools getting more or better recruits than they were getting before.

I decided that recruit average rating (based on 247Sports Composite) was the best tool for comparing since it ignores class size-which is especially important in the 2023 cycle since it is still early. For this analysis I looked at the top 100 teams in the Team Rankings each year. I figured that this would provide data for most of the FBS teams, especially the Power-5. After looking at the data I found that 3 Power-5 programs did not have data for one year (each), meaning that they were not in the top 100 every year. I went back and added those. Two of those programs were in the Pac12: Oregon State (109th in 2021) and Arizona State (103rd in 2022); the other was Kansas (116th in 2022).

Comparing Average Ratings

After gathering the data from each of the years (2023 through 2013), I averaged the average recruit rating for each school for the years 2022 through 2013. I figured that 10 years of data would reduce the impact of coaching changes. Then I compared those average ratings to the average rating for the current class (as of July 12th of this year) by subtracting one from the other. I found 25 teams where their average rating in 2023 is more than 2 points above the average over the previous 10 years.

School

2023 Rank

2023 Average

Average 2013-2022

Difference

Louisville

14

91.26

85.46

5.80

UCF

58

88.62

83.71

4.91

Cincinnati

15

87.58

83.65

3.94

San Diego State

63

85.03

81.60

3.43

Michigan State

25

90.03

86.71

3.32

Miami

7

92.34

89.16

3.19

SMU

44

85.42

82.27

3.16

Wake Forest

35

86.3

83.39

2.91

Boston College

36

86.59

83.70

2.89

Notre Dame

2

93.21

90.33

2.88

Kansas State

40

86.46

83.58

2.88

Oregon

20

91.94

89.17

2.77

Toledo

80

84.16

81.42

2.74

Ole Miss

62

90.47

87.93

2.54

Iowa

19

87.74

85.22

2.52

NC State

48

87.75

85.31

2.44

Texas Tech

16

87.29

84.85

2.44

Utah

47

87.88

85.45

2.43

Purdue

27

86.29

83.93

2.37

Arkansas

10

88.91

86.58

2.33

California

71

87.45

85.17

2.28

Baylor

13

87.98

85.80

2.19

Kansas

69

85.32

83.17

2.15

Indiana

74

86.74

84.64

2.10

Memphis

89

83.83

81.78

2.05

There are some obvious reasons why there is a big difference for some of these teams. Cincinnati just went to the playoffs, so it isn't surprising that their recruiting got a boost. Also, they, along with UCF, will be moving from a ‘Group-of-Five' conference to a ‘Power-5' conference, so that likely boosted their recruiting. Schools that have a lower 2023 rank (like San Diego State, Toledo, Ole Miss, Kansas, and Cal) could be boosted because they currently have a few good commits relative to their class size, and their average rating could go down by the end of the recruiting cycle.

UW is one of 8 schools that I found that currently have their 2023 average rating below their previous 10-year average rating. You'll find a few surprises among them.

School

2023 Rank

2023 Average

Average 2013-2022

Difference

Alabama

12

93.65

93.71

-0.05

UCLA

68

88.33

88.41

-0.08

Virginia Tech

37

86.13

86.26

-0.13

Mississippi State

57

86.62

86.93

-0.31

Washington

23

87.01

87.59

-0.58

Arizona State

87

85.53

86.37

-0.84

Maryland

42

84.62

85.74

-1.12

Michigan

45

88.35

90.02

-1.67

In most cases you see that the differences are not large. Michigan is a bit of a head-scratcher at this point given that they were also in the CFP last year. I'd guess that their average rating is related to a currently small class size; something to watch over the next 6 months.

The fact that there are only a few teams below their average would indicate that this is early in the recruiting cycle and that average ratings will probably drop for many teams by the end of the cycle. By a quick count it looks like over 60% of the top 100 recruits are already committed, so average ratings will likely go down overall over the next 6 months. There aren't enough highly-rated uncommitted recruits to change the averages for too many schools.

Comparing to Maximum Ratings

While looking at the average rating over the last 10 years is a good measure, it can be a bit misleading because there could be a lot of variability over a 10-year span. UW, for example, had average recruit ratings vary from 84.34 in 2014 to 90.21 in 2018. So I decided to also look at the maximum of the average ratings for each school each year and compare that maximum to the average rating this year. My thought was that if there are schools that have a higher average rating this year than their previous maximum, that would indicate that they are recruiting higher-rated recruits than before NIL-and maybe that is due to using NIL as an inducement.

I found 24 schools that are recruiting better than their maximum, although most were just slightly above their maximum. Here is a table with the top 10.

School

2023 Rank

2023 Average

Average 2013-2022

Minimum 2013-2022

Maximum 2013-2022

Difference Average-Maximum

Louisville

14

91.26

85.46

83.96

86.53

4.73

UCF

58

88.62

83.71

81.04

87.08

1.54

Michigan State

25

90.03

86.71

84.90

88.87

1.16

Kansas State

40

86.46

83.58

82.08

85.49

0.97

Toledo

80

84.16

81.42

78.13

83.19

0.97

Notre Dame

2

93.21

90.33

89.00

92.30

0.91

Cincinnati

15

87.58

83.65

81.25

86.74

0.84

Kansas

69

85.32

83.17

81.18

84.53

0.79

Baylor

13

87.98

85.80

84.60

87.20

0.78

Miami

7

92.34

89.16

86.36

91.79

0.55

All of these schools were also mentioned above.

Here it is clear that Louisville is unique. I don't know enough about their program to understand why their recruiting is so much better this year than it has been. While the head coach is the same since 2019, they do have some new assistant coaches this year-that may explain some. But for a school that didn't often get 4-star recruits, to get a 5-star RB out of Texas along with several 4-star recruits out of California, it is clear that something significant has changed with their recruiting. And that also indicates that it isn't just a few recruits bumping up the average.

As I mentioned above, UCF and Cincinnati moving to the Big12 is likely helping their recruiting; and Cincinnati being in the CFP is likely helping, too. New or relatively new coaches at Michigan State, Baylor, Notre Dame, and Miami probably account for their improvements in recruiting. Kansas only has 6 commits, so I wouldn't read too much into them at this point. Kansas State got a couple of big in-state commits recently (QB Avery Johnson and RB Dylan Edwards, both of whom had UW offers); we'll see if they are able to maintain that average rating for the rest of their class.

UW

UW hasn't shown up much so far, so let's look at UW more specifically.

Between 2013 and 2022, UW's average recruit rating was 87.59. That was the 24th best average of all of the teams that I found. Here is list of the 25 teams that had the best average ratings over that 10-year period; none of them should be surprising.

School

2023 Average

Average 2013-2022

Alabama

93.65

93.71

Ohio State

93.67

92.73

Georgia

92.78

91.93

LSU

91.7

91.31

USC

92.07

91.29

Clemson

92.33

90.92

Texas A&M

90.79

90.41

Notre Dame

93.21

90.33

Texas

91.53

90.12

Florida State

90.67

90.07

Michigan

88.35

90.02

Oklahoma

90.75

89.89

Auburn

91.63

89.81

Florida

90.54

89.67

Oregon

91.94

89.17

Miami

92.34

89.16

Penn State

91

89.08

Tennessee

90.42

88.62

UCLA

88.33

88.41

Stanford

88.39

88.21

Ole Miss

90.47

87.93

North Carolina

88.48

87.85

South Carolina

88.16

87.64

Washington

87.01

87.59

Nebraska

87.87

87.16

So, UW was a top-25 recruiting program over that period. Currently their average rating puts them at #41.

Here's a list of the schools that weren't already above them (in the previous table) that currently have a higher average rating than UW's average rating over the 2013-2022 classes (87.59). These might be examples of teams that are taking advantage of NIL more than UW to get better recruits.

School

2023 Rank

2023 Average

Average 2013-2022

Louisville

14

91.26

85.46

Michigan State

25

90.03

86.71

Arkansas

10

88.91

86.58

Baylor

13

87.98

85.80

Utah

47

87.88

85.45

Nebraska

29

87.87

87.16

NC State

48

87.75

85.31

Iowa

19

87.74

85.22

Jackson State

94

87.73

#N/A

Missouri

61

87.67

85.97

Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri are not above their maximum over that time period, and I wouldn't count them as being significantly above UW's average rating; we'll have to see how their averages change by the end of the recruiting cycle. NC State is above their maximum average rating, but only very slightly (.14), and they could drop some by the end as well. Louisville and Michigan State were mentioned above. Utah's rise in the Pac12 is obviously fueling the improvement in their recruiting. Baylor has improved their recruiting, but it was down for a while because of the scandals there, and they now have a coach that has coached at the highest levels (although as an assistant), and has done well in his short time there. It shouldn't be surprising that they are recruiting well. I'm not sure about Arkansas, but they did have a very good year last year which is probably helping.

Jackson State made a splash in the 2022 recruiting cycle by getting the top-rated recruit in the country (Travis Hunter). They are starting off well in the 2023 class, but they only have 3 commits at this time so it is still early. Note that Jackson State wasn't in the top 100 in most years, which is why they haven't showed up until now and I don't have an average rating for them.

I'll also point out that UW had 2 years where their average was better than all but Louisville's current average, and 5 years where UW's average was above all but the top 3 in that table. So it would seem that it is possible that UW could move back ahead of some of those schools once DeBoer can show that UW can be a contender in the Pac12 again.

Conclusions

If you are looking for evidence that NIL is impacting recruiting, Louisville would be a place to start; they are recruiting at a much higher level and there don't appear to be obvious reasons why. Otherwise, however, I'm not seeing a lot of evidence of schools improving their recruiting in the 2023 class compared to the previous years (before NIL. There are a few schools that have improved, but not significantly. Most of the teams that were getting the best recruits before NIL (teams like Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, etc.) are the ones getting the best recruits now that NIL is in place. Again, it is still early, so things can change.

Of interest to Husky fans, I don't see evidence of UW being "left in the dust" because of NIL. UW's average rating and ranking seem consistent with the years before NIL, especially compared to the other schools. Also, the average ratings for the teams above UW are not significantly different now than they were before NIL, so UW isn't falling any further behind in recruiting than it had been before NIL. There may be a handful of teams like Louisville, Michigan State, and Arkansas that may have moved above UW for now, but we'll have to see if they can maintain that lead.

Also, there's probably more of a negative impact on this year's recruiting class average due to the coaching change than NIL-and that's something that can be addressed once DeBoer can show what his team can do on the field. That may not show up in time to alter the 2023 class, but a good showing this year could get UW back to the top-25 in team recruiting rankings in the 2024 class. (I expect them to be about #30 in the 2023 class by the end of this recruiting cycle.)

At worst it may be that UW falls from a top-25 recruiting program to a top-30, but the difference is small enough that it is possible that DeBoer can make up that difference and get back with good on-the-field results like we are seeing with Utah.

There will also be a question about the impact of recruiting on realignment going forward-especially where UW ends up. But that would be a separate discussion.