"Following Recruiting" isn't an ingredient in my gumbo. "Dumb Stuff" absolutely is. "Stuff That Happens on the Field" is hit or miss and depends on my mood. But "Following Recruiting" is definitely something that doesn't exist in my universe all that much.
Luckily, Inside Lacrosse takes the time and effort to track recruiting. The magazine recently released its annual recruiting issue -- you can buy a print issue here and a digital copy is available here -- and put this year's incoming classes into context. What people care about more than anything, though, is the ranking of a program's haul. To satiate the appetites of the masses, Inside Lacrosse went ahead and published -- for free! -- its ranking of the top 20 classes in the nation today, with Johns Hopkins holding the pole position. According to the magazine, five of the nation's best 100 freshman have matriculated at Homewood with four of the nation's 10 strongest freshman pulling on the Columbia black and blue this spring.
Here's how Inside Lacrosse's recruiting class rankings have looked over the last four years:
|1.||Johns Hopkins||Maryland||North Carolina||Maryland|
|2.||Notre Dame||Syracuse||Virginia||North Carolina|
|5.||North Carolina||Duke||Johns Hopkins||Johns Hopkins|
|8.||Denver||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|16.||Ohio State||Pennsylvania||Ohio State||Hofstra|
Obviously the usual caveats about ranking recruiting classes are in play here. It's interesting to note, however, a few things:
- The entirety of the current ACC has appeared in the top 20 of Inside Lacrosse's recruiting rankings every season since 2011. The average position of this league's recruiting class over the last four seasons -- considering only the five current ACC members -- is fifth. Syracuse's 2014 class -- ranked 17th -- is the lowest ranking class among current ACC members in this four-year span; no other team pulled in a haul ranked lower than ninth (Syracuse in 2012).
- Three Ivy League teams appear in each set of rankings over this four-year period, but none of those teams are Cornell. This despite the fact that Cornell ranks third nationally in LaxPower's 10-year computer ranking analysis and fifth in the site's three-year computer rankings analysis.
- The Big Ten -- which will sponsor play starting this fall -- features two teams -- Maryland and Johns Hopkins -- that appear in every iteration of the magazine's recruiting rankings over the last four years. Three other teams -- Ohio State (2014 and 2012), Penn State (2014, 2013, and 2012), and Michigan (2014, 2013, and 2012) -- appear at least twice.
With respect to specific teams, a dozen programs have been featured in Inside Lacrosse's top 20 recruiting class rankings since 2011. The breakdown of those teams features a host of usual suspects, with an odd team or two thrown in:
Some brief notes on this:
- Maryland is the only school to have more than one top-ranked recruiting class in the last four years. The Terps have balanced those classes with a top-five haul and a class that ranked sixth nationally.
- The highest standard deviation value among this subset of programs belongs to Syracuse. While the Orange's average recruiting class ranking ranks eighth among these schools, Syracuse has balanced a second-ranked class with hauls that have ranked 17th, sixth, and ninth.
- Carolina has consistently brought in the nation's best classes since 2011. With the highest average among this group and the second lowest standard deviation in its ranking of classes, the Tar Heels have assaulted the competition on the recruiting trail.
- Only four conferences -- the ACC, Big Ten, Ivy League, and Big East -- are represented in this cohort of teams. The entirety of the current ACC appears, while 33.33 percent of the Big Ten and Big East are present with just over 40 percent of the Ivy League is annotated in the table.