College Football Recruiting Prediction Model


Predictions for the Top Recruits as of February 05, 2009

Welcome to the “college football recruiting prediction model” website hosted by the Stetson School of Business and Economics at Mercer University.  This website contains information about an econometric model that has been developed by three economists (Mike DuMond, Allen Lynch and Jennifer Platania) to predict the collegiate choices of high school football players.  


Each year, on the first Wednesday in February, college coaches, administrators, and football fans eagerly await the choices of high school seniors as they sign “letters of intent” with specific colleges.  These letters of intent officially link top ranked high school football players with specific colleges and effectively determine the rosters of college football programs in years to come.  The process of recruiting these players is highly competitive, as schools battle with one another to sign the best of the best in the world of high school football.  Recruiting gurus attempt to forecast the choices of these high school athletes as college football fans desperately search the Internet for bits and pieces of information that might shed light on the choices of these teenage football players.


The importance to a specific college of signing a strong group of athletes on “signing day” cannot be overstated.  College football has become big business in recent years.  The amount of revenue a college or university can generate by fielding a competitive football team can reach staggering levels.  The college football program at the University of Texas at Austin, for example, brought in over $53 million[1] during the 2004-2005 academic year.  Given the potential for such revenue, as well as the general interest in the sport held by rabid college football fans, an econometric model to predict the choices of college becomes useful.


The authors used statistical software developed by SAS along with data provided by (a national website dedicated to college football and recruiting) in the development of this model.  The model was built on a database capturing characteristics and decisions of 3,395 recruited athletes for the three “recruiting seasons” between 2002 and 2004.  On average, each player was choosing from among a group of 4 schools.  A wide array of player and team level data were gathered for this task.  Then, a special form of a probit model was developed to capture, to the best extent possible a statistical equation to capture the decision making process.


We were a bit surprised by the results.  There were a number of factors that we thought would significantly impact the decision of the high school athlete that didn’t.  For example, factors like the school’s graduation rate, the number of Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl appearances, the current roster depth at the recruited player’s position, the number of players from a specific college drafted by the NFL, and even the number of national championships won by a particular program don’t systematically influence the decisions of high school athletes.  Surprised?  So were we.  What, then, does matter?  As it turns out the following factors DO significantly impact the decision of high school athletes:


  • Whether the athlete made an “official visit” to a specific college                      
  • Whether the school is in a BCS conference                             
  • The distance from the high school athlete’s hometown to a specific school          
  • Whether the recruit is in the same state as a specific school
  • The final AP Ranking of a specific school in the previous year of competition            
  • The number of conference titles a school has recorded in recent years
  • Whether the school is currently under a “bowl ban” for violating NCAA rules                    
  • The current number of scholarship reductions a school faces for violating NCAA rules             
  • The size of the team’s stadium (measured in terms of seating capacity)
  • Whether the school has an on-campus stadium                       
  • The current age of the team’s stadium                               


So, in a nutshell, high school athletes prefer winning programs that are
close to home, are in possession of good physical facilities, and are in good
graces with the NCAA.  Interestingly enough however, reduced scholarships increase the likelihood of choosing a particular school, holding all else constant.  This is likely because reduced scholarships imply reduced competition for exposure and playing time in the future.


Does the model predict accurately?  We believe the model predicts quite accurately!  Within the sample used to build the model, we accurately predicted approximately 68 percent of the choices of high school athletes.  (Considering that each player was choosing from a group of, on average, four schools, a 68 percent accuracy rate isn't too bad.)  In 2005, we examined the choices of the top 100 high school prospects and used the model to accurately predict the choices of 71 of these players.  After a brief hiatus in 2006 we came back with more predictions in 2007.  For the top 100 of the 2007 recruiting class, the model accurately predicted the decisions of 72.  Making the accuracy rate of the 2007 class more impressive is the fact that each player in the 2007 class was choosing from an average of 6.2 schools!  In 2008, the model accurately predicted the choices of 73% of the Top 250 recruits in the land.

Information regarding the predicted and actual choices for the top 250 recruits of 2009 (as determined by appears to the right.  Also to the right, the potential schools and associated probabilities, as determined by the results of the model, for the recruits in this group that have yet to decide are listed.  Of the 245 athletes that have made predictions, we have accurately pegged the decisions of 174, translating into a 71% accuracy rate. 

The results of this model appear in an article published in the February, 2008 edition of The Journal of Sports Economics.  The recruiting prediction model is the subject of a current article authored by Andy Staples in Sports Illustrated (link). Additionally, separate media stories regarding the results of the model have appeared in the Columbus Dispatch, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and via an Associated Press article written by Paul Nowell in 2005. 


The authors thank Juan Del Valle for his invaluable assistance in the collection of GIS related data.  The authors would also like to thank Kaitlin David for web site development and support.



About the authors:


Mike DuMond is an Economist with CRA International in Tallahassee, FL; Allen K. Lynch is Associate Professor of Economics and Quantitative Methods in the Stetson School of Business and Economics at Mercer University; and Jennifer Platania is Assistant Professor of Economics at Elon University. 



Currently, the model is predicting at a 71% accuracy rate for the committed players.

Player Rank

Player Name

Predicted School

Signed With


1 Bryce Brown Missouri Not yet signed ???
2 Rueben Randle LSU LSU Yes
3 D.J. Fluker Alabama Alabama Yes
4 Sheldon Richardson Missouri Missouri Yes
5 Matt Barkley Southern Cal Southern Cal Yes
6 Trent Richardson Florida Alabama No
7 Russell Shepard LSU LSU Yes
8 Devon Kennard Southern Cal Southern Cal Yes
9 Vontaze Burfict Southern Cal Arizona State No
10 Jelani Jenkins Penn State Florida No
11 Dre Kirkpatrick Alabama Alabama Yes
12 Manti Te'o Notre Dame Notre Dame Yes
13 Ray Ray Armstrong Florida Miami No
14 Alex Okafor Texas Texas Yes
15 Jacobbi McDaniel Florida State Florida State Yes
16 Donte Moss North Carolina North Carolina Yes
17 Janzen Jackson LSU LSU Yes
18 Garrett Gilbert Texas Texas Yes
19 Patrick Hall Southern Cal Southern Cal Yes
20 Craig Loston Texas LSU No
21 Andre Debose Florida Florida Yes
22 Christine Michael Texas A&M Texas A&M Yes
23 Gary Brown Florida Florida Yes
24 Darius Winston Arkansas Arkansas Yes
25 Chris Davenport LSU LSU Yes
26 William Campbell Michigan Michigan Yes
27 Greg Reid Georgia Florida State No
28 Branden Smith Georgia Georgia Yes
29 Mason Walters Texas Texas Yes
30 T.J. McDonald Southern Cal Southern Cal Yes
31 Corey Brown Penn State Ohio State No
32 Nico Johnson Alabama Alabama Yes
33 Dorian Bell Penn State Ohio State No
34 Willie Downs Florida Florida State No
35 Justin Turner Ohio State Michigan No
36 Jamarkus McFarland Texas Oklahoma No
37 Xavier Nixon Florida Florida Yes
38 Malliciah Goodman Clemson Clemson Yes
39 Randall Carroll UCLA Southern Cal No
40 David Wilson Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Yes
41 Cliff Harris Oregon Oregon Yes
42 Nick Kasa Colorado Colorado Yes
43 Gabe Lynn Oklahoma Oklahoma Yes
44 Ronnell Lewis Oklahoma Oklahoma Yes
45 Shayne Skov Stanford Stanford Yes
46 Aaron Murray Florida Georgia No
47 Chris Faulk LSU LSU Yes
48 Jheranie Boyd North Carolina North Carolina Yes
49 Morgan Moses Virginia Virginia Yes
50 Patrick Patterson Mississippi Mississippi Yes
51 Tajh Boyd Oregon Clemson No
52 Marcus Hall Ohio State Ohio State Yes
53 Marlon Brown Tennessee Georgia No
54 Zeke Motta Auburn Notre Dame No
55 Calvin Howell Texas Texas Yes
56 Jaamal Berry Ohio State Ohio State Yes
57 Edwin Baker Michigan State Michigan State Yes
58 Terry Hawthorne Illinois Illinois Yes
59 Michael Ford LSU LSU Yes
60 Tyrik Rollison Oklahoma State Auburn No
61 Ryne Giddins Florida South Florida No
62 Orson Charles Florida Not yet signed ???
63 Xavier Su'a Filo Utah UCLA No
64 Jon Bostic Florida Florida Yes
65 Rodney Smith Florida State Florida State Yes
66 Michael Philipp UCLA Oregon State No
67 Tana Patrick Alabama Alabama Yes
68 Nu'Keese Richardson Florida Tennessee No
69 Garrett Porter Texas Texas Yes
70 Demonte McAllister Florida Florida State No
71 Logan Thomas Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Yes
72 Jarvis Jones Georgia Southern Cal No
73 Justin Chaisson Oklahoma Oklahoma Yes
74 Jamie Wood Ohio State Ohio State Yes
75 Bryce McNeal Minnesota Clemson No
76 Cierre Wood Notre Dame Notre Dame Yes
77 Chris Watt Notre Dame Notre Dame Yes
78 Kevin Brent Oklahoma Oklahoma Yes
79 Jerod Askew West Virginia Tennessee No
80 Lamar Miller Miami Miami Yes
81 Chris Burnette Georgia Georgia Yes
82 Justin Green Kentucky Illinois No
83 Donavan Tate Southern Cal North Carolina No
84 Stephon Gilmore South Carolina South Carolina Yes
85 David Barrent Michigan State Michigan State Yes
86 Kevin Graf Southern Cal Southern Cal Yes
87 Damario Jeffery South Carolina South Carolina Yes
88 Eric Shrive Penn State Penn State Yes
89 Corey Adams Arizona State Arizona State Yes
90 Duron Carter Ohio State Ohio State Yes
91 Chris Whaley Texas Texas Yes
92 Brandon McGee Miami Miami Yes
93 DeOnte Arnett Maryland Maryland Yes
94 Fletcher Cox Alabama Mississippi State No
95 Abry Jones Georgia Georgia Yes
96 Morrell Presley Southern Cal UCLA No
97 David Oku Nebraska Not yet signed ???
98 Byron Moore Notre Dame Southern Cal No
99 Alshon Jeffrey South Carolina South Carolina Yes
100 John Martinez Southern Cal Southern Cal Yes
101 Ronnie Wingo Jr. Missouri Arkansas No
102 Dillon Quinn Boston College Boston College Yes
103 Waymon James TCU TCU Yes
104 Je'Ron Stokes Tennessee Michigan No
105 Chris Thompson Florida State Florida State Yes
106 Deandre Coleman Washington California No
107 Rolando Jefferson Fresno St. Not yet signed ???
108 Stanley Hasiak Michigan UCLA No
109 Chad Bumphis Mississippi State Mississippi State Yes
110 Sam Montgomery Oregon LSU No
111 Bryn Renner North Carolina North Carolina Yes
112 Jawanza Starling Florida Southern Cal No
113 Washaun Ealey Georgia Georgia Yes
114 Rodney Scott Mississippi Mississippi Yes
115 Richard Brehaut UCLA UCLA Yes
116 Eddie Lacy Alabama Alabama Yes
117 Tom Wort Oklahoma Oklahoma Yes
118 Chris Norman Michigan State Michigan State Yes
119 Craig Drummond Illinois Mississippi No
120 Rod Woodson Alabama Alabama Yes
121 Arthur Lynch Georgia Georgia Yes
122 Jarvis Giles South Carolina South Carolina Yes
123 James Green Tennessee Tennessee Yes
124 Jemari Roberts Stanford Stanford Yes
125 Jared McAdoo North Carolina North Carolina Yes
126 Darrington Sentimore Arkansas Alabama No
127 Roderick McDowell Clemson Clemson Yes
128 AJ McCarron Alabama Alabama Yes
129 Chris Fields Ohio State Ohio State Yes
130 Austin Long Georgia Georgia Yes
131 Tom Savage Rutgers Rutgers Yes
132 Larvez Mars Florida International Florida International Yes
133 Darren Myles Alabama Tennessee No
134 Desmond Scott North Carolina Duke No
135 De'Antwan Williams Rutgers Rutgers Yes
136 Marquis Simmons Southern Cal Southern Cal Yes
137 Michael Bowman Alabama Alabama Yes
138 Keenan Davis Iowa Iowa Yes
139 Jayron Hosley South Florida Virginia Tech No
140 Michael Carter Florida Minnesota No
141 Frankie Telfort Florida Southern Cal No
142 Andrew Maxwell Michigan State Michigan State Yes
143 Lonnie Pryor Florida State Florida State Yes
144 Dexter Pratt LSU Oklahoma State No
145 C.J. Barnett Ohio State Ohio State Yes
146 Eugene Smith Alabama West Virginia No
147 Kevin Norwood Alabama Alabama Yes
148 Nick Alajajian Florida Florida Yes
149 Dominique Wallace Virginia Virginia Yes
150 Marlon Pollard UCLA UCLA Yes
151 Jeremy Gallon Michigan Michigan Yes
152 Adam Hall Arizona Arizona Yes
153 Drayton Calhoun LSU LSU Yes
154 Marcus Davis Texas Texas Yes
155 Barkevious Mingo Michigan LSU No
156 Craig Roh Michigan Michigan Yes
157 Greg Timmons Texas Texas Yes
158 Brennan Williams Boston College North Carolina No
159 Eric Gordon Oklahoma Tennessee No
160 Shaquelle Evans Notre Dame Notre Dame Yes
161 Josh Downs LSU LSU Yes
162 Kraig Appleton Illinois Wisconsin No
163 Kevin Newsome Virginia Tech Penn State No
164 Tate Forcier Michigan Michigan Yes
165 Dontae Aycock Georgia Tech Auburn No
166 Knile Davis Arkansas Arkansas Yes
167 Kendall Kelly Alabama Alabama Yes
168 D.J. Hunter West Virginia Not yet signed ???
169 Todd Thomas Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Yes
170 Justin Dixon North Carolina North Carolina Yes
171 Montez Robinson Purdue Georgia No
172 Philip Lutzenkirchen Auburn Auburn Yes
173 Cody Green Nebraska Nebraska Yes
174 Corey Linsley Ohio State Ohio State Yes
175 Josh Hunter North Carolina North Carolina Yes
176 DeVonte Holloman South Carolina South Carolina Yes
177 Dominic Clarke Ohio State Ohio State Yes
178 Marcus Trice Oklahoma Oklahoma Yes
179 Jason Ankrah Maryland Nebraska No
180 Josh Boyd Mississippi Mississippi State No
181 Terry Shankle Tennessee North Carolina No
182 Craig Bills BYU BYU Yes
183 Jamal Patterson Stanford Stanford Yes
184 Dyron Dye LSU Miami No
185 Jack Lippert Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Yes
186 Rantavious Wooten Georgia Georgia Yes
187 Brandon Thomas Clemson Clemson Yes
188 Denard Robinson Florida Michigan No
189 J.K. Jay Clemson Clemson Yes
190 James Boyd Southern Cal Southern Cal Yes
191 Eric Stephens Texas Tech Texas Tech Yes
192 Bradley Battles South Florida South Florida Yes
193 Tyler Stockton Notre Dame Notre Dame Yes
194 Taylor Lewan Michigan Michigan Yes
195 Allan Bridgford Stanford California No
196 Travis Hawkins Maryland Maryland Yes
197 Bud Golden Illinois Illinois Yes
198 Thomas Ashcraft Texas Texas Yes
199 Zach Mettenberger Georgia Georgia Yes
200 Jordan Kohout Wisconsin Wisconsin Yes
201 Michael Brockers Texas A&M LSU No
202 Justin Brown Penn State Penn State Yes
203 Nathan Scheelhaase Illinois Illinois Yes
204 Chris Smith Mississippi State Mississippi State Yes
205 Luther Robinson Miami Miami Yes
206 Shavodrick Beaver Michigan Tulsa No
207 Corey Gaines South Florida Mississippi No
208 Steve Williams California California Yes
209 Sheldon Price UCLA UCLA Yes
210 Jamal Reid South Florida Miami No
211 John Drew Duke Duke Yes
212 Jack Mewhort Ohio State Ohio State Yes
213 Quinton Washington South Carolina Michigan No
214 Storm Klein Ohio State Ohio State Yes
215 Anthony LaLota Michigan Michigan Yes
216 Melvin Fellows Ohio State Ohio State Yes
217 Tyler Russell Mississippi State Mississippi State Yes
218 Chris Williams Cincinnati Cincinnati Yes
219 Patrick Ward Illinois Northwestern No
220 Stepfan Taylor Stanford Stanford Yes
221 Michael Schofield Illinois Michigan No
222 Isaac Holmes Rutgers Rutgers Yes
223 Jack Harris Colorado Colorado Yes
224 William Ming Alabama Alabama Yes
225 James Jackson Ohio State Ohio State Yes
226 De'Von Flournoy UCLA Southern Cal No
227 Olivier Vernon Miami Miami Yes
228 Osahon Irabor Arizona State Arizona State Yes
229 Eryon Barnett Texas Texas Yes
230 Willie Haulstead Florida State Florida State Yes
231 Joshua Adams North Carolina North Carolina Yes
232 Derrick Thomas Penn State Penn State Yes
233 Cameron Gordon Iowa Michigan No
234 Levine Toilolo Stanford Stanford Yes
235 Bradley McDougald Wisconsin Kansas No
236 Mike Gillislee Florida Florida Yes
237 Mike James South Florida Miami No
238 Todd Golper UCLA UCLA Yes
239 Fitzgerald Toussaint Michigan Michigan Yes
240 Rex Burkhead Texas A&M Nebraska No
241 Casey Pachall TCU TCU Yes
242 Theo Riddick Notre Dame Notre Dame Yes
243 Raymond Graham Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Yes
244 Ivory Wade Baylor Baylor Yes
245 Dasarte Yarnway California California Yes
246 Colby Berna Arkansas Arkansas Yes
247 David Gilbert Wisconsin Wisconsin Yes
248 Jeremy Smith Oklahoma State Oklahoma State Yes
249 Darrell Givens Penn State Penn State Yes
250 Latu Heimuli Florida Utah No


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This page last updated on Thursday February 05, 2009 01:48 PM

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