The Fastest 40 Yard Dash Ever

What Research Found Out On This Very Important Topic

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Football fans across America continue to obsess over the most simple drill in the game of football. Is there anything more discussed than the 40 yard dash? Every Spring, this drill takes center stage and undoubtedly the question is asked 1,o00’s of times. What’s the fastest 40 yard dash?

Just as sure as you get the question asked 1,000 times, you will get dozens of ridiculous answers. For starters, let’s find out why the 40 yard dash? When and why did 40 yards become so significant? It started in the 1960’s with the NFL team that had the most developed and comprehensive scouting department and that was the Dallas Cowboys. Prior to this time period, NFL coaches chose the 50 yard dash as the mark of measure to determine a player speed worthiness. In 1960, Gil Brandt, the director scouting for the Cowboys along with his department came up with the 40/20/10 measurement. The 40 was used for all players. The 20 yard split time of the 40 was of great significance for linemen since the thought was that they rarely run 40 yards in a game. The 10 yard split was important for wide receivers as a measure of their burst off of the line of scrimmage. With this, a drill was born and almost 50 years later, it has become the center piece of info on a prospective high school, college or professional football player.

So who had the fastest 40 yard dash ever? Research confirmed what I already knew and that there is no way to really tell. Here are some important things to know about the 40 yard dash:

Run your fastest 40 ever. Click on the pic.

– A hand time (use of a stop watch) will usually be faster than an electronic time

– There are two types of electronic times:

1. When a watch is started by a coach and an electronic beam records the time when it picks up the player crossing the end point

2. When an electronic beam picks up the movement of a player from the start and starts the clock. An electronic beam also detects the player at the end point and stops the clock. This time will be slower than version #1 and even slower than a hand time in which a coach starts his stop watch when he sees the player begin the run and then stops the watch when he sees the player cross the finish line.

– An accurtrack time will be the slowest of all. Accutrack is what is used at track meets. The clock in accu-track timing starts when the starter’s pistol is shot. The runner’s time for the event is recorded digitally when the technology detects the player crossing the finish line.

Studies have shown that that average reaction time by a human to a starter’s pistol is .25 seconds. For this reason, anyone who compares a 40 yard split time in a 100 meter event and compares it to reported hand timed 40 yard dash marks is making a big mistake. If you want compare the 40 yard split of a runner in a 100 meter event, subtract .25 seconds from the recorded time. So, Olympic runner Justin Gatlin’s 4.42 forty yard dash split recorded during his Gold Medal winning 9.85 100 meter run, would convert to a 4.17 forty yard dash by football standards.

After much research a few things have come up over and over and over. These things plus my own two eyes would lead me to believe that Darrell Green, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders were the fastest football players to ever play the game.

It has been said consistently that Darrell Green recorded a time of 4.09 at the Washington Redskins’ training camp in 1986. That’s a hard time to swallow but Green’s obvious speed has been put on display many times while he was in the NFL. Green ran down from significant distances two of the fastest running backs to play in the NFL (Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson). Green has said in interviews that the fastest time he has ever been aware of running is 4.15. To his credit, Green does have a verifiable and official time of 10.08 in the 100 meters while he was a college student at Texas A&I University. If anyone could run a sub 4.1 forty, it was Darrell Green.

Many sources report a 4.12 forty yard dash time for Bo Jackson and if you watched him turn the corner and run down the sidelines in 1987 versus the Seattle Seahawks, you would not doubt any time reported by this freak of nature. Repetition does not make it a fact but if enough sources have reported this time to make me believe it. Jackson has an official 10.39 time in the 100 meter dash in college.

Deion Sanders has the closest thing of the three as a verifiable 40 yard dash time. Sanders ran a 4.21 forty yard dash at the 1989 NFL combine and kept right on going through the finish line into the first round of that year’s NFL draft. Like Green and Jackson, anyone who watched Sanders play would have little trouble believing that Sanders pulled off this feat. Sanders recorded a 10.21 100 meter mark while at Florida St.

Of course there are scores of reported 40 yard dash times that have made the rounds on the Internet. Some are ridiculous like the 3.9’s attached to a couple of players and some 4 flats that were attached to some others.

Here are some of the problems with reported 40 yard dash times from team workouts. Some times you can’t be sure that the distance run was indeed 40 yards. There’s always the chance that the distance was not properly marked. When teams do individual private workouts for teams, often times the scout has not brought the necessary tool to mark off the distance. There’s also the chance that player’s will cheat the distance. I have first hand knowledge of a player starting in front of the starting point to run a forty, fully taking advantage of the fact that there was only one scout on hand and that he could not tell if the player was indeed starting at the correct mark. Another problem is the angle of the surface. There are plenty of practice fields across the country that have a slope. Coaches see great value in having their players run on a slight decline to record eye popping times. Savvy scouts will insist that players run up one way and then down the other. An average of the two times is taken to get the most accurate time. One other problem is that some players run the 40 yard dash with cleats on grass while other places have their players run on a synthetic track with spikes on. Guess who would record the fastest time.

In my personal experiences, I have seen some sub 4.3 forty yard dashes in my time. Kevin Williams of the University of Miami (1989-92) ran a 4.28 forty yard dash before my own eyes. Former Hurricanes Tremain Mack (4.25) and Al Shipman (4.27) ran sub 4.3 forties before my own eyes. Track star Henry Neal recorded a 4.20 forty yard dash before my own eyes in a workout for the Miami Dolphins in 1996. The Dolphins did not sign Neal since his football background was quite limited. I never watched him run an actual 40 yard dash but after having to cover him in training camp, I am inclined to believe every second of Joey Galloway’s reported 4.18 forty yard dash.

One player that is not on the list is Bob Hayes of the Dallas Cowboys. No doubt, Hayes was one of the fastest men, if not

the fastest man to put on an NFL uniform. However, as it relates to the 40 yard dash, I could find no time recorded for this Olympic Gold medalist. Hayes has the fastest 100 meter time for an NFL player at 10.05. Should current Florida Gator Jeffery Demps make it to the NFL for any significant amount of time, he will own the fastest time at 10.01. Demps ran this as a high schooler and owns the national prep record for the event.

The fastest recorded 40 yard split on record belongs to Olympian Maurice Greene. During his World Record 60 meter run of 6.33, a mark that still exists, Green crossed the 40 yard mark at 4.18. Remembering that .25 seconds must be subtracted from that time due to Accu-track timing and you come up with a 40 yard dash time of 3.93 seconds. What’s the problem with that time? It was run on an indoor track with spikes on giving the runner an advantage over the football players who have run on grass with cleats.

In an effort to centralize all the reported 40 yard dash times. I will start what we call the SUB 4.3 Club. I will attempt to keep a running record of the sub 4.3 forty yard dashes and their owners in this list. I will refrain from adding times of the ridiculous and will do some research on all times that qualify. I will say one thing, can you web surfers stop reporting that Deion Sanders ran a 4.57 forty yard dash backwards. That’s just flat out ridiculous.

Enjoy the following list of reported (and somewhat believable) 40 yard dashes run under 4.3 seconds. We will continue to add on to this list over time. Did I miss someone? Comment on this article and make your case. Please do not quote high school forty yard dash times. Nothing against them, let’s just stick to college and pro football right now.

Listings in bold are new ones added since last update.

Note Updated: 4/19/21:  Two new additions to the all time list.  Anthony Schwartz wide receiver from Auburn (4.25) and Eric Stokes defensive  back from Georgia (4.29). Of course,  you all know that there was no combine this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.  This means that the only thing we had were pro day times.  Much has been said and speculated about the pro day results.  I will make this careful observation based on what I know,  I’ve seen and I’ve heard.

With no combine,  players had more time to prepare.  That alone will yield better results.  In addition,  the combine is a rigorous process that does not lend itself to tip top athletic results by all.  Some manage that process better than others for a number of reasons.

The biggest discrepancy with the times seems to have come from agents and schools trying to promote their players vigorously in an attempt to boost their draft stock.  As such,  I did my research and found the sources that I could trust on the times and went with those.  At the end of the day,  these two athletes seem to have been the ones whose sub 4.3 times are able to stick.  Both Schwartz and Stokes were high school sprint stars running 10.05 and 10.39 respectively.  While that does not guarantee them sub 4.3 yard dash times,  it does give their run more credibility.

Note Updated: 2/28/20:  Alabama’s Henry Ruggs has been added to the list.  Ruggs turned in a time of 4.27 at the NFL Combine on 2/27/20.  Many had speculated that he would break the combine record of 4.22 recorded by John Ross in 2017,  Ruggs came up short.  Nevertheless,  4.27 is an outstanding time that puts him at #37 on our list.

Note Updated 3/05/19: Added Zedrick Woods of Ole Miss to the list.  There were many fast times at the 2019 NFL combine but only one guy was able to go sub 4.3 and get on the list.

Note Updated 2/03/19:  We’ve all wondered what Usain Bolt would do in a 40.  Well,  wonder no more,  kind of.  At the NFL Experience during Super Bowl LIII,  Bolt, ran the 40 yard dash in sweatpants and sneakers.  He casually came through the line in an unofficial 4.22.  Mind you,  I doubt he went through a full warm-up and the set up was such that he could not run through the line at full speed.  There’s little doubt that under the type of conditions that the NFL players run the 40 at the combine,  Bolt,  who is retired at age 32, would surpass anything any of us have ever seen in the 40 yard dash.

Note Updated: 3/8/17:  University of Minnesota DB Jaylen Myrick has been added to the list with an official NFL combine time of 4.28.  Myric joins a small list of NFL combine participants who have run under 4.30.  Myrick’s time would have been the talk of the combine had John Ross from Washington not broken Chris Johnson’s long standing record with his time of 4.22.

Note Updated 3/4/17:  University of Washington’s John Ross broke the combine official 40 yard dash record with a 4.22 laser time.  He will be placed on the list with this time.  With that said, several scouts had him under 4.20 with their hand times.  Lowest I heard was 4.16.  This would put Ross amongst the fastest ever. Ross cramped up immediately after his run and only ran one. Looking at the tape, he may have cramped near the end of his run. Truly an amazing performance.

Note Updated 3/5/16:  The NFL Combine provided two new additions to the list.  I do accept hand times to the list.  In fact,  hand times make up the majority of this list for any of you who may have been curious.  The NFL Network,  which televises the NFL Combine,  uses former NFL GM Charlie Casserly as their timer for 40 yard dashes run at the combine.  Casserly’s hand time makes up the “unofficial times” that you see on NFL Network during the telecast of the NFL Combine. This year,  Georgia RB Keith Marshall cranked out a 4.29 according to Casserly’s watch during his 40 yard dash and Auburn DB Jonathan Joseph was the fastest hand time at the 2016 combine with a 4.28.  Both have been added to the list as it has now grown to 48 members.

Note Updated 4/3/15: Pro timing days are still going but we do have two highly publicized entries onto the list. UCF’s Breshad Perriman cranked out a 4.22 forty at UCF’s pro timing day at 6’2″ and weighing 215 lbs.  Only Randy Moss is taller than Perriman on this list.  After running a 4.35 at the combine,  Miami’s Phillip Dorsett cranked out a 4.25 at the University of Miami’s pro timing day.  If you’ve had a chance to see video, it looked every bit of 4.2.  Dorsett becomes the 5th Miami Hurricane added to the list.

Note Updated 2/24/15:  Similar to last year we have only one new entry from this year’s NFL draft.  After talk leading up to the combine of Miami’s Phillip Dorsett possibly breaking Chris Johnson’s record, only University of Birmingham Alabama’s JJ Nelson who was able to go under 4.3 seconds.  Nelson earned his way onto our esteemed sub 4.3 list with a mark of 4.28 unofficially (4.29 officially).  The next fastest mark at the 2015 combine came from Michigan St. cornerback Trae Waynes at 4.31.  Dorsett did put a blazing time at 4.33 but it is quite short of Chris Johnson’s standing combine official record mark of 4.24.  Stay tuned for some mutant clocking a ridiculous time at one of the upcoming Pro Days.

Note Updated 2/26/14:  While the 2013 combine added four new members to our list, 2014 was not as generous. Kent St.’s Dri Archer was the only member of this year’s combine to go sub 4.3 and thus get added to the list.  Archer listed at 5’7 3/4″ completed his dash in 18 steps which equals 6’5″ Calvin Johnson’s mark for the fewest amount of steps for the 40 yard dash at the combine.  That is truly amazing power in his strides. With Archer, the list now grows to 45 in total.

Note Updated 2/25/13: 2013 Combine has done well to add to our growing list. First Tavon Austin blazed up the Indy track with an effort-less 4.25.  Then Texas WR Marquis Goodwin refused to be outdone and posted up his own 4.25.  Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb made them both sit down with his hand timed 4.21.  Only Goodwin remained under 4.3 when the official times released as he ended up with 4.27.  McCalebb and Austin both ended up with 4.34 official 40 times.  I do count hand times for this list so all three make it.

Note Updated 3/05/13: Added Steve Williams from California who ran an unofficial 4.25 at the combine. Also added former Northern Iowa WR Terrell Sinkfield who ran a 4.19 at Minnesota U’s Pro Day on 3/04/13.  Here’s an article discussing Sinkfield’s run.

Note Updated 1/11/12: Three new additions to the list.  Clayton Holmes as prompted by a visitor named Kane who reminded me about the speedster front the Cowboys.  After some research I was satisfied that he did indeed run a 4.23 forty yard dash during him time with the Cowboys.  The other two additions came from an interview I happened to view from Tom Shaw who has trained some of the fastest men that have ever played and continue to play in the NFL.  Ike Taylor of the Steelers who Shaw says ran a 4.25 coming into the NFL.  Shaw also said Taylor once ran a 4.18 but I will stick with the 4.25 run before pro scouts.   Shaw also mentioned how Rod Woodson ran a 4.28 at the NFL combine.  I don’t know how that fact escaped me but it has escaped me no longer.  So three new additions.

Notes Updated 3/05/11: Two new additions to the list.  I added the 4.20 forty yard dash that I witnessed Henry Neal run at a Dolphin tryout in 1996.  I remember it well because I had to run my 40 after his.  My 4.44 clocking seemed pedestrian after Henry mowed the lawn for the scouts.  Neal was not a football player but a track star that was well put together.  He was 5’9″ 177  of all muscle.  Perhaps some Dolphin scout saw him on his travels and flew him in for the workout.

The other addition is Walter Sutton.  I was reminded of this by an ex-Miami teammate of mine named Kelvin Harris who resides from the Fort Myers area that Walter Sutton also came from.  Sutton was drafted in the 4th round in 1991 by the Atlanta Falcons.  Sutton unfortunately was not able to start his NFL career because he was prosecuted on a drug dealing charge.  Sutton attended SW Minnesota St. and the best way to get drafted that high out of a school that size is to have speed and Walter did, clocking a 4.28 forty for the Falcons in a pre draft workout.

Notes Updated 3/02/11: DeMarcus Van Dyke is the latest addition to the list after clocking a 4.28 at the NFL combine.  That’s about as legit as it gets.  Van Dyke is the 4th Miami Hurricane to make the list.

Note Updated 1/11/12: Three new additions to the list.  Clayton Holmes as prompted by a visitor named Kane who reminded me about the speedster front the Cowboys.  After some research I was satisfied that he did indeed run a 4.23 forty yard dash during him time with the Cowboys.  The other two additions came from an interview I happened to view from Tom Shaw who has trained some of the fastest men that have ever played and continue to play in the NFL.  Ike Taylor of the Steelers who Shaw says ran a 4.25 coming into the NFL.  Shaw also said Taylor once ran a 4.18 but I will stick with the 4.25 run before pro scouts.   Shaw also mentioned how Rod Woodson ran a 4.28 at the NFL combine.  I don’t know how that fact escaped me but it has escaped me no longer.  So three new additions.

Notes Updated 1/24/11: Foolish me for not updating this sooner with Sam Shield’s 40 time since I witnessed it myself on his pro timing day last spring.  While I still had my mouth open from his 11’3″ broad jump where he seemingly got stuck in the air,  I watch Shields go out and chew up the first 40 yards like a 6 year old chews up a pack of bubbilicious.  He then smoothly coasted through the 2nd twenty and had scouts huddling up like they were calling a play on 4th and 1.   There were times all over the place ranging from 4.30 to 4.22 but the one most heard was 4.25 so that’s what I went with.  Johnny Knox is also deserving to be on this list. Knox, from the Bears, ran a 4.34 at the combine when he was coming out but he also ran on his pro timing day and there are may reports that put his time in the 4.26-4.29 range.  4.29 is what I have heard the most,  so that is what I went with.

Notes Updated: 3/04/10: USC’s Taylor Mays has been added to the list with his unofficial 4.24 at the NFL Combine.  Eventhough his official time was a 4.43,  I must include Mays’ time since several of the times on the list are hand times just like his.  Pretty amazing given Mays size (6’3″, 230 lbs.).  I may say that’s outside of Bo Jackson’s time,  Mays’ may be the most impressive when you take in the size factor.  Trindon Holliday has also been added for his unofficial 4.27 run at the combine on 3/01/10.

Notes Updated 3/01/10: Clemson’s Jacoby Ford and CJ Spiller were added to the list today.  Ford’s time at the Indianapolis NFL combine was a 4.27 unofficially and 4.28 officially.  CJ Spiller’s unofficial time was also a 4.28 but his official time ended up being a 4.37.  I am taking the 4.28 because there are many times on this list that are unofficial hand times.  Any way you look at it,  CJ Spiller can fly.

Notes Updated 1/04/09: Who knew this article would become so popular.  This has ended up being one of the most popular sports articles on the Internet since I wrote.  Just goes to show how much of a hot topic 40 yard dash times are.  I have received so many comments and emails about 40 yard dash times.  Please understand this 40 yard dash list is an “official” list meaning the times on it can be verified.  I am sure there have been some sub 4.3’s run out there but they have been done in a way that can not be verified.  There are a 100 stories about some boy name “D-Rock” who ran a 4.17 with some high tops on at lunch time on the grass field.  I can’t put those times on there.  There are even times that may be closer to official that I won’t even include.  For instance,  anyone who has seen C.J. Spiller or Jacoby Ford from Clemson or Trindon Holliday from LSU run could guess that these guys probably run sub 4.3 forty’s.  I am sure they have probably run them for some coach or strength and conditioning guy.  In fact,  Ford is said to have run a 4.26 at Clemson.  Holliday’s high school coach claims he ran a 4.27 but I am suspicious of high school forty yard dash times.  I need to tell you that up front.  Spiller has an alleged low time of 4.28.  However,  he also has a high time of 4.47.  On situations like that,  I will just wait to see what they run at the combine or in their private NFL workouts.  Sometimes,  they don’t hit the times you expect them to hit.

NOTE: Some of the times listed above may have been run on a track with spikes on. In cases where I know that to be true, those players are excluded from this list. Football is not played on a synthetic rubber surface with track spikes on. DeAngelo Hall’s reported 4.15 on Virginia Tech’s indoor track when he was a junior in college would be an example of that.

Is there someone missing from the list? Comment on this article with name and the time. I will check it out and add it if research dictates that it should be there. Comment on this article.

7on7 vs. Track in the Off Season for Football Players

By: Chad Wilson – GridironStuds
Twitter: @GridironStuds

Oh you thought practicing in the Fall and playing games on Friday night was the tough part didn’t you? Try figuring out what to do with your time in the offseason.  Between the other sports,  7on7, camps, combines and school visits,  it seems that there just isn’t enough time in the day to get it all in.  With so much on the plate to be eaten it’s tough to figure out what to consume and what to push off to the side.

One of the biggest issues for skill position guys is trying go achieve some balance between playing 7on7 and running track.  At issue is the commitment that is required to be great at both sports along with the desires of the coaches for each sport. There are also a limited amount of demands that one can make on their body before it forces you to take a break when it breaks.  In an ideal situation,  both the 7on7 and track coach would have a completely open mind to you missing some time from either sport.  However,  most times,  that is not the case.  At least one,  if not both,  aren’t going to be cool with you missing events pertaining to the sport they coach.

So how do we strike a balance between these two all important sports in the offseason for skill position players.  First of all let me start off by saying this;   in my opinion,  track comes before 7on7 for defensive backs, wide receivers and running backs.  For linebackers,  I’m neutral and for quarterbacks even ones that are dual threat,  7on7 is most definitely more important.  So with that said,  if one sport has to be picked over the other then for DB, WR and RB,  it’s track over 7on7.  Some 7on7 coaches won’t like that but if they are being honest with themselves and know what they’re talking about,  they really can’t argue.  For those three positions I just named,  speed kills and track is key to building that all important component.  When Spring football,  the summer and the actual Fall season comes around you are working on your football skills (at least you are supposed to be) and you are not really working on speed development.  So,  when you shun track for 7on7,  you are overloading yourself with one element (skill) and neglecting the other (speed).  This hurts when you start getting tested and the speed times don’t measure up to your counterparts.

With all of that said,  the trick is to not have to pick one over the other but instead,  find a way to do both.  When it comes to doing this,  communication,  negotiation and understanding are key.  If you are a key member on the track team especially in relays then missing key meets is going to be a problem.  Track is an individual sport until you are a member of a relay.  When you are a good to great runner,  expect your coach to put you on a relay or two.  For the coach and that team,  it’s about accumulating points to win the state meet.  There’s also an important part of chemistry that is developed on relays when you run them in the big meets.

On the flip side,  the better player you are in 7on7,  the more willing the coaches are to work with your schedule.  They too would love to have you at every 7on7 event but will gladly take you when they can if you are elite.  This does not mean that you abuse that position that you find yourself in simply because you can.  It says a lot about a person when they have the power to do something but choose not to use it.

If you are good to great in both track and 7on7 then you need to do some communicating and negotiating.  Get the schedule for both sports as soon as you can.  Determine (with the coach) which are the big events and make a plan to be available for those events.  In the event that major events for both sports occur on the same day or weekend then choose the track meet over the 7on7 event.  Again,  this is if you are great in both.  If you are great in only one then most likely that one is your priority and you should lean in that direction.  The only thing I will say is that if you are a DB, WR or RB and you lack speed,  you should be trying to do everything you can to get some.

After figuring out which events are key.  Tell your coach up front which events you will make it to and which ones you will miss.  It may annoy either coach that you will miss but for them it’s a whole lot better to know well in advance so that they can plan than getting a text a few days before, the day of or even worse the day after.  Successful coaching is about planning,  keep that in mind.  While you are trying to be great,  be sure to give your coaches a chance to do the same.

If you are not great in one or both sports then this is where the understanding part kicks in.  When you are not a key member of a team you become more replaceable.  A coach may choose not to run you in an event or put you in the 7on7 lineup as much as you would like.  You will just have to understand that and learn as much as you can from each sport while you are not actively participating in it.  This is easier when you are a freshman or sophomore.  It’s more difficult as a junior or senior.

For the coaches that may be reading this,  treat the players that follow this formula with respect.  If they have been open and honest with you then be open and honest with them.  Resist the urge to do things to them just for spite.  Don’t make an athlete think he will participate on the event day then sit him just because you are upset about previous times he missed.  Keep in mind that he likely missed the other sport to attend yours.  Also,  keep in mind that the kid’s ultimate goal is to try and go to college.   You would never want to stand between the athlete and that goal.  Sometimes you have to put your ego in the trunk and steer the car down the road of integrity.   When all sides can communicate,  compromise and understand,   everyone has a better chance of reaching their goals.

Transfer Portal Means High School Prospects Have to Close the Holes

By: Chad Wilson
IG: @gridironstuds

Few things in college football have been talked about over the last 12-18 months than the transfer portal.  From the onset of it’s implementation into the college football recruiting landscape,  the portal has been hot.  However,  it has turned into a menace for high school football prospects across the country.

No class has been harder hit in recruiting than the class of 2021.  Between the extended dead period and extra year of eligibility granted to all college football players + the relaxed transfer rules along with the streamlining of the transfer portal,  the value of a high school football prospect is declining fast.  In the state of Florida,  one of the major hotbeds for recruiting talent,  the class of 2021 saw the smallest amount of prospects sign with Power 5 schools in five years.  The 127 players signed was 17 less than 2020 and some 53 less than the class of 2017.  The inability of college football coaches to see prospects in person for almost a year wreaked havoc on the high school class.  It has now become safer for the schools to venture into the transfer portal and find a player that’s a little more college ready even if there may be a problem here or there.

For the college coaches,  a problem they know about is better than a problem they can’t foresee coming.  That means that whatever problem a player in the transfer portal may have,  they already know that he’s been to college,  knows the routine and for the most part has adjusted to it.  When it comes to a high school prospects,  even one you have been able to see in person,  there’s no telling how he will adjust to the shock of football consuming his life.  The truth of the matter is that some high school players can’t handle the schedule when they get to the next level even when they are a 5 star.  There are just a little more assurances when you are pulling a guy in out of the transfer portal.

In the early part of the transfer portal invention,  the pickings were a little slim as players and coaches adjusted to how it worked.  However,  after the initial feeling out,  the portal has exploded.  Over 1500 players are in the portal with their bags packed shopping for a new home.  This simply means that colleges have more options now when it comes to filling out their rosters.  When certain positions become depleted they are more apt to try and fill it with an athlete that has some college football experience over one who has none.  That’s just life.

So what does all this mean for the high school prospect?  Quite simply,  you are going to have to be a better version of yourself than you previously thought.  Everything matters more now.  Grades matter more,  film matters more,  work ethic matters more, athleticism matters more.  What was a fringe player in the past,  is now a guy that schools just won’t consider because they have other options.  If less high school players are going to be signed than in the past then it means you are going to have to up your profile.  You can’t have questionable grades and sneak in the door.   You will find now that the knob won’t turn for you.  You can’t show signs of lacking work ethic when there’s a chance that the school you like is eyeballing a player in the transfer portal who has already been getting up for the 6 AM college lift.

The other thing that matters more now is getting exposure.  If there’s one thing that the pandemic has ramped up it’s the creative ability of people to be seen.  Because coaches could not show up on campus,  players across the country have had to find ways to deliver their talents to doorstep of recruiters.  Of course this means more of what you do as a prospect needs to be captured on film.  This means your Hudl highlights need to be properly made and managed.  You can’t take your highlight video for granted,  things are just too competitive now.  You also have to be more diligent in getting your filmed exploits exposure.  Making proper use of your social media accounts is a must.  Post your workout and 7on7 videos on your Instagram and Twitter accounts.  By all means,  every high school football prospect should have an account on the GridironStuds App.  The app allows you to post everything about your recruiting.  From videos, to images, offers, weight room numbers, speed numbers and more,  the app allows college football coaches to get a complete picture of you as a prospect.

As this young generation likes to say,  prices have just gone up.  Has your value gone with it?  If not,  you can find yourself missing out on the school you wanted to go to or the whole recruiting process entirely.  Take this blog post as a message or as a warning.  Either way,  moving slowly on what has been outlined in this article will make for some severely hurt feelings come signing day of your senior year.

Recruiting Class Rank vs. On Field Performance 2020

By: Chad Wilson – GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @GridironStuds

Recruit, recruit, recruit.  That’s all you hear in the World of college football these days.  One would start thinking that nothing else matters in the sport anymore besides landing those 5 and 4 star recruits each cycle.  How true was that for the season 2020?  This article takes a look.

For the purposes of this study we are evaluating the 2020 seasons final Top 10 Ap results.  We all know that once again,  Alabama was crowned king.  To evaluate the 2020 season,  I went back and looked at the recruiting class rankings for 2017.  Why 2017?  Well, the majority of the starters and key contributors to a football team are athletes that are in their 4th year in the program.  As much as we love incoming freshmen,  popped up on the scene sophomores and ready to go to the league juniors,  the truth of the matter is that most football teams are anchored by their redshirt juniors and true seniors.

I did a similar study in 2008 (yes,  GridironStuds has been around for a minute) and the results were very interesting. In that previous study which took three seasons of performance,  two out of the three years,  the national champion came from a program that finished in the Top 3 in recruiting rank four years earlier.

We almost have to cut Alabama out of studies like this at this point.  My previous study took into account the 2006-2008 college football seasons.  At the time,  Nick Saban had not yet started his evil Crimson Tide empire.  Since then,  he has turned college football on it’s ear and has dominated like no other.   With that said,  let’s just get this out of the way.  Alabama had the #1 ranked recruiting class in 2017 and even the late Ray Charles standing next to Stevie Wonder can recognize that this class paid off handsomely for Saban.  By 247 Sports standards,  Saban’s 2017 haul was the third best recruiting class of all time.  On a side note,  247 Sports did not exist the last time that I did this study.  247 Sports,  like Alabama,  has helped to change college football.  For this study,  I used the rankings from 247 Sports.

Now that we got Alabama out of the way,  let’s take a look at how the rest the Top 10 and college football did with regards to recruiting and on field performance.  What was interesting to note was that out of the Top 10 teams in the final 2020 AP poll, half did not have a top 10 recruiting class in 2017.  What’s even wilder is that three of these teams did not have a class that ranked in the top 40.  If you believe that recruiting is the key to success then you have to be amazed by the coaching jobs by Luke Fickell at Cincinnati who was working with a 63rd ranked 2017 class,  Matt Campbell at Iowa St. who was kicking heads in with a 52 ranked class in Ames and Pat Fitzgerald who marched all the way to the Big 10 Championship game armed with the 50th ranked 2017 recruiting class.  To say they overachieved would be an overachievement of understatements.

Who underachieved though?  I know that’s what you hungry internet wolves are looking for.  Top ten 2017 recruiting classes that failed to make the Top 10 in the AP Poll were USC, Michigan, LSU, Auburn and FSU.  The Seminoles who had the 6th ranked class,  not only finished out of the Top 25 but ended the year with a losing record at 3-6 in Mike Norvell’s first season.  Call it poor coaching if you will but the truth of the matter is that Norvell was the 3rd coach to touch that 2017 FSU class.  The man who brought it in,  Jimbo Fisher,  enjoyed a banner year at Texas A&M.  Too much turnover will do in any program.  As for others who failed to cash in on their Top 10 classes,  Michigan extended Jim Harbaugh after his team went 2-4.  Auburn fired Gus Malzahn when he went 6-4 falling short of the lofty expectations from the “other” school in Alabama.  LSU was treated to a horrific season after having historic success in 2019 and USC made it to the Pac-12 championship game for the first time since the 2017 season.

One final note before I go.  Two teams made the Top 5 of the final top 25 AP poll without the benefit of a top ten 2017 class.  Clemson finished third in the final rankings but in 2017 they only managed to put together a 16th ranked class.  We can not overlook in any way the tremendous coaching job Dabo Swinney has been able to do.   When I last did this study in 2008,  Swinney ended the year as the interim coach for the Tigers.  The other team in the top 5 was the aforementioned Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M team who finished fourth with the tools of a 13th ranked 2017 class.  That Aggie 2017 class was pulled in by Kevin Sumlin who is now out of coaching after getting let go by Arizona.  It will be interesting to see what Fisher does at A&M when his own recruits are in play.

The table listed below,  lays it all for you.  To the left is the recruiting ranking from 2017 and to the right is the final top 10 from the 2020 AP poll.  Any number in parenthesis shows the rank of that team’s 2017 class.  UR stands for “Unranked”.

Recruiting Rank vs. On Field Performance for 2020 CFB Season

'17 RankTeam'20 AP PollTeam
2Ohio St.2Ohio St.
3Georgia3Clemson (16)
4USC (21)4Texas A&M (13)
5Michigan (UR)5Notre Dame
6FSU (UR)6Oklahoma
7LSU (UR)7Georgia
8Oklahoma8Cincy (63)
9Auburn (UR)9Iowa St. (52)
10Notre Dame10Northwestern (50)

Underrated Stud: Keith Rockwell – Glimer HS, TX

By: Chad Wilson – GridironStuds
Twitter: @gridironstuds

Not too long ago,  Timex watches had an ad campaign with the slogan “Timex watch…. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”  I don’t quite remember why your watching surviving a beating was a big selling point back then but the slogan reminds me of today’s Underrated Stud,  Keith Rockwell out of Gilmer High School in Gilmer, Texas.

Rockwell is a 2023 prospect that is well put together.  As my intro would suggest,  he’s not one to shy away from contact.  In fact,  if you are standing around on the football field when he comes through,  he’s going to invite you to some contact.  At 5’10” 200 lbs. as a sophomore,  Rockwell is built for the padded action.  Routinely on his highlight video you will see him run through defenders either with a pad, a helmet or the stiffest of stiff arms.  His well developed thighs make a low tackle less palatable for oncoming defenders who either slip off or bounce off when they arrive.  He lists a squat of 450 which is impressive for a sophomore with two more years left in a high school weight room.  If he stays at it,  he could walk out with his diploma and a 600 lb. squat.

What I also like about a back this size and with this power is that he also has a soft pair of hands.  He’s not just a slug that pounds into the line of scrimmage over and over.  He can leak out of the backfield,  snag a pass and rumble through the secondary.  With football becoming more and more of a passing game,  a back like this being able to work his way into the aerial attack makes him that much more valuable.  I am certainly eager to see how he progresses over the next two seasons for Gilmer.

Recruiting Law: The Withdrawal Can’t Exceed the Deposit

Chad Wilson – GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @gridironstuds

One of the biggest problems I run into trying to help young athletes in the recruiting process is the detachment from reality that exists for prospects.  The problem is small on my end but for the recruit it is enormous.  Many high school football players want to withdraw $1,000,000 from an account that they only deposited $100 in.

Too often I run into prospects and at times,  parents,  who would like to get offers from big time Division I schools when they have put in NAIA effort.  I’m even hesitant to say NAIA because that’s a slight on them because those football players must work hard too.  I can not tell you how many times,  I have been asked to see what I can do for a high school player only to look and find out that they don’t have a highlight video that isn’t done yet.  Furthermore,  they have not dedicated themselves to the weight room or their academics.  I’m literally left to think “what the hell do they think this is out here?”  I truly believe that some high school football players think that because they start for their high school football team they are entitled to a scholarship from some college somewhere.

Before I go in-depth,  let me see if I can sneak some simple math across to those would be,  wanna be college football players:

  • Number of high school football players every year (estimated): 1,000,000
  • Number of FBS, FCS & Division 2 schools combined: 426
  • Number of players on scholarships at FBS, FCS & D2 schools (estimated):  25,000

Now you could be in Algebra I for the 4th straight year and still figure out that these numbers mean that a lot of guys will get left out in the cold when it comes to getting a scholarship.  (note:  I left out Division III schools because they don’t award scholarships though they can give aid).

Now many of you have slept outside of a Best Buy trying to get a Ps5 or refreshed a webpage 20,000 times trying to get a new pair of Jordan’s.  Because of this,  I know you get the concept of competition.  Everybody wants that Ps5 or pair of Jordan’s so you are willing to do something drastic to “cop one of those”.  You simply can not forget that concept when it comes time to securing a college football scholarship. When you are 150 lbs. talking about getting an offer from Michigan,  I want you to think walking into Game Stop four days after the new play station comes out and expecting to just pick one up.  You might be able to but I doubt it.

Don’t think that because you went to practice every day and stayed awake in meetings that this means you should have a seat at the table come December or February your senior year.  That will work if you are a genetic freak and it’s similar to working at GameStop so you have an inside track to getting that new game console.  You will have to stay after practice and get in some extra work on your skills.  You will have to watch hours and hours of extra film to up your football IQ.

Some “prospects” that I come across think they can skip weight room sessions,  go on vacations during the summer workouts and by pass the recruiting camps in the offseason.  That’s fine if you have been dunking a basketball since the 7th grade or haven’t been able to fit in the back seat of the family car since you entered puberty.  This would be similar to actually having the last name Jordan and your father’s name is Michael if you wanted to get the latest pair of shoes the company named after him has put out.

If you are a senior and you know you didn’t do the extra running and weight lifting;  if you know you didn’t go to the camps and work on your athleticism in the offseason;  if you remember how your forgot to watch film quite often and didn’t care much for learning the game while you were playing it,  have the same expectations you’d have if you walked into the store after everyone else wanting something that everybody has to have.  If you have recently found that spirit of dedication to the sport,  realize that you will take a winding path to where you want to go.  You are either going to walk on,  go to a junior college or some kind of prep school.  If you are an underclassman reading this then chances are I’m not really talking to you.  Just taking the time to read this and get this far in the article without moving on means that you get what I am saying.  Now,  get started doing something about it because as we speak,  about 100,000 guys like you already have.