Stars matter in recruiting. It's just a fact of life in college football now. There is no further proof of this than when Banner Society's Bud Elliott rolls out his annual Blue Chip Ratio list. This year, the Nittany Lions continue to rise, now sitting at 60%. That mark is 7% higher than last year's team.
The concept is pretty simple. Teams that sign more highly ranked players are better equipped to make the playoff and play for championships. Since the College Football Playoff was launched in 2014, every winner, and 80% of the playoff participants have reached the 50% blue-chip benchmark.
We've made no secret around here that James Franklin has brought the talent level of the Penn State program to levels it has not seen in decades. Is there work to do? Of course. Ohio State's line at the top of that graph isn't coming down anytime soon. However, the first step to competing with the giants of the college football world is to come closer to matching them in talent.
Look no further than Clemson and Dabo Swinney. When the Tigers first cracked the playoff, they were a hair below 50%, but returned the following year at 52% and knocked off Alabama. All they've done since is sign more elite talent, and remained among the country's best. I wrote last year that the Tigers are a program that Penn State compares favorably to in a lot of aspects.
Elliott simply uses a four-year rolling average to make his calculations, including players that sign. That inevitably includes players like Nana Asiedu who were forced to medically retire, or others that may not ultimately enroll. So the actual numbers on a roster will vary, but the calculations are very close to what you would find if you broke down every school's roster.
Going forward, Penn State's 2016 class will fall off for next year's rankings. That group included eight players ranked as a four-star prospect or higher. As things currently stand in 2020, just five of the 21 players committed are four-stars or better. If the 2020 season started today, the Lions would drop back to 55%.