Guest Post: Breunig, Miles, Lindquist and the Star Rating System


This is a Guest Post by Carl Munson.

The star system. It seems to work for rating movies. Restaurants. Hotels. Why not high school athletes? Hotels don’t spend hours working on their crossover, for one thing. While the star rating system accommodates a psychological need for simplified categorization, e.g., ADHD, with respect to talent and upside potential evaluation, the system can be misleading.

In 2008, Alabama received a commitment from 6’ 2” 208 lb. 4-star running back Chris Jordan, considered one of the better high school running backs in the country. Alabama also took a commitment from 3-star (Scout) running back, Mark Ingram. Jordan became a starting linebacker; Ingram won the Heisman Trophy.

Johnny Unitas was drafted by Pittsburg in the 9th round and released. Ray Berry was drafted in the 20th round. Undrafted, future Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner stocked shelves at a grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa for $5.50 an hour before Arena Football beckoned and then the NFL.

"Not too surprising. The inherent subjectivity of talent evaluation in any sport insures scouts will get it wrong. And sometimes incredibly wrong."

With the 5th pick of the 2006 draft, the Mariners passed on former Liberty High and Washington standout pitcher Tim Lincecum. Lincecum went on to win the National League Cy Young Award in both 2008 and 2009. He led the National League in strikeouts in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2010, he won two of the five World Series games and owns a world series championship ring. On May 11, 2011, Lincecum, nicknamed “The Franchise” at San Francisco, broke Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson’s 100-year-old record for the most games with 10 or more strike-outs. Could the Mariners have used Lincecum? They had the chance.

Video of 6’ 7” 205 lb. forward DeAndre Daniels, who recently committed to Connecticut, is impressive, showing great handles and shooting ability – an exceptional offensive game. Video of Martin Breunig shows a 6’ 9” former guard going coast-to-coast like he is still 6’ 2”, as well as a variety of offensive moves, excellent court awareness, defensive aggressiveness, and alacrity underneath, something Daniels’ videos don’t show. Although Breunig, at 6’9” 225 lbs., is bigger, plays more aggressive defense, and may actually have a better all-around game (as many Europeans do), the German is relatively unknown. Daniels, on the other hand, is hyped. Breunig is rated a 3-star talent while Daniels is rated 4- or 5-star, depending on the recruiting service.

In many cases, high school football players receiving five stars obviously deserve the rating. And it’s understandable why others, late bloomers like Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, were not rated coming out of high school.

"The question that arises is why certain players rated 2-stars, 3-stars or 4-stars are considered less talented than higher rated players when the talent margin is not apparent. Take Washington QB commit Cyler Miles for instance."

Cyler Miles has been referred to as “Colorado’s best [high school] quarterback” with the implication that no one else comes close. He was Colorado Player of the Year in 2010 as a junior.

In addition to Washington, colleges courting Miles included Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Auburn and Colorado. His 2010 stats are revealing.

20 passing touchdowns vs two interceptions

70.8% completion percentage

2,114 yards passing

255 yards and six touchdowns rushing

4.47 40 yards; 10.7 100 meters; 21.9 200 meters

6’ 4” 218 lbs.

37.5 inch vertical jump as a junior

Three QBs rated five-star are Gunner Kiel of Columbus, Indiana; Jameis Winston of Hueytown, Alabama; and Zeke Pike of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Junior stats for all three were compared to those of Miles and, in comparison to Winston and Pike, Miles was superior in most categories.

Jameis Winston, 6’4” 195 lbs., also plays baseball and expects to play baseball in college. Winston is hyped; he changes his cell phone number almost daily in order to avoid press and unwanted college coaches. Winston’s biggest fan is Winston. When visiting Alabama, he looked at Mark Ingram’s Heisman Trophy and suggested that if he went to Alabama, he could bring another one. He said he wants to major in podiatry. Considering how many undergraduate schools offer a podiatry major, his chances are better with the Heisman. Based on videos and what has been written, he has above-average (4.5 – 4.6) but not great speed. The videos show an excellent athlete who is very competitive but not a better quarterback than Miles.

Gunner Kiel is the same size as Winston, also plays out of a shotgun, and his videos indicate he has good mobility, about the same as Jameis Winston, but is not as fast as Miles. Kiel’s junior year stats showed a completion percentage (67%) slightly below Miles, but Kiel had more attempts, more passing yardage (2,645) and more touchdowns (36). Based on video, he is an above-average high school passer but his accuracy in the videos (good receivers do good things for a quarterback’s stats) was less than a 5-star rating would imply. Miles looked as good as Kiel.

Watching video of 6’ 5” – 6’ 6” 230+ lb. Zeke Pike, an Auburn commit, was entertaining. His body looks more like that of an O-lineman – bigger than 230 lbs – but he has quick feet and impressive athleticism. Besides QB, he also plays linebacker and is equally good at both positions. On one play he stuffed the other team’s extra point attempt by hurdling the middle of the line and blocking the ball with his chest. Like Winston and Kiel, he plays out of a shotgun and runs a lot. In fact, last year he ran 181 times for 1,072 yards. He threw 235 times for 136 completions (58%) and 18 touchdowns. His represented 40 time is 4.7 seconds. His uniqueness is his combination of size and quickness. But there is nothing to suggest he is a better QB than Miles; in fact, Miles looked more polished.

To reiterate, Miles appears to be as good as Winston, Kiel and Pike. The latter all play out of a shotgun formation; the fact that Miles plays in a pro set might give him an advantage at Washington. All things considered, if Winston, Kiel and Pike are rated five-star quarterbacks, so, it seems, should be Miles.

If Miles, rated a 3-star QB, should receive a 5-star rating, what about 4-star Jeff Lindquist? Quarterback highlight videos can be impressive when the QB plays with a talented surrounding cast; with a weak team, less so. Jeff Lindquist was an extraordinary player on an average team (5 – 5 in 2010). Lindquist committed to Washington the same day that Jake Locker was drafted by the Titans and, based on discussions with a Mercer Island assistant coach, the comparisons don’t stop there. Both Locker and Lindquist are modest, unassuming and team-oriented. Both come from strong families. In high school (and college) Jake would carry the team; Jeff does the same thing. Each is a “coach on the field.” They are about the same size. An above-average student in a high school full of very good students, like Jake, Jeff is very coachable but Jeff is probably further along with respect to reading defenses. Jake was a good baseball player; Jeff is probably Mercer Island’s best basketball player. Jake was, unsurprisingly, faster but Jeff is a sprinter for the Mercer Island track team. As a passer, Jeff is more accurate at the same development stage. Jake had a 4-star rating and was eventually the 8th pick of the NFL draft; Jeff has a 4-star rating and, because of his intellectual acumen, accuracy, athleticism and leadership ability, at this stage has as much future, high draft potential as Jake when Jake was a senior at Ferndale. Although Jake was a run-first QB at Ferndale, looking back, it’s still difficult to understand why Jake was not rated 5-star. All things considered, with Jeff, it’s not as hard to understand. If Mercer Island had a better team with a better record, Jeff would probably have a 5-star rating.

Martin Breunig, at 6’ 9”, has guard ball-handling skills and an impressive all-around game. Both Lindquist and Miles make plays. At the same time, when assigning star ratings, evaluation of talent and upside potential involves subjectivity and, of necessity, less time than is requisite for consistently credible conclusions. As it stands, Washington has a 3-star Big, and 3-star and 4-star quarterbacks.

"While 5-star ratings should only be given to a select few, were evaluations done with greater thoroughness and objectivity, it is probable pundits would conclude Breunig, Lindquist and Miles all deserve 5-star rating consideration."

The Georgian Room rather than the Hunt Club and the Space Needle.