Two associate professors of marketing from Emory's Goizueta Business School decided to run some statistics on which BCS schools do the most with the least amount of high school talent. The formula went as so: “The analysis we reported used the number of draft picks divided by the number of elite (4 and 5 star) recruits who signed with the school.” The reason for the cut off at 4 stars and above, instead of 3 stars and above, is because the amount of 4 and 5 star recruits is roughly the amount of NFL draftees there are in a year.
The article states: “For example, the reason we used the sum of 4 and 5 star recruits was not because we were looking for a model that gave us the “right” answer but because the number of 4 and 5 star recruits tends to be in the range of about 250 per year. This 250 number is relatively close to the approximately 220 players taken in the draft. ”
Now, looking at the actual study, there are five teams that have a ratio over 1, meaning the schools have produced more NFL draftees than the 4 and 5 stars they took in over the past six years. Amazing enough, out of the five schools (Kentucky, Oregon State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and West Virginia) they have a combined to play in only six BCS games over the past six seasons. Wisconsin had three appearances over the span, while West Virginia nabbed two spots, and Iowa landed in the Orange Bowl in 2010. Looking at these teams, it's easy to spot their abilities to develop talent while at the program, instead of recruiting top talent out of high school.
2007-2012 players drafted into the NFL: Jacob Tamme, Keenan Burton, Andre Woodson, Steve Johnson, Myron Pryor, Corey Peters, Tevard Lindley, John Conner, Randall Cobb, Winston Guy, and Danny Trevathan.
One of the best players in Kentucky's history as a program is Randall Cobb. Cobb was a former 2 star (or 3 star, depending where you get your info) athlete that played quarterback when he first showed up at Kentucky. After his first two seasons with the Wildcats, he had 1,645 yards of total offense, but only about 40% of his yards came from receiving. His junior year, the coaching staff refined his talent and made him into a true wide receiver. The result was his first 1,000 yard receiving season (with 1,017), 12 total touchdowns (putting his career total to 40), and 400+ yards rushing. Cobb declared after his great junior year and was selected by the Green Bay Packers. He became the first NFL player born in the 1990's to score s touchdown, after returning a kickoff for a touchdown in the season opener vs New Orleans his rookie year, and his sophomore year, 2012, he broke the Packers all-purpose yardage in a season record.
2007-2012 players drafted into the NFL: Sabby Piscitelli, Adam Koets, Roy, Schuening, Joey LaRocque, Andy Levitre, Keenan Lewis, Victor Butler, Slade Norris, Brandon Hughes, Al Afalava, Sammie Stroughter, Sean Canfield, Stephen Paea, Gabe Miller, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Brandon Hardin.
A lot of Oregon State's production is based on Mike Riley, OSU's head coach. After having a cup of tea in the NFL (where he wanted to draft Tom Brady), Riley went back to Oregon State after leaving the program five years prior in 1998. Since 2003, the Beavers have posted a 81-67 record and have had seven winning seasons. One of the biggest reasons Oregon State has been able to win consistently is the staff's ability to find under the radar prospects. Jacquiss Rodgers was a 3 star prospect from Texas, who didn't even have major programs in Texas looking at him. Stephen Paea was a Tonga-born rugby player who learned the rules of football through Madden. Even as a 3 star prospect coming out of community college, the only teams besides Oregon State to offer him a scholarship were schools in the state of Utah, where Snow College is located. Riley turned both of them into Pac-10 All-Conference players and NFL draft picks. Riley's name consistently pops up when the Alabama (his alma mater) and USC (where he was an offensive coordinator) jobs open up, and for good reason. Riley is one of the best talent developers in the game.
2007-2012 players drafted into the NFL: Joe Thomas, Jack Ikegwuonu, Taylor Mehlhaff, Nick Hayden, Paul Hubbard, Matt Shaughnessy, DeAndre Levy, Kraig Urbik, Travis Beckum, Garrett Graham, O'Brien Schofield, J.J. Watt, Gabe Carimi, Lance Kendricks, John Moffitt, Bill Nagy, Kevin Zeitler, Peter Konz, Russell Wilson, Nick Toon, Bradie Ewing, and Brad Nortman.
Wisconsin has always been able to pump out elite offensive line prospects, no matter how great they were coming out of high school, but their biggest victory, development-wise, was J.J. Watt. As the story goes, J.J. Watt started his career at Central Michigan as a tight end before going back home to deliver pizzas. Looking for a change in his life, he enrolled at Wisconsin and over the course of his career he gained 70 pounds, leading to his monster junior year (which included the Lott Trophy and him being named Second-team All-American) and a top 15 selection in the NFL draft. In 2012, only his second year in the NFL, he was named to the All-Pro team and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
2007-2012 players drafted into the NFL: Marshal Yanda, Scott Chandler, Mike Elgin, Charles Godfrey, Kenny Iwebema, Mike Humpal, Shonn Greene, Bradley Fletcher, Seth Olsen, Brandon Myers, Bryan Bulaga, Pat Angerer, Amari Spievey, Tony Moeaki, A.J. Edds, Kyle Calloway, Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard, Ricky Stanzi, Karl Klug, Julian Vandervelde, Tyler Sash, Riley Reiff, Mike Daniels, Adam Gettis, Shaun Prater, Marvin McNutt, and Jordan Bernstine.
Much like Wisconsin, the bulk of Iowa's NFL draft exposure is through their offensive linemen. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa's head coach, started off his coaching career as an offensive line coach. His first stint at Iowa had him coaching offensive linemen, and his six years coaching in the NFL with the Browns/Ravens were all as an offensive line coach, too. In the six years this statistic covers, Iowa produced nine draft picks on the offensive line. The school also has a knack at producing tight ends, sending three to the draft over the past six season. First round pick, Riley Reiff, was a defensive end from South Dakota, who was only recruited by area schools at the time. While at Iowa, they developed his body to hold 60+ pounds.
2007-2012 players drafted into the NFL: Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, Ryan Mundy, Pat White, Ellis Lankster, Pat McAfee, Selvish Capers, Brandon Hogan, Robert Sands, J.T. Thomas, Chris Neild, Bruce Irvin, Najee Goode, and Keith Tandy.
West Virginia was on the cutting edge of the zone-option spread offense for a long time, and the list of players that were drafted from WVU reflects that. Many of their players were fast skill position players that were allowed to make plays in space or rangy defensive players that thrived in the 3-3-5 they ran. Guys like Steve Slaton and Pat White will be remembered for the glory years of West Virginia, but the best development was Bruce Irvin. Before fans were shocked about Irvin going fifteenth in the draft, Irvin was shocked just to be playing football. After dropping out of high school his junior year, Irvin spent time at two junior colleges, which lead to a 5 star ranking and a scholarship from West Virginia. Irvin was a pass rush exclusive player at WVU, even though they'd moved him around to anywhere on the front six, including nose tackle. Most seeing his rush-only abilities as a negative, the Seahawks (like the 49ers did with Aldon Smith) realized there was a premium on pass rushers, even if they are only on the field for passing situations.