One indication of a good recruiting class is players getting into the game.
No class played more on average than 2007 where recruits played 6.21 games a year on average.
The 2010 class played 5.5 games each a year, substantiating the "bare cupboard" faction of UB fans.
The 18 man 2013 class played an average of 4 games this year which is about average for UB between 2002 and 2013.
The players who played the least were the 2009 recruiting class, recruits appeared in games 37 times in 2009, (compared to 73 times in 2003). This seems to contradict the bare cupboard theory, as the returning talent allowed many UB recruits to redshirt their first year, the cupboard should have been fully stocked.
Jim Hofher, a Quarterback, could never find a QB to run his offense. He played PJ Piskorik, Randall Secky, Datwan Hemingway, Chris Moore, Tony Paoli, Stew Sampsel and flirted with James Starks at QB, before finally finding Drew Willy.
But Willy wasn't Hofher's best recruit. In 2003, an athletic Texan named Chris Moore signed with UB. He won his only start, completing 13 for 19 for 263 yards and a TD. The sample size is limited, but his stats show he had the potential to be a good QB at UB.
Willy arrived in Hofher's 5th year, but his play didn't really elevate until his 3rd year. (which is outside of the scope of this comparison.)
The two best QB's recruited to UB are Zach Maynard (2008) and Joe Licata (2011). Maynard has better passing numbers and good rushing numbers, while Licata's ability to be accurate and take care of the ball helped UB win more games than they did in Maynard's season.
When you look at the difference between the 3 coaching eras, it is clear that wins come from QBs.
UB has recruited 3 good QBs: Willy, Maynard and Licata. As Freshman and Sophomore starters, those 3 QBs are 19-30. As a Junior and Senior, Drew Willy was 13-13. Those 3 QBs are 32-43 all-time at UB (42.7%). Every other QB since 2002 is 12-70 (14.6%).
Add to the problems with recruiting QBs, the problem UB has had KEEPING QBs.
Both Chris Moore and Datwan Hemmingway left UB early, and the loss of Maynard interrupted what would have been a stable 8 years with only 3 starting QBs. Instead UB played with 6 QBs over 5 years.
2002's trio of Steven King, Chris McDuffie and Jared Patterson was the #1 recruited runners in this sample, followed by Gill's pickup of Brandon Thermilus and Quinn's sometimes RB Devin Campbell. (James Starks was recruited in the final season of Hofher and Branden Oliver was recruited in the final season of Gill...the only comparable would be a Quinn RB recruited in 2013.)
UB has been spoiled with talent at RB, and in 2010 Jeffvon Gill seemed to be the heir apparent. Gill was shunned by Quinn in 2010 in favor of Branden Oliver in a move that got better and better as time moved on. However, the decision to run ONLY Branden Oliver (except for when he was injured, and even then UB moved his replacement to Wide Receiver) UB may be in for another 2010-pathetic level of running the ball.
Whoever runs the ball, for the first time will be a Quinn man, so the book on whether Quinn can recruit an RB remains unwritten.
2008 was the worst year for receivers, but then again UB didn't need receivers in 2008. That is because 2006 was the best year for recruiting receivers. 2006 brought in Naaman Roosevelt. Hofher provided Ernest Jackson and Brett Hamlin in 2005. Gill added depth with Marcus Rivers in 2007 and prepped for the future in 2009 UB with Fred Lee and Alex Neutz. Gill dominated the WR game.
Quinn has only been able to recruit Tight Ends, (Weiser, Shreck) and a RB turned WR in Devin Campbell. 2013 showed promise with the emergence of Boise Ross.
2007 had the best defensive class with Josh Thomas, Davonte Shannon, Jerry Housey, Josh Copeland, Domonic Cook, Fred Branch and Adekunle Akingba.
Quinn's 2010 class was 2nd, with Colby Way, Kristjan Sokoli, Adam Redden, Cortney Lester and Okoye Houston.
The question of how do you judge a recruiting class lingers throughout this discussion. Perhaps the only important question is how did recruits factor in wins?
In 4 years, the 2002-2005 Hofher recruits started 28% of games during that period and were starting for 32% of wins.
For Gill, the numbers are 33% and 36%, for Quinn, 30% and 39%.
After looking over recruit data for a week, I have reaffirmed my hatred for recruit scrutiny. Recruiting at this level, is about having as complete a puzzle as you can, making the pieces fit. The brilliance of Gill was his ability to put players in the best position for the team to succeed. The blunder of Quinn was trying to build an Effiel Tower puzzle with Leaning Tower of Pisa pieces, but he quickly reverted to build the puzzle with the pieces he had.
In fact, I think the message skews anti-Rivals star. Look at Darius Willis and Zach Maynard. Both highly regarded recruits, but both left the program without making an impact. Un-touted recruits Khalil Mack and Joe Licata filled the same role as those two, and one is a legend and the other is on his way to legendary.
2017, Quinn's final year under his current deal, is also the final year that players signed in Quinn's first four years as coach are eligible to play. Undoubtedly we will revisit the idea of Gill's first 4 classes vs Quinn's, however, Quinn can make the conversation moot with consistent winning. If history is any indication, to obtain that, UB will need an heir apparent at the QB position in the 2014 class.