Alabama and Clemson once again will square off in the national championship game.
If we were to offer up a prediction on how the game should turn out based on star rankings alone, Alabama should cruise by Clemson. Out of Alabama’s starters on offense and defense, 21 of them were rated blue-chip prospects (either 4- or 5-star players). Clemson, on the other hand, has 16 blue-chip starters.
Here’s the breakdown of each team’s roster by star ranking.
5-star players: 5 (Cam Robinson, Jonah Williams, O.J. Howard, Calvin Ridley, Damien Harris)
4-star players: 4 (ArDarius Stewart, Ross Pierschbacher, Korren Kirven, Jalen Hurts)
3-star players: 2 (Bradley Bozeman, Gehrig Dieter)
5-star players: 7 (Tony Brown, Marlon Humphrey, Reuben Foster, Rashaan Evans, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Da’Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen)
4-star players: 5 (Ronnie Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Averett)
3-star players: 0
— Top-rated: Cam Robinson is Alabama’s top-ranked starter. Coming out of the Class of 2014, Robinson was the nation’s No. 4 overall recruit and the No. 1 offensive tackle. He has certainly lived up to the hype during his time in Tuscaloosa and is almost certainly guaranteed to be a first-round NFL draft pick.
— In addition to Robinson, the following players were rated No. 1 overall at their position in their respective draft class: Rashaan Evans (No. 1 OLB), Reuben Foster (No. 1 ILB), Calvin Ridley (No. 1 WR), O.J. Howard (No. 1 TE) and Damien Harris (No. 1 RB).
— Though he doesn’t start, Bo Scarbrough was a 5-star prospect coming out of high school in 2014. He ran for 180 yards and 2 TDs in the semifinal win vs. Washington.
— There are 12 players listed on the defensive side of the ball to account for Tony Brown, who plays the “star” position in Alabama’s defense.
5-star players: 1 (Mitch Hyatt)
4-star players: 7 (Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Artavis Scott, Tyrone Crowder, Sean Pollard, Jordan Leggett, Wayne Gallman)
3-star players: 2 (Taylor Hearn, Jay Guillermo)
Not-rated players: 1 (Hunter Renfrow)
5-star players: 2 (Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins)
4-star players: 6 (Clelin Ferrell, Dorian O’Daniel, Ben Boulware, Jadar Johnson, Van Smith, Carlos Watkins)
3-star players: 2 (Cordrea Tankersley, Kendall Joseph)
2-star players: 1 (Ryan Carter)
Top-rated: Dexter Lawrence, Clemson’s run-stuffing defensive tackle, was rated as the nation’s No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2016. Lawrence has tallied 58 tackles, 9 of them for loss and 6.5 sacks. He has been one of college football’s best freshmen this season.
— Tigers QB Deshaun Watson was not a 5-star prospect coming out of Gainesville (Ga.) High School in 2014. He was a 4-star prospect but was the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat QB. Nick Saban has said himself that he thinks Watson is arguably the best player in all of college football.
— The clear difference when evaluating Alabama’s and Clemson’s starters is the fact that the Tigers have six starters who were ranked 3-stars or less. Alabama only has two starters who were not blue-chip prospects (Bradley Bozeman and Gehrig Dieter).
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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