VGR+ begins with recruiting, because as the cliché goes, it is the lifeblood of every college football program.
Step 1: Record the 247Sports Composite Player Rating for every player.
The 247Sports Composite is the gold standard of college football recruiting ratings because it combines input from the top analysts across the recruiting industry. It also helps that players are rated from (roughly) .6500 to 1.000 - an easy conversion to 65-100, which is in line with the player ratings we are familiar with in video games.
Thanks to the Composite, we have a terrific starting point for every player’s overall potential rating. But not all players are given ratings coming out of high school. In particular, walk-ons are often unrated, and are listed as “NA” in the 247Sports database. In such cases, we assign a .7500 rating to unrated players at the Power Five level, and .7000 for those on Group of Five rosters (with some exceptions), giving them a raw potential rating of 75 and 70, respectively.
As a result, VGR+ uses a 0-100 scale, though essentially operates on a 59.5-100 scale because a G5 walk-on would earn a 59.5 raw VGR as a true freshman (.7000 x .85).
Step 2: Adjust for experience
Even the highest rated high school prospects rarely enter their true freshman seasons at full potential. And, keeping with the NCAA Football video game as our guide, elite prospects top out at roughly an 85 rating when they step on their virtual campuses. Therefore, we adjust true freshmen to .85 of their Composite score.
On the other end of the spectrum, seniors should be at their maximum potential, leaving an easy calculation of .9 for sophomores, .95 for juniors, and .875 for redshirt freshmen, who have progresses somewhat through their exposure to one year of college football through weight training and practice, but don’t yet have on-field experience.
- Multiply Composite rating by .85 for true freshmen
- Multiply Composite rating by .875 for redshirt freshmen
- Multiply Composite rating by .9 for sophomores
- Multiply Composite rating by .95 for juniors
- Multiply Composite rating by 1.0 for seniors
Step 3: Adjust for production
Because recruiting rankings are imperfect, as is the Step 2 process of adjusting for experience alone, we also adjust VGR+ for production. Players earn increased ratings for their performance on the field. Earning a starting nod earns a 0.1-point bump each week, and meeting certain statistical standards earns even more:
- +0.1 for every career start (0.2 for offensive linemen)
- +1 for specific statistical accomplishments:
- 300-yard passing game
- 100-yard rushing game
- 100-yard receiving game
- 25 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 pass breakups, or 1 defensive touchdown
Players can also earn points for accolades they earn throughout the course of a season, and just in case production doesn’t lift a player enough, there are basement ratings assigned for 1stTeam All-Conference selections, Freshman All-Americans, and national award winners. Simply, had Lamar Jackson not reached a 100 VGR+ rating because of his passing and rushing numbers in 2016, he would have gotten it for winning the Heisman (or Walter Camp).
- +1 for every 1st Team All-Conference Team Selection (including Freshman All-Conference)
- +1 for every All-American Team Selection (including Freshman All-American)
- +2 for winning Conference Player of the Year
- +1 for every Conference Player of the Week honor
- Automatic 100 rating for Heisman Trophy or national award win
- Automatic 90 rating for 1st Team All-Conference selection
- Automatic 85 for Freshman All-American selection
Finally, on very rare occasions, a player will receive a ratings boost despite not earning it through production points or accolades. Examples include Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry, who was not a highly recruited prospect yet outplayed an extremely productive QB, Zach Abey, for the starting job for the Midshipmen, and Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who is overwhelmingly believed to be one of the top prospects ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft.