When Wallace's 2004 SuperPrep magazine hit subscribers' mail boxes, there was no mention of White (or Johnson) among the 29 players from Alabama evaluated in 2004.
"I'm just going to be embarrassed and say we did not even cover him in SuperPrep magazine,'' Wallace said.
Recruiting interest grew in the 1980s as a number of lone-wolf talent seekers began working around the country. It has moved toward obsession with the growth of the Internet, the perfect vehicle to reach fans between the ages of 18-49 with disposable income.
Burton, a Texas graduate, spent about $15,000 a year on expenses at a two-man operation preceding the Rivals site. He now has a budget of $1.6 million that allows for extensive travel to see prospects in person, combines and other evaluation opportunities. (Scout also has a seven-figure budget, but Fox Interactive Media vice president and general manager Jeff Husvar wouldn't give an exact amount).
"We spend more than any single college in the country by far and I think that we see more kids and do more things out (of the office) than most people,'' Burton said.
Burton went so far as to hire Barry Every, who spent time doing initial prospect work at Florida State and Georgia among other schools. The goal is to ratchet up the quality and accuracy of Rivals' evaluations.
"What a lot of people try to do, they try to be the reporter and the evaluator,'' Burton said. "What we're trying to do is separate the two.
"I think we've taken it to a different level.''
Not good enough to satisfy college coaches, though.
Most deny the Web sites and analysts have any sway with them. Dan Mullen, the new Mississippi State coach, who just won his second national championship as Florida's offensive coordinator, says the sites are "a neat deal'' because they spur more interest in college athletics.
But the rankings have little to do with the process schools go through to identify top prospects.
"We're digging,'' Mullen said. "They might have a kid pop up on their screen, especially a secondary or tertiary player that we might not have been looking at. But I can tell you in the state of Mississippi, our top 25 rankings are very different than Scout's or Rivals' top 25 rankings, and those are the ones we go by.''
Schools must perform at a higher standard than the services to thrive. Mullen worked under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. He said coaches not only looked forward, but back to figure out how successful they were in identifying talent. Mullen has carried that practice over to Starkville.
"We have a whole research system set up on recruiting for us to really track our success, the success of players, where successful players have come from around the country, to see if we should recruit those areas,'' Mullen said. "When you're at 85 scholarships now, you can't be 50-50. You better hit at least 80 percent or you're going to be unsuccessful.''
Unearthing and developing players others overlook is a particular coup. Two players Meyer's staff at Utah landed are perfect examples.
Alex Smith was a 6-foot-3, 189-pound high school teammate of Reggie Bush who clocked in at 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He only had offers at Utah and Louisville and chose the Utes because of the chance to play early. Three years later, he was the first overall pick in the NFL draft.
Fast forward to the 2009 Sugar Bowl and Brian Johnson sliced up Alabama's defense as the Utes completed a 13-0 season that put them in the middle of the national championship debate. Before signing, Johnson was a smallish, 6-1 two-star prospect from Texas who ran the 40 in 4.8 seconds.
"He's won two BCS bowls, he's been an all-conference player for multiple years, conference player of the year,'' Mullen said. "So that shows the inexactness of how the whole process can work.''
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CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
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