Not that I didn't know this already, but just out of curiosity I went back a looked at last years recruiting class and each recruits star rating. Now, I wasn't completely shocked by what I saw, but it does point out just how pathetic a job they do in evaluating kids coming out of high school.
Vadal Alexander, 4 star, 5.8 rating. After starters went down, stepped in and arguably played better who he replaced.
Deion Jones LB, 3 star, 5.7 rating. Almost cracked the starting line up and saw significant playing time behind a very strong linebacker core this year.
Jallen Mill DB, 3 star, 5.6 rating. Started and played well in one of the best secondaries in the country.
These are just a few of the examples from this past year, but it never fails, Rivals is by far the worst talent evaluating body for recruiting there is. It's kind of sad.
I doubt ESPN does any actual recruit evaluation of their own. They most likely call the "guru" in any given area and just ask their opinion on a kid. That or they just regurgitate whatever every other recruiting services ranks.