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All 8 AAF rosters, ranked by recruiting ratings

As you might expect, the Southeastern teams’ players were more touted in high school than the Southwestern teams.

Steve Spurrier has the team with the most raw talent, per one metric
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I looked at Week 1 starters for each team by their old high school recruiting ratings, creating AAF team averages and getting a sense of who’s got more talent that was once considered elite.

Recruiting rankings aren’t perfect, but throughout college football and in the NFL Draft, using stars to quantify which teams or players will have success has proved relatively predictive at the overall level.

So we’re using them here to get a rough sense of just how talented these AAF teams really are, or at least used to be.

Some players’ ratings weren’t available, particularly the players who went to non-Division I schools (about four or five per team). I’ve counted them as generic two-stars with an even 70.00 rating. All ranking data comes from the 247Sports Composite.

The four teams with the most raw talent, per old recruiting ratings, are all in the East.

Most of the San Diego, Salt Lake City, and Arizona rosters are filled with players that played college ball on the West Coast. Orlando’s roster has Florida, Florida State, and UCF players all over the place. On average, those Florida-born players are going to be higher rated than a player from Utah or BYU. One state has vastly more talent than the other.

Birmingham’s starters have a similar regional advantage: a good amount of them went to Bama. Of seven notable Birmingham starters, one went to Auburn. Six went to Alabama, and four of them were offensive linemen.

1. Orlando Apollos

Average (of Composite star ratings): 3.27
Average player rating (per Composite): 85.00
Notable players (with the schools they finished their college careers, not necessarily where they signed as high school seniors): Garrett Gilbert (five-star, SMU); Jalin Marshall (five-star, Ohio State); Will Hill (five-star, Florida); Marvin Bracy-Williams (four-star, Florida State); Earl Okine (four-star, Florida); Leon Orr (four-star, Florida); Marquez White (four-star, Florida State); Terrance Parks (four-star, Florida State); Reggie Northrup (four-star, Florida State)

2. Birmingham Iron

Average star rating: 3.18
Average player rating: 84.86
Notable players: Trovon Reed (five-star, Auburn); Trent Richardson (five-star, Alabama); J.C. Hassenauer (four-star, Alabama); Dominick Jackson (four-star, Alabama); Korren Kirven (four-star, Alabama); Brandon Greene (four-star, Alabama); Xzavier Dickson (four-star, Alabama)

3. Memphis Express

Average star rating: 2.95
Average player rating: 83.05
Notable players: Christian Hackenberg (five-star, Penn State); Anthony Johnson (five-star, LSU); Jessamen Dunker (four-star, Tennessee State); Toby Weathersby (four-star, LSU); Greg Gilmore (four-star, LSU).

4. Atlanta Legends

Average star rating: 2.9
Average player rating: 83.20
Notable players: Jeff Luc (five-star, Cincinnati); Tarean Folston (four-star, Notre Dame); Avery Gennesy (four-star, Texas A&M); Doran Grant (four-star, Ohio State)

Surprisingly, the West teams didn’t source heavily from the most talented college teams in their areas.

The San Antonio team started only one former Longhorn, Aggie, and Sooner. The San Diego team is stocked with San Diego State players, not ones from USC.

This could help answer why there’s a raw talent disparity between East and Wes. It goes beyond geography alone — while the East has Florida and Georgia, the West has Texas and California.

However, from 2013-2017, Utah had 14 blue chip recruits. Florida had 227. Well, nine Salt Lake starters went to a school in Utah, while 13 of Orlando’s played in Florida.

5. San Antonio Commanders

Average star rating: 2.91
Average player rating: 83.31
Notable players: Duke Thomas (four-star, Texas); Greg Ward Jr. (three-star, Houston); Cyril Richardson (three-star, Baylor)

6. Arizona Hotshots

Average star rating: 2.78
Average player rating: 81.27
Notable players: Trenton Thompson (five-star, Georgia); Trevor Knight (four-star, Texas A&M); Josh Huff (four-star, Oregon); Gerald Christian (four-star, Louisville); Rahim Moore (four-star, UCLA)

7. San Diego Fleet

Average star rating: 2.59
Average player rating: 80.11
Notable players: Damien Mama (four-star, USC); Ron Brooks (four-star, LSU)

8. Salt Lake Stallions

Average star rating: 2.5
Average player rating: 78.85
Notable players: Adonis Jennings (four-star, Temple); Jeremiah Poutasi (four-star, Utah)

Who knows who will actually emerge from the inaugural AAFL season as champions.

In Week 1, the teams with the higher ratings here won all four games, FWIW.

And even if a team in the East does win it, correlation doesn’t prove causation. But college football’s epicenter of championship talent is in basically six states. We’ll see if the AAF tells the same story in the long run.