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31 top recruits pick college football's best coaches, uniforms and much more

Let's hear from a tenth of the 300 highest-rated recruits about conferences, food, music, facilities, and what have you.

Elite college football recruits like Nick Saban, Clemson and Chick-fil-A. A lot of them are interested in studying business once they get to campus, they think EA Sports should bring NCAA Football back, and they overwhelmingly prefer Nike to Under Armour and Adidas.

SB Nation issued a survey to dozens of recruits ranked in the top 300 nationally on the 247Sports Composite, and those were some of the conclusions they reached. Our sample is 31 players from various regions reached via direct message, so results are reasonably unscientific. But we hope they offer some sense of what the players atop the 2017 class are like and what they see in the sport they're about to join.

Not every player answered every question, and we allowed players to name more than one answer to a given question if they pleased. By our count, 10 of the 31 players surveyed are currently committed to schools, and that number was smaller at the time most of them actually filled it out, over the winter and early spring.

So, what'd we learn? Here are a few things.

Nick Saban is the most popular head coach, but recruits really like Clemson's staff.

We asked these players to name the best college head coach, and there was a clear plurality winner:

Saban edges out Dabo Swinney just barely, kind of like in real life. [This was published before Baylor fired Art Briles.]

Clemson's coaching staff as a whole was pretty popular. Another question we asked was to identify the best staff recruiting each player, expanding beyond the head coach. Clemson was right at the top, with four giving the Tigers top marks.

Ohio State had three, and Stanford and Cal had two each. Just one recruit said Alabama had the best top-to-bottom staff, even though Saban was the easy winner for "best coach."

On equipment and uniforms, Nike and Oregon are dominating recruit public opinion.

Our sample of the best high school football players was pretty clear about apparel. Twenty of 29 respondents to a question about which brand they liked the most answered with Nike, followed by six for Under Armour and three for Adidas. We threw Reebok into the poll, but not a single player voted for it, unsurprisingly.

It follows that players who like Nike might like Oregon, too, since the Ducks have become the company's product lab. We asked which program recruiting these players had the best uniforms:

A pretty good look for Oregon that aligns, more or less, with what you'd expect. Clemson's a distant second, followed by Florida, Maryland and Ohio State.

The Tide win on top facilities ... and Clemson's up there again.

Players really like Alabama's football headquarters in Tuscaloosa. We asked which of the schools recruiting them has the best facilities for football, and Alabama got another convincing plurality win.

It's not hard to see why Alabama is so popular here.

Clemson was competitive, and multiple players also gave plaudits to Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M and Oregon. One player apiece singled out LSU, Iowa, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Nebraska.

Young athletes are big Cam Newton and J.J. Watt people.

Asked to name the best football player in the world, the recruits spoke up for the Carolina quarterback and Houston defensive end. Clearly, they don't mind larger-than-life personalities. Tom Brady and Von Miller aren't far behind.

All else being equal, players like the SEC more than any other league.

The players surveyed won't likely commit (or haven't already committed, in several cases) to a school based just on its football conference. But we asked which league they'd most like to play in, and the results were interesting.

Not much love for the Big 12. The breakdown: 11 for the SEC, six apiece for the ACC and Big Ten, four for the Pac-12, four for variations of "other" or "I don't care" -- and three for the Big 12.

Other winners: Chick-fil-A and Future.

The recruits were asked to name their current favorite musician:


*Russell Wilson did not vote.

And, recruits, what are your favorite fast-food restaurants?


Chick-fil-A is a popular bagged lunch for college athletes. Good thing.