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Ranking the country's 5 different kinds of college football recruiting states

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Ohio's a pretty good place to be at the moment
Ohio's a pretty good place to be at the moment
Jason Miller/Getty Images

We took a look at something: how all 50 states rank over the last five years in how many blue-chip football recruits they've produced. There are no shocks on the list, for those who've followed recruiting for a while, but it's another pretty good way to see how these things shake out.

What if we try breaking them into five tiers?

1. The obvious (and crowded) top three

State '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Total Percentage of total
Florida 45 47 50 42 46 230 14.0%
Texas 43 52 47 37 46 225 13.7%
California 36 45 44 34 41 200 12.2%

Long accepted as the best.

The only problem: tons of in-state competition, in addition to everyone across the country parachuting into your big metros. Florida has the fewest Power 5 teams in this group, and it still has three, plus usually a mid-major capable of swiping a four-star.

2. With so little in-state competition, you better have a top-10 class every year

State '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Total Percentage of total
Georgia 33 26 34 23 25 141 8.6%
Ohio 15 12 17 15 19 78 4.8%
Louisiana 12 21 13 16 12 74 4.5%

The Atlanta area is one of the country's best producers, and Georgia and Georgia Tech are in each other's way less often than most state rivals are.

Ohio State and LSU have the advantage of being the only Power 5 programs in their states, though. ATL's transience and the number of elites all around the state's perimeter also temper the Peach State edge.

3. Good enough to supplement a champion

State '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Total Percentage of total
Alabama 14 8 12 11 13 58 3.5%
Virginia* 14 6 13 10 13 56 3.4%
North Carolina 7 15 9 13 7 51 3.1%
Tennessee 9 8 11 7 9 44 2.7%
Pennsylvania 8 9 9 7 10 43 2.6%
New Jersey 4 8 7 10 11 40 2.4%
Illinois 5 6 5 12 9 37 2.3%
Mississippi 5 11 7 8 5 36 2.2%
Michigan 10 9 4 4 8 35 2.1%
Maryland* 8 11 6 4 6 35 2.1%

The Crimson Tide roster currently lists 37 players from Alabama. That's about all one needs to know about the underappreciated quality of high school football in the state, right?

I'm surprised to see Tennessee higher than Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The latter are two of the Big Ten's most prized recruiting areas, while the Volunteer State's weird geography and lack of talent are often talked about as major hindrances for the Vols. Everything's relative, though.

*You could add some portion of D.C.'s 0.8 percent to either of these, if you like.

4. You're at least near a top recruiting state, right?

State '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Total Percentage of total
South Carolina 4 5 5 9 5 28 1.7%
Arizona 6 5 2 7 6 26 1.6%
Indiana 3 4 3 6 7 23 1.4%
Oklahoma 4 1 5 7 2 19 1.2%
Washington 4 3 6 2 2 17 1.0%
Arkansas 2 3 5 2 3 15 0.9%
Utah 4 2 3 3 1 13 0.8%
D.C. 1 4 3 2 3 13 0.8%
Nevada 5 0 3 4 0 12 0.7%
Missouri 3 1 3 3 2 12 0.7%
Oregon 2 2 1 2 3 10 0.6%
Colorado 2 1 3 3 1 10 0.6%
Hawaii 2 2 4 0 2 10 0.6%
Kentucky 1 3 2 2 1 9 0.5%

Fielding a top team from these states usually requires heavily investing somewhere nearby. Oregon only lists 21 players from in-state, and Oklahoma only 24. Clemson, however, lists 41 from South Carolina.

5. If you're in this last group, you probably spend a lot of time saying development trumps recruiting

State '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Total Percentage of total
New York 1 0 1 3 1 6 0.4%
Minnesota 0 1 1 3 1 6 0.4%
Kansas 0 3 0 3 0 6 0.4%
Iowa 0 2 0 2 1 5 0.3%
Wisconsin 0 2 0 2 1 5 0.3%
Connecticut 2 0 2 0 0 4 0.2%
Delaware 1 0 0 1 0 2 0.1%
New Mexico 1 0 1 0 0 2 0.1%
Massachusetts 0 0 0 0 2 2 0.1%
Nebraska 0 0 0 0 2 2 0.1%
Idaho 0 0 1 0 0 1 0.1%
South Dakota 0 1 0 0 0 1 0.1%
Alaska 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
Maine 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
Montana 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
New Hampshire 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
North Dakota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
Rhode Island 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
Vermont 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
West Virginia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
Wyoming 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%

Sometimes that's the case, but it's nice to not have to bank on it. These numbers make successes in previous years by Nebraska, West Virginia, and Wisconsin pretty amazing.

The rest of the numbers show how static recruiting ratings are from year to year, which is either a sign that these things have found equilibrium or a sign that all four recruiting services are all part of the same conspiracy to keep certain states down, for some reason, depending on perspective. (Probably the former, along with the impact of media travel budgets and so forth.)

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