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Ranking all 50 states and D.C. by elite college football recruits per capita

Here’s a different way of looking at which states produce the best college football players.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

America’s most populous states are also its best places for college football recruiting. In the 2017 class, 70 percent of the game’s four- and five-star prospects are clustered in 10 states. The country’s 32 five-star recruits are mostly near the coasts, with more than two million five-star-less square miles in the middle of the map.

Texas, Florida, and California have the most elite recruits, and it’s not close. But they also have more people than any of the other 47 states and the District of Columbia. Those states have about 27 percent of the national population as a whole, and in the last five years, they’ve produced about 39 percent of the blue-chip recruits.

Using a mid-2016 population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, I’ve scaled each state’s number of blue-chip recruits (four or five stars on the 247Sports Composite) by population density. The country has had nearly 1,700 in the last five years.

The highest rate of elite recruits per capita, it turns out, is in the nation’s capital. D.C. has three four-star-and-up recruits out of an estimated 680,000-some residents. First among states is Louisiana, leading a pack of Southern states near the top of the list.

Elite recruits per capita, 2013-17

State Population Est. Blue Chips '13-'17 Per 100,000
State Population Est. Blue Chips '13-'17 Per 100,000
D.C. 681,170 15 2.20
Louisiana 4,681,666 74 1.58
Georgia 10,310,371 141 1.37
Mississippi 2,988,726 38 1.27
Alabama 4,863,300 59 1.21
Florida 20,612,439 227 1.10
Texas 27,862,596 229 0.82
Hawaii 1,428,557 10 0.70
Ohio 11,614,373 79 0.68
Virginia 8,411,808 57 0.68
Tennessee 6,651,194 44 0.66
Maryland 6,016,447 36 0.60
South Carolina 4,961,119 28 0.56
Oklahoma 3,923,561 20 0.51
California 39,250,017 199 0.51
North Carolina 10,146,788 51 0.50
Arkansas 2,988,248 15 0.50
Utah 3,051,217 14 0.46
New Jersey 8,944,469 41 0.46
Nevada 2,940,058 13 0.44
Indiana 6,633,053 24 0.36
Michigan 9,928,300 35 0.35
Pennsylvania 12,784,227 44 0.34
Arizona 6,931,071 23 0.33
Illinois 12,801,539 37 0.29
Washington 7,288,000 18 0.25
Oregon 4,093,465 10 0.24
Iowa 3,134,693 7 0.22
Delaware 952,065 2 0.21
Kansas 2,907,289 6 0.21
Kentucky 4,436,974 9 0.20
Missouri 6,093,000 12 0.20
Colorado 5,540,545 10 0.18
South Dakota 865,454 1 0.12
Connecticut 3,576,452 4 0.11
Minnesota 5,519,952 6 0.11
Nebraska 1,907,116 2 0.10
Wisconsin 5,778,708 6 0.10
New Mexico 2,081,015 2 0.10
Idaho 1,683,140 1 0.06
New York 19,745,289 6 0.03
Massachusetts 6,811,779 2 0.03
Alaska 741,894 0 0.00
Maine 1,331,479 0 0.00
Montana 1,042,520 0 0.00
New Hampshire 1,334,795 0 0.00
North Dakota 757,952 0 0.00
Rhode Island 1,056,426 0 0.00
Vermont 624,594 0 0.00
West Virginia 1,831,102 0 0.00
Wyoming 585,501 0 0.00
Data via the 247Sports Composite and the U.S. Census Bureau

Caveat: D.C.’s just a city.

If Los Angeles were its own “state,” it’d win in a landslide. Maybe it’s not fair to put D.C. on a pedestal.

Let’s pretend D.C.’s 15 elite recruits from 2013-17 were absorbed by neighboring states Maryland and Virginia. Let’s give Maryland eight of the 15 because it shares a much longer border with the District than Virginia does, and divide and distribute D.C.’s population by the same rate. That gives us a new overall leader, with Louisiana on top.

Elite recruits per capita, not counting D.C.

State Population Est. Blue Chips '13-'17 Per 100,000
State Population Est. Blue Chips '13-'17 Per 100,000
Louisiana 4,681,666 74 1.58
Georgia 10,310,371 141 1.37
Mississippi 2,988,726 38 1.27
Alabama 4,863,300 59 1.21
Florida 20,612,439 227 1.10
Texas 27,862,596 229 0.82
Virginia 8,729,687 64 0.73
Hawaii 1,428,557 10 0.70
Maryland 6,397,738 44 0.69
Ohio 11,614,373 79 0.68

As the sole Power 5 program in Louisiana, LSU’s in a terrific spot. The Tigers do have to deal with Alabama and other Southern vultures coming into their state and trying to sign its best players, but they’re still well-positioned. LSU has seven Louisianan commits this year, including three blue-chippers and one who’s just off the fringe.

Ultimately, it’s still better to be a college team in one of those big states than one in an “efficient” recruiting state. The closest major program to D.C. is Maryland, for instance, and while the Terps have their best class in years largely because they’ve got two D.C. four-stars committed, that’s not as good as Florida State getting six four- and five-star 2017 prospects out of its own much more populous home state.

Still, give credit to the District. Also give some to Georgia, a pretty big state that puts out lots of recruits and still looks good when the numbers are broken down further.

In the ideal world, it’d be good to do this experiment using not population, but high school football data.

And specifically the number of high school football seniors, as those are the players who make up the 2017 recruiting class.

But reliable data to that effect does not exist in every state, so I’ve accepted some variance in how many actual football players there are in each. I’ve also used recruiting data from the last five years and a population estimate from only this year, so mostly small year-over-year changes in state populations aren’t factored in. Multiyear recruiting data paints a more accurate picture than just one year of it.

What do you think?