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The Big 3 states of football recruiting is actually now the Big 4

And Georgia’s arrival in the top tier isn’t much of a surprise.

SB Nation Illustration

Historically, three states have led the way, when it comes to generating elite college football recruits and future NFL players: Florida, Texas, and California.

But one more state has long been creeping up behind the Big 3 in the number of top recruits developed in the last few years. The Big 4, as they should be renamed, are now Florida, Texas, California, and Georgia.

Yep, Georgia. But this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, when considering the number of four- and five-star recruits coming from the state in the past few years.

But by how much has the number of top athletes increased over the years for Georgia? Let’s look at the numbers:

Back in 2015, the state of Georgia had 34 blue-chip high school football players. Four of these athletes were ranked as five-stars, according to 247Sports Composite rankings, while 30 were four-stars. In comparison, California, as the bottom state in the Big 3 during that year, had 46 with six five-star and 40 four-star ratings.

That’s only a 12 recruit difference, but it was a large enough to clearly separate Georgia from the bottom of the Big 3. Looking at Florida and Texas’ numbers from 2015 created an even larger gap between Georgia and the top group. Texas was home to 48 elite recruits, six of those five-stars, while Florida had 52 with nine five-star athletes.

Fast forward to 2018, and the gap has closed. The state of Georgia produced 43 top-rated athletes, while California was home to 48, Texas had 51, and Florida had 66. Not only did Georgia produce a similar overall number of four- and five-stars recruits as California, it also surpassed the Golden State on the number of five-star ranked athletes. Georgia saw five kids earn a five-star rating according to 247Sports Composite rankings, while California saw three.

Looking at the 2019 recruits who are announcing their hard commitments to schools, the numbers are similar to last year. The state of Georgia has 43 athletes that are ranked as blue-chip recruits, while California has 45. But Georgia surpasses California again with its number of five-stars, with seven athletes receiving a five-star rating. California only has two.

Not only has Georgia closed in on the bottom of the Big 3 for another year, but it is also in contention with the other members of the group. Texas has 42 top-rated recruits for the 2019 class with three five-stars, while Florida has 50 with five five-stars.

In years past, Georgia had been commonly mentioned in the next tier of recruiting states, with Ohio and Louisiana. Even though Georgia consistently led the other two by a large margin, it was never as close as it needed to break away and be included in the running with the Big Three.

So if Georgia is now up with the elite group, have Ohio and Louisiana made a similar jump in progress?

In short, no. Neither state actually is in contention to be included in the top group. Let’s go back to 2015 one more time. Ohio had 17 four- or five-star recruits within its borders, while Louisiana had just 13 kids with such designations.

Number of Top Recruits

State 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
State 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Ohio 17 13 17 12 9
Louisiana 13 21 13 15 15
California 46 46 39 48 45

In 2018, the numbers don’t look much better. Ohio had just 12 blue-chip athletes, with only one of those ranked as a five-star, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. Louisiana saw 15 top-rated athletes, but also with only one ranked as a five-star. For 2019, neither school has improved. Ohio’s numbers are even worse, with just nine players ranked as top athletes and only one as a five-star. Louisiana has 15 again, with four five-stars in the mix.

Not only has Georgia finally made the necessary leap to pull away from this second-tier group, but also has earned the right to be considered one of the elites when it comes to recruiting. The rankings will change some as recruits play their senior seasons, but this is a significant upward trend and great news for the schools which recruit in the Peach State.