Good programs recruit the best local talent year-after-year: Virginia Tech, Penn State, Miami, all programs who historically don't hesitate to offer any local recruit worthy of donning a Division 1 jersey. And they land them, too.
Take for example VT's 2010 recruiting class. 15 of VT's 21 commits hail from Virginia, good for 71% of their total class. Having personally played AAA football in SE Va., I can assure you that Va. is far from lacking NFL-quality talent (e.g., Bruce Smith, Michael Vick, Allen Iverson). Rivals, though, saw fit to name only the top 30 players, compared to the states of Texas, California, and Florida : All listed at 100 players. Population totals there make sense. Of those top 30, 11 of VT's 15 commits were considered amongst the top 30. Over a third of the top 30 Virginia players signed on the dotted line for VT.
Again in 2010, Penn State took 20 commitments in 2010, 9 of them hailing from PA, constituting 45% of their total class. That number is considerably less than VT's stranglehold, yes, but consider this: Of the 9 home-state commits, all 9 were listed in the Pennsylvania top 40 (none lower than 31). Almost a quarter (22%) of the top 40 Pennsylvania prospects chose the White and Blue.
As a throwback, Miami in 2008 took home a banner recruiting class of 31 commits, 23 of those kids hailing from the Sunshine State (74%). Of their 23 Florida commits, 19 were listed in the state's top 100 HS seniors. Miami historically has been on the receiving end of the South Florida talent pipeline, to their credit and luck.
But there's something different about Florida talent. Or, at least, that's the argument constantly thrown around anytime a BCS bowl game has a distinctly Northern and Southern team square off. (Ohio State comes to mind. Though battling it out in '02 in a double-OT thriller over UM, their '08 shellacking at the hands of UF left the North with the consolation that they had at least won the war.)
But other numbers seem to support the anecdote.
Andy Staples of CNNSI.com
...[Florida] produced the most players (981) and the most players per capita (one signee for every 18,683 residents) of any state in the nation between 2004-08...
An SI study of 2004-08 recruiting data for the 65 BCS-conference schools and Notre Dame revealed that programs which draw at least 50 percent of their players from within 200 miles or from within their home state stand a far better chance of winning consistently than those that did not. Of the nine schools that won 50 or more games from 2004-08, seven signed more than half their recruits during that span from within their state or from within 200 miles of campus: Texas (93.2% from in-state, 71.8 percent from within 200 miles), USC (72.0, 61.0), Georgia (63.6, 70.1), Florida (62.3, 47.9), Ohio State (55.8, 66.3), Virginia Tech (54.3, 44.0) and LSU (50.4, 56.5). Oklahoma barely missed the cut, with 49.1 percent from within 200 miles.
Our own TrueCubbie offers his insight on the per capita difference between the big 3 talent producing states:
If you look at the Rivals 100 for the 2010 Recruiting class:
California has 15 in the top 100.
Texas has 11
Florida has 17.
Now, look at the population of each state:
Florida 18, 328,340
For those of you scoring at home, the per capita top 100 recruits by state (different, mind you, in scope of the SI.com article listed above) comes out looking like this:
|State||Residents per top 100 player|
Per capita, Florida produces more than twice the amount of top players than California (2.4 times more) and Texas (2.2).
Talent scouts, also, observationally agree. Beat writer Paul Hoyle with Southeast ESPN recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt:
The scene plays out all over the state, from Tallahassee to Miami and cities and towns in between. Colleges find the players.
"The state [Florida] produces very, very special players and there are a lot of them," Shurburtt said. "And I really think the entire state has talent. The entire state has good football players. Top to bottom, it's very, very good."
But Shurburtt concedes South Florida may have the most dynamic players. The University of Miami built one of the most successful programs in college history by securing the best talent in the region, which only strengthened the football culture.
A casual glance at the Rivals Top 100 for Florida brings up the population dense area of South Florida over and over. The region of interest for this article is South Florida. I'm making use of the Rivals Recruit Search & Database (Football) feature, capturing recruit commitments in a 100 mile radius of 33065 (Pompano Beach, FL), effectively capturing the geographic extent of the South Florida Pipeline of football talent.
More after the jump...
When isolating this area for 2010 commits, we see the following breakdown of the top talent nationally:
|SoFla Commits||% of total|
So quite a bit of the talent at the national level is coming out this 100 mile radius. (Note: Naples technically falls within this radius, but has been excluded in this study)
Let's start with a look at all 3* talent and greater for the region. I include 3*s because of the success of SoFla 3* prospects like 2009 37th overall pick Alphonso Smith (WFU / Pahokee) and 2007 91st overall pick Mario Henderson (FSU / Lehigh) playing on Sundays (admittedly, offensive linemen are notoriously hard to predict in terms of future success).
While the percentages don't favor 3* players getting drafted, their sheer numbers do:
From Athlon Sports' Braden Gall 2008 How recruiting translates to the NFL Draft
No. in each class 25-30 275-325 700-800 1,600-1,800 No. drafted in '08 12 30 29 17 Percent drafted 40-48 9-11 3.6 Less than 1
(Interestingly enough, those prospects who were ranked (between '03 and '05, I assume) account for only 2/3 of all players taken in that year's NFL Draft. So recruiting rankings aren't the end-all be-all to getting drafted. I imagine this number has gone up, however, as recruiting scouting continues to improve.)
Back to live action... our first step is SoFla 3* players and higher. The breakdown:
|2010 SoFla Commits||2||26||79|| 107
According to the above-mentioned Gall statistic, 1 , 2-3 , and 2-3 commits would end up drafted out of this group.
So where did these kids end up? Let's start first with the Florida schools:
The hometown schools were able to keep about 37% of the homegrown talent. UM had the highest amount of overall players, not surprisingly: The wealth of talent in their own backyard means they don't have to recruit nationally, though they do from time to time. The above Paul Hoyle article mentions the social reproduction of South Florida football, attributing much of it to the culture of football created by Miami; quite interesting.
Back to UCF, George O'Leary and UCF's administration believes they have the capability to become a premiere football school. Geographically, they're definitely paying attention to SoFla recruits. And whether it's a part of their plan or not, they're playing by the 50%-roster-within-200-miles-of-your-campus rule mentioned in the above Andy Staples article. Numerous posters believe that UCF has the geography and infrastructure to become a top football school, with the potential to dethrone one of the big 3.
FSU took 5th place in terms of quantity, but 1st in terms of quality.
I haven't jumped on the "Miami's 2010 class sucks" bandwagon yet, only because I believe in the power of the SoFla 3*. If they had only grabbed 5 or 6 local 3*s, then I'd start to wonder what's up. But UM is still getting the guys they want...relatively speaking. Their 2 total 4* commits puts them behind UF, FSU, equal to UCF, and just ahead of 0-for's USF and FIU. This should be a disturbing fact for Canes faithful, and laughable for every other Florida schools' fanbase.
Let's see next notable poachers making headway into the region:
Michigan and Miami both recruited successfully 2 4* players each. Ole MIss recruited as good or better than hometown programs FIU and USF. Zook knows what's up with SoFla talent, and is trying to keep tabs on them. Marshall and Rutgers are making headway into the region, though I suspect that Marshall's academic standards (or lack thereof) allows them to go after a few more guys that would not, in all likelihood, ever make into a decent conference school. Wake is looking for their next Alphonso Smith.
How about all of those Northern teams on that list? Wisconsin, Michigan, and the aforementioned OSU. While well outside of the purview of this study, it'd be interesting to see just exactly when did big, slow Northern teams decide that their talent solution would be on the other side of the Mason-Dixon.
Finally, here are the 2010 numbers broken down by position for all recruits:
While totals may not be of much value until compared to other talent regions, we do see that the 2010 flock had quite the abundance of talent in terms of quality and quantity at WR. DBs (housing the region's 2 5* players) are voluminous, partially from lumping CB and S together (these can often change once the player enters a program).