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Good News for Georgia's Recruiting

Yesterday, Paul Westerdawg gave us the low-down on the 10 states that produce the most N.F.L. players. While I found his data interesting, I wondered how the talent was distributed on a per capita basis.

Now, I would like to look at the same 10 states---California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, and South Carolina, in descending order of representation in the N.F.L.---in terms of Division I-A college recruiting.

The Clausen quarterbacks . . . bringing down California's batting average since the turn of the century!

Obviously, there are certain flaws to this approach. For one thing, not every N.F.L. player went to college in his home state. For another, not every N.F.L. player played at the Division I-A level. However, since these tend to be the rules rather than the exceptions, a state-by-state breakdown of N.F.L. players' points of origin generally may offer some hint as to the fecundity of the recruiting fields in those locales.

At the outset, let us look at the total number of Division I-A schools in each of the 10 top states for turning out N.F.L. players:

  1. California - 7 (Cal, Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Southern California, Stanford, and U.C.L.A.)
  2. Florida - 7 (Central Florida, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida State, Miami (Florida), and South Florida)
  3. Texas - 10 (Baylor, Houston, North Texas, Rice, Southern Methodist, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Christian, Texas Tech, and U.T.E.P.)
  4. Georgia - 2 (Georgia and Georgia Tech)
  5. Ohio - 8 (Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Ohio, Ohio State, and Toledo)
  6. Louisiana - 5 (Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana State, Louisiana Tech, and Tulane)
  7. Pennsylvania - 3 (Penn State, Pitt, and Temple)
  8. Michigan - 5 (Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Michigan, Michigan State, and Western Michigan)
  9. Virginia - 2 (Virginia and Virginia Tech)
  10. South Carolina - 2 (Clemson and South Carolina)

The vast majority of N.F.L. players attended Division I-A colleges and a substantial portion of them attended schools close to home. It is useful, therefore, to look at the number of Division I-A programs in a talent-rich state, as this will offer some (admittedly rough) indication of the likely distribution of top players at local colleges.

While the division of talent will never be even---North Texas will not get anywhere near as many five-star Lone Star State prospects as will the Longhorns---the ratios at least tell us something about which schools ought to have the best shot at keeping the best players in-state.

Every now and again, though, Mack Brown lets a superstar get away.

Here is how the math breaks down:

  1. Georgia - 45.0 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  2. California - 28.4 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  3. Florida - 25.6 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  4. Virginia - 24.5 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  5. South Carolina - 24.0 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  6. Pennsylvania - 19.3 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  7. Texas - 17.6 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  8. Louisiana - 15.2 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  9. Michigan - 10.0 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school
  10. Ohio - 9.8 N.F.L. players per Division I-A school

Once again, these data are of somewhat limited utility, since the distribution of talent is unequal . . . as evidenced by the Buckeyes' routine accumulation of N.F.L. draft picks. Nevertheless, these figures provide us with a crude glimpse of the challenges facing programs in otherwise comparable circumstances. Take, for instance, the Universities of Georgia and South Carolina.

The Bulldogs and the Gamecocks are similarly situated. Each is the flagship institution of its state university system. Each has been playing football since the 1890s. Each competes in the S.E.C. East. Each is one of only two Division I-A schools in its state and each takes part in a longstanding bitter rivalry with an in-state opponent that belongs to the A.C.C.

So Georgia and South Carolina are roughly analogous, right? Uh, not so much, actually.

Even if every top-notch high school football player in the Peach and Palmetto States stayed home and the division of talent between in-state Division I-A schools was even, the 'Dawgs still could expect to land nearly twice as much future N.F.L. talent as the 'Cocks. The circumstances under which the Big Chickens compete for five-star recruits are not optimal, but, even if they were, the Red and Black would attract talent in larger numbers based on averages alone.

Of course, it is unfair to judge talent-rich states with a myriad of lower-tier Division I-A programs by such ratios, so we will turn our attention next to the relationship between a state's N.F.L. players and its B.C.S. conference schools.

To be continued. . . .

Go 'Dawgs!