Though football fans from Florida, Texas, California, and even Georgia, often like to boast “the best talent comes from MY state” does it really matter?
Sure, it’s something to be proud of, but what’s the point if many of the elite athletes leave for sunnier shores? The truth is, unless recruits were required to stay put, the argument of which state pumps out the most talent is moot.
While it hardly seems tenable and defies the very nature of freedom, what would college football look like if home-grown talent stayed home?
First, it’s reasonable to assume that families with gifted young athletes would be lured to move across several state lines, giving the NCAA an entirely new set of infractions to police.
Beyond that, there would be a major power shift, rerouting talent from the smaller states with major programs that attract recruits nationwide back to the bigger states where they grew up.
To illustrate, here are the individual states that would have lost/gained the most among the Top 100 recruits in 2019 if a “stay home” scheme was adopted. The rankings are via 247Sports.com.
The Biggest Losers
6. OKLAHOMA: -3 top recruits
The state of Oklahoma only had a single resident listed among 247 Sports’ Top 100 – No. 14 Daxton Hill – a safety who opted to commit to the University of Michigan.
On the other side of the equation, it signed four out-of-state members of the Top 100, all wins for the Sooners: No. 4 (WR Jadon Haselwood from Georgia), No. 11 (QB Spencer Rattler from Arizona), No. 21 (WR Theo Wease from Texas), and No. 66 (WR Trejan Bridges, also from Texas).
If recruits were forced to stay home, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State would have signed No. 14 Hill, but the Sooners would have missed out on the four top-athletes they lured from across state lines.
T4. SOUTH CAROLINA and TENNESSEE: -4 top recruits
Like Oklahoma, the state of South Carolina had just one home-grown member of the Top 100 in 2019 – No. 8 Zacch Pickens, a defensive tackle who opted to stay in state, signing with the Gamecocks. It also lured in four top athletes from other states, all which would have been lost if recruits stayed home: No. 23 (CB Andrew Booth from Georgia), No. 39 (WR Frank Ladson from Florida), No. 52 (WR Joe Ngata from California), and No. 64 (QB Ryan Hilinski, also from California). All but Hilinski signed with Clemson.
The state of Tennessee didn’t have a single resident represented in the Top 100, despite that it inked four top recruits, all of which committed to the Volunteers: No. 10 (OT Darnell Wright from West Virginia), No. 28 (OT Wanya Morris from Georgia), No. 44 (OLB Henry To’oto’o from California), and No. 61 (ATH Quavaris Crouch from North Carolina).
T2. OREGON and PENNSYLVANIA: -5 top recruits
Like Tennessee, the state of Oregon didn’t produce a single member of the Top 100, instead signing five top recruits away – all from nearby California: No. 2 (WDE Kayvon Thibodeaux), No. 41 (CB Mykael Wright), No. 63 (OT Jonah Tauanu’u), No. 68 (ILB Mase Funa), and No. 94 (WR Mycah Pittman). All five committed to the Ducks.
Pennsylvania managed the same feat as Oregon, luring in five out-of-staters despite not contributing a single resident to the Top 100. All five signees went to Penn State: No. 18 (ILB Brandon Smith from Virginia), No. 79 (RB Devyn Ford, also of Virginia), No. 81 (OG Caedan Wallace from New Jersey), No. 92 (WDE Adisa Isaac from New York), and No. 98 (RB Noah Cain from Florida).
1. ALABAMA: -12 top recruits
The state that would lose the most with the “stay-at-home” scheme is Alabama, which also means it poached the most talent from across state lines in 2019.
On the plus side, the Yellowhammer state produced five members of the Top 100 (No. 24, No. 26, No. 33, No. 40, and No. 76). Of these it lost the top two, both to the University of Georgia: No. 24 (WR George Pickens) and No. 26 (OC Clay Webb).
In total, the state of Alabama signed 17 members of the Top 100. Given that they contributed five, and lost two, it means they inked 14 from other states: No. 5 (SDE Antonio Alfano from New Jersey), No. 6 (RB Trey Sanders from Florida), No. 7 (OT Evan Neal from Florida), No. 25 (OLB Owen Pappoe from Georgia), No. 43 (S Jordan Battle from Florida), No. 47 (DT Ishmael Sopsher from Louisiana), No. 62 (SDE Justin Eboigbe from Georgia), No. 69 (SDE Charles Moore from Mississippi), No. 77 (DT Byron Young from Mississippi), No. 78 (ILB Shane Lee from Maryland), No. 84 (S DeMarcco Hellams from Maryland), No. 90 (ATH Mark-Antony Richards from Florida), No. 91 (CB Jeffery Carter from Texas), and No. 100 (SDE Jaren Handy from Mississippi).
All but four of the 14 (No. 25, No. 69, No. 90 and No. 100) signed with the Crimson Tide, the others opted for Auburn.
The Biggest Winners
5. MARYLAND: +3 top recruits
The state of Maryland contributed three members of the Top 100 and lost all three. Other than the two recruits mentioned above (No. 78 and No. 84) who signed with Alabama, No. 55 (S Nick Cross) committed to Florida State.
If the “stay in place” scenario was adopted, the trio would have likely become Terrapins.
T3. MISSISSIPPI: +4 top recruits
The state of Mississippi did its part by producing a whopping seven members of the Top 100. Of these they managed to keep three: No. 27, No. 29 and No. 73.
The four that got away are: No. 19 (ILB Nakobe Dean to Georgia), No. 69 (SDE Charles Moore to Auburn), No. 77 (DT Byron Young to Alabama) and No. 100 (SDE Jaren Handy to Auburn).
T3. TEXAS: +4 top recruits
With 17, Texas and California tied for the honor of providing the biggest portion of the Top 100. The Lone Star state managed to hold on to nine of its home-grown products (No. 15, 16, 34, 53, 58, 70, 72, 80, and 96).
It lost eight: No. 20 (WR Garrett Wilson to Ohio State), No. 21 (WR Theo Wease to Oklahoma), No. 32 (OLB Marcel Brooks to LSU), No. 45 (S Lewis Cline to Georgia), No. 66 (WR Trejan Bridges to Oklahoma), No. 85 (WR Elijah Higgins to Stanford), No. 91 (CB Jeffery Carter to Alabama), and No. 99 (ATH Marquez Beason to Illinois).
In all, the state of Texas inked 13 members of the Top 100 in 2019 – nine of its own residents and four from out-of-state. If the “stay home” rule was in place, it would have returned the four it poached and welcomed back the eight home-grown recruits it lost.
2. FLORIDA: +6 top recruits
The state of Florida contributed 13 Top 100 athletes this season, earning it the No. 2 slot overall. Of these, it retained only four (No. 48, 50, 54, and 71).
Even more painfully, included in the loss were the Sunshine State’s six highest-ranked recruits: No. 1 (WDE Nolan Smith to Georgia), No. 6 (RB Trey Sanders to Alabama), No. 7 (OT Evan Neal to Alabama), No. 37 (CB Tyrique Stevenson to Georgia), No. 39 (WR Frank Ladson to Clemson) and No. 43 (S Jordan Battle to Alabama). It also said goodbye to No. 89 (OLB Rian Davis to Georgia), No. 90 (ATH Mark-Antony Richards to Auburn), and No. 98 (RB Noah Cain to Penn State).
Florida only picked up three Top 100’s from other states (No. 42, 55 and 88), meaning it didn’t get anywhere near replacing the level of talent that it lost.
1. CALIFORNIA: +13 top recruits
The state with the most to gain in a “stay home” scenario is California. It, like Texas, pumped out 17 Top 100 recruits in 2019. Unlike the Lone Star State (which said adios to eight of its best), the Golden State shipped off a whopping 14 of its “most likely to succeed in football.” And this is a state with seven FBS programs – four of which who are in the Pac-12, a Power league with a clear path to the CFB Playoff.
The plus column consisted of the No. 38, No. 56 and No. 74 recruits. The loss column is staggering: No. 2 WDE Kayvon Thibodeaux to Oregon), No. 9 (ATH Bru McCoy to Texas), No. 35 (QB Jayden Daniels to Arizona State), No. 41 (CB Mykael Wright to Oregon), No. 42 (CB Chris Steele to Florida), No. 44 (OLB Henry To’oto’o to Tennessee), No. 46 (RB Zach Charbonnet to Michigan), No. 52 (WR Joe Ngata to Clemson), No. 63 (OT Jonah Tauanu’u to Oregon), No. 64 (QB Ryan Hilinski to South Carolina), No. 67 (ILB De’Gabriel Floyd to Texas), No. 68 (ILB Mase Funa to Oregon), No. 86 (DT Jacob Bandes to Washington) and No. 94 (WR Mycah Pittman Oregon).
California managed to nab just one out-of-stater – No. 85 Elijah Higgins a wide receiver from, ironically, Austin, Texas – who signed with Stanford.