## Refreshing and Improving the Analysis

Almost five years ago, I wrote an article that examined which states produce the most FBS talent and related those figures to population. The original article relied on data provided by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (DCTF) on total FBS recruits by state over the years. While that data was great, and I continue to be a huge fan of DCTF, the data was just aggregate numbers with no granularity.

Also, several commenters on the original story pointed out a shortcoming with the approach — namely, that at the margin, the number of FBS recruits each state produces seems to be significantly influenced by the number of FBS programs in the immediate vicinity.

As I thought through how to refresh the analysis and improve it, I became a lot more ambitious with the project. Instead of just using the aggregate numbers produced by DCTF, I decided to use recruiting data publicly available from 247Sports and to focus on the top 400 recruits for each class, per the 247 Composite recruiting rankings.

The top 400 represents the top 15 percent or so of players in each class and also comfortably includes all consensus four- and five-star recruits, plus those right on the border line (who generally are ranked as a four-star by at least one recruiting service). The vast majority of these players have offers from schools beyond their local areas. In fact, most of them have offers from programs far and wide. In short, these are the recruits everybody wants. As a practical matter, almost all of them end up signing with Power 5 programs.

I have compiled the individual recruiting profiles for all of the top 400 recruits from the 2006-18 classes, and I am still in the process of geo-coding each high school and college in the data set. The geo-coding task is a large one but is nearing completion. The final product should be an extremely rich and useful data set on blue-chip football recruits.

## Talent Distribution is Un-Democratic, in the Extreme

After elimination of a handful of blue-chippers hailing from America’s Hat (a.k.a. Canada), there are 5,195 recruits in this data set. Just under 50 percent of all blue chips have come from the top four states (Texas, Florida, California, and Georgia), and just under 75 percent have come from the top 12.

It is no surprise that the distribution of recruits is far from even, but the sheer tyranny of the regional talent disparities is still pretty striking when examined. The top 25 states account for almost 95 percent of blue-chip recruits.

The tree map below represents the full data set. If you are interested in exploring the data, you can go to the interactive version of this visual.

### Blue Chip Recruits by State, 2006-18:

### Blue Chip Recruits: State Shares, 2006-2018

Rnk | State | Blue Chips | % of Total | Accumulated% |
---|---|---|---|---|

Rnk | State | Blue Chips | % of Total | Accumulated% |

1 | Texas | 752 | 14.5% | 14.5% |

2 | Florida | 738 | 14.2% | 28.7% |

3 | California | 595 | 11.5% | 40.1% |

4 | Georgia | 415 | 8.0% | 48.1% |

5 | Ohio | 238 | 4.6% | 52.7% |

6 | Louisiana | 201 | 3.9% | 56.6% |

7 | Alabama | 178 | 3.4% | 60.0% |

8 | Virginia | 166 | 3.2% | 63.2% |

9 | Pennsylvania | 163 | 3.1% | 66.3% |

10 | North Carolina | 160 | 3.1% | 69.4% |

11 | Mississippi | 124 | 2.4% | 71.8% |

12 | New Jersey | 122 | 2.3% | 74.1% |

13 | Maryland | 119 | 2.3% | 76.4% |

14 | South Carolina | 116 | 2.2% | 78.7% |

15 | Tennessee | 111 | 2.1% | 80.8% |

16 | Michigan | 111 | 2.1% | 82.9% |

17 | Illinois | 109 | 2.1% | 85.0% |

18 | Arizona | 71 | 1.4% | 86.4% |

19 | Oklahoma | 64 | 1.2% | 87.6% |

20 | Missouri | 62 | 1.2% | 88.8% |

21 | Washington | 55 | 1.1% | 89.9% |

22 | Indiana | 51 | 1.0% | 90.9% |

23 | Arkansas | 45 | 0.9% | 91.7% |

24 | Utah | 44 | 0.8% | 92.6% |

25 | Colorado | 42 | 0.8% | 93.4% |

26 | Oregon | 33 | 0.6% | 94.0% |

27 | New York | 32 | 0.6% | 94.6% |

28 | Dist. of Columbia | 31 | 0.6% | 95.2% |

29 | Nevada | 30 | 0.6% | 95.8% |

30 | Kentucky | 29 | 0.6% | 96.4% |

31 | Kansas | 27 | 0.5% | 96.9% |

32 | Hawaii | 26 | 0.5% | 97.4% |

33 | Wisconsin | 25 | 0.5% | 97.9% |

34 | Iowa | 21 | 0.4% | 98.3% |

35 | Minnesota | 21 | 0.4% | 98.7% |

36 | Connecticut | 18 | 0.3% | 99.0% |

37 | Nebraska | 14 | 0.3% | 99.3% |

37 | Massachusetts | 14 | 0.3% | 99.6% |

39 | Delaware | 6 | 0.1% | 99.7% |

40 | Idaho | 5 | 0.1% | 99.8% |

41 | New Mexico | 4 | 0.1% | 99.9% |

42 | West Virginia | 3 | 0.1% | 99.9% |

43 | Vermont | 1 | 0.0% | 99.9% |

43 | South Dakota | 1 | 0.0% | 100.0% |

43 | Maine | 1 | 0.0% | 100.0% |

43 | New Hampshire | 1 | 0.0% | 100.0% |

51 | Alaska | 0 | 0.0% | 100.0% |

51 | Montana | 0 | 0.0% | 100.0% |

51 | North Dakota | 0 | 0.0% | 100.0% |

51 | Rhode Island | 0 | 0.0% | 100.0% |

51 | Wyoming | 0 | 0.0% | 100.0% |

n/a | GRAND TOTAL | 5,195 | 100% | 100.0% |

## Which States “Punch Above their Weight”?

While recruit production is clearly correlated to population, there is obviously a lot more going on here.

Adjusting for state population helps to show which states are relatively talent-rich (and which are relatively barren). The top state by this standard isn’t a state at all — it’s the District of Columbia. High schools within D.C. produce only a couple of Blue Chip recruits per year on average, but considering the population of the District is under 700,000, that gives it the crown for per capita production by a fairly comfortable margin.

After D.C., the next seven top producers of blue-chip recruits on a per capita basis are all Southern states.

It is worth noting that while the average per capita rate is 1.28 per million of population per year, the median rate is almost exactly 50% lower (at 0.65 per million), which indicates a distribution with a very significant amount of skew.

### Population-Adjusted Blue Chip Production

State | Total Blue Chip Recruits | Annual Recruits per MM | Rate vs. US Avg | Rate vs. US Median |
---|---|---|---|---|

State | Total Blue Chip Recruits | Annual Recruits per MM | Rate vs. US Avg | Rate vs. US Median |

District of Columbia | 31 | 3.83 | 3.0x | 5.9x |

Louisiana | 201 | 3.35 | 2.6x | 5.1x |

Georgia | 415 | 3.26 | 2.5x | 5.0x |

Mississippi | 124 | 3.21 | 2.5x | 4.9x |

Florida | 738 | 2.93 | 2.3x | 4.5x |

Alabama | 178 | 2.88 | 2.3x | 4.4x |

Texas | 752 | 2.24 | 1.8x | 3.4x |

South Carolina | 116 | 1.91 | 1.5x | 2.9x |

Ohio | 238 | 1.58 | 1.2x | 2.4x |

Virginia | 166 | 1.58 | 1.2x | 2.4x |

Maryland | 119 | 1.56 | 1.2x | 2.4x |

Hawaii | 26 | 1.46 | 1.1x | 2.2x |

Tennessee | 111 | 1.34 | 1.0x | 2.0x |

Oklahoma | 64 | 1.31 | 1.0x | 2.0x |

North Carolina | 160 | 1.28 | 1.0x | 2.0x |

Utah | 44 | 1.21 | 0.9x | 1.8x |

California | 595 | 1.20 | 0.9x | 1.8x |

Arkansas | 45 | 1.19 | 0.9x | 1.8x |

New Jersey | 122 | 1.05 | 0.8x | 1.6x |

Pennsylvania | 163 | 0.99 | 0.8x | 1.5x |

Michigan | 111 | 0.85 | 0.7x | 1.3x |

Nevada | 30 | 0.85 | 0.7x | 1.3x |

Arizona | 71 | 0.84 | 0.7x | 1.3x |

Missouri | 62 | 0.80 | 0.6x | 1.2x |

Kansas | 27 | 0.73 | 0.6x | 1.1x |

Oregon | 33 | 0.65 | 0.5x | 1.0x |

Illinois | 109 | 0.65 | 0.5x | 1.0x |

Colorado | 42 | 0.63 | 0.5x | 1.0x |

Washington | 55 | 0.62 | 0.5x | 0.9x |

Indiana | 51 | 0.60 | 0.5x | 0.9x |

Nebraska | 14 | 0.59 | 0.5x | 0.9x |

Iowa | 21 | 0.53 | 0.4x | 0.8x |

Kentucky | 29 | 0.51 | 0.4x | 0.8x |

Delaware | 6 | 0.51 | 0.4x | 0.8x |

Connecticut | 18 | 0.39 | 0.3x | 0.6x |

Wisconsin | 25 | 0.34 | 0.3x | 0.5x |

Minnesota | 21 | 0.30 | 0.2x | 0.5x |

Idaho | 5 | 0.24 | 0.2x | 0.4x |

Massachusetts | 14 | 0.16 | 0.1x | 0.2x |

New Mexico | 4 | 0.15 | 0.1x | 0.2x |

West Virginia | 3 | 0.13 | 0.1x | 0.2x |

New York | 32 | 0.13 | 0.1x | 0.2x |

Vermont | 1 | 0.12 | 0.1x | 0.2x |

South Dakota | 1 | 0.09 | 0.1x | 0.1x |

Maine | 1 | 0.06 | 0.0x | 0.1x |

New Hampshire | 1 | 0.06 | 0.0x | 0.1x |

Alaska | 0 | 0.00 | 0.0x | 0.0x |

Montana | 0 | 0.00 | 0.0x | 0.0x |

North Dakota | 0 | 0.00 | 0.0x | 0.0x |

Rhode Island | 0 | 0.00 | 0.0x | 0.0x |

Wyoming | 0 | 0.00 | 0.0x | 0.0x |

## Time for a Sanity Check

The fact that most of the states that comprise the SEC produce blue-chip college football recruits at a rate well above the national average should surprise exactly nobody. Football (at all levels) is near religion in the South, and the SEC is the premier college football conference in the country.

But is that the whole story?

In order to run a little sanity check on this outcome, I compared the population-adjusted rate of blue chip production to the population-adjusted rate of production of (active) NFL players. The results are pretty interesting.

### Blue Chip Recruits vs. Active NFL Players, Relative to US Population-Weighted Average

State | Active NFL Players | Blue Chips rel to US Avg | Blue Chips Rnk | NFL Players rel to US Avg | NFL Players Rnk |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

State | Active NFL Players | Blue Chips rel to US Avg | Blue Chips Rnk | NFL Players rel to US Avg | NFL Players Rnk |

Dist. of Columbia | 10 | 3.0x | 1 | 2.7x | 1 |

Louisiana | 87 | 2.6x | 2 | 2.5x | 2 |

Georgia | 173 | 2.5x | 3 | 2.2x | 3 |

Mississippi | 42 | 2.5x | 4 | 1.9x | 5 |

Florida | 294 | 2.3x | 5 | 1.9x | 6 |

Alabama | 78 | 2.3x | 6 | 2.1x | 4 |

Texas | 262 | 1.8x | 7 | 1.2x | 10 |

South Carolina | 62 | 1.5x | 8 | 1.6x | 7 |

Ohio | 120 | 1.2x | 9 | 1.4x | 9 |

Virginia | 74 | 1.2x | 10 | 1.2x | 12 |

Maryland | 43 | 1.2x | 11 | 0.9x | 17 |

Hawaii | 12 | 1.1x | 12 | 1.1x | 13 |

Tennessee | 43 | 1.0x | 13 | 0.9x | 21 |

Oklahoma | 24 | 1.0x | 14 | 0.8x | 23 |

North Carolina | 82 | 1.0x | 15 | 1.1x | 14 |

Utah | 24 | 0.9x | 16 | 1.0x | 15 |

California | 290 | 0.9x | 17 | 1.0x | 16 |

Arkansas | 16 | 0.9x | 18 | 0.7x | 28 |

New Jersey | 82 | 0.8x | 19 | 1.2x | 11 |

Pennsylvania | 87 | 0.8x | 20 | 0.9x | 19 |

Michigan | 67 | 0.7x | 21 | 0.9x | 20 |

Nevada | 17 | 0.7x | 22 | 0.8x | 25 |

Arizona | 34 | 0.7x | 23 | 0.6x | 32 |

Missouri | 42 | 0.6x | 24 | 0.9x | 18 |

Kansas | 16 | 0.6x | 25 | 0.7x | 26 |

Oregon | 20 | 0.5x | 26 | 0.6x | 33 |

Illinois | 63 | 0.5x | 27 | 0.7x | 31 |

Colorado | 21 | 0.5x | 28 | 0.5x | 37 |

Washington | 31 | 0.5x | 29 | 0.6x | 34 |

Indiana | 21 | 0.5x | 30 | 0.4x | 40 |

Nebraska | 12 | 0.5x | 31 | 0.8x | 22 |

Iowa | 17 | 0.4x | 32 | 0.7x | 27 |

Kentucky | 16 | 0.4x | 33 | 0.5x | 38 |

Delaware | 10 | 0.4x | 34 | 1.4x | 8 |

Connecticut | 18 | 0.3x | 35 | 0.7x | 30 |

Wisconsin | 30 | 0.3x | 36 | 0.7x | 29 |

Minnesota | 23 | 0.2x | 37 | 0.5x | 35 |

Idaho | 5 | 0.2x | 38 | 0.4x | 41 |

Massachusetts | 9 | 0.1x | 39 | 0.2x | 47 |

New Mexico | 2 | 0.1x | 40 | 0.1x | 48 |

West Virginia | 4 | 0.1x | 41 | 0.3x | 42 |

New York | 43 | 0.1x | 42 | 0.3x | 43 |

Vermont | 0 | 0.1x | 43 | 0.0x | 51 |

South Dakota | 3 | 0.1x | 44 | 0.5x | 39 |

Maine | 1 | 0.0x | 45 | 0.1x | 50 |

New Hampshire | 2 | 0.0x | 46 | 0.2x | 45 |

Montana | 6 | 0.0x | 47 | 0.8x | 24 |

North Dakota | 3 | 0.0x | 47 | 0.5x | 36 |

Wyoming | 1 | 0.0x | 47 | 0.2x | 44 |

Alaska | 1 | 0.0x | 47 | 0.2x | 46 |

Rhode Island | 1 | 0.0x | 47 | 0.1x | 49 |

The map graphic below illustrates the trends in over- and under-estimation spatially. The color coding is based on the difference between population-adjusted NFL player production and population-adjusted production of blue-chippers.

In order to filter out some of the noise, it does not consider states with less than five active NFL players, and the differences are also standardized statistically. Shades of red means there is over-estimation of talent for the state, while blue shades indicate under-estimation. If the state is shaded grey, it means the difference probably isn’t statistically significant. If you go to the map visual on my Tableau Public page there are additional details presented for each state in “hover over” mode.

### Deviations Between NFL Talent Produced and Blue-Chip Recruits

The most interesting observations here, from my vantage point:

- The recruiting services seem to love talent in Texas, Oklahoma, and SEC country a bit more than they should. The exception here is South Carolina, the only state in the region where the talent seems to be undervalued relative to NFL representation.
- Delaware…wow. The juxtaposition of the results for Delaware and Maryland are pretty interesting, but I have no idea what is going on there.
- It’s surprising to see that recruits in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan appear to be undervalued, given the profile of high school football in those states, not to mention the interest in those states’ major college programs.
- New York and New Jersey produce materially more NFL talent than they do blue-chip recruits. That’s more interesting than the fact Idaho and Montana do the same, because of the sheer numbers involved.

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