The best college football programs recruit nationally. But unless you’re one of a tiny handful, you won’t be able to build strong recruiting classes without doing well in your own backyard. A key factor becomes: How big and nice is your backyard in the first place?
Future players come from all over, but they’re heavily concentrated in the South, Northeast, and California, plus notable hotspots around Houston and Dallas.
If you want to load up with the kinds of players it takes to contend for championships, it helps to be located in or near one of those hubs. In this post, you’ll find the class of 2020’s count of four- and five-star recruits in every state, with some key notes below.
All 50 states and D.C., ranked by 2020 blue-chip recruits
Some standard disclaimers apply every year.
- There’s always going to be some geographic bias in recruiting evaluations. An elite player in Nebraska might not be rated the same as an elite player in Texas, because he hasn’t played against the same competition and maybe hasn’t been noticed to begin with.
- The IMG Academy in Florida juices the Sunshine State’s numbers a bit, as recruiting agencies count players at that sports academy as Floridians. Many of the players there aren’t really from Florida. This year, IMG has eight blue-chips.
- At an individual level, recruiting is inexact. Four-stars bust all the time, and three-stars turn out to be studs. At the macro level, however, recruiting has proved highly predictive.
- The 247Sports Composite rankings appear to change slightly over time, including after players get to college. There are also sometimes minor discrepancies between state-by-state counts and the national blue-chip total, which are sometimes off by one or two even after triple-checking. You should consider these totals close to exact.
What’s interesting about 2020? Things are great in Georgia.
These numbers change relatively little year over year. The top recruiting states remain the top recruiting states. But Georgia’s been on a steady climb toward the top, and this year, it’s gotten all the way to #3 in blue-chip recruits.
It helps that Georgia’s population has grown rapidly this century compared to other states’. And if you talk to people who follow football in the state, they’ll tell you high school programs around Atlanta have gotten better coaches who’ve organized the Peach State.
At any rate, it’s not a coincidence that Kirby Smart has elevated Georgia from an elite recruit to an Alabama/Ohio State-level recruiter in his four years helming the Dawgs.
Meanwhile, things are not great in California.
Here’s the state Georgia supplanted in the top three.
California’s got a lot of football problems these days. For years, the state has been producing fewer and fewer high-end defensive line recruits. It’s easy to extend that to Pac-12 teams getting pushed around by Big Ten and SEC fronts.
In a fitting end to the decade, the Pac-12’s biggest legacy program, USC, signed just two California four- and five-stars in 2020. Arizona State signed six. Recruiting is not the reason USC just lost an entire decade, but if recruiting declines too, look out.
The biggest “yikes” of the 2020 class (non-USC department) might be in Maryland.
The state of Maryland averaged 8.6 blue-chip recruits per cycle over the previous five years. But in 2020, the state had 15, including arguably the #1 player in the country, defensive end Bryan Bresee, who went to high school less than an hour from the Terps. Bresee signed with Clemson.
In all, the Terps signed zero of their own state’s 15 blue-chips, striking out almost entirely in possibly their state’s best recruiting year ever. It’s worth noting that a few of the state’s blue-chips are private school kids who aren’t actually from Maryland, and that the Terps salvaged something by flipping five-star D.C. receiver Rakim Jarrett from LSU on the Early Signing Day. Still, they came up miles short of where they’ll need to be to start to make up ground in the stacked Big Ten East.
It’s a big year in Florida, but Florida schools didn’t capitalize.
The state produced a whopping 59 blue-chips, nine more than normal. But Miami and Florida State have been down, and UF has played well but not recruited at an ultra-elite level. Out-of-state schools have filled in the gaps, led by Clemson, which signed three of the top seven prospects in the state.
Here’s the distribution of blue-chip recruits from the 10 best talent-producing states over the last five classes, from 2016 to 2020.
Blue-chip recruits by state, 2016-2020
That means 70% of the sport’s blue-chip recruits have come from one of these states. Hope you’re close to one of them!