The NCAA did something great on Tuesday.
The organization provided empirical data to recruiters to show which states are like shooting fish in a barrel and which are like shooting those same fish in Lake Superior. The methodology is admittedly a little bit confusing, comparing the total number of Division I recruits from a 4-year period (2013-16) against the total high school football participation over a 2-year period (2015-16), but the end result still spits out an apples-to-apples comparison.
The 10 target-richest high school football states:
1. Florida -- 9.9 percent
2. Georgia -- 8.6 percent
3. Louisiana -- 8.1 percent
4. Washington, D.C./Maryland -- 7.2 percent/6.5 percent
5. South Carolina -- 6.2 percent
Tennessee -- 6.2 percent
7. North Carolina -- 5.9 percent
8. Virginia -- 5.6 percent
9. Delaware -- 5.1 percent
10. Alabama -- 5.0 percent
New Jersey -- 5.0 percent
Pennsylvania -- 5.0 percent
And the 10 scarcest states for Division I football talent:
1. Vermont -- 0.9 percent
2. Maine -- 1.1 percent
3. Alaska -- 1.2 percent
4. Minnesota -- 1.5 percent
Wisconsin -- 1.5 percent
6. New Mexico -- 1.7 percent
7. New Hampshire -- 1.8 percent
8. North Dakota -- 1.9 percent
9. Iowa -- 2.1 percent
Kansas -- 2.1 percent
Michigan -- 2.1 percent
Oregon -- 2.1 percent
Nebraska -- 2.1 percent
Wyoming -- 2.1 percent
On its face, the data confirms what each college football observer intrinsically knows -- there are a lot more players in the Southeast than New England.
But I have to say it's surprising to see how far ahead Florida is from the rest of the pack, 1.3 percentage points ahead of the No. 2 state. It's also a bit surprising to see Texas closer to the bottom 10 than the top 10, but a charitable reading on behalf of the Lone Star State would interpret that as the overall high school football culture in the state drives thousands of players on the field that have no shot at playing college ball (ahem, you're looking at one of them) that compete out of pure love of the game. Texas still put out 330 total FBS signees in 2016, so I don't think this chart will lead any head coaches to pull their assistants out of Houston and the Metroplex.
The one takeaway I'd grab from this? The Mid-Atlantic region is as talent-rich as SEC country. From New Jersey on down through Maryland, D.C. and Delaware to Virginia and the Carolinas has as much high-level talent as any region in the nation.
Actually, let's add one more takeaway: a round of applause for Wisconsin, North Dakota State and Kansas State. Those three programs all hail from bottom 10 talent states but regularly find themselves in the actual top 10, and without the benefit of national brands (see: Michigan and Oregon) that allow them to recruit wherever they want. No, the Badgers, Bison and Wildcats recruit where they are and make the absolute most out of what they're given.