One of the more popular phrases for coaches to use during their introductory press conference when talking about recruiting is “building a fence” around the state to keep the top local talent from leaving.
Obviously, that means significantly more when you’ve been named the head coach at a school in Texas, Florida, Georgia, or California, than it does if you’re in Washington, Nebraska, Wyoming, or West Virginia.
An article that The Advocate shared recently highlights the importance of dominating recruiting in-state for some, while branching out to neighboring states has proven to be a key to success as well. The piece also has a table to point out the most fertile recruiting ground, rank per capita, and top high school programs by Power Five signees.
Some cool numbers here.
Where does your state rank in producing Power 5 recruits the past 10 years? Texas, Florida, California, Georgia, Ohio.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) December 19, 2017
The unique situations that Tennessee’s Jeremy Pruitt and Nebraska’s Scott Frost will encounter in regards to recruiting top-level talent, are touched on in the piece, along with some insight from ESPN’s National Recruiting Director Tom Luginbill.
For a program like Tennessee, a rich tradition can go a long way, but the state as a whole really doesn’t have a wealth of talent that can play at the Power 5 level, so the Vols consistently have to raid other states to make a mark with their recruiting class.
Then there’s Nebraska, which is an interesting study as well.
“We did a study on their class — I want to say it was the 2014 class — and the average miles away from Lincoln for all signees was over 900 miles away,” Luginbill said.
“There’s no players. There’s no players in the state, and there’s no players that border the state. Then when they went out of the Big 12, they lost quite a bit of their stranglehold on Texas. They’re in a real bind. That is a much more difficult job than people think it is. Because it’s an era where kids are taking unofficial visits, they’re getting on campus as freshmen and sophomores. How the hell are they supposed to get to Lincoln?”
So for a lot of programs, being able to recruit well in your region is just as important as winning recruits over in your state. That’s especially true at a place like Nebraska.
The article goes on to talk about the percentage of in-state players that top program have signed, how teams in states not rich in talent have found a way to win, and how being dubbed something like “Defensive Back U” can go a long way in recruiting.