One of my first days at MaxPreps five years ago, I called national recruiting guru Tom Lemming to ask – among other things – "Where is
hotbed of top-end high school football talent?"
The word "hotbed" – one of my favorite sports terms by the way – had barely left my lips when he answered.
"South Florida," he said. "No question."
As I've traveled the hotbeds - there it is again - people have been naive enough to ask me the same question. I simply repeat Lemming's answer. Only faster. And I add an "absolutely" for more emphasis.
As we start the 2012 football season, I figured it's about time I know what I speak – or at least give some concrete data to back it up.
So, poring over the Top 100 lists of 2013 recruits from Lemming and three other recruiting services, I came up with a point system to figure out which states actually produce the most blue-chip talent.
Yes, I bagged the "hotbed" notion in favor of a state-by-state Top 100 recruit scorecard. A Top-10 talent earned 10 points for respective state, 11 through 20 would get nine points, 21-30 eight points, and so on.
And the winner hands-down – thank you Mr. Lemming – is Florida. No question.
The Sunshine state boasts 15 of the MaxPreps Top 100 recruits
, according to Lemming, who makes the list.
The next-closest state is Texas with 11, followed by Georgia which boasts nine including consensus No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche
, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end from Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)
. Points-wise, Florida (87) held a wide margin over Texas (62) as well.
When adding up all four recruiting services, Florida was the winner by an even greater margin with 373 points to 262 for Texas.
Before we go there, here's a look at the MaxPreps Top 10 states for Top 100 recruits. 1. Florida (87 points, 15 recruits)
With nine among the Top 50, including Columbia (Lake City)
offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil
(No. 7) and Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville)
wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood
(No. 9), Florida not only dominated overall blue chippers but 5-star recruits as well. The next-nearest number with Top 50 recruits was four.
2. Texas (62 points, 11 recruits)
Tied Florida with two Top 10 recruits in Whitewright
quarterback Tyrone Swoopes
(No. 4) and Sealy
athlete Ricky Seals-Jones
. Most of Texas' blue chippers (seven) were after No. 50. 3. Georgia (53 points, nine recruits)
Besides Nkemdiche, only Newnan
safety Tray Matthews
(No. 26) and Dooly County (Vienna)
defensive tackle Montravius Adams
(No. 38) are among the Top 40. Players nicely sprinkled throughout the list. 4. Illinois (38 points, seven recruits)
Not traditionally regarded as a top football state, Illinois graded out well based on four Top 40 recruits, headlined by Joliet Catholic Academy
running back Ty Isaac
(No. 8) and Crete-Monee
wide receiver Laquon Treadwell
(No. 30). The state might have nation's best group of offensive linemen, led by Lemont's Ethan Pocic
(No. 48) and Manual's (Peoria) Logan Tuley-Tillman
(No. 50), a pair of tackles. 5. Alabama (35 points, five recruits)
Three of the nation's Top 19, including Auburn
linebacker Reuben Foster
(No. 3) and Autauga Academy (Prattville)
tight end O.J. Howard
, pushed Alabama right to the Top 5.
6. Virginia (33 points, seven recruits)
A trio of quarterbacks – Fork Union Military Academy's
Christian Hackenberg (No. 64), Stone Bridge's (Ashburn) Ryan Burns
(No. 66) and Salem's (Virginia Beach) Bucky Hodges
(No. 73) – highlight Virginia's surprising blue chip class. 7. North Carolina (28 points, six recruits)Mallard Creek's (Charlotte) Marquez North
(No. 13) is the No. 2 wide receiver in the country. 8. Maryland (23 points, three recruits)Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton)
defensive end/tight end Kenny Bigelow
(No. 17) and Gilman (Baltimore)
defensive tackle Henry Poggi
(No. 25) head the class. 9t. California (19 points, six recruits)
Besides Illinois, California's results are the biggest surprise of the MaxPreps rankings. One 5-star standout in Vista Murrieta (Murrieta)
defensive back Su'a Cravens
(No. 5) and the rest all rank 74 or lower. 9t. Ohio (19 points, four recruits)
Another traditional state power, joins California at the bottom of the Top 10 list. At least Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was able to keep state's two top recruits, Middletown
quarterback Jalin Marshall
(No. 34) and Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood)
cornerback Cameron Burrows
(No. 40) in-state.
The rest of the states with MaxPreps Top 100 recruits were: Pennsylvania (18 points, two recruits), South Carolina (16, two), Michigan (12, two), Louisiana (12, two), Indiana (12, two), Arkansas (11, two), Arizona (11, four), Washington (10, one), Oregon (10, one), New Jersey (nine, three), Mississippi (eight, one), Utah (seven, one), Kentucky (six, one), Oklahoma (five, one), Hawaii (four, one), Missouri (two, one).
Based on my surefire point system, here are more national Top 10 state recruiting rankings based on its current Top 100 recruits.
1. Florida (94 points, 16 recruits)
2. California (64 points, 13 recruits)
3. Texas (63 points, 13 recruits)
4t. Georgia (40 points, 7 recruits)
4t. Virginia (40 points, 7 recruits)
6. Maryland (37 points, 5 recruits)
7. Illinois (27 points, 4 recruits)
8. Pennsylvania (25 points, 4 recruits)
9. Ohio (21 points, 4 recruits)
10. Alabama (17 points, 2 recruits)Scout.com
1. Texas (91 points, 16 recruits)
2. Florida (81 points, 13 recruits)
3. California (57 points, 13 recruits)
4. Georgia (35 points, six recruits)
5. Alabama (31 points, four recruits)
6. Pennsylvania (28 points, four recruits)
7. Ohio (24 points, five recruits)
8t. Maryland (17 points, two recruits)
8t. North Carolina (17 points, five recruits)
10. Indiana (16 points, two recruits)247sports.com
1. Florida (111 points, 17 recruits)
2. Texas (66 points, 13 recruits)
3. Georgia (51 points, nine recruits)
4. California (40 points, eight recruits)
5. Virginia (35 points, five recruits)
6. Alabama (33 points, six recruits)
7. Pennsylvania (29 points, four recruits)
8. Maryland (18 points, two recruits)
9t. Ohio (17 points, four recruits)
9t. Illinois (17 points, five recruits)MaxPreps, Rivals, Scout and 247sports combined
1. Florida (373 points, 61 recruits)
2. Texas (282 points, 53 recruits)
3. California (180 points, 40 recruits)
4. Georgia (179 points, 31 recruits)
5. Virginia (122 points, 22 recruits)
6. Illinois (112 points, 21 recruits)
7. Alabama (109 points, 16 recruits)
8. Pennsylvania (100 points, 14 recruits)
9. Maryland (95 points, 12 recruits)
10. Ohio (82 points, 17 recruits)
A few observations from the scientific study:
* The Great Northwest boasts a pair of Top 10 talents - Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.)
quarterback Max Browne
(No. 2) and Aloha (Beaverton, Ore.)
running back Thomas Tyner
(No. 10) - but no others in the Top 100.
* South Carolina, which has had so much top-end talent in recent years like No. 1 2011 recruit Jadeveon Clowney
and No. 2 2010 standout Marcus Lattimore
, can claim just a pair of Top 100 prospects this season in Dillon
tackle D.J. Park
(No. 23) and Goose Creek
receiver Tramel Terry
* Historically strong football states Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma had a combined four Top 100 recruits.
* Top 100 talent doesn't necessarily equate to guaranteed team success. However, for what it's worth, Florida, Texas and California each boast three Xcellent Top 25 preseason teams
, more than any other state. Georgia, New Jersey and Ohio each claim two squads in those national rankings.
* In the MaxPreps computer Freeman rankings, California has five teams among the Top 25, Florida four and Texas three.