For fans of high school football, the debate has long raged on as to which state has the best talent in the country. According to Rivals.com, a leader in online recruiting news and information, at least one state may be distancing itself from the pack.
In terms of consistently producing talent, the “Big Three” states of high school football are unquestionably Texas, California and Florida. In Texas, high school football is a way of life. Entire towns shut down as the lights turn on come Friday nights. California has also long been a recruiting hotbed, primarily in the southern part of the state, sending kids to USC, UCLA and across the country. However, Florida appears to be the state out in front in this present era of college football. What does Florida offer that all college football coaches want? The answer is speed.
Each year, Rivals.com issues the Rivals100, a list of the top 100 football prospects in the country. From 2007 to 2011, 500 athletes were named to the annual Rivals100 list. Of those, 83 prospects hailed from the state of Florida, more than the 67 from Texas and 60 from California. Taken as an average, that equates to the Rivals100 consisting of approximately 17 players for Florida, 13 from Texas and 12 from California on a yearly basis. In other words, 42 percent of the top high school football talent in the country is found in one of those three states.
It is important to keep in mind that this is a sample size of only the most elite talent. It does not mean that Florida produces the most college football players in the country, including FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges. Rather, it projects that of the best football players in the country, more come from Florida than any other state. In fact, Florida has had the most Rivals100 football players, each year dating back to 2008, including an impressive 20 Rivals100 recruits in 2010 alone.
Some might suggest that researching where NFL draft picks played their high school football would be the best indicator of which states truly have the most talent, however that method allows for the variable of college coaching to impact the results. Whereas, with the Rivals100, you are provided with a more accurate and direct evaluation of the talent levels while still in the high school ranks. Whether that talent develops in college is an entirely different question, and one that does not necessarily reflect the quality of the high school programs in each state.
Rivals100 Rankings, Top 100 High School Football Recruits, Rivals.com