College football recruiting: Ranking 50 states by blue-chip percentage

Nothing has more to do with college football’s hierarchy than recruiting.

The teams that get the best players are the ones that compete for national championships. That’s been the case since recruiting rankings began, and three of the four Playoff teams this year are among the 10 that reached the Blue-Chip Ratio threshold for the 2017 season, meaning their rosters are at least half made up of four- and five-star recruits. The only one that isn’t is Oklahoma, which happened to find the best QB in the country on the walk-on heap.

A program’s history of success is critical, as are relationships with coaches and players. Good facilities are increasingly a must. But there’s no better built-in advantage than being close to a place with a plethora of elite high school players.

Here’s how the country’s 365 blue-chip recruits are distributed in the class of 2018:

All 50 states and D.C., ranked by 2018 blue-chip recruits

State Blue-Chips National Share
State Blue-Chips National Share
Florida 65 17.8%
California 48 13.2%
Texas 44 12.1%
Georgia 40 11.0%
Ohio 12 3.3%
Louisiana 12 3.3%
North Carolina 12 3.3%
Pennsylvania 12 3.3%
Tennessee 11 3.0%
Alabama 10 2.7%
New Jersey 9 2.5%
Maryland 9 2.5%
Michigan 7 1.9%
Oregon 7 1.9%
Oklahoma 6 1.6%
Utah 6 1.6%
Missouri 6 1.6%
Nevada 5 1.4%
Virginia 4 1.1%
Illinois 4 1.1%
South Carolina 4 1.1%
Mississippi 3 0.8%
Indiana 3 0.8%
Washington 3 0.8%
Kentucky 3 0.8%
Arizona 2 0.5%
Arkansas 2 0.5%
D.C. 2 0.5%
Colorado 2 0.5%
New York 2 0.5%
Massachusetts 2 0.5%
Idaho 2 0.5%
Hawaii 1 0.3%
Iowa 1 0.3%
Kansas 1 0.3%
Connecticut 1 0.3%
Nebraska 1 0.3%
West Virginia 1 0.3%
Minnesota 0 0.0%
Wisconsin 0 0.0%
Delaware 0 0.0%
New Mexico 0 0.0%
South Dakota 0 0.0%
Alaska 0 0.0%
Maine 0 0.0%
Montana 0 0.0%
New Hampshire 0 0.0%
North Dakota 0 0.0%
Rhode Island 0 0.0%
Vermont 0 0.0%
Wyoming 0 0.0%
Total 365 100.0%

The 247Sports Composite

Quick disclaimers apply:

  • There’s geographic bias in recruiting evaluations. An elite player in Montana won’t be rated the same as an elite player in Florida because he hasn’t played against the same competition and maybe hasn’t been noticed to begin with.
  • 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 very predictive.

And some notes:

  • Florida reclaims the throne from Texas, which led the way with 47 in the class of 2017 and 50 in 2016. Florida led in 2015, when it produced the likes of FSU safety Derwin James, Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley, and Florida tackle Martez Ivey. The state has five players rated five stars, which is huge.
  • Georgia continues to set itself apart as the biggest recruiting state outside the big three. This year, Georgia’s much closer to those states than it is to Ohio and Louisiana, two states often considered Georgia’s peers.
  • Nationwide, 70.1 percent of 2018 blue-chips are in nine states: Florida, California, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. And 94.5 percent are in the top 25 states.

Here’s the distribution for the top 16 states in the last six classes combined, going back to 2013.

The best blue-chip talent states from 2013-18

State Blue-Chips, ’13-’18 National Share
State Blue-Chips, ’13-’18 National Share
Florida 292 14.4%
Texas 273 13.5%
California 247 12.2%
Georgia 181 9.0%
Ohio 91 4.5%
Louisiana 86 4.3%
Alabama 69 3.4%
North Carolina 63 3.1%
Virginia 61 3.0%
Pennsylvania 56 2.8%
Tennessee 55 2.7%
New Jersey 50 2.5%
Maryland 45 2.2%
Michigan 42 2.1%
Illinois 41 2.0%
Mississippi 41 2.0%

The 247Sports Composite

More notes:

  • Usually, Georgia produces about twice as many blue-chippers as Ohio. This year’s 40-12 margin might never happen again. But the consistent stream of talent in the Peach State is the biggest reason Mark Richt was able to win so consistently in Athens. It’s also the biggest reason Kirby Smart’s in the Playoff in his second year.
  • For the sake of assessing recruiting advantages, you might as well consider D.C. recruits to be Marylanders and Virginians. If you spread the District’s 17 blue-chips from the last six years evenly, both states would jump a few spots. That’s why the Maryland Terrapins have managed to line up a couple of top-20 classes in a row despite being either mediocre or outright bad on the field.
  • Tennessee produces and is surrounded by enough elite talent that the Volunteers could build a national title contender if they found the right coach, despite obvious challenges. “But they’ve been saying that for years!” you might counter, and I’d have to acknowledge that you were right.

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