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The SEC’s Best Football Programs Part 1: Recruiting Base

mrsec stat analysis newIn our effort to rank the SEC’s best football programs, we’ve created four categories with which to grade each school.  The first one we’ll break down for you is one we’ve titled “Recruiting Base.”  Obviously, recruiting is the fuel that keeps the top programs running smoothly.  The more fuel sources in a school’s neighborhood, the better.

For that reason, we’ve chosen to look at the number of NFL-caliber players produced in each SEC program’s homestate.  Granted, some schools are close enough to other states that borders and boundaries aren’t a major issue — Tennessee is closer to Georgia than it is to Memphis inside its own state, for example — but measuring homestate talent still has value.

The best breakdown of past NFL drafts in database form can be found at the USA Today website under the label: “NFL draft: Finding the talent.”  The data covers only up through the 2012 draft — rather than this past April’s selection party — but we’re looking for long-term trends anyway.  So below you will find the number of in-state high school products from each SEC state who went on to be drafted into the National Football League between 1993 and 2012:

 

Recruiting Base: NFL Picks Over Recent 20 Years (1993-2012)

  ALA   ARK   AUB   UF   UGA   UK   LSU   MSU   MU   UM   USC   UT   A&M   VU
  129   41   129   431   218   39   175   103   56   103   117   76   456   76

 

It’s no surprise that when it comes to talent-rich states, none within the SEC footprint can come close to matching Texas and Florida.  Those states basically double the next closest state in terms of pros produced.  The next best state, Georgia, is the only other SEC state that has produced more than 200 NFL draft picks over the 20-year span in question.

On the poorer end of the spectrum, Missouri, Arkansas and Kentucky bring up the rear.  The state of Tennessee has also produced fewer than 100 NFL draft picks from its high schools over those two decades.

 

While the talent inside a state is important, we wanted to also recognize the fact that strong recruiters can overcome a weak home base… or truly dominate a strong one.  Also, we are looking to grade the best SEC program at this moment.  With those goals in mind, we turned to Rivals.com, the oldest of the websites providing nationally-recognized recruiting rankings.  Below you will find the total number of 4- and 5-star prospects (according to Rivals.com) who have signed with SEC schools over the past five signing periods:

 

Recruiting Base: 4- and 5-Star Signees Over Last 5 Years (2009-2013)

  ALA   ARK   AUB   UF   UGA   UK   LSU   MSU   MU   UM   USC   UT   A&M   VU
  85   22   63   75   62   9   69   20   13   37   43   51   39   9

 

Alabama has pulled away on the recruiting trail, signing an average of two more high-caliber prospects per year than the next best SEC member, Florida.  LSU, Auburn and Georgia appear on the list next.

Down the line, Missouri, Kentucky and Vanderbilt have signed the fewest blue-chippers over the past five signing days.

 

Still to come, we have 18 more sub-categories to bring you as well as an explanation of our scoring method as we near our final rankings of the league’s best football program.  Stay tuned.

 


6 comments
BillRauhuff
BillRauhuff

It goes to show what a great coaching and recruiting job that Phillip Fulmer and before him Johnny Majors did for 33 years at Tennessee. Tennnessee is only behind Kentucky in high school talent but Tennessee has always been great at recruiting nationwide. They in my opinion have finally found there guy in Butch Jones. This year they will be lucky to win 6 games but starting next year watch Tennessee slowly come back to being Tennessee again.

the_voice
the_voice

John, NFL picks by state is important, but shouldn't there be a division of that number by the number of D1 schools in the state in some way? I know there is no perfect way to do it. How many kids would choose Florida International over Florida, but many might choose Miami or Florida State. Dividing Alabama's 129 by somewhere between 2 and 3 makes sense to recognize Alabama, Auburn, and to a lesser extent, Troy, is an example.

Put to this test in some fashion, I would think that Georgia and LSU are probably at the top of the list.

Bootheel
Bootheel

I really hope you put very little emphasis in your overall analysis in the rivals stars.  Anyone other than a recruit that puts too much stock in the number of stars you put next to an 18 year old kids picture is buying into a process that I think is about like throwing rocks at the moon.  I am convinced  that the stars are primarily based on how many times the regional ranker has been pumped up by the kids high school coach and in some cases the recruiting school trying to pump their own numbers.  Alden Smith three stars by Rivals.  Jacquies Smith three stars by Rivals. Michael Egnew two stars by Rivals. Danario Alexander two stars by Rivals.  Sean Weatherspoon two stars by Rivals.  Chase Coffman three stars by Rivals.  William Moore three stars by Rivals.  Zaviar Gooden three stars by Rivals.  I could go on, but I think you get the drift, All former Mizzou players in the NFL, and they are not all special teams players either.  Granted usually the five star kids are talented athletes and almost always head to the Pros, but it does not always mean that is how they are going to pan out, Richard Samuel comes to mind.  Rivals pats itself on the back for the ones they hit, but I never seen anything from them on the ones they miss, Johnny Manziel was a three star, first freshman Heisman winner (probably the last too).  It is a very inexact science at best.

bpa_kc
bpa_kc

@the_voice 

I kind of agree. 

Texas has 5 BCS level programs in state... not to mention CFB powerhouse Oklahoma nearby... and the state pretty much feeds the entire Big 12 conference. 

If you consider that, then I think LSU might be the most priviledged univesity when it comes to in-state talent...  and Arkansas and Missouri might not be as FAR behind as the numbers would lead you to believe since they both only have a single major football program w/in their borders. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@the_voice 

That was actually considered, but the problem is not all programs in a state are created equal.  While Miami and Florida State are serious competition for Florida, FAU and FIU aren't.  In the state of Georgia, there's a pretty clear division between Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia State.  

So we chose to simply look at recruits that are available in a school's home state.  Those are the prospects available to all.  Also, we included some recruiting rankings in as a separate item.  The number of 4- and 5-star recruits signed by each SEC school over a 4- or 5-year span reflects -- in part -- whether or not a school is having trouble battling with its in-state and out-of-state rivals.

We'll be posting 18 more sub-categories today and tomorrow.  I fully expect each to be questioned.  That's fair.  All I can hope for is that people will say, "They had to choose SOME criteria and while theirs might be different than mine, this is still an interesting way of looking at things."  That's the hope anyway.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@Bootheel 

It is one of 20 categories.

While there are plenty of kids who out-perform or under-perform their rankings, we've done analysis on this site going back over a 10-year period and found that, indeed, the programs that sign the most 4- and 5-star kids typically perform better.  

Those who don't like recruiting rankings because of the exceptions to the rule, tend to want to ignore the whole the process.  That's no more correct than those who spend every last day fretting over such rankings.  As I've written on this site many times, recruiting rankings are much more like a compass than they are GPS.  They can't completely project success or failure, but over the long haul looking at total classes, they will point you in the right direction most often.

That said, one of the reasons we include the rankings here is because they work as promotion for a program.  Watch schools like Ole Miss, Tennessee and Kentucky build some early momentum and all of a sudden they have 20+ commitments.  So if nothing else, other recruits DO pay attention to these rankings... which in turn does aid the programs that sign the most blue-chippers.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

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