Mar 9, 2007

The State of Recruiting

If you have followed recruiting at all in the last 20 years or so, I'm sure you have heard the phrase "Pipeline State". This is the word commonly used as a way to describe a particular state the sends good talent to a school. College coaches establish relationships with certain high schools and their coaches in the hopes of landing their star players. These areas then become known as a "pipeline", to a certain University or College.

In the case of Notre Dame this "pipeline" theory is of extreme importance. ND is nestled in northern Indiana and is not considered to have an overwhelming amount of talent in the area, or the entire state for that matter. ND is a National University, and recruits in a manner to reflect that image.

The Fighting Irish have scholarship players from 25 of the 50 states. This is a huge difference from other elite programs such as Texas and Florida, who have a vast majority of players from their own state. Texas, for example, has only 3 players from outside the state. 3. This is the type of school that has cornered the market for their top prospects in their own backyard. Schools such as these are very difficult to compete against for players in their own state.

I believe ND to be doing a fantastic job in scouring the country for top talent. They have had a few down years, but that was mainly due to incompetent coaches who couldn't recruit...or wouldn't (Ty). ND has some work to do to gain back territory lost during the Davieham era, but Coach Weis and his assistants are working very hard to do just that.

Here is a map of where ND players come from. (Not exact in location within states)

As you can see, although the number of states is great, particular states and areas are more represented than others. The following is a breakdown of the top states for sheer numbers and their average star rating for the players according to's rankings.

1. Florida

  • 9 players.
  • Average Star Rating.......... 3.44
  • Most Notable.......... Sam Young(5*), Armando Allen(4*), Maurice Crum(3*)
  • It seems as if this state is a cornucopia of talent for the gridiron. Even the 3 star players are excellent and may have been at least a 4 star if they were in another state. This fertile ground is quickly becoming a heated rivalry meeting place for dozens of programs across the country. The big 3 of Miami, F$U, and Florida still seem to lockdown most of the states elite talent, but there are those who venture out of the Sunshine State. These are the kids Charlie and the boys MUST sign and play for the Irish.

2. Pennsylvania

  • 8 players.
  • Average Star Rating.......... 3.5
  • Most Notable.......... Travis Thomas(4*), Darrin Walls(4*), Zach Frazer(4*)
  • Pennsylvania, especially western PA., has always been a good source of talent for ND. The Irish have had to fend off in-state power Penn State for most if not all of their PA. guys throughout the years. Now however, Pitt is making a comeback in recruiting and is landing some very good state talent. Can Weis hold ND's ground in this state? Let's hope so, because some of Notre Dames greatest players are from PA. and the state might hold a lot more in store for the future.

3. California

  • 7 players.
  • Average Star Rating.......... 3.85
  • Most Notable.......... Jimmy Clausen(5*), Terrail Lambert(4*), Konrad Reuland(5*)
  • This state, like Florida, is loaded with elite talent. The problem is keeping them away from Pete Carroll's grubby hands. ND does do, and has done, a very good job of taking away top tier kids from Cali. In fact, if you take Darrin Bragg out of the equation, the average star rating would be 4.16. Not a bad number. The Irish must continue to hammer this state and battle not only U$C, but Cal, UCLA, and pretty much every PAC-10 school. If Weis can get them to put aside the distance factor, we will continue to do very well in California for years to come.

4. Illinois

  • 6 players.
  • Average Star Rating.......... 3.5
  • Most Notable.......... Tom Zbikowski(4*), Demetrius Jones(3*), Robert Hughes(4*)
  • This state should be home turf. The Irish are finding out however, that Zook and the Fighting No Mascots are in war mode. ND has had some very good commits in the past from Chicago, but they lost a couple this year to a 2-9 team. I won't speculate as to why, I'm just stating the facts. There is a lot of hope that the kids from Illinois high schools, and in particular Chicago, are going to keep marching for Our Lady because of Corwin Brown and his connections there. Here's hoping for early commits from Filer and Flemming.

5. Ohio

  • 6 players
  • Average Star Rating..........3
  • Most Notable.......... David Bruton(3*), Kallen Wade(4*), John Ryan(3*)
  • Although the numbers are decent with 6 players, the quality is still a question mark. Most of the kids are too young to properly access the talent stream. Two of our starters last year hailed from Ohio,and the same school for that matter, in Quinn and Nedu. Tressel is really fighting to keep his talent in his state, but ND has a long history of getting elite prospects from Ohio. If Charlie and crew can keep pounding on the doors, they will open.

6. Indiana

  • 4 players.
  • Average Star Rating.......... 3.5
  • Most Notable.......... James Aldridge(5*), Luke Schmidt(4*), Pat Kuntz(3*)
  • This is actually a sweet surprise. Although we are now scraping the the barrel with numbers for each state, Indiana is either tied or beating the average star ratings of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, FLORIDA, New Jersey, and a host of 3 players states. What does this say about the home state? Well it says that despite the slim pickings, ND has pulled out some quality kids from their own backyard. ND is on the right track this year with 2 in-state recruits already committing in Walter and Braxton Cave. These may be the only two , but they are the guys we can not let slip away to Purdue, Michigan, etc.

7. New Jersey

  • 4 players.
  • Average Star Rating.......... 3.5
  • Most Notable.......... Mike Ragone(4*), Leo Ferrine(4*), Duval Kamara(4*)
  • Weis is in love with N.J. And why not? He's from there and makes no denial that he wants to plug in a "pipeline" from the Garden State straight on to Our Lady of the Lake. A lot of excellent high school ball is played in this state and a lot of elite talent. In the past poaching of these stars has been relatively easy, due to no major football power in the state. N.D., USC, Florida State, and a host of other schools had their pick of the lot. Rutgers and Greg Schiano are changing all of that. Weis is a leg up on other schools for talent with the connections he has there, but he must keep Schiano and Rutgers in their place...bottom feeding.

8. Texas, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia

  • 3 players each.
  • Average Star Rating.......... 3.41
  • Most Notable.......... Chris Stewart(4*), John Carlson(3*), Trevor Laws(4*), Toryan Smith(3*), D.J. Hord(4*)
  • Theses 4 states have been very good providers for the Irish. Texas has developed into a problem and will always be as long as Mack Brown hovers over all of the elite talent there. Minnesota has given us great players, and they all seem to come from one school. Georgia is like Florida. A 3* there is a 4* somewhere else. Missouri is a real eye catcher though. A lot of talent filters its way to the Big 12, but Weis in particular has had excellent results in that state. With the exception of Texas ND should continue to nab top talent in these states.

What does this all mean? National recruiting is exactly that...national. Good talent is everywhere. ND just has to keep going hard at it (and with Brown it looks great) and they will have no problem getting top 5 classes. And that means Championships. It is only a matter of time.

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