Building Walls Around The State

If college football coaches stayed true to their word, there would be about five different fences along the perimeter of each state. “We’re going to build a championship program with the talent in this state,” every new coach always says. “We’re going to build a wall around (insert state name here)!”

But some programs rely on in-state talent more than others. Here’s a ranking of which schools signed the highest percentage in-state players in the last five recruiting classes (since 2010).

Percentage of signees from home state:

1. Virginia Tech – 59.1% (68 of 115)

2. Miami – 57.0% (73 of 128)

3. Virginia – 56.4% (62 of 110)

4. Florida State – 56.1% (69 of 123)

5. Georgia Tech – 54.3% (51 of 94)

6. Clemson – 42.6% (46 of 118)

7. N.C. State – 39.1% (45 of 115)

8. Pittsburgh – 38.7% (43 of 111)

9. North Carolina – 38.0% (41 of 108)

10. Duke – 26.5% (26 of 98)

11. Syracuse – 25.0% (31 of 124)

12. Boston College – 22.1% (23 of 104)

13. Wake Forest – 16.3% (17 of 104)

14. Louisville – 10.7% (12 of 112)

This list cuts through the coach-speak and reveals the truth: While coaches always preach the need to recruit in-state talent, when it comes down to it, they just want to sign the best players.

If you asked recruiting analysts to rank the states with the most talent within the ACC’s footprint, it would more or less travel from south to north. Virginia (including the DC area) would rank up there with Florida and Georgia. South Carolina and North Carolina are growing recruiting hotbeds. The Northeast has always had weak football, and a state like Kentucky just doesn’t have a big enough population to churn out a high number of blue-chip prospects.

So it makes sense that the Florida and Virginia schools compose the top four. It also makes sense that Boston College, Syracuse and Louisville draw from their own states the least.

Perhaps what coaches really mean is that if they want to be successful, they need to keep the best players in their state while broadening their recruiting horizons at the same time. Here is a list of schools that have had the most success recruiting their states’ best prospects.

Percentage of signees in home state’s Rivals top 10

1. Boston College – 34%

2. Virginia Tech – 32%

3. Florida State – 26%

3. Clemson – 26%

5. North Carolina – 20%

5. Virginia – 20%

7. Louisville – 18%

8. Pittsburgh – 14%

8. Syracuse – 14%

10. N.C. State – 10%

11. Miami – 8%

12. Wake Forest – 2%

13. Duke – 0%

13. Georgia Tech – 0%

Massachusetts doesn’t produce many BCS-level recruits, but Boston College grabs about one third of them, which is the highest percentage of any program in the ACC. The difference in prosperity between Florida State and Miami could be pinned on their respective spots on this list.

It’s also interesting to see which states do the best job at keeping their top talent. Virginia and Virginia Tech combine to retain more than half of the top 10 players from Virginia, while the four North Carolina schools can’t even keep one-third of theirs.

It’s a goal of every coach to dominate in-state recruiting. In the ACC, only Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Virginia are both fully invested in harvesting in-state talent and successful at landing the best of it.