We’re number one!
I mean, OF COURSE we’re number one.
With college football season giving way to college football letter-of-intent season, ESPN’s RecruitingNation has conducted an analysis of what it calls “The Great College Football Migration,” breaking down recruiting trends from 1940 through 2010.
A lot has changed, except one thing: Texas had the most players in 1940 (126, trailed by Pennsylvania with 104), and the most players by far in 2010 (478, with California at 200).
The decade-by-decade breakdown is paywalled at ESPN Insider, but ESPN and InfographicWorld.com created two maps summing up the numbers, one from 1940 to 1970, and one from 1980 to 2010 (that’s the second part above).
RecruitingNation’s Mitch Sherman wrote in an accompanying story:
Credit the Texas high school football culture. It’s inescapable, from the small towns to the population centers around Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.
“It’s bigger than pro football,” said kicker Shane Tripucka of Allen (Texas) High School, which opened a $60 million, 18,000-seat stadium last fall.
Yes, the Friday night environment in Texas is likely unmatched nationally.
Sherman leads his piece off with a sketch of six-foot-five, 320-pound lineman Darius James of Harker Heights (who’s headed for UT); explores the rivalry between California, Florida, and Texas for supremacy; and also takes note of the fact that Texas has become the country’s QB-factory (see Bryan Curtis’s September, 2010 Texas Monthly cover story , as well as his piece last year on Robert Griffin III, for more on that).
The state did have a fallow period in 1980, when, as ESPN’s Carter Strickland writes in the paywalled article, “only 10 Texas players were on the rosters of the teams that finished in the AP’s top 10.”
That’s a huge difference from the season which just ended, which saw sixty Texas players on the ten teams that were in the BCS (a BCS, needless to say, that did not include a team from Texas, which would have doubled things and then some).
The same was true in 2010, as Austin Ward says in his write-up of that year:
Only two teams finished in the top 20 without a player from Florida, and only three survived without a contribution from Texas, with the latter cranking out the majority of players from around the nation who finished the year on top-10 squads.
1960 and 1980 were the only years that Texas didn’t finish number one.
“No matter the era, Texas has never lacked that big-time feel,” concluded Sherman.