Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD

National Recruiting Report | Midwest Powers Adapting

February 22, 2019
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It’s not something that hasn’t been mentioned before, but it keeps getting mentioned for a reason. Anyone has been paying attention knows that the talent that fills up college football rosters has been growing in the South while there’s been a decline in the Midwest.

There are more blue-chippers closer to the SEC schools than there are to the programs in Big Ten. It’s something that only people who still want their team to play with a fullback at all times would ignore.

The talent shift has been going on for awhile and the big three from up North (Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State) have had to adapt. There isn’t a better example of it than the composition of the classes they just signed. In total, Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State signed 65 players in the 2019 recruiting cycle. Only 22 of them (33.8%) came from Midwestern states.

That trend is continuing in this current cycle.

The Irish, Wolverines, and Buckeyes already have accumulated commitments from 18 players from the 2020 class. Just five of them are from the Midwest.

This is the new reality in recruiting for programs that want to compete for championships. The local base for the big three is not there like it was and it’s not likely to swing back to the way it was. There are only 18 4-star players from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois for 2020. It was only five years ago that Ohio had 18 by itself and there were 30 from those four states combined.

The state of Georgia has 32 recruits ranked as a 4 or 5-star currently. Want to know what that number was five years ago? If you guessed 32, feel free to pat yourself on the back.

This does make it more difficult for the big three to sign top classes, but Ohio State adjusted to it very well under Urban Meyer. In his first full recruiting class back in 2013, the Buckeyes signed 23 players. 11 of them were from the Midwest and the class was ranked second in the team rankings.

Meyer’s last full class, 2018, also finished second, but only seven of 26 signees came from the Midwest.

We’ll see if Ryan Day can continue to do what Meyer could as a recruiter, but it may take a Meyer in the Midwest to attract the kind of talent consistently to compete with the southern powers like Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia.

Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame know they have to go all over the country to find talent because they know that the quantity of blue-chip prospects closer to them isn’t what it used to be.

On to other stray thoughts on national recruiting…

- For those that follow the two-class rule when it comes to building a roster, what Tom Herman has done in Texas the last couple of years has been pretty special. Jimbo Fisher got a lot of attention for having a great class at Texas A&M, but what Herman has been able to do is not that far off from Alabama.

Texas has signed 10 players that I had ranked in the 2018 and 2019 Fab 50. That’s a lot of potential difference-makers that could be pretty special in a couple of years led by athlete Bru McCoy‍ in this most recent class and safety Caden Sterns‍ in the previous one.

Alabama has signed 11 over the last two classes (nine in 2019). Georgia has signed the most with 13, so every Notre Dame fan should be thankful the Irish are heading to Athens this year and not later on.

- The one area of the country that I believe will be the most interesting to watch this cycle it’s the DMV. With Mike “X-Box” Locksley at Maryland, he’s probably going to end up landing some big time prospects that would have ended up at other sports in the past.

Maryland landed safety Nick Cross‍ to end their ‘19 class. He was previously committed to Florida State and was thought to be leaning to Penn State before signing day. Wide receiver Rakim Jarrett‍ and linebacker Mekhail Sherman‍ are two elite prospects that would be likely to go somewhere like Ohio State or Penn State in previous classes, but with Locksley back at Maryland, I wouldn’t feel nearly as confident about it.

- Yes, it’s way-too-early for this to mean anything, but Florida, Miami, and Florida State could have all have monster classes. They have a combined 13 4-star recruits and 14 of the top-50 in the state committed to them. They only were able to sign 20 of the top-50 in the previous class.

A lot of things can change in a year, but I think this might be the first time in a long time when all three of the Power 5 Florida schools are recruiting at a high level, which will make it much more difficult for programs to go in and steal recruits from there.

- Time for the recruiting stat of the week:

Northwestern plays in the Big Ten West. They have sent out 42 scholarship offers to players in the 2020 recruiting class.

Nebraska plays in the same division as them. They’ve sent out 276.

College football recruiting is extremely weird. 

 
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