Recruiting Production On The Rise In The State Of West Virginia
Usually the number of Division I football recruits produced by each state is pretty stable.
Often it is based on population, though not always.
California, Texas and Florida traditionally produce the most Division I football recruits, and that makes sense because those are the three largest states in the U.S. based on population.
The population ratio isn’t perfect, though. New York, which is the fourth largest state in terms of population, annually produces about the 25th most recruits.
Then you have some on the other end of the spectrum, which produce recruits at a higher rate than their population. Georgia is the eighth most populous state in the country, but typically puts the fourth most football players into FBS programs. Likewise there is Alabama, which has the 24th largest population but produces the sixth most FBS recruits, Louisiana, which has the 25th largest population but produces the seventh most FBS recruits, and Mississippi, which has the 34th largest population but produces the 15th most FBS recruits, each of which greatly exceeds the expected ratio. All those, along with Florida, are in SEC territory, which probably explains why that conference also is ruling college football right now.
For many years, the state of West Virginia’s FBS production stayed at or slightly below the range of its population rank, which is 38th. In a seven-year span from 2008-14, the Mountain State produced, on average, three FBS scholarship signees per year. That put it in the realm of a state like Delaware and ahead of only Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Rhode Island, Maine, Montana and Vermont.
Suddenly a few years ago, though, the output of recruits from the state of West Virginia started to take a sharp increase. It produced seven FBS signees in 2015, four in 2016, seven in 2017 and six in 2018. And this coming class will exceed all those, as there are currently a dozen high school players in the state who have committed to or have scholarship offers from FBS programs. Most of those are high-end schools, as two-thirds are headed for Power 5 programs.
The reason for the significant increase in FBS recruit production from the state of West Virginia is hard to put an exact finger on. There are a number of theories, and in truth it’s probably a combination of all of them.
About a decade ago high school athletic programs in West Virginia were allowed to start conducting three weeks of instructional workouts in the summer. It allowed players three weeks of additional practice with everything but the contact, and many believe that extra work is paying off.
In addition, more prospects from the state are also getting out to various camps held in the spring and summer. That allows the recruits to work out directly for college coaches inside and outside the borders, which obviously gets them more exposure.
Don’t overlook the advent of technology either. Most every player today posts his highlight video on Hudl, which is the YouTube of the high school football world. Now college coaches can watch video of prospects from the most remote locations without ever leaving their desks.
Ultimately, the increase in FBS recruiting production may just be a cyclical high point, but there’s no doubt that at least for now, the output has been unusually high.