Are recruiting rankings biased? Maybe...  

February, 25, 2009
The other day a reader of the blog raised the issue of an "East Coast bias" in recruiting rankings, scoffing that Louisiana's Reuben Randle should be deemed the No. 1-ranked wideout in the country. (My hunch is the fans who might buy into the reader's claim about the supposed inflated stock of recruiting rankings would concede it's actually more a Southeast bias rather than a traditional East Coast bias since you rarely see a lot of guys from New York or Boston as five-stars.) Anyhow, I figured it would be interesting to see where in fact the best football players in the country come from.

I decided to chart where all of this year's Pro Bowl selections came from, using their high schools as launching points. The results were staggering as, by far, the South produced the most stars with a whopping 36 Pro Bowlers coming from the Southern states, which was more than double what any other region produced. In fact, the state of Florida itself produced 16 stars, almost as many as the next most fertile region, the Midwest, which had 17.

Here is the breakdown:

Northeast: Chris Snee; Sean Morey; Zac DeOssie; Dwight Freeney; Kerry Collins and Darrelle Revis.

The Mid-Atlantic: Julius Peppers; Julian Peterson; Ronde Barber; Chris Hope; Roddy White; Mario Williams; Thomas Jones, Albert Haynesworth; James Farrior and Adrian Wilson.

Midwest: Kurt Warner; Michael Turner; Larry Fitzgerald; Flozell Adams, Shaun O'Hara; Charles Woodson; Antoine Winfield; Jay Cutler; Owen Daniels; Antonio Gates; Jake Long; Kris Dielman; Nick Mangold; Casey Wiegmann; Kris Jenkins; James Harrison and Joe Thomas.

South: Brett Favre; Peyton Manning; Eli Manning; Clinton Portis; Anquan Boldin; Jason Witten; Walter Jones; Davin Joseph; Justin Tuck; Jay Ratliff; Pat Williams; DeMarcus Ware; Derrick Brooks; Jon Beason; Patrick Willis; Asante Samuel; Al Harris; Nick Collins; Brian Dawkins; John Carney; Robert Mathis; Ronnie Brown; Le'Ron McClain; Andre Johnson; Brandon Marshall; Reggie Wayne; Alan Faneca; Kevin Mawae; Ray Lewis; Ed Reed; Cortland Finnegan; Stephen Gostkowski; Leon Washington; Chris Johnson; Chris Samuels.

Southwest: Drew Brees; Adrian Peterson; Jamaal Brown; Leonard Davis; Andre Gurode; Wes Welker; Jason Peters; Brian Waters; Shaun Rodgers; Shane Lechler; Ryan Pontbriand and Kevin Williams.

West: Chris Cooley; Jordan Gross; Steve Smith; Lance Bruggs; Jeff Feagles; Marshawn Lynch; Tony Gonzalez; Joey Porter; Terrell Suggs; Nnamdi Asomugha; Brendon Ayanbadejo; Jared Allen; Clifton Smith; Mike Sellers; Michael Roos and Troy Polamalu.

The data reinforces a lot of the perceptions out there: Florida cranks out speed; the Midwest produces a lot of great O-linemen (seven of the 21 Pro Bowlers are from the region) and there aren't a lot of players from the Northeast. That's not to say that many top West Coast prospects may not get undervalued some by recruiting analysts, but by and large it does appear the best talent is coming from the South.


• Georgia's tight ends won't be left out of the Dawgs' offense again, writes David Hale:

"The notion that the tight end could disappear from the playbook seemed like an absurd notion a year ago. During the previous decade, Georgia had established itself as a factory for top talent at the position, with players like Randy McMichael, Ben Watson and Leonard Pope dominating SEC defenses before moving on to become major contributors in the NFL. The trend came to a screeching halt last season, however, for myriad reasons. Injuries on the offensive line increased the reliance on the tight end as a blocker. Meanwhile, injuries to the tight ends left the depth chart particularly thin, while Georgia's offense featured numerous playmakers at other positions."

I suspect blue-chip TE prospect Orson Charles, who is still considering UGA, has seen this article or heard about it in one shape or another. Charles, by the way, is no longer considering Florida, ESPN affiliate Web site reports. He will now decide between Georgia, Tennessee and USC.

• Tough news for new Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. He lost his best player, Arthur Jones, to a weightlifting injury.

"Orange defensive tackle Arthur Jones sustained a torn left pectoralis muscle while lifting weights on February 23. An MRI confirmed the tear, and surgery has been scheduled for next week. Future information regarding Arthur's recovery and activity level will be released as progress warrants."

Jones was the dominant player when SU beat Notre Dame in South Bend. He's also the brother of rising MMA star Jon Jones.

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