Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
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Georgia a good place to see 5-star recruits
Recruiting, especially college football, is a sport of its own.
Our recruiting guru, Richard Davenport, gets more page views online than anyone else at this newspaper.
Part of that is it is a sport that changes almost daily and sometimes several times a day.
Also, it is a year-round sport.
There may be dead periods for coaches and athletes but not for those who report on it.
Recruiting, of course, is the lifeline of college athletics, and for as long as can be remembered, Texas has been heralded as the No. 1 state for finding great football players.
Generally, that was followed by, pick one, your choice, Florida or California.
Now comes CBSsports.com with a breakdown of which states have had the most five-star recruits the past five years, and it was a tie that included Florida.
Florida, the story said, gets an asterisk because it has the IMG Academy, a prep school that takes players from all over the country.
The website named the top 10 which turned into a top 15 because there was a six-way tie for 10th.
The state that tied Florida is also in the SEC football print and wasn’t surprising for those who follow college recruiting: Georgia.
Florida and Georgia had 19 five-star players.
The Bulldogs signed eight from Georgia, and of the remaining 11 from there, LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee all signed a five-star recruit from there.
Oh, of the top 15 states for producing five-star players, seven are in the SEC.
Clemson has signed one from Georgia each of the past three years including Trevor Lawrence, the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.
Of Florida’s 19, only four remained in the state, but Alabama signed five and a total of nine signed with SEC schools.
Texas was No. 3 with 17 of which six signed to play for Texas A&M. Alabama and LSU each signed one and Ohio State had the second-largest haul with four.
California was next with 14 five-star players, and two signed with Alabama.
The number drops big to four with four schools tied at No. 5.
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Maryland kept a fair number of their players in state, but it seems no one can keep the Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban and Georgia’s Kirby Smart out of their backyard. Although LSU has almost maintained the fence Saban said he had to have when he was the Tigers’ coach.
Also, Auburn and Texas A&M have signed a few five-star recruits.
The final six states, all of which produced three five-star players, are South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
A little surprising was in these states, Georgia had more success than Alabama. In fact, judging by recruiting five-star players, the Bulldogs should be winning the SEC championship on a regular basis.
The Dawgs have signed 22 five-star players in the past five years — Alabama 18, Ohio State 15, and Clemson and LSU 12.
Of Georgia’s total, eight were homegrown. If that wasn’t enough, they signed five-star players from Florida, Alabama and Tennessee, plus seven other states.
Yet, the Bulldogs have made the College Football Playoff once and Alabama all but once (five).
What all of this truly illustrates is the battle schools like Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have to keep up with those who have already established a local and national recruiting base.
For the Razorbacks, it means keeping all the good ones home and picking off players in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Missouri.
That starts with good relationships, and that’s something Sam Pittman and his staff appear to have.
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