The 12 Best Recruiting Hotbeds in College Football
College coaches not only coach players on the field, but they also serve as essentially the scouts for the program. The great ones do not waste time on the recruiting trail, as they know exactly where to go for the best talent.
Football is a sport played all over the country, but certain areas produce better players than others. College coaches are not going to comb over Maine, nor will a program have several coaches recruiting Idaho. Hotbeds are where the talent is, and coaches spend most of their time recruiting from those areas.
Some hotbeds actually are hotter than others. One state known for producing elite talent is such a hotbed that it has to be broken into various sections. Another state is so large, and produces so much talent, that its hotbeds are essentially endless. A few surprises will also arise as this list unfolds.
The Carolina States
The Carolinas seem to produce great pass-rushers, as defensive ends such as Julius Peppers (North Carolina) and Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) are from this hotbed region.
The 2014 class features Kentavius Street and Lorenzo Featherston, who are from North Carolina. Also, the quarterback Will Grier, linebacker Christian Miller and running back Elijah Hood are from the Carolina region.
South Carolina and Clemson dominate the region's recruiting trail, but North Carolina and North Carolina State have the ability to win some battles.
A great area for talent inside Georgia is Atlanta, but the state plays exceptional football as a whole. The game is a big deal to Peach State players, and Georgia reaps the benefits of the talent in its backyard.
SEC schools likely have multiple coaches scanning the state for prospects, as past players from Georgia include defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
The 2014 class boasts Georgia natives defensive end Lorenzo Carter, quarterback Deshaun Watson and linebacker Raekwon McMillan as elite recruits from the state.
The DMV Area
The area of Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia is commonly known as the "DMV" College coaches know the area well, as it quietly produces outstanding talent.
Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and cornerback Ronald Darby were elite recruits in 2012 who hailed from the DMV area. Randy Edsall convinced receiver Stefon Diggs to stay home and play for Maryland, as the DMV recruit had national offers in 2012.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is a 2013 Heisman candidate who is from Virginia, as is Hall of Fame pass-rusher Lawrence Taylor.
Cornerback Jalen Tabor, offensive tackle Damian Prince and defensive end Da'Shawn Hand are recruits in the 2014 class who are from the DMV area.
The state of Louisiana is one of the best in the country for college football prospects. The state produces fast athletes, as well as solid offensive and defensive linemen.
However, the key hotbed in the state is New Orleans. Running back Leonard Fournette, receiver Speedy Noil and defensive lineman Gerald Willis are outstanding recruits in the 2014 class who are from The Big Easy.
LSU's ace recruiter, running backs coach Frank Wilson, does not have to comb over New Orleans, because great football talent in the city is as common as a bowl of gumbo.
Florida is one of the "Big Three" hotbeds, and the state produces so much talent that college programs charge multiple coaches with the responsibility of recruiting the state.
Past great players from North Florida include running back Trent Richardson, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, linebacker Ernie Sims and Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith.
Lincoln High School in Tallahassee is a great program in North Florida. Jacksonville is located on the northeast side of the state, and it is where 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow played high school football.
Offensive tackle David Sharpe and linebacker Kain Daub are 2014 recruits from Jacksonville.
A great high school football program in Central Florida is Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando. Alabama safety Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and running back Dee Hart are alums of the school.
Former Florida Gator offensive linemen Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, who play for the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively, are from the Central Florida city of Lakeland.
Tampa is another Central Florida city where a college program can find great talent.
The region of South Florida is dominated by the city of Miami and its surrounding suburbs. Miami has produced some of the best players in college football and the NFL.
Running backs Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook are 2014 recruits who hail from the Miami area. Prospects from South Florida are as athletic, explosive and competitive as any in the country. This area is such a scorching hotbed that schools begin recruiting prospects from South Florida as underclassmen in high school.
Talent is so overwhelming in South Florida that Miami cannot sign it all, evidenced by Elvis Dumervil being a South Florida native who played at Louisville.
Ohio is a state that generally produces tough, hard-nosed football players who love the game. It's a blue-collar state, and its football recruits play with that same mindset.
The best place to get talent from Ohio is in Cleveland, specifically Glenville High School. Players such as 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, Carolina Panthers receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner are all former Tarblooders.
The program boasts 2014 recruits such as safety Erick Smith, guard Marcelys Jones and cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
St. Ignatius is another great program in Cleveland, which is a great sports town.
Pro Bowl linebacker London Fletcher is a Cleveland native.
It would take a completely separate piece to detail the various hotbeds in Texas, so for practical purposes, this will focus on the state as a whole.
From Dallas to Houston to San Antonio and other areas of the state, Texas is a dominant college football recruiting hotbed. Elite high school programs such as Katy High School, Lufkin High School, Southlake Carroll, Aledo High School and Euless Trinity all play great football and produce terrific talent.
Mack Brown has built Top Five recruiting classes on exclusively Texas recruits. Alabama and LSU have recently begun establishing themselves more firmly on the state's recruiting trail, and USC, Oregon, Ohio State and Michigan love recruiting in the state.
Georgia plucked Matthew Stafford from Texas in 2006.
Alabama is a state where football is the unquestioned king. Programs such as Hoover High School, St. Paul's Episcopal School, Prattville High School, Vigor High School and Carver High School are just several prime locations for elite college football talent.
Nick Saban has done an excellent job of building a fence around the state. Alabama frequently tussles with Auburn for a prospect, wins more fights than it loses and signs Top Five classes like clockwork based mainly on in-state talent.
Florida State is always lurking around Alabama looking for talent, as its campus is not too far from the state.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, one of the top prospects in the 2014 class, is from Alabama.
The Golden State is great for football because players can train all through the year due to the great weather. Sacramento, Oakland and San Francisco are great hotbeds in Northern California.
Grant Union High School in Sacramento is a powerhouse program that produces exceptional talent. Players such as Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson, Cal defensive tackle Villami Moala and NFL receiver Donte' Stallworth are all former Pacers.
Oregon plucked defensive tackle Arik Armstead from Northern California in 2012.
The 2014 class has elite prospects such as quarterback Keller Chryst, running back Joe Mixon and defensive tackle Nifae Lealao, among others, as its best recruits from Northern California.
Southern California is more than just Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the beach, as football players are all around the city.
Powerhouse programs such as Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei High School and Serra High School are just the tip of the iceberg. Schools usually assign major hotbed states such as Texas and Florida to multiple coaches on their staff.
However, Southern California is such a vital hotbed that schools deploy several coaches to the area to look for talent.
Cornerback Adoree' Jackson—who's originally from Illinois— is the best player in Southern California, along with athlete John Smith in the 2014 class.
Southern California prospects such as guard Damien Mama, linebacker Dwight Williams and tight end Tyler Luatua are also among the best at their position.