The most talented athletes our country has to offer, are more often than not, bred from our largest cities. Though superstars can be found in even the most rural towns in the United States, our most dominant sports icons hail from our metropolitan areas.
The NFL's genetic wunderkind, wide receiver Andre Johnson, hails from Miami Florida. In the Magic City, he set records at both Miami Senior High School as a Parade All-American, and the University of Miami, where he was also a track and field standout, before becoming arguably the best wideout in the game today.
Over the next five to ten years, our growing American cities will be churning out top level talent in all sports. Whether it be a city of 230,000, or one of 1 million, odds are that America's global icon will be sculpted in one of our bustling, thriving cities.
Here are five cities that produce some of the finest athletes in our country's major sports, and one of these years, a mega star will be among them.
Sin City is a prime place for where the next burgeoning NFL superstar may emerge from. In direct correlation with its skyrocketing population, the city's high school athletics programs are also benefiting. Bishop Gorman High School has a nationally ranked football team, which is now known for producing division one prospects on a yearly basis.
Before breaking records at the University of Oklahoma, Dallas Cowboys running back and Bishop Gorman graduate, Gael DeMarco Murray, was rated as the nation's No. 1 running back coming out of high school. Since then, the city has sent football players to prestigious schools all over the country, including Southern Cal and Miami.
This year further proves the talent level is rising in Vegas. Bishop Gorman is a staple in ESPN and MaxPreps.com's national high school football rankings. They feature ballyhooed national prospects in offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley and Ron Scroggins, and running back Shaquille Powell, who are each being pursued by schools from coast to coast. Las Vegas High School dual-threat quarterback Hasaan Henderson is another hot name on the recruiting trail, fielding serious interest from Arkansas, Oregon and Washington, to name a few.
In a state where high school football is king, the Steel City must be "the godfather." Past and present NFL players Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Terrell Pryor all hail from the mecca of Pennsylvania high school football, and they are just quarterbacks who have made a national name for themselves here.
The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, or the WPIAL, pumps out professional football type talent annually, and has for years. The 136 public schools of WPIAL sends college ready athletes to our finest universities far and wide, and many of them end up playing in the NFL.
The city prides itself on its blue collar attitude, and you have to think that this characteristic gives the high school athletes here their edge on the football field. Whether it be from a city school, a down-on-its-luck steel town on the outskirts of the growing city, or a football-mad suburb, Pittsburgh has a very good chance of sending a National Football League Hall of Fame caliber gridiron star to the league in the very near future.
When it comes to cities with an illustrious football past, none can compare with the lineage and history of Miami. The Magic City's high school alumni is a "who's who" of past, current and future NFL athletes. Frank Gore, Dwayne Bowe, Andre Johnson, Santana and Sinorice Moss, Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle are just a few of the gridiron stars to claim roots in sunny south Florida.
In 2004, Willie Williams was tearing through the competition in Miami at Carol City High School. The unanimous No. 1 prospect in the country, the 6-foot-2-inch 230 pound linebacker was a sight to behold. He looked the part of scary talented prospect, and he played that way too. However, character issues derailed his career before it could even get started. If not for off-the-field issues, we could today be talking about Williams as a perennial Pro Bowl selection and dominant NFL linebacker.
Rest assured that another Willie Williams will rip through the city like a dangerous hurricane, and that day could be sooner than you think.
Florida's steadily growing city of nearly 350,000 people is one of the best professional sports cities in the entire country. The NFL's Buccaneers and MLB's Rays call Tampa home, but it' s the high school athletes here that prove to be top-of-the-line nationally.
Plant High School is a national name in high school football, having won Florida State Championships in 2006, 2008 and 2009. In the process, the school has sent quarterbacks Aaron Murray (Georgia) and Robert Marve (Purdue), tight end Orson Charles (Georgia) and running back/linebacker James Wilder (Florida State) all to major college programs. These three are the most decorated alumni to have a chance to play professional football at one point in their bright futures.
Many other high schools in the area are proving to be top-notch athletic factories, but my guess is that if an athletic prodigy rises from Tampa, they will don the black and gold of the Plant Panthers.
Louisiana's capital city is home to just about 230,000 residents. Most of these residents are die hard fans of the hometown, and state proud, LSU Tigers. The locals eat, sleep and breathe SEC football, and all the children here grow up wanting to be the next great Tiger.
In the state of Louisiana, many of the kids take pride in representing the state school, and many of the supremely talented wait on Les Miles to offer them their dream scholarship.
Growing up in the shadow of Tiger stadium also serves as an extra motivator in becoming a stud football player. This year, the gem of LSU's recruiting class is offensive lineman La'El Collins. The 6-foot-5-inch, 320 pound freshman has been called the best lineman to ever come out of Louisiana, and his roots are in the city.
He attended Redemptorist High School in Baton Rouge, dominating the city's talented players. He may end up being the "once in a generation" talent to make waves across the country, but it's too early to tell at this point. If he isn't, you can bet that there is someone working day and night on their football skills, feeling the intense pressure of Tiger Stadium breathing down their neck.