Which States Have Produced the Most CFB 5-Star Talent in Recent Years?
Recruiting rankings do not define a player. They are, however, increasingly accurate and consistently show the upside of a prospect as he's headed toward college football.
And the ultimate goal is 5-star status.
For several reasons—volume, competition and exposure—California, Florida, Georgia and Texas are typically the states that produce the most top-rated talent. During the last four recruiting cycles (2017-20), that much has remained true.
But which state has developed the most 5-stars in that time frame? Also, what other states have had a few 5-stars enter the college game?
All data is from the 247Sports composite rankings. On-field production is not considered; this is strictly a measure of how talent is perceived coming out of high school.
T-10. Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia
Six states have produced a trio of 5-stars.
Arizona's group includes Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo and Texas running back Bijan Robinson. Rattler is one of 2020's players to watch, given the consensus expectation he'll replace Jalen Hurts at OU.
North Carolina saw a pair of 5-stars—linebacker Trenton Simpson and defensive end KJ Henry—choose Clemson, and running back Zamir White went to Georgia.
Offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. and defensive end Zach Harrison are Ohio products who headed to Ohio State. Offensive tackle Jackson Carman is the rare 5-star who evaded the Buckeyes, instead going to ACC powerhouse Clemson.
Pennsylvania has 2020's top receiver in Julian Fleming, along with two familiar names. Micah Parsons is a standout Penn State linebacker, and running back D'Andre Swift thrived at Georgia.
All three South Carolina 5-stars stayed in-state. Defensive linemen Jordan Burch and Zacch Pickens signed with South Carolina, and cornerback Derion Kendrick went to Clemson.
Two Virginia products in linebacker Brandon Smith and running back Ricky Slade headed for Penn State out of high school. Running back Khalan Laborn joined Florida State.
T-5. Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi
Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi and Tennessee have four 5-star prospects in this sample.
Nick Saban and Co. annually excel on the recruiting trail, but defensive lineman LaBryan Ray is the only recent Alabama 5-star who picked the Tide. Auburn landed quarterback Bo Nix, while Georgia snagged wideout George Pickens and offensive lineman Clay Webb.
LSU dominates its home state, though.
Wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., running back John Emery Jr. and receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. all stuck with the Tigers. Stingley and Marshall played key roles on the championship-winning 2020 team.
Maryland is a pass-rushing paradise, apparently. Chris Braswell and Eyabi Anoma signed with Alabama, Bryan Bresee chose Clemson, and Chase Young became a superstar at Ohio State.
Running backs Jerrion Ealy (Ole Miss) and Cam Akers (Florida State) hail from Mississippi. Linebacker Nakobe Dean picked Georgia, and Charles Cross went to Mississippi State.
Tennessee kept offensive lineman Trey Smith, but safety JaCoby Stevens chose LSU and Tee Higgins bolted for Clemson. Offensive lineman Cade Mays initially signed with Georgia, though he's since transferred back to his home state and Tennessee.
Nearly a dozen states produced three or four 5-stars, and that's no small feat. However, this slide is a reminder of the gap between the traditional four powers and everyone else. California checks in fourth, yet the state boasts 14 such prospects.
The 2020 class had Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Oregon linebacker Justin Flowe and Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.
California's top players are Oregon edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, USC receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, Alabama running back Najee Harris and Ohio State right guard Wyatt Davis.
Others of note are quarterback JT Daniels (who is in the transfer portal), Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips and former UCLA corner Darnay Holmes.
Texas has sent 17 top-rated prospects to the college level since 2017, and three programs have signed a majority of them.
Texas A&M landed offensive lineman Kenyon Green and defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal in 2019 and then receiver Demond Demas and defensive back Jaylon Jones in 2020. Texas has receiver Jordan Whittington and safeties Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster.
Ohio State has established a valuable presence in the Lone Star State with cornerback Jeff Okudah, linebacker Baron Browning and wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Six schools signed one Texas 5-star: Alabama (LB Drew Sanders), TCU (RB Zachary Evans), LSU (LB Marcel Brooks), Oklahoma (WR Theo Wease), Stanford (OT Walker Little) and Florida State (DT Marvin Wilson).
Florida comes with a mini-asterisk because of IMG Academy, a popular transfer destination for top prospects. Nonetheless, the 19 players are listed based on their last season of high school.
Understandably, the SEC and ACC are most successful here.
In 2020, defensive tackle Gervon Dexter stayed with Florida. Cornerback Elias Ricks went to LSU, D-tackle Jalen Carter chose Georgia and running back Demarkcus Bowman picked Clemson.
During this sample, Alabama has signed the most Florida 5-stars. That group is running back Trey Sanders, offensive lineman Evan Neal, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, linebacker Dylan Moses and wideout Jerry Jeudy.
Georgia brought in Carter, defensive end Nolan Smith and cornerback Tyson Campbell. Clemson has Bowman and defensive end Xavier Thomas. Miami and Florida State both signed a 5-star in running back Lorenzo Lingard (who has transferred to Florida) and defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, respectively.
The one exception is Ohio State.
Star corner Shaun Wade signed in 2017, and offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and safety Tyreke Johnson followed in 2018.
Considering the number of 5-stars the state of Georgia has had recently, it would've been impossible to completely control the state. Still, Kirby Smart and his staff have done a respectable job keeping talent in Georgia.
Of the 19 players, seven signed with the Bulldogs. They are OL Broderick Jones, DT Travon Walker, QB Justin Fields, OL Jamaree Salyer, LB Adam Anderson, DE Brenton Cox and S Richard LeCounte. Fields and Cox ultimately transferred, but the point remains.
Clemson has signed a Georgia 5-star in three straight classes, from defensive end Myles Murphy in 2020 to cornerback Andrew Booth to championship-winning quarterback Trevor Lawrence in 2018.
Several others have grabbed a top prospect from Georgia.
In 2020, tight end Arik Gilbert headed to LSU while defensive end Will Anderson picked Alabama. The 2019 class sent wideout Jadon Haselwood to Oklahoma, linebacker Owen Pappoe to Auburn, offensive tackle Wanya Morris to Tennessee, center Harry Miller to Ohio State and defensive tackle Chris Hinton to Michigan.
And in 2017, quarterback Davis Mills picked Stanford, while D-tackle Aubrey Solomon, now at Tennessee, signed with Michigan.