Ranking the 10 States with the Most Talent in the 2022 Recruiting Class
As the page turns toward the 2021 college football season, the off-field focus is squarely on the '22 recruiting class.
Tomorrow's stars have at least one high school season left to play, and, because of COVID-19 postponing some states' seasons until the spring, a handful of these guys could get two more years in front of their hometown crowds before heading to the collegiate gridiron.
When it comes to the states with the most talent, there are few surprises. The first four on this list are the most fertile for producing home-grown stars every year, though, sometimes, their positions at the top change.
Then there are others such as Pennsylvania and Virginia (and even Missouri and Tennessee, which would have finished 11th and 12th on this list) that have more talent than they normally produce.
B/R did an analysis of the 247Sports composite rankings of all 5- and 4-star players and assigned a number value for each. The 5-star players awarded that state five points, and a top-200 4-star player received three points. All other 4-stars were worth a point.
That's how we came up with the rankings of which states have the best crop of football players in the '22 class. So here are the richest areas.
10. North Carolina
The main ingredient to how North Carolina Tar Heels coach Mack Brown has been able to rebuild the program so quickly is no secret. He's keeping much of the top talent from in state home.
This state has been rich with an abundance of playmakers the past two recruiting cycles. The 2022 class is no different.
North Carolina has 27 points, edging Tennessee and Missouri, who both have 25 points.
Brown is going to have to work hard to keep the top two players in the state this year. Defensive tackle Travis Shaw and outside linebacker Jalon Walker both have 100 percent Crystal Ball predictions to Clemson.
Still, there is normally pressure to stay in state, and Brown has convinced several early commits to other programs to change their minds the past couple of seasons. Quarterbacks Drake Maye (was committed to Alabama) and Sam Howell (was committed to Florida State) are two examples.
Five top-200 4-stars grace this list, and the Tar Heel State has 12 4-stars overall. UNC has a pledge from just one of those, Malaki Hamrick. Tight end Benji Gosnell (Ohio State) is the only other 4-star prospect committed to a school.
Perhaps the early commits to non-UNC programs means this may be more of a battleground state than it has the past two years.
When it comes to truly elite talent, the state of Ohio doesn't have any 5-star prospects in the 2022 recruiting class. But the next wave of players is deep and talented.
That's good enough to land the state at No. 9 in the rankings.
Ohio's top three prospects are outside linebackers Gabe Powers and C.J. Hicks as well as cornerback Jyaire Brown, and all three of those defensive playmakers are already verbal commits to the home-state Buckeyes, who have the nation's top-ranked class early in the '22 cycle.
Four-star offensive tackle Tegra Tshabola is going to play for coach Ryan Day, too.
Receiver Kaden Saunders is headed to Big Ten rival Penn State, and there are several other 4-star players already pledged to schools, such as offensive tackle Blake Miller (Clemson), defensive end Trey Bixby (Minnesota), defensive tackle Derrick Shepard (Cincinnati) and tight end Elijah Brown (Alabama).
Overall, the state has 12 4-star players, with eight of them landing in the top 200.
Landing next on the list is Pennsylvania, which always has been known for playing quality high school football, but the emergence of the Philadelphia area as a hotbed for elite talent in the past few years has helped the state's ranking improve.
This year, Pennsylvania has 28 total points, tying Ohio. But it takes the eighth spot because it has a higher-ranked prospect: Enai White.
The 6'5", 230-pound defensive end is a 5-star talent being recruited by basically everybody in the nation.
But it's the depth of the talent behind him that has the state bursting at the seams with players who will wind up in the Power Five.
Running back Nicholas Singleton is a top-100 player who will be recruited by virtually everybody, and he has plenty of company.
James Franklin's Penn State Nittany Lions already have hit the state hard with pledges from 4-star wide receiver Mekhi Flowers, defensive end Ken Talley, receiver Anthony Ivey and dual-threat quarterback Beau Pribula. Rutgers has a commitment from 4-star linebacker Anthony Johnson.
Overall, the state has the one 5-star and 11 4-stars, including six in the top 200. This is a big-time year for a lot of players in the belly of Big Ten country.
The Commonwealth always puts out playmaking prospects, and the past couple of seasons have been no different. Last year, 5-stars TreVeyon Henderson (Ohio State) and Tristan Leigh (Clemson) hailed from Virginia. Two years ago, Chris Tyree (Notre Dame) was the big prize.
This year, Virginia has a load of top-shelf talent, enough to earn 34 points and place seventh on this list ahead of some other talent-rich areas. But it isn't just the Hampton Roads area that is churning out talent.
The D.C. area is loaded, too, and Manassas linebacker Shawn Murphy leads the way in the state. The 5-star player is the nation's 17th-ranked overall prospect. Offensive tackle Zach Rice joins him as a 5-star prospect, and neither player has committed anywhere yet.
As much as Mack Brown hasn't gotten off to a hot start as usual in North Carolina, he already has two massive pickups in Virginia with cornerback Tayon Holloway and receiver Tychaun Chapman. Running back George Pettaway is getting UNC predictions, too.
No other 4-star prospects are committed, but there are several. There are 10 total 4-star prospects, and seven of those are in the top 200.
It's going to be fun to watch everybody in this state and find out where they all wind up.
The Alabama Crimson Tide football brand makes it possible for coach Nick Saban to recruit anywhere he wants to across North America. You can say the country, but with one of the Tide's biggest stars (John Metchie) hailing from Canada, it's obvious the script A plays anywhere.
A lot of times, though, Saban can find his stars right at home.
The Yellowhammer State has churned out some good ones in recent years, and the 2022 cycle is no different. With Auburn breaking in new coach Bryan Harsin, Saban may be able to cherry-pick pretty much anybody he wants from the state, too.
Alabama has 38 total points, which means it's just outside the top five.
While the Tide have just one pledge out of the top four so far (linebacker Robert Woodyard), they are the favorites for the top three, as well. That group includes a pair of 5-stars in weak-side defensive end Jeremiah Alexander (No. 12 overall) and running back Emmanuel Henderson (No. 28 overall).
The only other 4-star player committed to anybody is offensive guard Lucas Taylor of Mobile, who is committed to LSU. There are three other top-100 players from the state and 12 total 4-stars.
Saban will be able to recruit the backbone of his class within state walls, and Harsin will try to help build his own program by doing the same.
Now, we're getting into the big dogs.
When it comes to college football players, there are few states around the country that churn out talent like The Boot. That's why LSU coach Ed Orgeron spends so much time and connects so well with the kids from his home state.
Plenty of top-shelf talent comes from that state, and in the '22 class, it's led by Tigers commitment Walker Howard, a 5-star pro-style quarterback whose father played signal-caller for the Bayou Bengals.
Though 5-star safety Jacoby Mathews hasn't pledged to anybody yet, it will be tough to turn down "DBU" in his home state, and the third-ranked player from the state is offensive tackle Will Campbell, who is also committed to LSU. So are cornerback Laterrance Welch and receivers Aaron Anderson and AJ Johnson.
One of the coolest names is Decoldest Crawford, a 4-star receiver also going to play for Orgeron.
Outside of the three 5-star prospects, there is an astounding 15 4-star prospects, and nobody has committed anywhere yet other than to LSU. This could be a massive year for Orgeron to keep the best talent in-house.
The Golden State of California always produces some terrific players, and last year's class was no different, led by the top overall player in Korey Foreman.
That's why USC had such a big haul; the Trojans did a good job keeping a lot of those players at home.
This year is no different. California is still loaded, but the state is a distant fourth on the list, a long way back of the top three with just 58 overall points. Even with four 5-star prospects, the class of 2022 just isn't as deep as some of the years before.
While the top overall player in the state (cornerback Domani Jackson) is committed to USC, others are headed elsewhere, at least for now. Five-star running back Raleek Brown is committed to Oklahoma, and pro-style quarterback Maalik Murphy is heading to Texas to play for Steve Sarkisian.
Tetairoa McMillan is the only other 5-star prospect in the state, and he is uncommitted.
Larry Turner-Gooden is a 4-star athlete headed to Arizona State, pro-style quarterback Justyn Martin is going to Cal and defensive end Gracen Halton is going to Oregon, but the remaining 17 4-star prospects on the list still have decisions to make.
As always, everybody from around the country is going to recruit the West Coast, and some kids will stay while others leave. But there aren't as many big names from Cali as there have been in recent memory.
It's no surprise which states encompass the top two on this list, but the Peach State continues to surge in recent years, and it's debatable whether it has surpassed California in depth of talent for college football prospects.
There's no debate in the '22 class.
Georgia is a strong third on the list with 84 points, blowing California's 58 total out of the water. Simply put, it's loaded, from metro Atlanta to the fertile grounds of South Georgia.
Suwanee's Travis Hunter is a 5-star cornerback and the nation's No. 4 overall prospect, and he's not sticking with the home-state Bulldogs, at least for now. He's committed to Florida State.
Still, coach Kirby Smart has done a good job recently keeping top players at home, so the Bulldogs will get their share. The No. 20 overall prospect is dual-threat quarterback Gunner Stockton from Tiger, Georgia, and after South Carolina fired Will Muschamp, he decommitted from the Gamecocks and pledged to UGA.
Athlete Deyon Bouie is another 5-star prospect committed to the Dawgs, as is high 4-star Tyre West, cornerback Marquis Groves-Killebrew, inside linebacker C.J. Washington, weak-side defensive end Darris Smith and outside linebacker Donovan Westmoreland.
Outside of the four 5-stars, there are 30 total 4-star prospects. Athlete Malaki Starks is the only 5-star prospect not yet mentioned, and he may be leaning to UGA, too.
Committed 4-star players include pro-style quarterback Sam Horn (Missouri), cornerback JaDarian Rhym (LSU), running back Antonio Martin (Georgia Tech), tight end Bennett Christian (Ohio State) and athlete Rashod Dubinion (Arkansas). There is plenty of talent to outfit a lot of the rosters in the Southeast.
One of the two states that eclipsed 100 total points is Florida. The Sunshine State has 107 overall points, which is a runaway for second place.
As always, there is an abundance of talent and speed, and it's why it's a shame that Florida, Florida State and Miami haven't been as good as they normally are lately. Meanwhile, teams such as Alabama and Georgia are poaching talent.
Florida churns out college football players like citrus fruits.
The '22 class has six 5-star players, and only two are committed to a team: Jaheim Singletary (No. 9 overall) to Ohio State, and athlete Sam McCall (35th) to Florida State. Defensive end Shemar Stewart (fifth), athlete Keon Sabb (13th), defensive tackle Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy (16th) and safety Kamari Wilson (25th) round out the 5-stars.
Beyond that, Florida boasts 43 4-star players, with 17 of them being in the top 200 overall players in the nation.
Florida, Florida State, Arizona State, Miami, UCLA and Penn State already have 4-star commitments from the Sunshine State, with perhaps the most surprising being the Nittany Lions' Drew Shelton (offensive tackle) and the Bruins' Jack Pedersen.
Tons of talent can be found across the state, and there are plenty of 3-star players good enough to make the leap, too. This state has so much talent, and it's why everybody spends so much time recruiting it.
The kings of high school football are also the kings at producing high school football talent.
No lights shine bigger and brighter than they do on Friday nights in Texas, and they love their football across the state. It's why there's so much potential for Steve Sarkisian with the Longhorns and why Jimbo Fisher is already loading up at Texas A&M.
Alabama, Ohio State and others poach talent from the Lone Star State every year, and there is still more than enough to go around. The Buckeyes already are doing major work in the '22 cycle with commits from the nation's top-ranked player, quarterback Quinn Ewers, and fellow 5-star receiver Caleb Burton.
That duo should be formidable in the Big Ten for a long time.
Ewers was committed to play for the home-state Longhorns, but when they let go of Tom Herman, he went elsewhere, and Sarkisian found his signal-caller in California.
Like Florida, Texas has six 5-star players, including uncommitted cornerback Denver Harris, guard Devon Campbell, outside linebacker Harold Perkins and offensive tackle Kelvin Banks.
The Horns (Evan Stewart, Jaydon Blue, Armani Winfield, Bryan Allen Jr. and Jaylon Guilbeau) and Aggies (Malick Silla, Conner Weigman, PJ Williams, Donovan Green, Bobby Taylor and Hunter Erb) are already making headway in state, but Georgia, Oklahoma and Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon and Colorado also have 4-star pledges.
There are 43 4-star prospects, including an astounding 26 in the top 200. Nobody puts elite players in college football quite like Texas.
Follow Brad Shepard on Twitter, @Brad_Shepard.