2021's recruiting STATE CHAMPS MAP, based on rankings

Who's CLEANING UP IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD? And who's INVADING THE OTHER TEAM'S BACKYARD? Let this map determine regional recruiting superlatives.

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The oddest recruiting year ever ended with the second (and now less important) National Signing Day on February 3. For one thing, the pandemic meant many prospects committed to schools they’d never visited in person. For another, rapidly loosening transfer rules meant teams probably took fewer prep recruits than normal, with fewer chances to evaluate high schoolers and an easier path to landing transfers.

Maybe the only thing about the class of 2021 that won’t be unusual: You can still argue about it.

As such, I’ve combed through the 247Sports Composite player rankings for every state and picked out RECRUITING CHAMPIONS for each. Which team recruited each state best, going solely off the closest thing we have to consensus player ratings?  Here’s a map:

(Graphic design is my passion.)

This map is not an exhaustive portrait of recruiting. Some teams mostly ignore their own states and thus lose them to lesser recruiting programs. This is just the cost of doing business, and programs that are good enough to recruit nationally can afford being losers on our map. Here’s how I picked every team on the list: 

  • Alabama: Alabama signed the top two prospects, three of the top seven, and four of the top 12, locking down much of its home state even as it went national for the highest-rated class since they started tracking these things

  • Alaska: The state had no rated players this year. Usually, in these cases, I see if the Gatorade Player of the Year signed somewhere. There doesn’t appear to be a Gatorade POY list for the 2020 season, however. So we default to giving this honor to Alaska’s greatest team, the good dogs of The Iditarod. 

  • Arizona: Oregon inked the top two prospects and three of the top five. 

  • Arkansas: Arkansas let the state’s #1 player sign with Texas A&M but still did enough by signing three of the top seven and four of the top nine. 

  • California: A year after getting out-recruited in its own state by Arizona State, USC did more or less what USC should do, signing the nation’s #1 player, SoCal defensive end Korey Forman, plus eight more top-20 players from California. Congratulations to Clay Helton on his impending six-year extension. 

  • Colorado: It’s open season here, but Colorado signed two of the top seven players, and that seems like enough, given that nobody else appears twice in the top 10. 

  • Connecticut: Michigan signed the state’s top two prospects, continuing what’s been a pretty nice little private school pipeline in this state for Jim Harbaugh. 

  • Delaware: This state has no rated players. It feels clear that the best recruiter from Delaware over the last year was Joe Biden. Unfortunately, Moon Crew LLC was charged $10 in tolls for mentioning Delaware in this newsletter. 

  • District of Columbia: Maryland signed three of the top five players from the District, though Oklahoma got the nation’s #1 QB in D.C.’s Caleb Williams. 

  • Florida: Alabama signed the top two and three of the top eight. Eat at Arby’s. 

  • Georgia: Georgia landed three of their home state’s top four players, who also happen to be three of the state’s four five-stars. This will be uplifting during a challenging time for diehard UGA football fan and erstwhile senator Kelly Loeffler. 

  • Hawaii: Nobody signed much of a cluster near the top of this state’s rankings, so we award it to Nebraska, which signed the #1 player. Congrats to more or less America’s most landlocked state for this island victory.

  • Idaho: Nobody signed more than one ranked player, and Utah signed the top guy. 

  • Illinois: Minnesota signed two of the top five players. 

  • Indiana: Notre Dame landed the comfortable #1 player in the state, plus #11. Indiana put on a decent show with #2 and #7, however. 

  • Iowa: The Hawkeyes signed players #4 through #7, but am I about to give this to Nebraska, which got the #1 guy and also #8? Am I picking Nebraska largely for retweets? Who can answer life’s biggest questions? 

  • Kansas: Kansas State got seven of the top 11 players. KU got the #1 player, which is somewhat less stunning than it sounds, because he’s from Lawrence. 

  • Kentucky: Kentucky cleaned up, signing the #1 player and six of the top eight, with interruptions only from Ohio State and fellow bluegrass program Cincinnati (don’t look it up).

  • Louisiana: LSU grabbed the top three Louisianans, something Ed Orgeron really needed after a steep backslide on the field. 

  • Maine: No rated players here, so we honor a Dancing Lobster from The Amanda Show, which once aired with valor on NFL broadcast partner Nickelodeon. 

  • Maryland: This state was wide open, but Penn State got the #1 player and also the #15 and #16. It’s kind of interesting, because Maryland thrashed Penn State in 2020. Perhaps high schoolers aren’t actually that obsessed with who wins a head-to-head game before they arrive on campus? Because they’re doing other things on Saturdays? Maybe, yeah. 

  • Massachusetts: Noted recruiting force Boston College got the top player and also #4 and #9. 

  • Michigan: Well, Bama got the state’s only five-star. This blog chooses to reward Michigan for signing four of the next six highest-rated players. 

  • Minnesota: #1 and #5 landed with Wisconsin

  • Mississippi: LSU has a case, but let’s ride with Ole Miss for signing three of the top eight.

  • Missouri: Mizzou followed a nice season by signing five of the top 11 in its own state. 

  • Montana: BYU signed the top-rated player. There were only two rated players. 

  • Nebraska: Nebraska did its usual Nebraskan thing, signing five of the top seven, though the Huskers lost to Oregon for the top-rated player. 

  • Nevada: Wide open, but Oregon signed the #1 player. 

  • New Hampshire: Nobody’s ranked here. New Hampshire’s best recruiting trait is being close to Vermont

  • New Jersey: Rutgers signed two four-stars and seven of the state’s 20 best prospects, which is more or less what Rutgers wanted when it brought back Greg Schiano. 

  • New Mexico: New Mexico signed four of the state’s nine rated players. 

  • New York: Syracuse got three of the top eight. 

  • North Carolina: UNC signed two of the top three and six of the top 10, while competing mainly with Clemson for the state’s best talent. 

  • North Dakota: Kansas State signed the only rated player in Chris Klieman’s old state.

  • Ohio: Ohio State did whatever it wanted and got five of the top six. 

  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma signed two of the top five players, but, uh, Arkansas got the #3 prospect and three more in the top nine? Count it for the Hogs. 

  • Oregon: This one’s tricky, but I think the best case is for Oregon State, which had signed three of the top eight players in the state as of this writing. UO did, however, get the far-and-away #1 prospect in four-star linebacker Keith Brown.  

  • Pennsylvania: Ohio State wins out with two of the top five players, as Penn State went through a weak cycle of recruiting its own state. 

  • Rhode Island: Notre Dame has a signature from the lone rated player .

  • South Carolina: UNC walked away with two of the top four players in the other Carolina, rounding out the #14 overall class. 

  • South Dakota: Nebraska got the higher-rated player from a state with only two rated prospects. 

  • Tennessee: Clemson got the state’s #1 player (who’s also the country’s #1 tight end) and #5 prospect, too. Tennessee has been fruitful terrain for the Tigers for a while. They’ve landed several stars (Trevor Lawrence, Tee Higgins, Travis Etienne, and Amari Rodgers) who grew up wanting to play for … Tennessee.

  • Texas: Alabama was all over this state and signed four of the top 13 players, including #1. Fear not, Texas fans, for Steve Sarkisian is surely the person responsible for Alabama’s bounty in your state. Just like he won the Heisman.

  • Utah: Oregon ventured south and got three of Utah’s top four players. The Ducks appear to have some momentum here after landing Penei Sewell in 2018 and helping him develop into the best offensive lineman in the country. 

  • Vermont: With no rated players once again, Bernie Sanders’ immense organizing talents continue to earn him billing as Vermont’s best recruiter. 

  • Virginia: This state is often a free-for-all and was again in 2020, but Ohio State signed the #2 and #6 players Virginians to get the nod. 

  • Washington: It’s quite possible Ohio State will sign the state’s #1 player, J.T. Tuimoloau, by the spring. But Washington already has four of the top eight. Sorry, Buckeyes. Meet your deadlines. 

  • West Virginia: Marshall is the only team with multiple rated signees and seems to be in the mix to add another from the state’s #3 player. (Rules about deadlines no longer apply.) This coup vaults the Herd past WVU. 

  • Wisconsin: Wisconsin signed the state’s top six players.

  • Wyoming: The state’s sole rated player signed with Wyoming. Go Pokes.

Congrats to the scholar-warrior-poets who signed with your school. You can look forward to four great years of them beating on the money-grubbers who signed with your disgusting rival.