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Friday, March 15, 2013
In B1G, it's all about Buckeye state

By Brad Bournival

The growing trend in the nation is to take athletes out of California, Florida, Georgia and Texas to build a football program.

But the Big Ten loves a Buckeye – or at least an athlete from the Buckeye State. And the numbers aren’t even close.

BuckeyeNation looked at the rosters of every Big Ten school in 2012 and our findings showed just how much Ohio is a hotbed in recruiting.

Ohio has 216 football players on Big Ten football rosters, easily the most of any school. Next was Illinois (138) and Michigan (131). Florida, which is out of the Big Ten footprint but is a pipeline for several conference programs, was fourth with 103.

Those numbers stick out more considering the populations of Florida (18.9 million), Illinois (12.86 million), Pennsylvania (12.73 million), are higher than that of Ohio (11.56 million), according to the 2010 census.

While some might look at the 74 Ohioans on the Ohio State roster as skewing the numbers, consider this: Even if those 74 are taken away, the Buckeye State still leads the way.

“There may not be that much of a difference in terms of the Ohio kid vs. the Illinois or Michigan kid, but the training might be different,” Shaker Heights (Ohio) coach Jarvis Gibson said. “A lot of our athletes are going year round to places like Raw Talent and Euclid Sports Plant to get bigger, faster and stronger.

“Almost all the Ohio athletes want to go to Ohio State and if they can’t go there, they figure, ‘I want to play against Ohio State at a Big Ten school.’”

While every university carried its own state, Ohio athletes were second on the rosters at Michigan State (28), Michigan (23), Indiana (17), Northwestern (17), Illinois (15) and Wisconsin (13).

While Michigan was third in the rankings, it should be noted 95 of those athletes played for either the Wolverines or Michigan State.

“The other guys are trying to keep up with Ohio State,” Gibson said. “They’re shooting to match Ohio State and if Ohio State is cleaning up with Ohio kids, the other schools now have to try to get some of those kids. Ohio State is the frontrunner to win the Big Ten, so to keep up with them they have to want the same kids.”

Michigan has long been a frontrunner in going after Ohio athletes. In 2013, the Wolverines landed nine athletes from the Buckeye State -- one more than their own state -- and have dipped into Ohio 46 times since 2008.

Michigan has landed four commitments in 2014 and one -- Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville) is from Ohio.

Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher, whose school has been a feeder program to Michigan for years, doesn’t see anything changing.

“Ohio is more a football area,” he said. “There’s more money pumped in and more of an emphasis on the game than in the state of Michigan, where we’re known for basketball. We have a lot of football up north, but people don’t go into the thumb to go get them.”