The battle over in-state recruits 

February, 5, 2013

Lane KiffinRich Kane/Icon SMILane Kiffin and USC currently have four commitments from California ESPN 150 prospects.
College coaches often tell me that in-state recruiting is a measure of health for a program. Central to that idea: When your state has elite prospects, are you getting some of them? Most? Any?

In fairness, Oklahoma, for instance, isn't annually going to match, say, Florida for the number of high-end FBS-ready players. Not every state is the same, just like not every program is the same.

But a look at the past five years of ESPN 150 prospects (2008-12), weighed against the 2013 crop that will sign and fax paperwork Wednesday, yields myriad interesting facts.

Which teams do the best at landing elite in-state talent? Which states get raided by out-of-state programs the most? And where do top prospects from the "big three" talent-producing states -- California, Florida and Texas -- go? We've got your answers to those questions, plus several more.

A look at the top-tier states

Three states -- California, Florida and Texas -- immediately jump to the top for the number of prospects, including high-value ones, that they produce each year. In particular, I wanted to see how in-state schools did in keeping those players at home -- even when faced with fierce competition from respected programs outside the states and regions.

California: The Golden State had 72 ESPN 150 prospects from 2008-12, with 51 of them (70.8 percent) sticking with in-state schools. That's an incredibly high figure, especially compared with what you'll see from Florida and Texas.

You might think that the number of solid programs in the state figured into that, but that is not necessarily the case. The Stanford Cardinal (three) and California Golden Bears (six) combined for just nine of the 72 signees. The UCLA Bruins chipped in with 12, 16.7 percent of the lot.

The USC Trojans, even with the transition from Pete Carroll to Lane Kiffin, still managed to retain a healthy number of elite local prospects -- 30 of them, or 41.7 percent.

The NCAA-mandated scholarship reductions are perhaps hurting the Trojans more in 2013. They've secured just four of the 14 "150" prospects (28.6 percent).