OSU to state of Florida: Here we come

THE BIGGEST NAME assistant Gary Andersen has hired, most would agree, is d-coordinator Kalani Sitake. Meanwhile, new running backs coach Telly Lockette, the last assistant coach hire, made a much smaller ripple. But Lockette may end up proving to be an absolutely monster pick-up when it comes to the big picture at Oregon State. Think recruiting. And think Florida.

The three states that produce the most NFL players (coming from that state’s high schools) are California, Florida and Texas, in that order. The three were tightly bunched (215; 205; 172 respectively in 2014) and there’s a deep drop to No. 4 (Georgia, 101).

California will always be the heart and soul of Oregon State recruiting due to proximity and other factors. But it’s what you do with the ancillary areas that often pushes things over the top. Texas is also going to be a key proving ground for OSU when it comes to the ancillary areas, the coaching staff has ties there too. But Florida is the most intriguing from this chair.

When you look at the players in the NFL that came out of Florida high schools, there’s a whole lot of them that didn’t go the “big” schools. A study a couple years ago noted at that time only 31 percent of the future NFL players from the state’s high schools went to Florida State, Florida and Miami. Add in Texas, Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, LSU and others generally considered among college football's upper echelon who recruit the state of Florida -- and you still didn’t hit the 50 percent mark. So what schools did the majority come from?

A whole bunch of them came from the college football programs at Central Florida, North Carolina State, South Florida, East Carolina, Louisville, West Virginia, Pitt, Florida International, Iowa State, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Maryland, Troy, Illinois, UNLV, Duke, K-State, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Connecticut and Cincinnati.

Others went to Samford, Bethune-Cookman, Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Michigan, New Mexico State, Appalachian State, Eastern Michigan, Saginaw Valley State, Tennessee State, Mount Union, North Alabama, Abilene Christian, Kentucky, Marshall, South Carolina State, Washburn, Florida Atlantic, The Citadel, Central Michigan, Illinois State, Florida A&M, Fort Valley State, Tuskegee, Hampton and Carson-Newman.

No one expects, nor should want, Oregon State to go stomping into Florida and try to out-recruit the big boys already there (literally and figuratively.) But of the schools listed in the above two paragraphs, is any Beaver fan scared of recruiting against those schools?

Those “other” schools, the ones that made up more than half of the NFL Floridians, illustrates in compelling fashion there is great talent in Florida beyond what the “big” schools land. Yes, it will mean the Oregon State staff will have to be great evaluators too, but think of the possibilities.

And now consider how Telly Lockette fits into the equation.

Lockette comes from South Florida, where he spent the past two years in his first collegiate assistant coaching job (also running backs.) USF had just three players on the roster from Miami-Dade County, a thriving recruiting hotbed, when he arrived on March 2, 2013. Lockette surpassed that number in just one recruiting season, helping sign four freshmen from Miami high schools to USF.

That’s in large part because before he came to USF, he was the head coach at Miami Central High, where he won 60 games and two state titles in five seasons.

And oh by the way, Miami is the No. 1 birth city amongst NFL players in 2014, followed by Los Angeles and Houston.

Starting to get intrigued by what Lockette might do for the Beavers in the 2016 class?

Other new assistants at Oregon State, such as new defensive backs coach Derrick Odum, also have ties to Florida, having recruited Florida for SMU (as well as Texas).

One more item, call it food for thought. This only takes NFL players into account. And each and every college football program, no matter who you're talking about, has had a ton of guys over the years who have been outstanding, difference-making college football players who never went on to play in the NFL.

How many of those guys went to the Central Florida's, the South Florida's, the Troy's of the college football world? How many of them might have instead opted for a school in the Pac-12, had they been offered?

If it was easy, everyone would do it. Recruiting is tough work and being successful at it requires loads of effort. But it’s also true there is recruiting gold in Florida. And with Lockette and the rest of his new OSU assistants, Gary Andersen is about to start staking Oregon State’s claim to it in 2016.

Andersen will also try to make a little Florida recruiting hay in the short time left before the Class of 2015 signs. Scout.com's Corey Bender reports Andersen in the last few days has offered Seffner, Fla. LB Jordan Griffin, who is verbally committed to Wisconsin and Dominic Sheppard, a three-star linebacker out of Miami's Gulliver Prep High. He too is verbally pledged to Wisconsin.

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