Proximity rules in recruiting

Most football prospects who commit early are kids who are enamored with their home-state university. This is understandable.

Equally understandable is the fact that universities in talent-rich states tend to get more early commitments than schools who lack this built-in recruiting advantage ... Tennessee, for instance.

That's why a ranking of early commitments entitled "Early Birds" written by Tom Luginbill and posted at ESPN.com yielded very few surprises.

Texas is regarded by many as the most talent-rich state in the union, so it is hardly shocking that Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns rank No. 1 on the Luginbill list.

Louisiana State University, located in a state which borders Texas and cranks out several dozen D-1 prospects of its own each year, checks in at No. 2. It doesn't hurt that Les Miles' team is coming off a national title.

Georgia may not get the hype some other states get but it produces as many quality prospects as just about anyone in the country. These prospects have helped Mark Richt mold a perennial powerhouse. This year his Bulldogs are ranked No. 3 on the Early Bird list, thanks primarily to Peach State commitments.

There's a reason Ohio State has played in the past two BCS national championship games, and that reason is that the Buckeye State produces superior talent on an annual basis. Jim Kressel has tapped into that talent on a regular basis, and he's doing so again this year. His OSU squad is ranked No. 4 on Luginbill's list.

Like Texas, California has a huge population and a glut of football talent. Pete Carroll has been hording that talent in recent years, and this year is no exception. His Southern Cal Trojans check in at No. 5.

The next member of the top 10 is a bit of a surprise. South Carolina isn't known as a hotbed for football talent, yet Tommy Bowden's Clemson Tigers come in at No. 6. Must be the Bowden name.

Oklahoma isn't noted for its homegrown talent, either, but the OU Sooners regularly feature outstanding personnel. The next four years should be more of the same. Bob Stoops' team checks in at No. 7.

You probably were wondering when a school from the Sunshine State would show up. Well, this is the spot and the beneficiary is another member of the Bowden family. Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles may no longer play like a national champion but they still recruit like one. FSU is No. 8.

Rounding out Luginbill's top 10 are a pair of perennial Big Ten powers – Michigan and Penn State.

The Southeastern Conference typically wins a lot of battles in the recruiting wars, and this season appears to be no exception. In addition to LSU at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 3, Luginbill lists Alabama and Auburn "on the cusp," along with UCLA, North Carolina and West Virginia.


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