It's not that the teams covet the out of state players more; it's simply if the out of state team wanted to have a chance of beating the instate power, it had to offer the player first. By that same token, coaches understood that no one knows the top players in a state, like the instate teams, so teams were hesitant to offer players close to home for fear of placing a bull's-eye on players for out of state teams to target.
The information age has changed recruiting in more ways than one, but maybe the most obvious change is how much earlier the evaluation and offer process begins for colleges.
With legions of scouts across the country working in the media, and the fundamental understanding that it doesn't take 25 years of coaching experience to identify a high level college football prospect, colleges are offering and committing in state players earlier in the process than ever before.
The best example of the recent shift in the recruiting calendar may be the team with arguably the biggest home state advantage in all of college football, LSU.
The state of Louisiana produces the sixth amount of D1 signees of any state in the country. LSU is the sole BCS school in Louisiana and enjoys the highest ratio of D1 signees per BCS School of any state in the country.
LSU parlayed this bounty of talent in its home state into two BCS Championships in the '00s, and the Tigers are off to their fastest start ever within Louisiana. As of January 13, 2010, LSU had already secured commitments from seven members of the Class of 2011, all from the state of Louisiana.
By contrast, even with its stated in-state recruiting advantages, the earliest that LSU had reached its seventh commitment in previous classes was June 8th, for the Class of 2008.
LSU is hardly alone in this regard and it seems that many of the nation's top programs are following the lead of the king of the early commitment and staple of Top 10 classes every year, the Texas Longhorns.
Texas is the number one state in the country for producing D1 signees. If Texas were its own region in Scout, it would sign more players than the East region, the West region, and would be in a dead heat with the Midwest region. Only the South region, which dwarfs the others in total number of players would be safe from reach of the Lone Star State.
The dominant recruiting force in the dominant recruitable state has been the Longhorns for years. Year in and year out Texas identifies the top junior prospects in the state and brings them to Junior Day in February. More times than not, those players commit to Texas and the Longhorns are done recruiting by St. Patrick's Day.
The Longhorn motto: "We know who we want and we don't care who knows it; no one is beating us for a Texas kid anyway."
More colleges across the country are following the lead of the Longhorns including LSU, Florida, Ohio State, USC, Georgia, and others in traditional talent hotbeds. They realize with the information age upon us, they can't afford to wait on the top instate players, because in most cases they've already been identified by media sources such as Scout.com. Teams risk alienating instate players by being one of the last teams to offer them, rather than one of the first.
Scout has done its best to feed the information beast by being the first to release its rankings each of the last three years.
Scout released its first National 100 for the Class of 2011 in September of 2009. Those 100 prospects were listed alphabetically not yet ranked. We added to that list in December to include 600 prospects from around the country rated 3-Stars and above as the Scout 300 Watch List.
Staying ahead of the curve, Scout has ranked the Top 100 and expanded those rankings to include 150 prospects for the Class of 2011.
For those who have been keeping up with the Class of 2011 since Scout's first release last September, the No. 1 prospect in the country should come as no surprise.
DeAnthony Thomas (5-11/185) of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, Calif. has been the No. 1 prospect on the West Coast for three years running. Thomas, dubbed the Black Mamba in middle school, is the best two way player I've seen on the high school level since Ernie Sims of the Class of 2003. Sims went on to star at Florida State as a linebacker before being drafted in the first round by the Detroit Lions.
Thomas has the speed and instincts that he could conceivably be a 5-Star prospect at three different positions, running back, cornerback, and safety. I say only three, because I've never seen him run routes and catch the ball as a wide receiver.
Tim Jernigan (6-2/275) of Lake City, Fla. is Scout's number two prospect in the country and the top defensive lineman in another class that's full of them. It might be hard to top the Class of 2010 in which five of the Top 15 players were defensive linemen, but the Class of 2011 has matched that total, and Jadeveon Clowney (6-5/235) of Rock Hill, S.C. joins Jernigan in Scout's top five.
Who is off to the fastest start when it comes to recruiting the Class of 2011?
LSU has already secured commitments from five of the Top 150, with no other
team having more than two players on this list.