WSU RECRUITING IN FLORIDA: Why it makes sense

TWO OF THE FIVE known commits in the Cougs' 2014 class are from Florida. And that can make some WSU fans nervous because recruiting is geographically-based in large part. The argument is that when outside that comfort zone, BCS schools in closer proximity will land the better prospects, leaving little for others. But that just isn't true. And here's why Mike Leach and WSU can thrive in Florida...

A version of this article was originally published by CF.C back in 2010 -- it has been updated and rewritten to reflect the latest numbers and information.

CF.C pulled up the college of every prep player from the state of Florida who was on an NFL roster on Jan 1, 2013. Two of those players have since retired, and the total who prepped in Florida comes out at 220 players.

That's a lot. The top three states are tightly bunched: California (268); Texas (235) and Florida (220). The next highest state is Georgia (113).

Of those 220 Florida players, where they went to college will probably surprise you.

WHILE THE Sunshine State's big three of Miami, Florida and Florida State are naturally, well represented, only 31 percent of the 220 future NFL players went there. And if you increase the pool by adding 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, the final tally still doesn't account for half of the NFL Floridians.

Indeed, there are a robust 118 NFL players from Florida high schools that went to colleges elsewhere.

Of those 118 pros, 67 of them came from 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.

Another 27 came from there schools: 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.

Most Washington State recruiting fans probably don't want to see the Cougars recruit against Miami, Florida and Florida State day-in and day-out. And they won't. But what about those other schools?

Would any Cougar fan not give an enthusiastic endorsement to Wazzu competing against the likes of East Carolina, Rutgers, Central Florida, Maryland? How about Abilene Christian, Marshall, South Carolina State, Washburn, Florida Atlantic, or any of the others?

THERE'S ANOTHER IMPORTANT SIDE to all this as well. This only takes NFL players into account. And each and every college football program, no matter who you're talking about, has had a slew of guys over the years who have been outstanding, difference-making college football players who never went on to play in the NFL, let alone fame and glory.

How many of those guys went to the North Carolina State's, South Florida's, Troy's and Louisville's of the college football world -- as opposed to Miami, Florida, FSU, plus any other traditional college powerhouses you want to include.

That number is one helluva lot higher than 118.

THIS OF COURSE doesn't guarantee Florida prospects who come to Wazzu will become for-sure, undeniable success stories. The WSU coaches still have to hit on their evaluations. The players still have to work their tails off to develop into upper echelon Pac-12 football players. There's a whole lot that goes into getting from here to there.

But what it does reveal, borne out by cold hard numbers, is that an exceedingly deep pool of legit future college football talent is chasin' rabbits and wrestlin' gators out there in Florida.

And they all know the name of Mike Leach.

If they play their cards right, the Cougs can not only land them, they can also reap large benefits come Saturday afternoons.

Look again at the schools where many of those 118 players come. A whole lot of what has become proven Florida talent did not go to the schools many recruitnicks thought they did.

Meantime, it's still early in the WSU class of 2014, and the Cougs already have two Florida preps on the commit list.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • This article was originally written after four players from Florida verbally committed to former coach Paul Wulff's 2011 class. Two of them, MLB Darryl Monroe and WR Isiah Myers have become mainstays and solid performers with three- and two years of eligibility remaining, respectively. Two others, Henry Eaddy and Spencer Waseem, didn't pan out and are no longer with the program.

  • The two known 2014 WSU commits from Florida are QB Peyton Bender, who was also offered by Penn State, and WR Keith Harrington, whose other offers included rides from Arizona, Boise State, Wake Forest, Marshall, Indiana and Ball State.

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