Bobby Pope

Peach State a power player in national college football recruiting

USA Today came out with its preseason high school All-America team last week, and Florida dominated the 50-player roster, which includes 25 offensive and 25 defensive players. The Sunshine State is credited with 12 players on the squad, but two are at the IMG Academy; one of those is actually from Georgia, and the other is from Louisiana.

Georgia placed four players on the team: 6-foot-4, 322-pound defensive lineman Derrick Brown of Lanier; Julian Rochester, a 6-5, 315-pound defensive lineman from McEachern; Kyle Davis, a 6-1, 218-pound receiver from Archer and his high school teammate, Dylan Singleton, a 5-11 180-pound defensive back. The Georgian at IMG is Isaac Nauta of Buford, a 6-4 230-pound tight end. All are being heavily sought after to play at the next level.

Also on the preseason team is Georgia quarterback commitment Jacob Eason of Lake Stevens, Washington. The 6-5, 205-pound Eason is considered by some as one of the best prospects ever to choose the Bulldogs.

Florida and Georgia have been fertile ground for college football recruiters through the years, and Georgia is producing more players, percentage wise, to the Power 5 conferences, plus Notre Dame (the Fighting Irish need to be in a conference) than our neighbor to the south. In pure raw numbers, Florida has a total of 670 players on rosters in the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 and at Notre Dame compared to 512 for Georgia. But Florida has approximately 20 million people to Georgia’s 10 million. The FHSAA has 702 member schools, while the GHSA has 454.

There are 65 programs in the Power 5 conferences, and at least one former Georgia high school player is on a 2015 roster at 57 of those. The programs where there are no Georgia players are Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Utah, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State, Texas and Iowa. Florida has no representatives at Baylor, UCLA, Colorado and Washington.

The SEC is the only conference among the Power 5 with more Georgia players than Florida. The Peach State list includes 229 to 203 for Florida. The Pac-12 shows Florida at 29 to 18; the Big Ten shows 79 to 40; the Big 12 shows 56 to 32; and the ACC shows 293 to 190.

As you would expect, Georgia and Georgia Tech have huge numbers in state while it’s the same for Florida, Florida State and Miami.

Georgia has kept 88 at home while Georgia Tech has 75. In Florida, the Gators have 84, Florida State 77 and Miami 69. But there are teams that have been able to raid Georgia and Florida for talent.

Auburn is the most successful by far in Georgia. The Tigers have 43 players from Georgia on this year’s roster, which is five more than they have from their home state. In the Big Ten, Purdue has eight Georgians, In the Big 12, Kansas State has six. In the Pac-12, Stanford has six. And in the ACC, Duke has 16.

Louisville has been the biggest culprit in Florida in the ACC taking 24 to the Blue Grass State. From the SEC, Kentucky has 18. From the Pac-12, Arizona has nine. From the Big 12, West Virginia has 22. And from the Big Ten, Purdue has 22.

Urban Meyer, the head coach of the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes, is beginning to make a push in Georgia and Florida for talent. His 2015 roster includes six players from each state, plus he already has commitments from three players in Florida for his 2016 signing class.

And back to Notre Dame, even though the Irish are located in Indiana, they don’t get many players from the Hoosier state. This year’s roster includes just 10. The Irish have seven players from Florida and three from Georgia.

Contact Bobby Pope at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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