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Five-Star History: Florida rates as the top state

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

Derwin James
Derwin James (USA TODAY Sports Images)

This week, is releasing a series looking at every high school five-star in company history dating back to 2002. Fourteen states have never produced a five-star. After the bottom 24 states, the next 10 were released on Tuesday, followed by California as the No. 3 state on Wednesday, Texas at No. 2 on Thursday and now Florida has been named the No. 1 state for five-stars in company history.

It’s important to note Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy recruits are categorized by their home state as to not give Florida a falsely-inflated number.

RELATED: Texas takes No. 2 spot | California is No. 3 | Georgia at No. 4 | States that produce the fewest five-stars


Total five-stars: 89

Florida State (23): Tarvarus McFadden, Chris Davis, Pat Watkins, Ernie Sims, Dalvin Cook, Dishon Platt, Xavier Lee, Fred Rouse, Jacques Patrick, Nigel Bradham, George Campbell, Travis Rudolph, Matthew Thomas, Ermon Lane, Akeem Dent, Derwin James, Christian Jones, James Wilder, Jr., Karlos Williams, Leon Washington, Lamarcus Joyner, Antone Smith, Jacobbi McDaniel

Florida (15): Vernon Hargreaves II, Martez Ivey, Joe Cohen, Andre Debose, Matt Patchan, Torrey Davis, Gary Brown, Ciatrick Fason, Matt Elam, Andre Caldwell, James Wilson, Dee Webb, Tim Tebow, CeCe Jefferson, Dante Fowler, Jr.

Miami (11): Ryan Moore, Lorenzo Lingard, Tracy Howard, Randy Johnson, Devin Hester, Willie Williams, Chad Thomas, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Kenneth Phillips, Marcus Forston, Mark Pope

Alabama (10): Calvin Ridley, Eddie Williams, Trent Richardson, Jerry Jeudy, Patrick Surtain, Demetrius Hart, Alex Leatherwood, Hasean Clinton-Dix, Trey Sanders, Evan Neal

Clemson (7): Mike Bellamy, C.J. Spiller, Deon Cain, Sammy Watkins, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Tony Steward, Fred Davis

Ohio State (6): Trevon Grimes, Shaun Wade, Nick Petit-Frere, Tyreke Johnson, Nick Bosa, Michael Brewster

Georgia (4): Tyson Campbell, John Theus, James Cook, Sony Michel

LSU (3): Patrick Johnson, Kevin Toliver II, Xavier Carter

USC (3): Leon McQuay III, Nelson Agholor, Keith Rivers

Notre Dame (2): Sam Young, Greg Bryant

Auburn (1): Byron Cowart

Ole Miss (1): Laremy Tunsil

Tennessee (1): Demetrice Morley

West Virginia (1): Noel Devine

Uncommitted (1): Damarkcus Bowman


The narrative that the state of Florida is being raided by national programs does not exactly line up with the facts, as Florida State leads the way with far more five-stars than any other program in the state. Florida and Miami have also done well in the Rivals era, as the Gators and Hurricanes are second and third on the list, respectively.

But there has been a dramatic shift in the last few recruiting cycles, as Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia have had tremendous success landing five-star players from Florida while the in-state programs have largely fallen off, probably because all three programs have lost some cachet on the national scene.

In the 2019 recruiting class, two in-state five-stars went to Alabama and one to Florida State. In the loaded 2018 class, Georgia landed two, Ohio State got two, Miami got two and then Alabama, Oklahoma and Clemson got one each as Florida State and Florida were left out. In 2016 and 2017, the Buckeyes got three five-stars.

Still, over the company’s history dating back to 2002, in-state five-stars who don’t attend IMG Academy are largely staying close to home, with Florida State being the big winner. The only out-of-state program to land double-digit five-stars during this stretch is Alabama with 10, and that trend might not stop since many of them have been developed into top NFL prospects.

Clemson has done really well in Florida in recent years - and the Tigers just landed a commitment from five-star cornerback Fred Davis from Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian - and so have Ohio State and Georgia, but no other programs have had any large measure of success.

There is no question Florida is a battleground state for recruiting and arguably the most intriguing state in the country. National powerhouses have had tremendous recent success there while over a long period the in-state programs have largely dominated. One wonders if those in-state schools return to national relevance, will those elite players decide more often to stay home and play for the Seminoles, Gators or Hurricanes?


There is no doubt Florida is No. 1 in history when it comes to producing five-star talent and producing college and NFL stars.

The list is beyond impressive as you can see ranging from Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman and two national titles, to players like Derwin James and others who were high draft picks. Heck, Devin Hester is already retired and likely headed to the Hall of Fame and guys like Leon Washington have already carved out excellent NFL careers.

Florida State, Miami and Florida have done a good job recruiting but you can’t help but look at Alabama’s list with Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and high draft picks like Trent Richardson. I’m a little bit surprised Georgia and Auburn haven’t had more success with five-stars in the state, but at least for the Bulldogs that seems to be close to changing.

Florida has the in-state edge right now as the hot program, so we will see how that helps them moving forward. Clemson has become a national recruiting power and the Tigers will continue to get theirs. The recruiting battles for players in the state of Florida is, by far, the most intriguing thing to follow in recruiting, and by just looking at this list, it's easy to see why.