Five-Star History: Georgia a clear No. 4 in five-star production
This week Rivals.com is releasing a series looking at every high school five-star in company history dating back to 2002. We started with the bottom 24 states ranked in order. Today we release the next top 10 and then throughout the week it will be one state each until the No. 1 state for five-star talent comes out Friday.
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.
Below, we look at the next 10 states ranked in order from best to worst.
GEORGIA (47 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: The state of Georgia was in contention for one of the top three states nationally in producing five-star talent but the numbers are still a little lower than the others so in fourth position it sits. The state is an incredibly interesting one with all kinds of recruiting narratives and implications that should only be magnified in the coming years as more elite talent comes from there.
The Bulldogs still rule - and in a big way. Of the 47 five-star prospects from Georgia, the in-state Bulldogs have landed 19 of them. That counters a storyline that Clemson can come in there and get whichever recruit it wants although the Tigers have hit some major home runs especially in recent years getting Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson, AJ Terrell and others.
Ohio State has had some success in Georgia but only marginally with two five-star players - the same number as Michigan, Stanford and Tennessee. Surprisingly, Alabama has not been able to sign one five-star from Georgia while Auburn has gotten three. Receiver Jadon Haselwood became the first five-star from the state to pick Oklahoma in the Rivals era this past recruiting cycle.
Farrell’s take: Trevor Lawrence is the best I’ve ever seen at the quarterback position and easily the top guy out of Georgia for me. Quarterbacks have been big recently from Georgia with Jake Fromm, Justin Fields and Watson joining Lawrence. Oh yeah, and a guy named Cam Newton also hailed from Georgia. Defensive ends have been good as well with players like Robert Nkemdiche and Carl Lawson but there really isn’t a position the state hasn’t produced. Eric Berry is another all time great at defensive back. Georgia has made the big three of Florida, California and Texas into the big four with the Peach State included. That’s how much talent has emerged.
ALABAMA (27 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: A lot of stories have been written about Alabama not signing any of the three in-state five-stars last recruiting cycle and losing out on five-star receiver Justyn Ross in the previous recruiting cycle but the Crimson Tide still largely dominate in landing the state’s elite talent.
Out of the 27 five-stars in the state during the Rivals era, Alabama has landed 17 of them. Auburn has gotten five and then Georgia and Florida State have landed two each. Clemson got Ross, which was huge since he had a big freshman season en route to a national title. Things have changed recently with five-star talent in the state but Alabama still has a long track record and a whole lot to offer.
Farrell’s take: Things started to change for the state of Alabama right around the time Nick Saban arrived as head coach at Alabama because five-stars started to crop up and live up to the hype. Julio Jones is obviously one of the most memorable and comes to mind first when you think of five stars in Alabama but there have been many others. Jameis Winston led Florida State to a national title. This is a state that continues to be on the rise.
LOUISIANA (26 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: LSU has a tremendous in-state recruiting advantage and the Tigers have taken full advantage of it during the Rivals era landing 19 of 26 five-stars. That’s an incredible amount of domination at the highest level for the Tigers especially because some other powerhouse SEC programs are trying to steal players from there all the time.
Alabama has had the most success getting into Louisiana but even for the Crimson Tide it’s been marginal by getting Landon Collins, Cameron Robinson and Dylan Moses. Ole Miss, USC, Tennessee and Texas A&M have landed one five-star each since 2002. It’s clear LSU still runs the place.
Farrell’s take: Tons of NFL talent comes from Louisiana and most stay home as Alabama has been the only school to really put a dent into the Tigers stronghold. Some big-name guys like Ryan Perrilloux were massive busts but guys like Jarvis Landry and others are strong NFL players.
MARYLAND (20 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: The state of Maryland has been wide open for every program throughout the Rivals era and it remains so especially since the Terrapins have not won 10 games since 2003. Many of the top five-stars in the state have left for greener pastures and if Maryland could figure out a way to keep some more of them home it could go a long way in turning around the program.
Alabama and Maryland have landed three five-stars each. Penn State, Ohio State and Florida have gotten two. A handful of others got one. Two five-star uncommitted recruits are in this class in defensive end Bryan Bresee, who likely has Clemson on top of his list, and running back Marshawn Lloyd, who recently visited Maryland but has other programs involved as well.
Farrell’s take: Maryland started to emerge with defensive end Derrick Harvey and then No. 1 overall Derrick Williams but one of my all-time favorites was wide receiver Stefon Diggs who made a push towards No. 1 his year and stayed home to play for the Terps. Defensive linemen have been successful and Cyrus Kouandjio was one of the most athletically gifted offensive linemen I’ve scouted.
OHIO (19 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: The state of Ohio plays some of the best high school football in the country and it’s loaded with elite talent every recruiting cycle but surprisingly it has produced only 19 five-stars in company history dating back to 2002, one fewer than Maryland and just as many as Virginia.
And Ohio State has largely built a fence around the state to keep local talent home for the Buckeyes. Ten of the 19 five-stars have picked Ohio State including offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. this recruiting cycle and defensive end Zach Harrison in 2019. No other school has really gained traction. Michigan has landed two five-stars from the state but then no other program has gotten more than one.
Farrell’s take: Ohio State has the second best in state recruiting advantage behind only LSU in college football and they’ve made the most of it. Chris Wells, Kyle Rudolph, Ted Ginn and others have made the state famous for talent and many have done well in the NFL after earning five stars out of Ohio. The Midwest doesn’t produce a ton of talent but Ohio does it the best.
VIRGINIA (19 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: More top talent is coming out of the state of Virginia and national powerhouses like Ohio State, Alabama and Florida State have made significant dents in landing some of those players. The Seminoles have signed three five-stars and the Crimson Tide and the Buckeyes have gotten two each. Virginia Tech has landed two each as well.
Even though Virginia has not dominated on the field in recent years, the Cavaliers have done really well getting five-stars during the Rivals era. Six five-star prospects have signed with UVa in Kai Parham, Quin Blanding, Andrew Brown, Taquan Mizzell, Michael Johnson and Ahmad Brooks. In this recruiting class, five-star linebacker Antoine Sampah is uncommitted with Clemson and many others involved.
Farrell’s take: Virginia has had some major talent led by Percy Harvin and D’Shawn Hand who both ended up No. 1 in the country and Jonathan Allen had a great career at Alabama and became a first-rounder. The running backs have struggled a bit to live up to the hype but other positions have done well and I really liked some of the defensive backs out of Virginia like Quin Blanding and Macho Harris.
NORTH CAROLINA (18 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: The numbers are really close but surprisingly it’s been Florida that has done the best job landing five-star prospects out of the state of North Carolina with four.
But others are very involved in that talent-rich state as well as North Carolina, NC State and Clemson have all landed three five-stars in the Rivals era. The national champion Tigers have probably benefited the most from getting Stephone Anthony, a first-round NFL Draft pick, Dexter Lawrence, a possible first-round pick this year and K.J. Henry, a five-star defensive end who could be the next stud on Clemson’s defensive line.
Farrell’s take: North Carolina is considered a basketball state but look at the number of stars it has produced in football. Keenan Allen stands out as one of the best I’ve seen but I still regret that running back Todd Gurley isn’t on this list. He’s one of my biggest misses.
PENNSYLVANIA (16 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: Penn State holds a slight edge over Ohio State when it comes to five-stars from the state as the Nittany Lions hold a 5-4 advantage over the Buckeyes and the player that put PSU over the top was Micah Parsons, who was seriously considering Ohio State throughout his recruitment.
The battle could be evened up or extended by Penn State depending on what five-star receiver Julian Fleming decides this recruiting cycle. The Catawissa (Pa.) Southern Columbia standout lives about 90 miles from Penn State’s campus but the Buckeyes are not giving up by any means in his recruitment. Clemson, Alabama and others are also involved. Florida and Pitt have signed two five-stars each out of the Keystone State as well.
Farrell’s take: Pennsylvania has been interesting and Terrelle Pryor is still one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen. He could have been a star basketball player as well.
TENNESSEE (14 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: Six prospects from the state of Tennessee went to play for the Volunteers, more than any other team, but the last four five-stars and the last four No. 1 players in the state rankings have not picked Tennessee in their recruitment.
Still, the Volunteers lead the way with six followed by LSU with three and Florida State with two. The last two No. 1 players in the state who were five-stars were Cade Mays and Tee Higgins and they picked Georgia and Clemson, respectively. This cycle’s No. 1 is five-star linebacker Reggie Grimes, who has a lot of interest in Tennessee but also has tremendous connections to Alabama and other programs are involved, too.
Farrell’s take: Tennessee has really emerged as a producer of five-star talent and it’s only going to get better. Jalen Ramsey is probably the most athletic prospect I’ve seen from the state and there have been some surprising busts like Chris Donald. But with Tee Higgins and others, the new wave of talent seems far more stable.
MISSISSIPPI (11 FIVE-STARS)
Overview: Although it’s a border state and has dominated college football for many years, Alabama has surprisingly not landed any five-stars from the state of Mississippi. The team in Starkville sure has though. Mississippi State has landed five of the 11 five-stars in the Rivals era, all defensive prospects except for offensive lineman Charles Cross this last recruiting cycle.
Ole Miss is the only other school that has landed more than one - as the Rebels have gotten two five-stars in C.J. Johnson and Jerrell Powe. Five-star running back Cam Akers was ranked third overall in the 2017 class and he picked Florida State. Defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson was committed to LSU early in his recruitment but reopened things and numerous schools are now involved with the George County standout.
Farrell’s take: I love a lot of the talent that has come out of Mississippi like Chris Jones and Cam Akers and I think it’s probably the most underrated state of all on Rivals.com. The state produces a ton of NFL talent and guys tend to emerge a bit later than others. I think this number rises in the next few years.