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Midwest Spotlight: Five surprising talent hotbeds

Rivals national recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove highlights some surprising and under-the-radar talent hotbeds located in the Midwest region.

THIS SERIES: Five surprising talent hotbeds in the Mid-South



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Iowa doesn't have a reputation as a talent-rich state like Texas or Florida, but the numbers don't lie when you consider how many high school players from the state end up making it to the NFL with 20-plus Hawkeye State products currently on NFL rosters.

The elite talent in the area has finally been recognized coming out of high school as of late however, with the Des Moines area putting out multiple Rivals250 prospects over the past couple of years. Five-star Iowa standout Xavier Nwankpa and five-star Alabama starting left tackle Kadyn Proctor are both graduates of Southeast Polk. Iowa State quarterback JJ Kohl is also a Des Moines area graduate in the 2023 class from Ankeny High School.



Chicago has long been known for its production of NBA players and is a mainstay for producing lineman and tight ends as well. But, there has been a recent and impressive surge in highly-rated high school receiver prospects.

Current NFL receiver Alec Pierce was a 5.5 three-star from the Chicago area. Miles Boykin is a four-star from the Chicago area currently playing in the NFL. Then you have Kaleb Brown, Tyler Morris and Reggie Fleurima who were all four-star receivers in 2022. Current Illinois receiver Malik Elzy was a four-star in 2023 and 2024 four-stars Cam Williams, I'Marion Stewart and Kyan Berry-Johnson are all committed to Power Five programs. Class of 2025 receiver Talyn Taylor is the next in line from the area and is currently ranked as the No. 31 player in the 2025 Rivals250.



We know there is a plethora of talent that comes out of the St. Louis area and while nearly every position is represented on NFL rosters, running backs in particular have thrived at the college level and beyond.

Ezekiel Elliott is the first player that comes to mind for many, but the list spans far wider and goes back a long time. You can go back to the early 1990s with Hazelwood East grad Terrell Fletcher who led Wisconsin to its first Rose Bowl appearance in decades back before playing for the Chargers. Notre Dame's Kyren Williams and Michigan's Hassan Haskins are both productive NFL players from St. Louis.



Williams Nwaneri
Williams Nwaneri (Parker Thune)

Lee's Summit, Mo. is on an epic run of producing lineman on both sides of the ball, especially Lee's Summit North. Current Kansas City Chief and first-round draft pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah starred at Kansas State after playing his high school football at Lee's Summit High School.

Then you have the current batch of Lee's Summit North lineman products who are either making an impact at the college level or are slated to. Armond Membou is making a name for himself at Missouri after being a 5.7 three-star in the 2022 class. Current Oklahoma offensive lineman Cayden Green and five-star Missouri commit Williams Nwaneri are also Lee's Summit North products. Next up is current 2025 Oklahoma defensive line commit Ka'Mori Moore.



This one isn't necessarily fair in the broad scheme of things considering all three of this city's NFL products hail from the same family, but the Watt family has put Pewaukee on the map. Although none were viewed as elite prospects coming out of high school, they have gone to make quite the name for themselves at the college level and beyond.

J.J. Watt kicked things off and is likely a hall of famer. Next in line were Derek and T.J.. TJ is making quite the name for himself much like his brother JJ did previously and could end up being one of the best defensive players in Pittsburgh Steelers history.