football Edit

Schools that best develop in-state recruits into draft picks

Marlon Davidson
Marlon Davidson (AP Images)

The NFL Draft is finished so now it’s time to review. Today, Rivals takes a look at which programs closed down the borders of their state and did a great job of keeping the best high school talent home to play college football.


MORE NFL DRAFT: Top 10 former four-stars selected | Top 10 former five-stars selected

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100




The state of Alabama is an interesting case study because the Crimson Tide have dominated college football but in this NFL Draft it was actually Auburn that had the most in-state players picked up. The Tigers had four in Noah Igbinoghene out of Trussville, Marlon Davidson from Greenville, Daniel Thomas from Montgomery and Prince Tega Wanogho, who played at Elmore (Ala.) Edgewood Academy.

Alabama had two big-time in-state stars in Henry Ruggs, the first wide receiver drafted among a loaded class, and then Anfernee Jennings, who played in Dadeville. Those six stayed home but others got out, too, as Florida took Lamical Perine, Kentucky got Logan Stenberg and then others left for Tulane, Southern Miss and even Tennessee State.



The state of Georgia was a mixed bag because the Bulldogs did relatively well – although they missed on some key targets as well – but many players left the state as well. Georgia landed some huge in-state targets in Andrew Thomas, Jake Fromm (who flipped from Alabama), Charlie Woerner and Tae Crowder. But Derrick Brown left for Auburn, Clemson got A.J. Terrell and Tremayne Anchrum, Alabama landed Xavier McKinney and everybody missed on Kyle Dugger, an early second-round pick who ended up at Lenoir-Rhyne. Florida and many other programs also did well in the state but Georgia is definitely a battleground state and the Bulldogs held their own.



There were 12 players who played their high school ball in the state of Louisiana and 11 ended up staying home for college as well. It’s a remarkable number and points out one thing: Louisiana might be the toughest state for outsiders to come in and poach top talent.

Seven in-state players went to LSU led by Justin Jefferson and Patrick Queen. Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech also had two players each in the draft as all four players came from in the state. The only one to get out was Hammond (La.) St. Thomas Aquinas’ Cameron Dantzler, who ended up at Mississippi State.



Michigan did a great job of keeping in-state talent home and then getting it to the NFL Draft. There were six total players from the state who went from playing in high school to college and only two got out. The Wolverines kept three players home in Michael Onwenu, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Mike Danna, who started his career at Central Michigan before going to Michigan. Michigan State was represented by Kenny Willekes, who played his high school ball in Grand Rapids, Mich.



There were seven draftees who played their high school ball in the state of North Carolina. Five stayed in the state for college and Tanner Muse went to Clemson, across the border in South Carolina. That has to be good news for in-state programs since the only one that got out was four-star defensive end Julian Okwara, who went to Notre Dame. NC State had two players in the draft in Larrell Murchison and James Smith-Williams from the state, Charlotte had two and Appalachian State had one.



Clemson puts a ton of top players in the NFL. But not many this cycle were in-state players. The Tigers had just one in offensive lineman, John Simpson, out of North Charleston (S.C.) Fort Dorchester.

The in-state kids flocked to South Carolina as the Gamecocks were represented by first-round defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who played his high school ball in Goose Creek, S.C., receiver Bryan Edwards from Conway, S.C., and linebacker T.J. Brunson from right in Columbia.



The Texas Longhorns did not necessarily do well with in-state prospects as Texas signed just two of 33 recruits who played high school football in the state but many other programs had nice showings. TCU and Baylor each had four. Texas Tech had just two but one was first-round linebacker pick Jordyn Brooks. Texas A&M had two as well. Houston (Josh Jones) and SMU (James Proche) were also represented.

It’s an impressive number of top players who stayed in the state but a concern is how many got out as well with Oklahoma taking CeeDee Lamb and Kenneth Murray out of high school and eventually ending up with Jalen Hurts as well.

Ohio State came in to get Jeffrey Okudah and J.K. Dobbins, LSU landed K’Lavon Chaisson and Colorado stole Laviska Shenault.



The sample size for the state of Utah is miniscule with only three players who played in high school and college from the state but it’s telling: All of them stayed home. Utah kept defensive linemen Leki Fotu and John Penisini (who played his high school football and junior college football in Utah) and defensive back Julian Blackmon in the state. Tons of top in-state recruits end up at Utah and BYU for numerous reasons and the Utes especially took advantage in this cycle.