UNC-NCSU winner could reap in-state recruiting benefits
Posted November 1, 2013
The winner of Saturday’s UNC at N.C. State football (12:30 p.m. WRAL-TV) game could and certainly should get at least somewhat of an in-state recruiting spike.
But that said, is in-state recruiting as important as it was – say – during the days of Bill Dooley, Lou Holtz, Dick Crum, Dick Sheridan, Mack Brown and, of late, Tom O’Brien and Butch Davis?
Recruiting, like social media and perhaps because of it, in part, has changed a lot since the days when Dooley, in his first season as UNC’s coach in 1967, hired legendary Broughton High coach “Bulldog” Clyde Walker to piece together the first really sophisticated regional recruiting dragnet in ACC history.
That strategy worked so well for Dooley that the Tar Heels, in less than four years, became one of the can’t-miss weekly stops for NFL scouts.
Some 40 years later, Davis and assistant John Blake recruited a bevy of future pro picks. Davis also flunked the annual test against the Wolfpack and wound up throwing Carolina’s image out the window.
But that said, now let’s look at Oregon, No. 2 in the nation and one of the most incredible success stories college football has seen in ages.
The Ducks have only 24 players from Oregon, compared to 48 from California, eight from Texas, a few from British Columbia and others from map darting, including one or two from ACC territory.
The team’s best player, Heisman Trophy quarterback candidate Marcus Mariota, is from Honolulu (St. Louis High), as is center Mana Greig. The Ducks top ground gainer is Byron Marshall, from San Jose, Calif.
In fact, Oregon has only two current starters from in-state high schools – wide-out Keanon Lowe (Portland Jesuit) and defensive end Taylor Hart (Tualatin).
The top two Duck receivers – Josh Huff (5-11, 202) and Braion Addison (5-9, 180) – are both from Texas and hardly broke hearts from border to border when they didn’t pick Texas, Texas A&M, etc.
Keep in mind that these players are jumping over each other to get to Eugene, Ore., which is not exactly south Florida, Los Angeles or Baton Rouge.
And until Nike started designing Halloween costumes for the Ducks to wear during the games, there’s no program identity to match Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State or Alabama.
Which, of course, brings us to Alabama, No. 1 in the country and chasing a third straight national title.
The Tide has 31 in-state players, including quarterback A.J. McCarron (Mobile) and standout linebacker C.J. Mosley (Mobile). But 19 Bama players are from neighboring Georgia, one of whom is starting running back Ken Drake.
On the recruiting front, the Tide has depended as much on its reputation as a Dixie factory giant as whipping Auburn and it’s hardly as though Bama has a lucrative pipeline out of talent-rich Florida. Only nine players on the roster played prep ball in Florida, which is roughly the same number as Louisiana products on Bama’s roster.
Although rosters are constantly being updated and revised, both State and Carolina began the season with at least 55 in-state players listed – totals that are high in both cases for a state with five FBS (Division I-A) teams and a bevy of state-supported schools in the FCS (Division I-AA) pool.
The glaring conclusion is that neither State nor UNC is having much trouble bringing in homegrown players.
It’s just that too many of the most talented North Carolinians are still more interested in going outside the state than staying home.
Given the national recruiting trends, maybe the winner in Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday afternoon should immediately dispatch an assistant to recruit the Island of O’ahu.