College Football Recruiting: Who Won Each State In The 2016 Class?

    Who owned each state on 2016 National Signing Day? Which program did the best job in all 50 states?

    February 5, 2016

    Who owned each state on 2016 National Signing Day? Which program did the best job recruiting across the country?

    E-mail Rich Cirminiello |
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    Every college football coach talks about building a fence around his particular state. Or in the case of the most talent-rich areas of the country, it’s absolutely imperative to out recruit your in-state rivals for the region’s blue-chippers. In most instances, save for maybe Oregon, if you can’t bring aboard the best and the brightest from your own backyard, it’s doubtful championships will be in your future.

    Now that the dust has begun to settle on another National Signing Day, which schools actually followed through on the edict to dominate their own backyard? And which rivals are already steps behind before the first game of 2016 has even been played?

    Who won the state of Alabama?
    The Crimson Tide. While Auburn scored big by landing five-star DE Marlon Davidson, Nick Saban signed four of the state’s five best prospects, including top-ranked LB Ben Davis. WR Velus Jones, who has elected to play for USC, was the only four or five-star Alabama recruit to not choose an SEC school.

    Who won the state of Alaska?
    No one. The Last Frontier will not be sending any of its high school graduates to an FBS program in the fall.

    Who won the state of Arizona?
    The Sun Devils. Two of the state’s top players will be students of Todd Graham, headlined by ready-right-now WR N’Keal Harry. Meanwhile, the Wildcats had a very difficult time bringing local stars to Tucson. In fact, Washington, Oregon State and even Wisconsin fared better than ‘Zona did in its own home state.

    Who won the state of Arkansas?
    The Razorbacks. And it wasn’t all that close. For the second year in a row, Bret Bielema put a fence around Arkansas’ top recruits. Four of the state’s top five recruits are now Hogs, with four-star Mizzou RB Damarea Crockett being the lone outlier.

    Who won the state of California?
    UCLA. USC and Clay Helton performed very well in the Golden State, but Jim Mora and the Bruins were a notch better. UCLA hauled in quality and quantity, bringing aboard California’s No. 1 recruit, LB Mique Juarez, and a dozen of its 50 premier players. The most heralded recruits who won’t be playing in the Pac-12 are Oklahoma LB Caleb Kelly and Alabama OT Jonah Williams.

    Who won the state of Colorado?
    Michigan. Jim Harbaugh went right into Boulder and lured away the state’s top-rated prospect, Fairview High School DE Carlo Kemp. The Buffs and Nebraska did modestly well, but missing out on Kemp stung both coaching staffs.

    Who won the state of Connecticut?
    Duke. Of all programs, the Blue Devils had the biggest wins in the state of Connecticut, signing a pair of coveted linebackers, top-ranked Koby Quansah and highly-regarded Jacob Morgenstern. None of Connecticut’s six best players will be with Bob Diaco’s Huskies in 2016.

    Who won the state of Delaware?
    The Blue Hens. The miniature state rarely produces blue-chippers. This cycle’s top players, DE Stefon Woodruff and LB Colby Reeder, have both chosen to play for the home team.

    Who won the District of Columbia?
    Alabama. D.C.’s four premier recruits went to four different programs, but the Crimson Tide earned the signature of the district’s jewel, five-star DE Terrell Hall.

    Who won the state of Florida?
    Florida State, but by a razor-thin margin over Miami. Everyone seems to get a piece of the Sunshine State’s bottomless talent pool. In fact, the state’s four best players will not be playing their college ball in Florida. But Jimbo Fisher continued to amass deep and gifted recruiting classes, edging out Mark Richt, who has laid a great foundation in his return to his alma mater. FSU is welcoming in eight four-star athletes to Miami’s seven.

    Who won the state of Georgia?
    The Dawgs. All eyes are now fixed on No. 1 recruit Demetris Robertson, who’s still deciding on a school. Whatever Robertson chooses, Kirby Smart and Georgia still won the state by picking up signatures from nine four or five-star performers. The ones that got away were LB Tre Lamar (Clemson), DE Antonneous Clayton (Florida) and DT Derrick Brown (Auburn). Gus Malzahn and the Tigers did rather well in Georgia, too, signing four other blue-chippers along with Brown.

    [MORE: 2016’s Top 50 Recruiting Classes]

    Who won the state of Hawaii?
    USC. The islands’ best and brightest routinely head to the Pac-12 to continue their athletic careers. And no one in the Pac-12 did better than Troy, which signed two touted Hawaiians, RB Vavae Malepeai and LB
    Jordan Loveni Iosefa.

    Who won the state of Idaho?
    Boise State and Oregon. Idaho’s two best players, OT Kole Bailey and DT Wayne Kirby, have signed with the Broncos and Ducks, respectively.

    Who won the state of Illinois?
    Michigan State. Mark Dantonio completely owned the state of Illinois, winning the confidence of four of its top six players, DE Josh King, DT Mike Panasiuk, DT Naquan Jones and DB Kenney Lyke. The sad state of affairs with the Illini was again evident on Signing Day, with the program unable to land one of the state’s top 30 players.

    Who won the state of Indiana?
    Big Ten. The Hoosier State produced four four-star players, WR Austin Mack (Ohio State), QB Brandon Peters (Michigan) and LB Noah Burks (Wisconsin). Michigan State commit Auston Robertson could wind up being the tiebreaker, since he failed to remit his letter of intent on Wednesday, and is reevaluating his options.

    Who won the state of Iowa?
    The Hawkeyes. Yeah, the state’s No. 1 player, OG John Raridon, is now a Husker. But no one did better from top to bottom than Kirk Ferentz, who populated his roster with half of Iowa’s 10 highest rated performers.

    Who won the state of Kansas?
    Clemson. Dabo Swinney’s reach is now extending into the Great Plains region, where he bagged a pair of Kansas’ gems, DE Xavier Kelly and S Isaiah Simmons. Oklahoma signed arguably the state’s hottest player, DE Amani Bledsoe.

    Who won the state of Kentucky?
    The Wildcats. Kudos to Mark Stoops, who really took it to Bobby Petrino and Louisville. In the battle for the commonwealth’s finest athletes, like five-star OT Landon Young, Kentucky won going away to capture some much-needed talent—and in-state bragging rights.

    Who won the state of Louisiana?
    LSU. Few schools did a better job than LSU of fending off out-of-state poachers. The Tigers thoroughly cleaned up in Louisiana, landing most of the players targeted by Les Miles. CB Kristian Fulton, DT Rashard Lawrence and LB Michael Divinity, in particular, will be future building blocks on defense. The rare misses came from D’andre Christmas-Giles (Texas), Mykel Jones (Oklahoma), Shyheim Carter (Alabama), Briston Guidry (Arkansas) and Clyde Leflore-Chriss (Texas A&M).

    Who won the state of Maine?
    No one. The state of Maine will not be sending any of its high school graduates to an FBS program in the fall.

    Who won the state of Maryland?
    Maryland. If D.J. Durkin is going to elevate the Terps, he’ll need to deliver a few more classes like he did on Wednesday. True, the rookie coach lost LB Keandre Jones and QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. to Ohio State. But he also added four of Maryland’s top dozen players, headed by OL Terrance Davis. And that’s something on which he can build in College Park.

    Who won the state of Massachusetts?
    Penn State, Michigan and Boston College. The Nittany Lions and Wolverines added three-star tight ends, while Boston College bolstered its depth. It’s difficult to declare one single victor in a state that produced such a paucity of can’t-miss, coveted prospects.

    Who won the state of Michigan?
    Michigan State. Notre Dame (top-rated LB Daelin Hayes and DE Khalid Kareem) and Michigan (OL Michael Onwenu and CB Lavert Hill) had plenty about which to feel good. But the Spartans amassed in-state quality and quantity, staking claim to four of Michigan’s dozen best players.

    Who won the state of Minnesota?
    The Gophers. Tracy Claeys has to be thrilled with his first class as Jerry Kill’s successor. He defeated some heavyweights to get the state’s top recruit, LB Carter Coughlin, and loaded up on a bunch of quality locals who’ll have a shot to be starters within the next couple of years.

    Who won the state of Mississippi?
    Ole Miss. But it wasn’t easy. Mississippi State and Alabama, who signed gems Jeffery Simmons and Nigel Knott, respectively, gave the Rebels all they could handle. Still, Hugh Freeze enjoyed another bumper crop of recruits that included four four-star Mississippians and three of the state’s half-dozen premier athletes.

    Who won the state of Missouri?
    Mizzou. First-year head coach Barry Odom did well enough to keep the Tigers atop the state. But it’s worth nothing that three of Missouri’s most heralded high school players, ATH A.J. Taylor, QB Skylar Thompson and CB Roderick Campbell will be playing in a different state. Losing Taylor, a dynamic all-around playmaker, stung the most.

    Who won the state of Montana?
    No one. Montana will not be sending any of its high school graduates to a Power Five FBS program this season.

    Who won the state of Nebraska?
    The Huskers. Only five or six Nebraskans generated serious interest from FBS programs. Two of those students, DE Ben Stille and TE David Engelhaupt, will be continuing their careers in Lincoln. Mike Riley’s toughest loss was Omaha TE Noah Fant, who opted instead to play for Iowa.

    Who won the state of Nevada?
    Mountain West and Pac-12. It was an off year for Nevada, which typically produces at least one or two four-star types. Since the pickings were slim, a group of three-star players were spread out evenly among a handful of the MWC and Pac-12 universities.

    Who won the state of New Hampshire?
    No one. The Granite State will not be sending any of its high school graduates to a Power Five FBS program this season.

    Who won the state of New Jersey?
    Michigan. Jim Harbaugh’s shtick is working in plenty of places, including the Garden State. An important chunk of his second class was built on the East Coast, including nation’s top overall recruit Rashan Gary and RB Kareem Walker, who was flipped from rival Ohio State. A stunning five of New Jersey nine four-star recruits will be in Ann Arbor this fall.

    Who won the state of New Mexico?
    Stanford. Rio Rancho OT Harry Hattis was this year’s most coveted recruit from the state of New Mexico. The Cardinal signed him by beating out other Pac-12 programs and academic giants, such as Vanderbilt and Northwestern.

    Who won the state of New York?
    Penn State. No one in the Empire State drew more attention than pro-style QB Jake Zembiec, who had offers from almost half of the Big Ten. The Lions grabbed him as a potential down-the-road franchise hurler.

    Who won the state of North Carolina?
    Clemson. It’s awfully troublesome that Carolina failed to land even one of the top dozen or so in-state recruits, particularly on the heels of its breakout 2015 season. Its ACC title game opponent, Clemson, pocketed three elite Carolinians, highlighted by five-star DT Dexter Lawrence and WR Cornell Powell.

    Who won the state of North Dakota?
    Wyoming. The Cowboys signed the only FBS-bound North Dakotan, 6-9 OT Dustin Weeks.

    Who won the state of Ohio?
    Ohio State. No surprise at all, right? Urban Meyer filled his roster with in-state stars, without having to initiate sleepovers, climb trees or generally turn Signing Day into a spectacle. The most will be expected from young Buckeye RB DeMario McCall, TE Jake Hausmann and DE Jonathon Cooper. Among the prominent kids who slipped through Meyer’s fingers were ATH George Hill (Pitt), WR Justin Layne (Michigan State) and O-linemen Liam Eichenberg and Tommy Kraemer (Notre Dame).

    Who won the state of Oklahoma?
    Oklahoma State. The Sooners devoted a lot of their attention outside of the state, which created an opportunity for Mike Gundy and the Cowboys to perform exceptionally well in their own backyard. Okie State signed a number of quality players, with the exclamation point provided by massive four-star offensive lineman Tramonda Moore, who elected to play in Stillwater instead of Norman.

    Who won the state of Oregon?
    The Ducks. Nine Oregonians signed with Power Five programs on Wednesday. Four of those student-athletes will call Eugene home. Central Catholic’s LaMar Winston and Brady Breeze could be early contributors to Brady Hoke’s revamped defense.

    Who won the state of Pennsylvania?
    Pittsburgh. Pat Narduzzi is making his presence felt at Pitt, on and off the field. The second-year coach outhustled Penn State’s James Franklin in Pennsylvania, picking up gems like LB Kaezon Pugh and CB Damar Hamlin as well as plenty of depth. Franklin did sign two of the state’s premier talents, RB Miles Sanders and OG Michal Menet, so the newcomer cupboard will hardly be empty in Happy Valley.

    Who won the state of Rhode Island?
    UMass. Rhode Island boasts just one high school graduate off to an FBS program, Providence native Avien Peah, who’s enrolling with the Minutemen.

    Who won the state of South Carolina?
    Clemson. Until further notice, Dabo Swinney has first dibs on the top players within the state. Such was the case on Signing Day, with the Tigers landing three of South Carolina’s highest rated athletes, RB Tavien Feaster, DT Nyles Pinckney and OG John Simpson. CB Troy Pride (Notre Dame) was the only elite recruit to sign with someone other than Clemson or South Carolina, which also did well under Will Muschamp.

    Who won the state of South Dakota?
    Nebraska. No one in the state attracted more offers than heralded Sioux Falls OT Matt Farniok, who turned away the likes of Stanford, Oklahoma, Michigan and Florida State to play for Mike Riley in Lincoln.

    Who won the state of Tennessee?
    Tennessee … but barely over Ole Miss, which picked up coveted OT Bryce Mathews. Sure, Butch Jones did well, but this class could have been so much better. Texas A&M signed a pair of four-star Tennesseans, and three of the state’s best talents, WR Dillon Mitchell (Oregon), CB JoeJuan Williams (Vanderbilt) and Nygel Edmonds (Cal), eschewed offers from Jones and the Vols.

    Who won the state of Texas?
    The Horns. Texas is having problems on the field, but it hasn’t impacted Charlie Strong’s ability to recruit. Strong picked up plenty of quality and quantity in arguably the most contentious state in high school recruiting. The Lone Star State talent was predictably distributed to campuses like Baylor and Texas A&M, who both did very well. Also worth noting was a historically rich Houston class headlined by five-star DT Ed Oliver.

    Who won the state of Utah?
    BYU. The Cougars assembled a solid class under rookie head coach Kalani Sitake, with heavy representation in the Beehive State. Utah excelled as well, but four-star S Maxwell Tooley pushed BYU over the top. One of the state’s most ballyhooed players, DE Maxs Tupai, is still taking visits before making a final decision.

    Who won the state of Vermont?
    No one. Vermont will not be sending any of its high school graduates to an FBS program in the fall.

    Who won the state of Virginia?
    Virginia Tech. The battle is on between the new coaches in the commonwealth, Hokie Justin Fuente and Cavalier Bronco Mendenhall. Fuente won Round 1 by signing six three-star Virginians. However, it’s worth noting that not a single four or five-star player from the state is remaining in the state. Carolina and Florida State landed two blue-chippers apiece, the Noles securing top-ranked CB Levonta Taylor.

    Who won the state of Washington?
    Washington. Georgia may have scooped up this state’s cover boy, five-star QB Jacob Eason, but the Huskies didn’t leave Signing Day empty-handed. Chris Petersen kept four of the Pacific Northwest’s budding stars from leaving the region, with ATH Brandon Wellington and CB Isaiah Gilchrist good enough to avoid a redshirt in 2016.

    Who won the state of West Virginia?
    West Virginia. The Mountaineers locked down two of the state’s top recruits, DE Reese Donahue and LB Dylan Tonkery. Pending a decision from ATH Tyrhee Pratt, no other West Virginian is expected to play at a Power Five school.

    Who won the state of Wisconsin?
    The Badgers. Wisconsin signed another swath of two and three-star local kids, some of whom will undoubtedly shoot past projections. The most heralded Badger recruit is Green Bay OT Cole Van Lanen. Paul Chryst did miss on an even better O-linemen, Ben Bredeson, who chose Michigan. Honorable mention goes to Western Michigan and P.J. Fleck for signing three-star LB Tristian Pipp and OT Spencer Kanz.

    Who won the state of Wyoming?
    No one. Wyoming will not be sending any of its high school graduates to an FBS program in the fall.

    MORE: National Signing Day’s Biggest Winners, Losers


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