First off, this piece isn't all that scientific in using detailed data. I don't have the time or resources to dig out every recruit's ratings from 247, Rivals, ESPN, or anyplace else. I have a life. I'll leave that to those who still live in their mom's basement. This simply looks at the number of kids from each state that are on somebody's Big Ten roster, whether recruited or a walk on. Does that mean that we don't account for five star vs. three star players? Yes. I'm simply looking at raw numbers for the 2014 roster. And I'm not looking at the New Jersey kids who go to the SEC, the ACC, the Big XII, or any place else. There are undoubtedly flaws and/or gaps in the assessment offered. I'll leave the correcting and criticism to you, the readers.
Have we built a wall, a fence, or at least closed the gate?
Define wall. Obviously, we do see 4 and 5 star players leaving the state. But of New Jersey players who play at Big Ten schools outside New Jersey, it accounts for only 2.6% (40) of all Big Ten football players. And, yes (sigh, gritting teeth), 16 of those 40 where black shoes and a white helmet with a blue stripe.
But the rest of the Big Ten really hasn't found many New Jerseyans, at least on current rosters. Four schools (Illinois, Indiana, MSU, and Minnesota) have none. After ttfp, the most NJ players (7) are, interestingly, playing for Northwestern. See, New Jersey schools are very good!
But flip that around. After Florida, with 15, the most out-of-state players at Rutgers are from Pennsylvania (12), so the gate swings both ways. But the issue may not be how many players we get from a state, but where we get them from.
Where do they come from?
On this year's roster, Rutgers has players from 12 states (and for the record, one from South Africa). That's the fewest number of states from which any team in the Big Ten draws players. And you might say that that is understandable, with the wealth of talent within New Jersey's borders. The average number of states represented on B1G rosters right now is 18.6, with the high being Nebraska (25) and Michigan State one better than RU at the other end. Does the State of Rutgers need to expand? It is now, as Rutgers has players from Michigan, Minnesota, California, and Texas, all a direct result of the Big Ten membership.
As for representing your home state, the number one team in terms of percentage of in state talent is...wait for it...wait for it....THE Ohio State University. Of the 107 players listed on its roster, a whopping 62.7% are from THE state of Ohio. Number 2 on the list? Rutgers and New Jersey. There are 55 (54.4%) Scarlet Knights playing for their home state. The next best number is a drop off to the 50% playing for Wisconsin.
Protecting the border of the hypothetical "State"
The State of Rutgers. What is it? For Rutgers, with the exception of Florida, this is the "State of Rutgers": New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and we'll throw in Maryland and DC since they are so close. You might include Connecticut and even Virginia. Take the kids from New Jersey and our extended "border" and it makes up 76.3% of the squad. Looking at neighboring or border states to each B1G state, no one protects the border better than Rutgers. Minnesota only has 44.6% of its players from Minnesota or the surrounding states. Illinois is at 47.7% and Purdue is at 48%. We recruit the "State of Rutgers" pretty well. Interestingly, Michigan State has players from just one more state than Rutgers, but its roster is 72.8% from Michigan and the border states. The Black Shoes? They're at 68.6% from the extended "state" of Pennsylvania. Keep your friends close and your recruits closer.
The Regional Competition
For the sake of discussion, I looked at a couple of regional recruiting rivals for Rutgers. In the case of Syracuse, for all the huffing and puffing, and the chest thumping about them getting all these New Jersey kids, the Orange have more players from Georgia (8) than from New Jersey (7). And after New York (29), that hotbed of football players, the state with the second most players in the Frozen Wasteland is...wait for it...Florida (14).
Boston College, on the other hand, does impact NJ, and particularly the Catholic schools in the north. This year's Eagle squad has 18 New Jersey players, more than any team in the B1G, and the second highest number from a state not named Massachusetts. Of the 18, 12 are from the usual powerhouse parochial schools. And BC spreads around the wealth; it has players from 19 different states, about the average number for the B1G.
New Jersey has the fifth most players (95) in the Big Ten from among Big Ten states. Florida (125) has the third most, behind Ohio (207) and Illinois (158), and ahead of Michigan (107) and Pennsylvania (100). The fewest Big Ten players come out of Iowa (36) and 31 of them play for the Hawkeyes.
There are 7 players listed from foreign nations: Australia (4), Sweden (at Purdue, not even Minnesota!), South Africa, UK, and Canada (2). Seven states have no players in the B1G.
BTN's Gerry DiNardo commented about Rutgers and its recruiting footprint. He said that the "elites" go up against the "elites" for talent, and Rutgers may not get many of those kids, or any of them. But after the big boys are done, there is still more talent within a couple hours of Piscataway than there is in all of Michigan or Illinois or a lot of other places in the B1G. Look at Rutgers' success in Florida. You had kids there looking at Florida, Florida State, and Miami. We got the "leftovers", and they've shown to be not too shabby.