If you have followed WVU for any length of time, you know that West Virginia recruits nationally. The Mountaineers will pull in players from Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia just to name a few states. Every now and then, the Mountaineers will offer a scholarship to a local home-grown kid.
The Mountaineers do this because the state of West Virginia does not produce many FBS level players. Not every player who could play at the FBS level, especially the Power 5 level wants to go to WVU, so the Mountaineers supplement their roster with players from up and down the East Coast.
In order to produce a championship, football teams need blue chip players. Blue chip players are often classified as 4- or 5-star rated prospects. The 2012 recruiting class for reigning National Champions Alabama Crimson Tide had 18 blue-chip prospects. The Mountaineers had 3.
That wouldn’t be the end of the world if there were an endless supply of blue chip prospects. There obviously is not an endless supply. Even more so, the amount of blue chip prospects in a given year only makes up approximately 0.12% of the entire eligible seniors.
According to the research by SBNation, there are approximately 400 seniors who would be classified as 4- or 5-star prospects in a given recruiting class out of over 310,000 seniors who played football. There are 65 Power 5 teams. If you spread the wealth of prospects over just the P5 teams, each team would have 6 blue chip players each year. Alabama in 2012 essentially had 3 teams worth of blue chip players in one recruiting class.
In real estate they say location is key. The same is true for recruiting high school seniors. If you live in a talent rich state, you can simply walk outside and find blue chip players on your doorstep. But what do you do if you are West Virginia? West Virginia hasn’t produced a blue-chip player in the last 5 recruiting cycles. According to SBNation, only 9 states failed to produce at least one blue-chip player over the past 5 years.
South Dakota, Maine, Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming and West Virginia.
Anything stand out among those states? West Virginia should stand out dramatically. Seven of the nine states do not play FBS football. West Virginia and Wyoming do. Wyoming plays in the Mountain West and has won 23 games over the past 5 years. The last 4 years they have failed to break 5 wins.
West Virginia however plays in a Power 5 conference. Not only does WVU play in a Power 5 conference, they play in the offensive friendly, defense breaking Big 12 where 4 teams reside in the state of Texas which produced 13.7% of every blue chip player over the past 5 years. Two others, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State reside in Oklahoma which produced 19 players over the past 5 years and are able to get to Texas with a short car ride.
Even the state of Kansas has produced 6 blue chip players over 5 years and Iowa produced 5. West Virginia is the only school in a Power 5 conference that resides in a state that failed to produce a single blue chip player. Yet the Mountaineers are coming off back to back winning seasons. Three of the four years in the Big 12 have seen the Mountaineers win at least 7 games. Last year they won 8 and a bowl game. Pretty remarkable for a team with the built-in disadvantages that the Mountaineers face.