“THEY CAME TO PLAY: A GEOGRAPHIC SURVERY OF WOLVERINE FOOTBALL FRESHMEN”
(Thanks should go to Yo_Blue for catching the error in the title - now corrected. My fail there.)
Since 1960, there have been 1,695 individuals who began their first year at the University of Michigan as a student and as a freshman listed on the football roster. They may not have necessarily seen action, and some of them did not stay the whole time, but they came here first – they came to play for the Wolverines.
One thing I will note now is that, going back as far as I wanted, I decided to simply use freshmen on the roster and not break it down between walk-on, scholarship athlete and someone who simply survived tryouts, if in fact those were available in a given year. It would be interesting, however, to do a narrower version of this survey and look at scholarship targets specifically, in part because you might see how rule changes through the years affected where we went to recruit players.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that the largest contingent of this select group came from the state of Michigan. To be exact, 714 of them called Michigan their home when they came to campus, and indeed, some of them probably could have walked from their parents’ house to the stadium, for there are several from Ann Arbor.
The second biggest contributor of freshmen to the Wolverines also will not shock anyone, and that is our neighbor to the south and slightly east – Ohio. Since 1960, the state of Ohio has sent 340 freshmen in our direction. Rounding out the top five, you also have Illinois (158), Pennsylvania (63) and Florida (56). As you will see later, however, the distribution has changed significantly from decade to decade, and only recently has the state of Michigan climbed back into a commanding spot at the top.
Below those, you will find Indiana, Texas and California, then a steady progression towards the seven states that, in the studied period, sent us a single freshman. There are even a few states as exotic as Idaho and Vermont that haven’t sent us a single player in all that time, if ever. Perhaps we should consider scouting Vermont, right? *ducks*
Another interesting trend that appears as you look at the tables by decade is the expansion of our recruiting footprint and reach. In the 1960s, Michigan’s freshmen can from 20 states and Canada, whereas the footprint in the last decade or so spans 31 states as well as Canada. I created a table where you can sort of see the shift as time passes as well.
In this first series of tables and graphs, you will find the overall number of freshmen by state in both bar graph and pie chart form, as well as a table with overall percentages and a table which shows the pattern by location as well as by decade.
The 1960s - BAR GRAPH AND TABLE
The 1970s - BAR GRAPH AND TABLE
The 1980s - BAR GRAPH AND TABLE
The 1990s - BAR GRAPH AND TABLE
2000-PRESENT - BAR GRAPH AND TABLE
EXTREMELY BRIEF DISCUSSION:
Even looking at this in a broad view, you can observe shifts and see “gates” open and close, possibly do the influence of other conferences and schools gaining prominence through the years, at least in their home regions. It is rather my hope to leave this one a bit open-ended so people can make their own observations here.