Yesterday Ace posted a link to the full Lemming recruiting rankings from 1990 to 2004. Just perusing the list is pretty interesting, since accessible recruiting data on a national scale otherwise only goes back as far as the Rivals and Scout databases. Since nobody likes to make their information easy to get at, it'll take some time for this all to be processed.
But for a first stab I did find something I can pull relatively easily from both Lemming's sheets and modern data: where players come from, and where they went. Lemming only had data on where recruits were from going back to 1999. Since it was easiest to grab a Top 400 from 247, I took theirs too, but they run out of rankings before 2008 so there's a gap. It won't matter for this. I broke the nation into regions that quasi-match the traditional conference footprints:
And here's the % of high school recruits that each contributed to Lemming's (on the left) and 247's (on the right) lists:
Who's been telling you that demographics are responsible for the SEC's rise? It's not there. The Big Ten's traditional footprint was providing 15% of the nation's talent in 1999 and the SEC was around 35%; today it's almost the exact same.
[After the jump: regional retention]
Another factoid thrown around about recruiting is it's grown more national, with players leaving not just their states but going to completely different regions. I thought I'd track that to see if certain regions have been bleeding talent more than others now compared to in the past. For this I had to use Rivals (going back to 2010, which is when I ran out of time) because 247 makes it too hard to pull the data on school choice. So:
|Chose School in Home Region|
The Midwest used to be as good as the Southeast among regions that get most of their talent to stay within the footprint, but we've drifted right to the national average (Penn State and Pennsylvania recruits count as Atlantic). It was surprising to see that Big XII and Pac-12 regions tend to retain their top players even better than they used to.
Where are they going, these vagabond children?
|Destination of Recruits Going Out-of-Region|
And finally something matches the narrative. The Big Ten seems to be getting fewer national recruits, relying instead on a footprint that's still just average for a major conference. When the Big Ten was more than a typical major conference, it was drawing a ton of kids from California and Texas and whatnot. HOWEVA, that's still a greater share of the travelers than anywhere but the Southeast. As for Michigan:
|Composition of Michigan's Classes*|
*Top-400 players only
Carr used to get a lot of guys from under the Pac Ten's nose (Larry Stevens, Leon Hall, Matt Gutierrez, etc.) and had that ridiculous streak of stealing just about everything of value from Pennsylvania (Henne, Mundy, Massaquoi, Marlin, Breaston, etc.) in the early 2000s. He also had an underrated ability to pull kids out of SEC strongholds, though many of them didn't stick on the roster more than a couple of years, or didn't pan out.