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February 7, 2014

Where PA's Class of 2014 comes from

Every year, partisan football fans across the state of Pennsylvania argue who produces the best high school players.

It's an argument that has no end, and it's one that changes on a regular basis. But in terms of sheer volume, there's little doubt that the state's Division I players traditionally come from a handful of locations. It's why PaPreps was determined to map out where the Class of 2014 calls home.

Almost 100 players in the state have officially signed National Letters of Intent to play at a Division I college. A large portion of them are going on to play at the FBS level, but because of the high number of FCS schools in the state, a number of prospects are going to play Division I football in the Championship Subdivision. More prospects may eventually join the list, as letters of intent get signed and approved by compliance offices over the next few weeks, but the map already gives a pretty clear picture.

So enjoy the map below. Click on the full screen tab in the right corner of the display to make it full screen and see it on a grander scale. You can zoom in further, as well as click on any of the red pins to see which athlete is represented.

For longtime fans of Pennsylvania football, there are few surprises. For relative newcomers to a statewide look at the Commonwealth's football output, it may be a bit of a surprise. The Greater Pittsburgh Metro Area and Greater Philadelphia Metro Area are responsible for a significant portion of the state's football talent. Those two metro areas are followed by the Harrisburg area and finally the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

And while the Southeastern portion of the state will contend that they have better football teams - especially in light of St. Joseph's Prep and Archbishop Wood capturing state titles this past December - in terms of Division I talent, there are more prospects centered in the Southwestern part of the state this year. That may change in 2015 with a number of top prospects in the Philadelphia Catholic League, but we'll see.

Also of note is how difficult it is for Division I prospects to emerge out of the middle part of the state. Geographically, State College is at the very heart of the state, and there is just one lonely reference point - for quarterback Patrick Irwin - in a pretty wide radius around the area. The northern part of the state is even more barren, as Districts 4 and 9 struggle to produce high level prospects.

SO WHERE ARE THEY GOING?
In terms of where all of those prospects on that map are going, it's pretty far flung. Division I prospects in the state are going to 27 FBS schools and 22 FCS schools. They include schools in California, Florida, Alabama and all points in between.

As far as sheer numbers, it's probably no surprise at who tied for the lead. Nine Division I players are headed to the University of Pittsburgh and nine are headed to Temple. Penn State, which head coach James Franklin recently challenged to dominate the state in recruiting, has just three Keystone products in this year's class. West Virginia, thanks to the last minute grab of Dontae Angus, has the second most Pennsylvania products at the FBS level this year with four. Along with the Nittany Lions, Maryland, Syracuse and Virginia Tech are bring in three players each.

At the FCS level, the leader isn't one of the Patriot League schools, which is a bit surprising. Instead its Northeast Conference contender Duquesne owning the most signees this year, with 11 Pennsylvanians joining the Dukes this year. Rival Robert Morris, for comparison has six players coming in. Between the two Pittsburgh schools, 13 prospects in the WPIAL earned scholarships.

Beyond Duquesne, Lafayette has nine players in its 2014 class. The rest of the top recruiters in the state are a pretty interesting mix. Delaware has seven players, more than in-state schools Bucknell (6) and Lehigh (4). Delaware's rival in the Colonial Athletic Association, Villanova, has five Pennsylvania prospects in its class. Youngstown State, just over the border in Ohio has four prospects coming in while Albany, now being coached by former Pitt assistant Greg Gattuso, brought in five Keystone State recruits.

PaPreps publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at achiappazzi@yahoo.com



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