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January 29, 2006

Border wars: Who won the state battles?

Every year some of the best recruiting battles around the country happen within the borders of individual states between schools within those states. Rivals.com has taken a look at the early returns of some of these state contests and declared winners in most.

Regions: Atlantic East | South | Midwest | Heartland | West

Atlantic East
The Battle for Pennsylvania
The Combatants: Penn State, Pitt.
The Winner: Pitt. The battle for the state of Pennsylvania was an interesting one this year. While Penn State has the higher-rated recruiting class and a possible top 5 ranking, Pitt landed more quality players in-state. Penn State boasts the state's top player in Jared Odrick and two other top 10 guys in Pat Devlin and Tom McEowen. However, led by Dorin Dickerson, Pitt boasts seven of the top 20 players in state, a very impressive number. Aside from Dickerson, a top 100 player, and tight end Nate Byham, Pitt focused on defense in state. Defensive tackles John Malecki and Jason Pinkston will anchor the line, linebackers Dan Loheyde and Greg Webster will roam sideline to sideline and two Aarons, Aaron Berry and Aaron Smith will play in coverage. Penn State didn't lose out on much this year, especially with their dominance in Maryland and success in New Jersey and New York, but they lost the Keystone State to the Panthers overall. -- Mike Farrell

South
The Battle for Florida
The Combatants: Florida, Florida State, Miami, USF, UCF.
The Winner: Florida. The battle for the state of Florida was a lot closer than one would think given the Gators No. 1 recruiting class and all. But Florida State and Miami both landed some top-end talent as expected and made this a tight race. But in the end, the depth and sheer numbers brought in by Urban Meyer in-state was too much. There are 50 players in Florida ranked four-stars or higher, and UF landed 15 of them, a very impressive percentage. The Seminoles look like they'll come in second with eight or nine, while Miami looks to have six or seven when all is said and done. Led by quarterback Tim Tebow, wide receivers Jarred Fayson and Riley Cooper and running back Chevon Walker, Florida dominated the all-important skill position category, something FSU and Miami have had a lot of success with in-state. Bobby Bowden closed strong as expected, but it wasn't enough to overcome the body of work this year from Meyer. -- Mike Farrell

The Battle for Georgia
The Combatants: Georgia, Georgia Tech.
The Winner: Georgia. The Bulldogs again signed most of the Peach State's top talent in impressive fashion. If UGA ends up losing Reshad Jones to LSU, it will be somewhat disappointing, but one look at the Georgia postseason top 50 proves which in-state school dominates the collecting of talent from this state. The Dawgs currently have commits from seven of the state's top 20 prospects and four of the top 10. The highest-rated prospect heading to Georgia Tech is Dublin wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who checks in at No. 34. -- J.C. Shurburtt

The Battle for Alabama
The Combatants: Alabama, Auburn, UAB.
The Winner: Too close to call. The winner in Alabama depends on where the state's top three prospects commit down the stretch. Should Auburn land Tim Hawthorne and Deantwan Whitehead, then the Tigers are the clear winners with seven of the state's top 12 prospects and five of the top 10. Lose Whitehead to Alabama and Hawthorne to an out-of-state program, and the picture becomes less clear. If the Tide pulls Whitehead in and gets Andre Smith, as is expected, Alabama could potentially win. UAB has done a nice job recruiting in-state this season. The Blazers landed 6-foot-4 wide receiver Courtney Smith of Prattville and are likely to sign four-star receiver Jared White of Mobile. -- J.C. Shurburtt

The Battle for South Carolina
The Combatants: South Carolina, Clemson.
The Winner: Clemson. Five-star defensive end Ricky Sapp is obviously the gem of this recruiting class, and he is certainly one of the reasons Clemson has won the in-state battle. Sapp is the best player in state by a longshot and has so much upside he'll get a strong look as a true freshman. Clemson reeled in 7 of the top 20 players in state (compared to 5 for South Carolina) and 3 of the top 7. Byron Maxwell and Darius Gaither are a solid 1-2 punch in the secondary, and Richard Jackson is one of those rare kickers who could win numerous games down the stretch for his team and be a weapon. Steve Spurrier has some nice in-state talent coming in as well and his class will be bolstered if Adam Patterson commits as many expect on Wednesday, but Sapp is the one true difference-maker in the Palmetto State, and Tommy Bowden got him. -- Mike Farrell

The Battle for Mississippi
The Combatants: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss.
The Winner: Ole Miss. Three of the top six in-state (Derrick Odom, Richard Dickson and Marcus Tillman) are heading to LSU, while potentially two more (Terry Grant and Mike McCoy) will play for Alabama, so the out-of-state schools really took a lot of Mangolia State talent this year. The Rebels edge out rival Mississippi State and Southern Miss in the in-state war simply because they signed Allen Walker, the state's top prospect and Cordera Eason and Terry Levy give Ed Orgeron and company one-fourth of the top dozen. The Bulldogs (Anthony Summers, Anthony Dixon) and Golden Eagles, who may potentially get Grant and have already gotten sleepers Domonic Hopson and Torris Magee, also had strong showings in-state. -- J.C. Shurburtt

Midwest
The Battle for Ohio
The Combatants: Ohio State, Ohio, Toledo, Akron.
The Winner: Ohio State. Jim Tressel and the Ohio State staff basically put up a barrier around the state this season by landing seven of the top 10 players in the state, including five of the top six players. Running back Chris Wells will be a star for the Buckeyes right away. An interesting battle in the MAC developed as Akron and Ohio each snagged two of the top 60 players in state. But it was Toledo that placed four players on the list. -- Jeremy Crabtree

The Battle for Indiana
The Combatants: Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame.
The Winner: Notre Dame. Neither Indiana nor Purdue landed a top five player in the state of Indiana this year, so the honor as the winner in state has to go to the Fighting Irish, who snagged three in-state prospects. Notre Dame's haul includes five-star running back James Aldridge and three-star fullback Luke Schmidt. Aldridge and Schmidt were ranked as the No. 1 and No. 3 players in Indiana. -- Jeremy Crabtree

The Battle for Michigan
The Combatants: Michigan, Michigan State.
The Winner: Michigan State. Michigan is going to sign the higher-ranked class and finish in the top 12 nationally, and the Wolverines did land the top player in the state, five-star linebacker Brandon Graham. But it's Michigan State that gets the nod here after landing the Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 15 players in the state. The combination of LB Eric Gordon, DE Patrick Rigan and TE Charlie Gantt should see the field quickly in East Lansing. -- Jeremy Crabtree

The Battle for Illinois
The Combatants: Illinois, Northwestern.
The Winner: Illinois. With eight players from the Illinois Top 30, Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini would have to take home the honors as winning the state of Illinois in 2006. The Illini pulled in pledges from three of the top six players, including Rivals100 four-star quarterback Isiah Williams of Chicago Vocational. Illinois also got a firm standing in the Chicagoland, which was a problem area for the previous staff. -- Jeremy Crabtree

Heartland
The Battle for Texas
The Combatants: Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor.
The Winner: Texas. Rated as the No. 3 class in the entire nation, UT edged out Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor as they signed 10 out of the top 20 in the state beating the in-state conference opponents on almost every prospect. Coming off a National Championship, the Horns will have plenty to build on for more success in the future. Led by four December graduates, including four-star quarterback Jevan Snead who will definitely get a chance to compete with the NFL-bound Vince Young no longer on campus. The state's top player in five-star linebacker Sergio Kindle will also get a shot to compete as UT adds more depth to their defense. That unit will also include five-star Texas product Eddie Jones. The Horns beat out Texas A&M even though the Aggies managed to land the state's No. 4 rated player in Michael Goodson and Texas Tech picked up the rising four-star prospect Michael Crabtree filling some very big needs. Baylor also did well in battle with some top receivers like Jeremy Sanders, James Hicks, and Ernest Smith. -- John Talman

The Battle for Oklahoma
The Combatants: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State.
The Winner: Oklahoma. With Oklahoma State heading to Houston and Dallas to land many of its top prospects and Oklahoma's tremendous in-state class, this was a no-brainer victory for the Sooners. If Oklahoma pulls in Gerald McCoy and Jermaine Gresham on signing day, the Sooners will have landed eight of the top 10 players in the state of Oklahoma. -- Jeremy Crabtree

West
The Battle for California
The Combatants: Southern Cal, UCLA, Cal, Stanford.
The Winner: Southern Cal. USC landed 7 of the top 10 prospects in California, getting commitments from the Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9 and 10 players in the Golden State. Headlined by linebacker Allen Bradford and running back Stafon Johnson, the Trojans owned the blue-chip crop once again. UCLA also deserves special mention as the Bruins landed 12 top 100 prospects, but none of them were in the top 15 in the state. -- Jeremy Crabtree

The Battle for Arizona
The Combatants: Arizona, Arizona State.
The Winner: Arizona State. The Wildcats won the real gem in the state of Arizona when it landed the nation's top junior college player Louis Holmes. But when it came to the top prep players, Arizona State landed five of the top 15 players, including the top high school player, Jermaine Williams. Gerald Munns is also going to be a star for the Devils, but it should be noted that with UofA doing a great job in California, winning in-state wasn't that huge of a need this season. Next year, when the crop is much better, it will be a different story. -- Jeremy Crabtree

The Battle for Washington
The Combatants: Washington, Washington State.
The Winner: Washington. The Huskes and Cougars might have both missed out on the top two players in the state, but both fared well throughout the rest of the state. Washington State had six players in the top 25, but it's UDub that is the winner in the state after landing four of the top eight players in state. Quarterback Jake Locker, defensive tackle Cameron Elisara and offensive lineman Cody Habben were each solid four-star gets for the Huskies. -- Jeremy Crabtree



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