The Palmetto State and Football Recruiting: Part I (College Choice)

Above is a map I created using data from 2002 – 2015. This data was used to construct a map that displayed the school to which a player enrolled. The criteria are as follows:

  • 3 stars and above in the rankings
  • No junior college (JUCO) players were considered for this map. Tracking down each person’s journey was too much. The recruitment is opened up again after JUCO is completed and the recruitment is happening outside of South Carolina most of the time because most popular JUCOs do not reside inside the state.
  • Prep players were included because they almost 100% sign with the school they were originally recruited by. Their original ranking, not their prep ranking was kept. The only change was the year of enrollment.
  • I only included players who I could verify enrolled at school. I dropped those players who signed a Letter of Intent (LOI), but who never made it into school. There were a couple unique cases due to injury (Nolan Kelleher and Jake Nicolopulos), but I let these stay because these players did enroll and are significant in reflecting where players chose to sign.

Overall Breakdown of Top 10 Schools in the State


From looking at the map and the distribution above, there are not too many surprising trends. Clemson and South Carolina really have no statistically significant difference in the number of three star and above recruits in-state.

Geographically, there are a few items to note. First, 8 of the 46 counties in South Carolina have not even produced a three star and above recruit that successfully enrolled in college over this 13 year period. A takeaway from geographic trends is that both schools do relatively well in the counties surrounding their school. Clemson protects Pickens, Anderson, and to some extent, Greenville. South Carolina does well in the counties of Richland, Calhoun, and Sumter. Clemson is extremely successful in Richland County to be located that much further from the area than the Gamecocks.

South Carolina’s dominance of the counties of York and Union is evident to me. Clemson has not been able to get nearly as many players out of these counties. In contrast, Clemson seems to have staying power all the way across the state in the Pee Dee region.

As far as outside schools, the bordering states are the ones who have the most success, with one aberration. That would be the University of Tennessee, who has had success reaching into this state even before some of this data that started in 2002. Players like Albert Haynesworth and Stanley Morgan are two sterling examples of this trend. One must think that the rise of South Carolina and Clemson in the past ten years has had a corresponding effect on Tennessee recruiting.

Although this is such a small sample size, it will be interesting to see how this data changes with future recruiting classes, especially as Clemson is getting more selective with in-state takes due to recent national success.

About Lewis Maxey

Check Also

2006 SC State Supt. of Education Results Map: A Democratic Pathway to Victory in 2018?

I won’t spend too much time analyzing this, as the map really speaks for itself. …