I know this topic get touched on here and there in the recruiting forums and Hurry Up articles, but I thought it would be appropriate to consolidate the conversation for those who are interested. Feel free to close if redundant.
A lot of us on here remember the days of Ohio State’s roster being made up of 90%+ Ohio natives, and these weren’t down years (for the most part). Coaching staffs of the past really didn’t have to travel more than a couple of hours to places like Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Akron, etc. to find swaths of truly elite talent. Some of the most talented Buckeye teams I’ve seen in my lifetime fit this description (90s – 2000s). But those kinds of rosters seem to be a thing of the past as Ohio State, in the last decade, has consistently expanded its reach on the recruiting trail and opened up pipelines in other hotbed states like TX, FL, So Cal, etc. In my opinion though, this recruiting expansion was/is necessary.
Anyone who follows recruiting knows its no secret that the quality and/or quantity of talent in Ohio has declined over the past 2 – 3 decades. There are a number of obvious reasons for this and a few others that maybe aren’t so obvious. A couple of contributing factors could be: youth contact restrictions (kids don’t start playing full contact football as young), OHSAA restrictions on the number and nature of practices that are allowed in any given season (i.e. spring and summer practices), or the OHSAA simply not allocating as much time, energy, or funding to football as they once did. While all this may seem minor, together, they could have a noticeable effect over time.
That said, I think the shark in these waters is participation. The participation numbers in-state have been steadily declining recently, at the youth and high school levels. Granted, this has been a notable trend in most other places around the country, but Ohio seems to be getting hit as hard by this as any other state. The growth of other sports like lacrosse and soccer certainly plays a role in this, and the increasing knowledge of concussions and CTE probably deters parents from signing their kids up to play as well.
I grew up playing and watching football. I love the sport, and always thought it was as competitive here as anywhere else. But maybe not so much anymore.
What are your thoughts? Is this a trend that will continue? Can the sport be rejuvenated? Should it be?
I have attached the links to a few articles that report on the above observations. Some of them are a little dated but I believe they are still relevant.
This is not intended to be an Ohio State recruiting topic, but more of a discussion on the health of the sport at the high school and youth levels in Ohio.