If you look at the rosters of every Big 12, Big 10, SEC, or Pac 10 program, you quickly realize that every major college football program, and MOST football programs in the country recruit the state of Texas.
As someone that coached high school football in both Texas and Missouri, and as a college coach recruited several geographic areas including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas, and who had a son that played football in Texas from grade 7-12, I often get asked several iterations of the same question:
“Is Texas high school football that much better than here (Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, etc)?”
I always hesitate to answer, “better” because that implies that coaches in these other areas (the Midwest) are not doing a good, or as good, a job coaching their programs, and that is simply not the case. But, there are some major differences between Texas (and other areas, too, I am sure) and the rest of the country. These differences are what make Texas a recruiting hotbed.
There are several major population centers in Texas, including the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex with 7 million people, the Houston Metro area 6 million, the San Antonio Metro with over 2 million, and the Austin area now over 1 million. With that many people (students) in such close proximity, it is an efficient area to recruit. You can get to a lot of school, and see many great players without driving over 30 miles a day.
The weather is much milder that the Midwest, especially the upper Midwest, which lends itself to more, and more efficient practice sessions during the course of the season.
Length of Season
The 5A state championship game in Texas is normally played the third week in December; that is a full month later than in Missouri. If you project that over a 4 year high school career, that is about 4 more months of practice, or about an additional year of playing/ practice time.
All it takes is flying over either Dallas or Houston and you realize football is king. Nearly every school from 2A to 5A has not only a turf game field, but also a turf practice field, and larger programs (3A and above) have indoor practice complexes. Combine that with state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facilities, meeting/ video rooms, training and locker rooms, and the differences become substantial.
This is probably the biggest difference. My son had Athletics PE (in Texas) from the time he was in 7th grade until he graduated high school… that is the norm. Every athlete, in every sport, is enrolled in these classes. You can begin practice during the season, conduct an off-season program out of season, begin meetings or film review… all during normal school hours. Project this over 6 years (7-12 grades) and combine that with the fact that most high schools are on a block schedule, having a 2-hour PE class EVERY day, the effect is cumulative, and huge. A high school player comes out of a program in Texas much more developed physically and mentally. When you consider all the extra exposure to the game mentally, and all the opportunity to improve physically, this is no surprise.
My takeaway from all of this information:
- If you are a high school athlete in the Midwest and want to continue playing football in college, understand that you are not only competing against area student-athletes for scholarships (and eventually playing time) but also athletes from these areas. You need to take advantage of every opportunity you have to improve physically and mentally.
- If you are a high school athlete in Texas, don’t underestimate the athletes from the other areas of the nation. Although you may begin more advanced physically, and have a better understanding of the game, if you get complacent, these non-Texas athletes may have a larger room for improvement, and could gain on you.
- If you are a coach in a school outside of Texas, do the best you can, with what you have. Time spent pining over what others have or what you don’t is unproductive. It does no good comparing apples (your program) to oranges (Texas programs). Concentrate on teaching and coaching the things that are under your control, in the situation you are in. Just because you don’t have an indoor practice facility, or a 2-hour athletics PE every day, does not mean you cannot be a GREAT football coach.
- If you are a coach in Texas, understand that, although what you have may be the norm in Texas, it is not the norm in most of the country. Appreciate what you have, but understand, too, that good work… good coaching… good teaching… is being done in other areas of the country as well; often with much fewer resources than what you have. There are people outside of Texas who know football.
Keep working hard – You Can Do More!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org