Commentary

Five states stand tall in QB debate

Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Ohio grow the best quarterbacks

Updated: January 17, 2012, 2:56 AM ET
By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com

Texas and California are bigger, but are they better?

Pennsylvania is home to six of the 23 modern-era Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks, the most of any state. Ohio produced Roger Staubach and Ben Roethlisberger. And Alabama can lay claim to Packers Hall of Famer Bart Starr, Philip Rivers, and most recently, the Tide's own national champ, AJ McCarron.

When it comes to producing elite quarterbacks, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Ohio have separated themselves from the pack. Together they have combined for 15 Heisman Trophy winners, 18 Pro Football Hall of Famers and more than half of the top 100 quarterback prospects in the ESPNU Class of 2012 rankings. The talent spans generations, from quarterbacks who are still 17 and 18 years old to veterans whose glory days were 20 or more years ago.

For this Great State Debate, ESPNHS has narrowed the field to the final five, researched the numbers and made a case for each state, but this is a debate nobody can argue better than the football fans who hail from the homes of the sport's greatest quarterbacks.

Small towns like Beaver Falls, Pa. (Joe Namath), take pride in their football history, and the passion runs deep in places like Sweetwater, Texas (Sammy Baugh). You want old-school? Head to the city of Alliance, in northeast Ohio, home of Len Dawson. You want tradition? Check out Pittsburgh Central Catholic, where Dan Marino, Pitt's Tino Sunseri and highly touted 2012 recruit Perry Hills have all played. For a real-time snapshot of the best the position has to offer, visit Texas, home of Baylor's Robert Griffin III, Stanford's Andrew Luck and Houston's Case Keenum. If you're searching for the quarterback of the future, look no further than Hueytown, Ala., where the nation's No. 1-rated quarterback recruit, Jameis Winston, resides.

Which one of these five states, though, is king of the quarterbacks?

California, with its 1,054 football-loving high schools, can claim John Elway, Matt Barkley, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Alabama, the smallest of the group, boasts quality over quantity.

Pennsylvania and Ohio are used to this sort of arm wrestling, as the two states go head-to-head every year in the annual Big 33 game, a matchup of the top recruits from each state. Ohio has won the past three games in the series, but when it comes to producing quarterbacks, the neighboring rivals have been pretty even. Ohio's Mauk brothers, Ben and Maty, were two of the most prolific high school quarterbacks of all time. Western Pennsylvania, though, has been a breeding ground for some of the nation's best passers.

And Texas, well, Who Dat thinkin' they gonna beat dat state? Drew Brees has represented quite well lately. The best collegiate passer in the country, after all, wins the Davey O'Brien Award, and O'Brien (Woodrow Wilson) was a Texas native.

If you think you've got this thing locked up, Texas, think again. California has produced more Pro Football Hall of Famers and more Heisman Trophy winners. RG3, though, might have something to say about that.

So could you.

This is your chance to weigh in, too -- your opportunity to make a case and state your arguments for the country's top quarterback-producing state. Join us all this week as we take a look at how and why the top five have been so successful.

All five states have their respective bragging rights when it comes to quarterbacks, but the Lone Star State could be tough to trump. Texas high schools have produced 17 current NFL quarterbacks. Ohio needs more ammunition. (Ricky Stanzi might not cut it.) This is about more than just the who's who of NFL quarterbacks, though.

We're talking Heisman Trophy winners. Top current college quarterbacks. And the future of the position.

Let the Great State Debate begin.