Plentiful prospects raise California's stock

Originally Published: August 25, 2008
ESPNRISE.com

Which state annually produces the best high school football? ESPN Rise's editors have pared the field down to eight states. It's up to you to decide which is the last state standing.

 

Great State Debate

The Great State Debate poses a simple question: What state has the best high school football? We've edited the field down to eight. Check out our picks:

No. 1 seed Texas
No. 2 seed Florida
No. 3 seed California
No. 4 seed Ohio
No. 5 seed Pennsylvania
No. 6 seed Georgia
No. 7 seed Louisiana
No. 8 seed Virginia

Agree? Disagree? Join the debate.

No. 3 seed California

Population: 36.5 million

Number of high schools playing football: 1,100

Pro Football Hall of Famers: 28 players and coaches, including QB John Elway, RB Marcus Allen, RB Ollie Matson, RB John Henry Johnson, QB Dan Fouts, OL Anthony Munoz, DB Ronnie Lott.

Heisman Trophy Winners: 14, most recent RB Reggie Bush, QB Matt Leinart and QB Carson Palmer.

Top Current NFL Alums: QB Tom Brady, LB Junior Seau, DL Jared Allen, DB John Lynch.

Great Schools: Long Beach Poly (more current players in the NFL than from any other high school and more all-time than any other high school); De La Salle of Concord (national record 151-game winning streak from 1992 to 2004); Mater Dei of Santa Ana (one of only two schools with two Heisman Trophy winners); Bakersfield (more than 600 all-time wins and alma mater of Frank Gifford).

Points of Greatness:

• California gets an edge with sunny weather year-round plus innovative coaching.

• California trumps all other states for number of players in the NFL and at Super Bowls.

• Legendary coaches such as Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs, John Madden and others all got their start here. Walsh and other devotees of the passing game have flourished in California, which has helped the high schools shine brightest in the skill positions.

• California was home to the late Pete Rozelle, who as NFL commissioner ushered in the sport's TV era and was considered the father of the Super Bowl.

• Because so many of its top players spread out across the country to play in college, California often is underestimated as a football power. Notre Dame, Texas, Colorado and Miami, for example, have all had Heisman Trophy winners from California high schools.

• With the addition of the CIF (California Interscholastic Foundation) state bowl games two years ago, California's high school football continues to evolve.