Is in-state recruiting really getting any harder?

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Pat Harty just published a post on Hawk Central titled "Pat Harty: Landing in-state recruits not as easy as it used to be" (yeah, his name is in the title...) about Iowa only holding 3 commitments (Jon Winsnieski, Trevon Young and Ike Boettger) from the 9 in-state players that currently hold Iowa offers. Sure, 3 for 9 sounds bad, but 4 of those players are part of the 2014 class, so still probably about a year away from making their college choices. I have no idea why they were included. So anyway, the real number we should be worrying about here is 3 of 5. Now, 3 of 5 doesn't sound so bad. 60%. Is recruiting in-state really any harder than it used to be?

I'm not sure what time frame Harty is using when he says, "All I’m saying is that I can’t remember when so many in-state recruits held Iowa offers without committing." He does mention Hayden Fry at one point, but I'm going to use the past 12 years since that is the data that's available on Rivals.com. In that time, Iowa has offered a scholarship to 76 in-state players and 56 of them committed to the Hawkeyes. So that's about 74%. Not too shabby.

In-State recruiting by year

Year Offered Committed Percent
2002 8 6 75%
2003 9 5 56%
2004 10 7 70%
2005 5 5 100%
2006 2 1 50%
2007 6 6 100%
2008 5 3 60%
2009 10 9 90%
2010 7 5 71%
2011 4 3 75%
2012 5 3 60%
2013 5 3 60%
Total 76 56 74%

There have been ups and downs in the past 12 years, and 60% seems pretty much in the "normal" range. In 2003, the percentage was low with a bunch of kids headed to Iowa State (maybe the Seneca Wallace powered come back had something to do with that). 2008 and 2012 matched this year's success rate. And 2006 had so little data it's hard to really fault the 50%.

So maybe the past 2 years, where Iowa has gone 3 of 5 in each, looks a little troubling. But Iowa had similar slumps in the early 2000s. And it does kind of look like Iowa is trending down a little over the past couple of years because it hasn't had a 100% year in a while. But I ran a linear regression analysis over this data and Iowa is only trending down about 0.5% a year, which is practically nothing.

I did look at the 4-year moving average (since 4-years is the number seems to matter with recruiting for pretty obvious reason) and it has trended down. For a while, there the 4-year average was hanging around 80%, but that last 4 years has dropped to 67%, which is the lowest 4-year period in the past 13 years.

  • 2005 - 71.9%
  • 2006 - 69.2%
  • 2007 - 82.6%
  • 2008 - 83.3%
  • 2009 - 82.6%
  • 2010 - 82.1%
  • 2011 - 76.9%
  • 2012 - 76.9%
  • 2013 - 66.7%

Where are these other kids going?

Mostly to Iowa State... 8 of the 20 kids to end up somewhere other than Iowa became Cyclones. I'm not sure what Pat Harty says that "Iowa State has without question narrowed the in-state recruiting gap" is completely true though. Again, half of those ISU commits came in 2002 and the number has really dwindled in the past few years. Just 1 head-to-head in-state kid picked ISU over Iowa in the past 7 years: Collin Bevins (he grew up as an Iowa State fan and Iowa still made it interesting almost getting him to switch). The other schools with more than 1 commit where Michigan (2) and Missouri (3). Other than that, it is pretty much one offs to other regional schools (Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, etc...).

This study from mgoblog is a couple years old now, but it shows that Iowa does better at keeping kids in-state than any other school in the B1G. Of kids that committed to a B1G school between 2002 and 2011, Iowa has kept 91% of those kids in-state. Wisconsin came in second keeping 72% of their in-state kids. Northwestern was WAY down there keeping only 16%. So yeah, the Hawkeyes are doing pretty good recruiting the state of Iowa.

The Des Moines problem

It certainly feels like Iowa has been struggling recently to get kids from the state's capital to commit. And that data backs that up. In the past 12 years, Iowa has offered 12 kids from either Des Moines or West Des Moines and only 6 have committed to Iowa. That's a little below the average batting average, and compare to the Hawkeye's home town of Iowa City, where they've landed 6 of the 7 they've offered, it's not so great. I think what's the most disturbing about the trend is that prior to 2009, Iowa was 4 of 6 in the DSM area, and since then are just 2 of 6. If we really want to zero in on the problem, it's West Des Moines Valley High School, where just 2 out of 7 kids have accepted their Iowa offer.

Stars matter

Stars Offered Committed Percent
2-star 1817 94%
3-star 4230 72%
4-star 147 50%
NR 2 2 100%

The majority of the in-state players that Iowa has offered were 3-star recruiting. And Iowa has done well with this group getting commitment from 30 of the 42 (72%--right in line with the overall percent). Moving down to 2-stars and Iowa has done even better getting nearly every single one. It fits the mold of what we think of Iowa recruiting too. They often find overlooked and unheralded kids. And will often find them late in the recruiting process. It is really the 4-star players that Iowa has struggled to maintain, getting only half of the 14 offered.

Part of the deal too, is that recruiting services are heavily swayed when assigning stars by the schools that have offered. So a 2-star kid that went completely under the radar and that Iowa offered in late January may really be equally talented as a 4-star kid that ends up at Oregon with offers from a few other major conference teams.

So anyway, if we start looking at that 4-year average again, it becomes a little clearer why Iowa has dropped a little on its success rate among in-state offers. In some of the years, when Iowa had a lot of in-state commits, it had a lot of in-state 2-star offers. In the past 4 years, the offer break down is 2-stars: 2, 3-stars: 10, 4-stars: 4 and not rated: 2. So twice as many 4-star offers than 2-star offers. Compare that to the previous 4-years where there were more 2-star kids offered than 4-stars (2-stars: 6, 3-stars: 12, 4-stars: 5). So basically, yeah, with the type of player Iowa is recruiting lately (more highly touted), a slight drop off is expected. It has been a little more of a drop than mathematically expected, though.

Non-Iowans in Iowa

Harty's conclusion was that a bunch of the recent recruits didn't have any previous ties to the UofI, so that's why they were harder to get to commit. Quite a few were from outside the state and only moved to Iowa recently...some grew up as fans of other schools in the state. And yeah, that is probably a big part of it.

It's interesting that the stereotype about Iowa commits is that they are the homegrown, corn-fed farm boy. And to Harty's point, that stereotype isn't really applicable any more.

Answering the question

So does any of that really mean that recruiting in-state really any harder than it used to be? I think the answer is no... Has it changed? Yeah, probably. The landscape may be changing some and maybe Iowa is recruiting a different type of player. But basically the same problems Iowa has had for the past 12 years (with higher rated players and kids from Des Moines), the Hawkeyes still have now.

What it comes down to, is that Iowa has and still does get the majority of the kids that it wants in-state.

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