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State Of The (Student) Union: Determining The Best CFB State

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Illinois schools haven't claimed a conference title since 2001, but they rank as the most underrated state in the country for producing football talent. Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images.
Illinois schools haven't claimed a conference title since 2001, but they rank as the most underrated state in the country for producing football talent. Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images.

2. VIRGINIA 

Roster Vitals: 62.5 percent, 109 exports

Schools: Virginia, Virginia Tech  

They say Virginia is for lovers. Well, Virginia also is for football.  

The Old Dominion’s two schools thrive at keeping their talent in-state. Those that can’t catch on at Virginia or Virginia Tech? Many of them find playing time elsewhere — 113 to be exact. That’s enough to make Virginia among the Top-15 exporters of talent. But Virginia’s strength is its ability to keep talent home. The results are a Virginia Tech program (made of 65 percent Virginians) that’s won four of the last nine ACC titles.  

1. ILLINOIS 

Vitals: 39 percent, 208 exports  

Schools: Illinois, Northern Illinois, Northwestern  

Illinois’ three schools don’t always strike fear into opponents, especially considering none of them have sniffed a conference title since the Illini claimed the Big Ten in 2001.   But, plainly put, the Prairie State is talent-rich. All told, 317 Illinois athletes can be found strapping on shoulder pads on Saturdays in the FBS. Illinois is the No. 1 exporter of talent among schools, after the six aforementioned powerhouses, with 208 of its players traveling outside the Land of Lincoln to play ball.  

The 39 percent in-state roster percentage is deceivingly low, considering 42 and 50 percent of Illinois and Northern Illinois players attended high school in the state, respectively. Dragging Illinois down is Northwestern and its 27-percent rate.