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Published: Monday, 2/9/2009

UT, BGSU lay claim to state of 'mine'

Dave Clawson, the new head ball coach in Wood County, refers to his school's primary recruiting area as the state of Bowling Green.

"The state of Bowling Green includes the state of Ohio and every area within a four-hour drive," of campus, according to Governor Clawson, who issued a state-of-the-state address last week on national football signing day.

The Falcons' coach announced that "19 of our 22 commitments are from the state of Bowling Green."

Toledo's new coach, Tim Beckman, wasn't quite as clever. But he offered a similar sound bite.

"Our No. 1 priority is to recruit the best players from a four-hour radius, from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana over to the Chicago area, and in the other direction to western Pennsylvania," Beckman said, adding that 12 of the Rockets' 22 incoming players hailed from the state of Bowli uh, sorry.

It's a tall task to stock a roster, or even the bulk of a roster, from such insular confines. Because there are about 20 Division I schools that lie within those boundaries and plenty of others that aren't paying taxes but visit regularly.

Penn State, Ohio State, and West Virginia, for example, aren't located in western Pennsylvania, but they, along with Pitt, are the Big Four that draw talent from that lush area. The Buckeyes' top recruit in each of its last two classes - quarterback Terrelle Pryor a year ago and linebacker Dorian Bell most recently - hail from western Pa.

The Chicago market is a hotbed for Notre Dame and Big Ten schools to the east, as well as for the Wisconsins and Nebraskas that come in from the north and west. Not to forget the south, Ole Miss' top '09 recruit is a defensive end from Chicago.

Consider just the state of Ohio, one of the nation's most fertile football recruiting grounds. OSU plucks the plum players year in and year out. Michigan regularly dips a toe or two into Ohio's waters. Notre Dame has always been a factor with such a wealth of parochial high schools in the state. Northwestern's No. 1 signee is a defensive lineman from Columbus. Two of the top talents in Toledo high schools were recruited this time by Alabama and Iowa.

If you take a map and draw a circle representing a four-hour drive from Bowling Green and Toledo's campuses, you'll find a lot of schools planting a lot of flags. And those include fellow Mid-American Conference members Miami, Ohio, Kent, Akron, Ball State, and the league's three Michigan schools that are all jockeying for, to be honest, the prime scraps.

"It is a very heavily recruited area," UT's Beckman agreed. "But it has to be our first goal. After that, we'll rely on our contacts in Florida, for example, where we got three good kids. I've recruited the Mississippi junior colleges in past years and we were able to get a big defensive lineman from one of them. We signed a defensive end from Oklahoma City that I'd been recruiting for the last year and a half at Oklahoma State.

"So, we'll go out and find the best kids we can from wherever they happen to be. But our No. 1 priority is that four-hour radius. We've got some special things we can sell those kids."

Clawson feels the same way about BG. The coaches at Eastern Michigan and Ball State feel the same way. They're all recruiting many of the same kids from many of the same crowded places, hoping to plant a flag now and then.

Contact Blade sports columnist

Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398.



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