Crazy stat: Only one of California’s top 10 recruits is staying in-state

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There is a talent drain going on in California with the top recruits not staying to play college football in-state.

Given that the state consistently turns out dozens of players each year that are Power Five quality athletes, it is shocking to see that just one of the top 10 recruits in the class of 2024 stayed in-state and played for a California program.

It is crazy to think that five of the state’s top 10 recruits are heading to the SEC and just one athlete is staying in California to play college football. A decade ago, this would have been unthinkable, especially with USC seemingly cherrypicking the state’s top recruits each year.

Why are California’s top players leaving the state? Recent college football expansion and re-alignment might have something to do with it.

For starters, USC and UCLA were underwhelming this past season and it couldn’t come at a worse time. With a jump up to the Big Ten this fall, it isn’t a good look to see the two storied programs limp through their final year of the Pac-12.

With the Big Ten expected to be a significant jump up in competition, recruits might be eyeing both USC and UCLA with some caution. The Pac-12 teams are expected to have some learning curve over the next year or two, both with travel and the deeper talent in the conference. Those concerns might be leaving top recruits a bit wary about the transition to the Big Ten.

And then there are Cal and Stanford, both of whom were very much left behind in conference re-alignment. While both landed in the ACC, it is a tough sell to recruits to play in this hodgepodge of a conference.

But the biggest factor is clearly up north with Oregon. The Ducks, also heading to the Big Ten, have become the ‘it’ school on the West Coast and are hot. Between NIL and their in-style uniforms, Oregon is a big factor for California athletes.

Two of the state’s top 10 players are heading to Oregon, part of a 2024 class that includes 10 commits from California. Nine of the commits are ranked as four-star players.

Factor in head coach Danny Lanning and his young staff and it is an easy sell for many recruits to look up north a few hours to Eugene.

Oregon finished the season 12-2 and No. 7 in the USA TODAY LBM Coaches Poll.

No California program finished in the top 25. USC received votes in the final poll.

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