California is experiencing a talent exodus and top players are not staying in the state to play college football.
Considering that the state consistently produces dozens of players each year who are Power Five quality athletes, it’s shocking to see that only one of the top 10 recruits in the Class of 2024 stayed in the state and played for a California program.
It’s crazy to think that five of the top 10 recruits in the state are going to the SEC and just one athlete is staying in California to play college football. A decade ago, this would have been unimaginable, especially when USC picks up the state’s top recruits every year.
Why are California’s top players leaving the state? The recent expansion and realignment of college football may have something to do with it.
For starters, USC and UCLA were underdogs last season and this couldn’t have come at a worse time. With a jump to the Big Ten this fall, it’s not good to see two storied programs limping along in their final year in the Pac-12.
With the Big Ten expected to make a significant bump in the competition, recruits may want to keep an eye on both USC and UCLA with some caution. Expect Pac-12 teams to learn something over the next year or two with travel and deep talent in the conference. These concerns may be making top recruits a little wary about transitioning to the Big Ten.
And then there’s Cal and Stanford, both of whom were left far behind in the conference realignment. While both landed in the ACC, it’s a tough sell for recruits to play in this hodgepodge of conferences.
But the biggest factor is clearly to the north with Oregon. The Ducks, who are also headed to the Big Ten, have become the ‘it’ school on the West Coast and are hot. Between the zeroes and their stylized 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 players from California. Nine commitments are ranked as four-star players.
Factor in head coach Danny Lanning and his young staff and for many recruits the idea of looking a few hours north to Eugene is an easy sell.
Oregon finished the season 12–2 and ranked No. 7 in the USA TODAY LBM Coaches Poll.
No California programs finished in the top 25. USC received votes in the final poll.