Here is the reason that recruiting for football is better in the South. It does have to do with demographics (i.e. a high percentage of African-Americans), but that does not expain it away because there are plenty of white football players coming out too. It has everything to do with the sports culture. Football is king in the southern states no one will argue that point unless they suck. What this means for the sporting culture is the best athletes play football because there is a strong incentive socially, both from peers and the community. High school football games are well attended and they give a strong social standing to the players that excel. In northern and western states there is an incentive, but the best athletes typically pick basketball. LeBron was a nasty wide receiver and I am sure that he would have made the NFL on sheer athletic talent, but he chose basketball. Ohio is a good football state, but basketball is still considered the more posh sport. Julio Jones is the inverse of LeBron in this arguement. Julio, who grew up in the Mobile area, played football and chose to play football going forward. I have little doubt that if he put together a jump shot and a couple of ankle breaking moves that he couldn’t have gotten a shot with a good DI basketball school. He has freakish athletic ability which coaches in any sport love. I am not saying that the NBA would be a sure thing for him, but players get drafted based off of their superior athletic ability all of the time [see Gerald Green].
Here is another simple fact: South = Country; North = Cities. How many great football players have come out of Chicago or New York in the past twenty years? I can name a few basketball players off the top of my head but no football players. The state of Alabama has produced more top ten picks in the last three years then NYC has in the last twenty five and Bama is a third of the size of NYC. In Alabama, kids have things called fields and stadiums. In NYC, they have black tops and Central Park. Central Park can’t be the best place for an incubator of football greatness. The simple geography of the regions has to play a big part not to mention the weather. Football is an outside sport and the springs are typically reserved for more practice time. As a carpetbagger, I know first hand that sometimes it snows in May above the Mason-Dixon line.
Football is king in the south so that is what the kids play. Basketball rules the cities and the north, so that is what the kids play. It really isn’t too hard to figure that out. I would plan on seeing a lot more championships coming out of the southern states in future and not many from states where it is cold for more than two months out of the year.