March 9, 2012

In state, Central is at the top

RIVALS MICHIGAN SITES: U of M | MSU | CMU | WMU

Brady Hoke and Mark Dantonio aren't the only coaches in Michigan emphasizing the importance of signing in-state recruits.

In fact, no FBS program in the state recruits Michigan prospects as heavily as Central Michigan. Over the last five years, 54 percent of the players to sign with the Chippewas have come from the state of Michigan.

"We're not Central Florida or Central Arkansas," Chippewas coach Dan Enos said. "We're Central Michigan. I've always believed you've got to do as well as you can recruiting your home state first."

The numbers suggest that's a clear philosophical difference from Michigan's other two Mid-American Conference programs: Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan.

Less than 20 percent of the signees at Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan over the last five years were in-state recruits. Western Michigan actually has signed more than twice as many Floridians as Michiganders over the last five years.

Western Michigan's emphasis on Florida is easy to understand. Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit is a former University of Florida and UCF assistant who also had a head coaching stint at Stuart (Fla.) Martin County High. And it's hard to argue with Eastern Michigan's strategy, as the Eagles went 6-6 last year while producing their highest win total since 1995.

Although Central Michigan's focus on in-state recruits preceded his arrival as the Chippewas' coach, Enos has continued that approach. He believes signing local players is a safer long-term strategy.

Enos notes that he's likely to have more contact with a recruit from close by then with a prospect from across the country. The close proximity naturally makes it easier to have more face-to-face conversations with the recruit as well as his coach and his family.

And that naturally makes it easier to know whether that prospect is the right fit for his program.

"If you're going to have good retention in college - and in college football that's key, especially in this conference, to have guys who will remain with you four or five years so you can develop them - you'd better know what you're getting at the front end," Enos said. "It's very important to establish a relationship with these people. Obviously, the closer they are to us, the more we'll know about them."


Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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