FB: California among top WR states

Wide receiver is a very curious position when you look at it from the perspective of three particularly dominant states, especially with regards to their ability to generate the sort of NFL-caliber talent that influences betting lines.

Of the 200 wide receivers in the NFL rosters last year, 32 played football at high schools in Florida, 26 in California and 19 in Texas, altogether constituting an estimated 38.5 percent of all receivers in the NFL.

DeSean Jackson cover: Student Sports

DeSean Jackson cover of Student Sports Magazine (2005)

When you look at the position of wide receiver, it becomes that much easier to see the concentration of football talent in those three states. If you study the figures, you will realize that a notable 33 percent of all the players on NFL rosters last year hailed from Florida, California and Texas high schools.

Overall, the South seems to dominate when you look at the wide receiver talent, at least with regards to college level football. There is a noticeable tilt towards the south and California, with Florida and Clemson leading the way on the NFL rosters last year (with five players).

Besides these areas, Alabama, Louisiana State, Washington, Georgia Tech, Ohio State and Louisville are not too far behind. Both Marvin Jones Jr. (new Lions’ receiver from Redlands East Valley High) and Jeremy Ross (Jets’ receiver and punt returner) went to Cal where they played football.

The rising star in San Diego is Keenan Allen, who also attended Cal, along with DeSean Jackson, now on the Redskins’ roster and also from Long Beach Poly.

If you want to understand the wide receiver position a little better, then there is no better person to talk to than Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. He was a receiver at Northern Illinois. He also played for the San Francisco 49ers back in 2005.

Considering his relatively shaky start, going 1-11 in his first year in 2013, Fleck eventually helped lead Western to consecutive 8-5 seasons. Fleck’s understanding of the wide receiver position is such that Northern Illinois chose to hire him as a receivers coach.

Before starting his job as head coach at WMU, Fleck also had the opportunity to work with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a receivers coach. Fleck will be the first to accept that the warm-weather states typically deliver the best receiver talent. However, Fleck also thinks that those people who make it to the pros are distinguished from those that fail by their willingness to do the work necessary to reach their goals.

According to Fleck, everyone wants to be coached, and each coach’s approach will vary depending on the person they are coaching. Educators are responsible for finding ways to coach distinct students with unique gifts, and Fleck’s time in Tampa Bay (2012) proved as much.

Fleck met Vincent Jackson, a player who was the same age as him while he was in Tampa. This was Fleck as a first-year wide receiver trying to add value to Vincent Jackson who had been in the Pro Bowl for several years.

Jackson’s words for Fleck were straightforward. He would give Fleck a few weeks, and during that time, if Fleck proved that he could help him, Jackson would listen.

Fleck sought to understand Jackson, whose goals were to start in the Pro Bowl. And Fleck promised to help him achieve that very goal. With 72 catches for 1,384 yards that season, Jackson led the NFL with a 19.2 yards per catch average.

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