New in the DataSphere, a small database of the top high school football recruits of the class of 2009 as selected by Roanoke Times sports writer Doug Doughty. In addition to the players’ names and high schools, you get their height, weight and position. Plus, your results are mapped.
And it was the map that got my attention:
Each blue marker represents a school attended by one of the top recruits. It’s not all that surprising that most of the blue is in the populous eastern part of the state, especially Tidewater, the Richmond area and Northern Virginia.
But look at the Roanoke Valley.
But for that one marker in Vinton for Tyler Snow of William Byrd High School, there would be a gaping hole around Roanoke a hundred miles across.
What’s the story here? It’s not that no players of note have come from the area ever. There’s the Barber twins out of Cave Spring, of course. Lee Suggs out of William Fleming. More recently, Nick Schmidt punted for Virginia Tech and opted out of what seemed to be automatic work as a punter in the NFL. There are others, too, I’m sure, though they aren’t coming to mind as I write this.
But the pattern seems obvious. Last year’s map looked about like this one. There are prospects coming out of the less populous western half of the state, and yet they consistently don’t come from the biggest population center in the region — the Roanoke Valley.
I could suppose that part of the problem may be a lack of development at an early age. Roanoke City Schools dumped middle-school football years ago. That can’t help, at least as far as Roanoke schools go.
But only addresses part of the question.
So how about some input here. I’m not sportswriter, or sports analyst, so maybe my premise is wrong. If it is, straighten me out. But if I’m on the mark, what’s your theory about what’s going on?