There are currently 2004 players on the NFL team rosters. How do you get to join them? (Actually, you’ve got to be better than one of them so they get kicked off to make room for you.
Here’s a modest statistical list of things to do. The more items you can check off, the better your chances are.
Pick your parents carefully. If Mom doesn’t quite reach five foot tall and weighs 87 pounds soaking wet and Dad’s five foot six and tips the scale at 140, you’re gonna have an uphill battle to be an All Pro Offensive Lineman.
It’ll help a lot, too, if there’s a football tucked in to keep you company in your hospital newborn crib. You need to come from a rabid football family.
Mom needs to be the total “Soccer Mom” because someone is gonna have to get you to all those games, practices, clinics, camps, etc. during those early formative years.
It’s gonna be a big help if Dad played himself. High School? OK. College? Better. NFL? Even better still. Think about Archie Manning. He never made it to the Super bowl, but his sons Peyton and Eli each quarterbacked two Super Bowl winning teams. It’ll help too if your older siblings played – and the better they played the better your chances – same genes and you’ve got built in name recognition.
It helps if not only did Dad play, but that he coaches, or coached, at some level – the higher the better.
OK, so you’ve got the right parents. Now you need to pick the right high school. Forget playing for the Podunkville Power Possums. You need to pick a monster high school, filled with over the top football crazies. Not only are you going to get the best coaches and training, but you’re going to be playing with the best other players. If you are the best linebacker to ever set foot on a football field but your team doesn’t win a single game in four years, you’re likely out of luck in catching the college recruiters’ eyes.
Here’s a few high school possibilities from my home state of Texas. (By the way, when you play for the state championship finals in Cowboy stadium, you can figure there are already some NFL scouts watching the games even though it’s just high school.)
Take Austin Westlake High School for example. They just won back to back state championships at the highest classification in the state, 6A Div I. They’ve produced at least seven NFL players including Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Drew Brees and Nick Foles, along with Super Bowl winning kicker Justin Tucker, (most accurate kicker in NFL history ever.) Also, Sam Ehlinger, Westlake alum and Texas quarterback has declared for the NFL to bring the total to at least eight. In all sports together, they’ve won 46 state championships. The cheerleaders have been national champions four times, too. They’ve also produced players for MLB and the NBA, as well as the Olympics. My high school, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, had four coaches for all sports that were also full time classroom teachers. Westlake has 19 coaches and I’ll bet none of them teach anything but sports. I’d similarly bet that if they moved up to most colleges, they’d be taking a big pay cut.
Or in the Houston area, how about Katy High School? They’ve sent six to the NFL including Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton. They’ve won the state football championship eleven times including this year in the 6A Div II classification. And you’ll get to play in this nifty $70+ million stadium to catch the sports writers’ eyes.
If the Dallas area is more your style, give Allen High School a try. They’ve sent eleven to the NFL, including Heisman winner and first overall pick Kyler Murray. They were the first school to win the state championship three years in a row at the highest classification. And – they play in a pretty decent high school stadium, too.
Speaking of high school stadiums, of the ten largest in the country, nine are in Texas. The smallest “only” has a seating capacity of 18,000. I couldn’t find anything on the web newer than 2016, but at that time, Texas had 144 high schools with indoor practice facilities – the most in the country by far. You’ll be taking a facility step down if you don’t pick your college team carefully.
So, you’ve made it through high school as a statewide football hero. Where do you go to play college ball?
The current NFL players went to 310 different colleges. Let’s split them up by subdivision. Here’s how many current NFL players came from each:
It’s pretty obvious that you need to be playing for a Bowl Subdivision Team. And – you need to play for the right conference, too. There’s 64 different conferences that have contributed current NFL players. Here’s the top ten:
Your chances are gonna be better if you play for a major conference, preferably a Power 5 conference, if you want to catch the eye of the NFL scouts.
You want to go to a school with a winning tradition to keep your name in the NFL scouts’ eyes. I used the last 20 years AP end of the year polls to find the top 10 programs. I ran it two ways. In the first method, I gave 25 points for 1st place, 24 for 2nd place, etc. In the second method, I added to the first totals 20 points for a national championship, 5 for runner up, 1 for top ten, and 1 for undefeated. I also tried to account for how recent the positioning was by giving 20 points for 2020, 19 for 2019, etc. Here’s the results for both methods for the top ten schools:
Interestingly, the same schools showed up in both lists for winning reputation, although the order changed. So which schools have produced the most current NFL players? Here’s the top 25 list:
Not a real surprise that Alabama is on top. Nick Saban has put together a winning program for a long time. And he’s likely to keep it up as Alabama had the top recruiting class yet again. You’re not going wrong if you sign with Alabama. You’ll likely be in the running for a National Championship each year to add to your resumé.
So, there’s some food for thought in planning your quest to reach the NFL.
Oh – one last thing little thing – you’d better be one hell of a good player!!