Let’s get this straight before looking into the 305 area code’s football dominance: Don’t refer to it as “Miami.” Guys from Fort Lauderdale or “Muck City” or Palm Beach won’t appreciate it.
Florida as a whole had the most NFL players on opening day rosters this season with 212, significantly outdistancing California and Texas . The most fertile ground for high-end football talent spans three counties: Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.
Smith came to St. Thomas Aquinas in 1972. He noticed the rise in South Florida football near the end of the ’70s. That’s when Smith noticed that not just the local schools were recruiting the area, but prominent Big Ten programs were coming down too.
Schnellenberger’s philosophy, as told in the 30 for 30 documentary “The U,” was to make sure Miami hoarded all the plentiful local talent. Miami became the best program in college football, winning five national championships over an 18-year span.
The University of Miami’s rise to power in the 1980s had an effect. When Howard Schnellenberger took over as Hurricanes coach in 1979, the program was struggling. Big Ten powers and Notre Dame had mostly recruited the Midwest or the East Coast.
Florida has an advantage not many states have. Kids can train outside year-round due to the weather. That is a factor. Training in extreme heat and humidity in summer is a benefit too. Young players can spend all year honing their skills.
Also see How many NFL Players are drafted each year