Texas, Florida and Louisiana are known as the traditional high school football factories.
But none produces talent quite like Hawaii. Neither does any other state.
On a per capita basis, Hawaii produced the most players on Football Bowl Subdivision rosters in 2009, a Tulsa World analysis shows.
The Aloha State sent 3.8 players on to major college football teams per 1,000 boys age 15-19. That’s 50 percent more than the No. 2 state, Louisiana (2.5). Per capita, Honolulu is the top producing metro area (4.6), with almost 40 percent more than second-place New Orleans (3.2).
“Football is a big part of the Polynesian way of life,” said Jeremy Crabtree, the national recruiting editor for Rivals.com. “That’s why we see how well they support things.”
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Like football at the University of Hawaii. The Warriors averaged 36,725 fans at home games this year. With a state population of 1.2 million, that’s the equivalent of Oklahoma averaging 105,000 fans at Memorial Stadium.
The state’s football offerings extend to the Hawaii Bowl and a high school all-star game, the Hawaii/Polynesia Mainland Bowl.
The Polynesian love of football comes from a few aspects of their culture, said Steve Lineweaver, the head football coach at Euless (Texas) Trinity High School, which has a large Polynesian population and does a traditional Haka war dance before games.
The Pacific Islands’ warrior history lends itself to physical sports like rugby or football.
Their culture also values family — which is perfect for a team sport like football.
“It’s just what you ordered,” Lineweaver said.
Add in a great climate that allows year-round practice, and Hawaii has the seeds to become the most fertile football recruiting ground in the country.
“In our neck of the woods, Hawaii isn’t what we think about,” Crabtree said, “but it’s something recruiters have known for quite some time.”