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From Friday Night Lights to Any Given Sunday

The whole time I've been working on this post, I've been wondering if this is of any interest to anyone but me.  So here goes.

I'm a Madden junkie.  One of the things that I do from time to time is analyze where my team comes from.  Which programs are feeding my team?  What parts of the country?  This information does little more than satisfy my curiosity in Madden, but when done for a real life team it makes for some interesting tidbits to fill some of the void that is the offseason. 

I've compiled a map showing where each Texan player went to high school and then a map showing their colleges.  I've also crunched some of the data and come up with some interesting observations.  Lastly, I tried to make it fun and threw some trivia out there.

Like I said, this may be of interest only to me, but if you're curious, check it out after the jump.

Texans in High School

It's easy to forget how players got to the NFL. Yet, each of the players on the Texans was a high school star somewhere in the country. They were all shining under their own Friday Night Lights.  Most were All-State this and local newspaper that.  Several were top prospects on Rivals. There are some interesting stories hidden there.


Zoom down to the center of the map until you see the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway.  Hang a right and you'll find Naperville, Illinois.  You might see a random Texans jersey or two.  Catch a high school game around 1998 and you might think you were watching the Texans.  You'd see Owen Daniels making clutch receptions, Glenn Earl killing WRs with punishing tackles and Chris Brown running the ball all over everyone like they were Jacksonville.  Chris Brown and Glenn Earl went to Naperville North High School.  Owen Daniels went to Naperville Central High School.  I'm sure that at some point between 1996-1999 you could see the 3 of them on the same field.

Naperville is a really booming community.  MONEY magazine has them as the No. 2 Best Place to Live in America right in front of Houston's own Sugar Land at No. 3.  There are a lot of blogs about Naperville out there .  Guess they love their football.


Van Nuys

Now zoom way out west to southern California.  A short trip down the San Diego Freeway is all that separated Kevin Bentley and Travis Johnson.  They play on the same side of the ball, but Montclair Prep and Notre Dame High surely clashed on the gridiron.  I wonder who has bragging rights?


A Guaranteed Roster Spot

If you have dreams of your children growing up and playing for the Texans, you may want to think about sending them to Trinity Pauling Preparatory School in New York.  Chukky Okobi and Charles Spencer both went to high school there.  They're too far apart in age to have seen the same field, but if there's anything close to a guaranteed roster spot on the Texans, the coaches at Trinity may know something.


Click around on the high school map.  Each player is marked in red.



Texans in College

Most hardcore fans know what college their favorite players hail from.  Almost every Texans fan knows that Andre Johnson was a star at Miami and that Mario Williams ate quarterbacks at NC State.  But do you know which colleges most influence the Texans roster?  Do you know where the biggest chunk of talent on the Texans roster comes from?  Do you know what small schools produced your favorite Texan?  Click around and find out.


Big Programs

The Texans draw from 3 programs on a consistent basis.  The University of Miami, Virginia Tech and Colorado State alumni are all heavily featured in the Texans lineup.  There are 13 players and and 5 starters from these schools.  


Random Chance

There are 3 other schools that show up en masse on the the Texans roster, more by chance than by choice.  If you ever see people at Texans games wearing San Diego State, Purdue or Notre Dame gear you'll know why.  The Texans have 11 players and 4 starters from these schools.


Obscure Programs

The Texans have found a lot of small school gems.  Here's a list of some of the smaller schools you see represented at Reliant Stadium:


Delta State -> DT Anthony Maddox

East Carolina -> FB Vonta Leach

Eastern Kentucky -> CB Antwaun Molden

Eastern Michigan -> WR Kevin Walter

Lane College -> WR Jacoby Jones

Louisiana-Lafayette -> S C.C. Brown

Wisconson-Whitewater -> Matt Turk


Not exactly a list of NCAA powerhouse programs, but the Texans have 5 starters and 2 other solid players from this list.  Keep looking for the Texans to do well in the draft as they continue to unearth these small school prospects.


Click around on the college map.  Each player is marked in blue.



So What Does It All Mean?

Everything from this point on needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  They are comments on the roster composition in general.  They don't completely take into account the hybrid of Casserly (to a lesser degree) and Smith that is the Texans roster right now.  Smithiak definitely has the Texans on the right track.  That being said, there's a lot to think about.

Football Prodigy

I define a football prodigy as a player who plays his entire amateur career in one state.  The guy who grew up dreaming of being an NFL player; the guy that lifts like crazy over the summer to make the varsity team; the guy that isn't a WR, but knows all the route trees.  The Texans have 35 players that played their high school and college ball in the same state.  This doesn't make them better than players that moved around.  It just makes them easier to identify.

I also looked at players that moved 1 state away to play ball.  The Texans have another 15 players who pursued their careers like this.  It happens a lot in small states, and with players in towns right on the border with another state.  They might as well be the same program. 

So the Texans are definitely hungry for football; 50 of 80 players grew up with a football under one arm.


Kubiak loves Colorado

At first glance this might seem blindingly obvious.  He spent years there as a player and as a coach. Yet his affection for Colorado affects the roster make-up.  I noted above that Colorado State is one of the most influential programs on the Texans roster.  You can really see it in the UDFAs and roster filler that are signed.  Several have ties to Colorado.  This is neither good nor bad.  All coaches have their home turf that they're comfortable with; it's just interesting to note that there are an increasing number of mountain men on the Texans roster.


Bulls don't like corn

The Texans have a grand total of 3 players who played their college ball in the football factory states of Iowa, Michigan and Ohio.  These are midwest states that eat, drink and breathe pigskin. How is it that they don't end up on the Texans roster?  Yes, there are other places to find great football players.  It just seems really curious to have so few players from a region that generally produces good football talent.

Ocean Front Property...somewhere

Of the 80+ players currently on the Texans roster, 29 of them played high school football in either California, Florida or Georgia.  Yet we only have 14 players on the roster that played ball in those states. Why aren't we drafting more of them?  Especially from California where the ratio is a disturbing 3 college players to 11 high school players? This means that a lot of talent is getting away from these states.  We identify them as good players and sign them to the team; we just don't seem to be drafting them.  Why?


Gary, Indiana.  Gary, Indiana.   Someone must be singing that song down at 2 Reliant Park because the Texans have 9 players who played for college teams in Indiana, but not a single one went to high school there.  What is it about Indiana football that draws future Texans there?  What is it about Indiana that makes them good Texans?  I just found it very confusing.


Dirty South

The Texans are built from the Deep South.  Lots of players with ties to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.  Interestingly enough, the majority of them aren't from major programs.  No LSU or Auburn here.  Go Golden Tro-Caj-ans!


Texans Coming Home

The Texans have seen a very recent trend of players coming home to Texas to play.  Veterans like N.D. Kalu and Chaun Thompson, as well as draft picks like Kasey Studdard and Frank Okam.  It's nice to see the home team recognize the vast talent in their own back yard.