Apr 4 2014, 4:59pm CDT | by Forbes
Pro-Football-Reference.com — an excellent resource if you need to, as the site’s title plainly states, refer to some numbers or history regarding pro football — just added a new category of information: high schools of NFL players. It’s another fun factoid you can look up, but it also sends a message about how unlikely it is that a high school star will sniff a down of pro football.
The site in April added high schools for more than 22,000 players for whom it had information. It’s not complete — I don’t see my high school, Carmel (Ind.), included for my year-behind-me classmate, 1992′s Mr. Irrelevant, Matt Elliott. But it’s complete enough to get an idea that even the high schools that are perceived football factories aren’t sending many players to the NFL.
The top high school for supplying talent is Long Beach Poly in California, which is the No. 1 state for producing NFL talent. Out of 22,000-plus players over nearly 100 years, Long Beach Poly has supplied 54, California, 2,709, with 300 listed as active. How many kids have played high school football in California over that time? More than 1 million, probably. As for my high school, which is a football power in Indiana — seven state big-school championships out of 12 finals appearances since playoffs began in 1973 — Pro-Football-Reference.com counts a whopping two: quarterback Mark Herrmann, who played for 12 years in the NFL, and offensive tackle Shawn Heffern, who played for one game.
I’ve already mentioned that the site left off my former year-behind-me classmate, but even if there are 5,000 players whose high schools aren’t listed, the result is the same. Many play high school football, few make it to the NFL.
I will grant that many, many of those high school players don’t have any thoughts they will play college football, much less the pros, so in theory the odds aren’t as daunting for elite players. But, still, any parent who has professional dreams for a child football player should look at Pro-Football-Reference.com’s high school chart, and think long and hard about making the meaning of the sport — or any sport — something that a child enjoys. If your kid beats the odds, great. But Pro-Football-Reference.com reminds us those are pretty tall odds.
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