Thursday, November 7, 2013
Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Nov. 7
By Erik McKinney
The game of the year in the Pac-12 is finally here, as recruits will tune in Thursday night to watch Stanford host Oregon (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET). The UCLA Bruins proved that the offensive line recruiting magic from last year's class is still alive and well. Official visitors will be on hand at Utah and Cal. And fans of Arizona State and Oregon could get a glimpse of the future during a high-stakes high school clash on Saturday.
Ducks flock to the Farm
While recruits won't be packing the sidelines and virtually zero prospects will be affected by this game, the Oregon-Stanford matchup still has the attention of a number of prospects. Both schools are so set with successful seasons and noteworthy recruiting classes that a loss on Thursday night won't affect either of those things. But a win would be a big step toward a berth in the Pac-12 championship game and that much more exposure for the program as they chase out-of-state recruits.
Offensive lineman flips to UCLA
Once the offer from UCLA arrived, it seemed as though it would be only a matter of time before offensive lineman NaJee Toran (Houston/North Shore) flipped his commitment from Oregon State. That thought proved to be true this week, as Toran returned from an official visit to UCLA and announced the news on Tuesday. It's another offensive line victory for UCLA assistant coach Adrian Klemm, and specifically, another victory in the state of Texas. Klemm has been tremendous in both areas, so the fact that he was able to reel in Toran comes as no surprise. Toran is the first commitment along either line for the Bruins, but after UCLA brought in seven offensive linemen in the 2013 class, the position likely won't be a priority in 2014.
Utah gets two visitors
Utah has hosted a number of official visitors on several weekends this season and the Utes will have an opportunity to make an impact on at least two more this weekend. ESPN 300 athlete Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and cornerback Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial) will make the trip to see the Utes. Wadood is committed to Cal, though the nation's No. 297 prospect took an official visit to Oregon State and will take one to UCLA later this month. It wouldn't be a complete shock to see the four-star standout eventually flip his commitment to another Pac-12 program. Fisher's first official visit will come this weekend and the three-star cornerback is very content with his UCLA pledge, though Pac-12 programs, including USC, will continue to press for him.
Golden Bears get big visitor
Erik Brown will be one of several prospects visiting Berkeley.
ESPN 300 wide receiver Erik Brown (Fontana, Calif./Summit) will use his fourth official visit to see California this weekend. The nation's No. 190 recruit overall and a Washington commit previously tripped to Nebraska, Oregon State and Notre Dame. The Golden Bears will also have a number of unofficial visitors on hand, as several of Brown's 7-on-7 teammates from his Ground Zero team will make the trip for unofficial visit. Among them will be quarterback Damion Wright (Fontana, Calif./Jurupa Hills), wide receiver Evan Tyler (Corona, Calif./Roosevelt) and safety Elijah Jones (Upland, Calif./Upland).
Four remaining for Richard
Four-star running back Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale) took to Twitter on Wednesday to announce his final four schools. Arizona State, Utah, Washington and West Virginia made the cut for the 5-foot-9, 197-pound back, though the Sun Devils and Huskies have been the clear favorites for some time. While Richard doesn't get some of the same publicity that the top two backs in the state -- Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) and Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Impreial) -- receive, this is a recruiting battle to watch. Not only is Richard a very talented back, but the dropoff after him in terms of uncommitted California running backs is substantial. Richard is the No. 37 overall prospect in the state, while the next uncommitted back comes in at No. 96.
Future Pac-12 showdown
Saturday's matchup between Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic and Novato (Calif.) San Marin carries plenty in the way of bragging rights for two Pac-12 fan bases. The undefeated Wildcats of Marin Catholic are led by Oregon quarterback commit Morgan Mahalak, while the Mustangs are captained by Arizona State quarterback commit Manny Wilkins. They are great friends off the field, but will take a brief, 60-minute pause in that friendship on Saturday afternoon. Both quarterbacks have been phenomenal this season, as Mahalak has done virtually all of his damage in the first half of games, as his team has run out to nearly insurmountable leads in the first 30 minutes. Wilkins has been nearly as impressive of late, as his team came back from a three-point loss in the second game of the year to run off seven straight wins.