Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Most important targets: Pac-12
By Erik McKinney
There are a number of impact players in the 2014 recruiting class still uncommitted and looking hard at Pac-12 programs. While one commit won't likely make a break a class, there are prospects out there that are extremely important for each class, for reasons on and off the field. This week, we take a look at arguably the top uncommitted target for each program, and why the recruit would make such an impact for that school.
OT Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino)
6-foot-6, 278 pounds
Arizona leads the conference with 27 commitments, but the Wildcats are still in the running for several prospects. Mike would give Arizona its highest-rated offensive line commit in this class and landing a local product as coveted as Mike is necessary for Rich Rodriguez to prove that Arizona recruiting is capable of locking down its base as more and more talent comes through the state.
OT Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton)
6-6, 290 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 46
The big tackle has done well to downplay his recruitment and quietly narrow things down to Arizona State and Stanford, but there would be some serious noise if Tucker eventually chooses the Sun Devils. Arizona State would make a statement by keeping the top-ranked player in the state at home and would add a player capable of stepping onto the field as a true freshman.
RB Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom)
6-1, 209 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 72
Mixon still has the Golden Bears in his top four and it's evident that the hometown pull is still alive as he looks at possible destinations. It would be one of the shocks of the 2014 recruiting year if Mixon wound up at Cal after the Bears’ rough season on the field, but it would be a huge boost of momentum for head coach Sonny Dykes and the Golden Bears. Knowing that, Dykes will go after Mixon in a big way over the next two months.
WR Sam Boyd (Riverside, Calif./Riverside Community College)
6-4, 235 pounds
With the news that Paul Richardson won't be back next year for the Buffaloes, Colorado would benefit from the addition of a big-bodied receiver capable of stepping immediately onto the field. Reeling in Boyd would also mean a big recruiting victory over conference foes Arizona State, Cal and Washington State.
CB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
5-10, 182 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 7
The Ducks have significant targets at both wide receiver and cornerback -- the two positions Jackson could play -- but grabbing a commitment from Jackson would signify another huge recruiting victory for a Los Angeles area prospect over UCLA and USC. Jackson certainly wouldn't make or break Oregon's class, but it would give the Ducks another high-profile recruit similar to De'Anthony Thomas, capable of stepping into a similar role on offense and special teams.
OT Kaleb McGary (Fife, Wash./Fife)
6-8, 284 pounds
The Beavers took just two offensive linemen in the 2013 class and offensive tackle Sean Harlow jumped into the starting lineup as a true freshman, so adding depth and talent to that position is a must for Oregon State. McGary holds a number of impressive offers and the Beavers were able to grab an official visit from the big tackle in late November. With offers from Arizona State, Oregon, USC, Washington and Wisconsin, McGary would represent an important recruiting win for the Beavers.
DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Tex./Coppell)
6-3, 256 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 31
Stanford is still in on a number of impact prospects, but adding Thomas to the Cardinal front seven haul would put a significant cherry on top of the 2014 class. The Cardinal have grabbed high-profile offensive linemen away from national programs over the past few years, and doing the same thing with a defensive lineman would send yet another message that Stanford isn't going away on the recruiting trail anytime soon. Thomas would also likely immediately plug into a defensive front that has become one of the conference's best.
OG Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)
6-4, 370 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 54
Mama has been a longtime USC lean, but the Bruins haven't given up the chase behind offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. While UCLA signed a number of offensive linemen in the 2013 class, the Bruins will look to add a few this year as well, as Mama is likely the top big man on the board. Pulling him toward Westwood would also present another significant recruiting victory over USC.
ATH John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly)
6-1, 206 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 38
Smith is capable of playing safety or wide receiver at the next level and the Trojans will likely be in need of both for the 2014 season. Smith has taken visits to Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oregon, but will save his fifth for USC in late January. Jackson and Mama also represent significant recruiting targets for the Trojans, but USC has always had strong ties to Long Beach Poly and grabbing smith could also help with 2015 ESPN 300 prospect and teammate Iman Marshall.
TE Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham)
6-6, 235 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 138
This will likely be an uphill battle for Utah against Notre Dame and Stanford, but the Utes are still in it for Schultz and will look to keep the dynamic tight end at home. Schultz would easily be the biggest recruiting victory for Utah in recent years, while he would add an extremely talented player to a position group that has been a strength for Utah in recent seasons.
S Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue)
5-9, 174 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 147
While Oregon appears to be the clear leader and UCLA continues to push itself into the picture, keeping Baker at home is one of the first things new coach Chris Petersen is likely to address on the recruiting trail. The Huskies missed out on the top player in Washington in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, so adding Baker to the class wouldn't just give Washington a dynamic athlete, capable of playing multiple positions on both sides of the ball, it would send a strong message that Petersen and the Huskies are back to keeping the Pacific Northwest talent in state.
DT Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue)
6-2, 299 pounds
Griffin committed to Washington State earlier in the process, but backed away from that and is now looking at a number of programs, including Arizona, California and Washington, as well as the Cougars. While Washington State is in the mix for several impactful skill position prospects, pulling Griffin back into the mix would be huge because it would give the Cougars a talented recruit at a position where you can never have too much depth, and it would give Mike Leach another prospect from a state power high school.