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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Pac-12 class rankings analysis

By Erik McKinney

There's a new No. 1 team in the Pac-12, according to the updated team rankings released on Wednesday.

Arizona State made the biggest jump of any team in the rankings, leaping from No. 22 to No. 17 overall, and in the process, bypassing Arizona, which moved from No. 18 to No. 19.

Six Pac-12 teams are now in the rankings, with the addition of USC at No. 39. Stanford fell back one spot to No. 26, due to Penn State's rise, while Oregon remains at No. 29, and UCLA rounds out the rankings at No. 40.

Trending up: Red and gold in the Pac-12 South.

Sure, it's not really red for either program, but whether it's the maroon of Arizona State or the cardinal of USC, those two programs shined on the recruiting trail this past week. Few teams anywhere are as hot as Arizona State, which added six commitments --including two four-stars -- in past week. The haul featured three defensive linemen, two running backs and an offensive tackle. But if any Pac-12 program can challenge the Sun Devils over that same period, it's USC, which added three four-star commitments and a three-star cornerback since last Wednesday. The Trojans are the newest Pac-12 program to appear in the updated class rankings, as USC checks in at No. 39.

Even though those two programs have been hot over the past week, it seems slightly unfair to leave this category without mentioning the fact that a case could be made for virtually every Pac-12 program. Arizona, California, Colorado, Utah, Washington and Washington State all received verbal commitments from important recruits over the past week, in what was an incredibly successful seven days for Pac-12 coaches on the recruiting trail and hosting official visitors.

Trending down: Cal might have grabbed two junior-college commitments over the weekend -- Sam Atoe and Trevor Kelly, teammates at College of San Mateo (Calif.) -- but the Golden Bears publicly lost a commitment in three-star defensive end Isadore Outing (Houston/Andy Dekaney) on Tuesday, and Cal will need to fight hard to keep recruits such as athlete Koa Farmer (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) and running backs Vic Enwere (Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Bend Austin) and Tre Watson (Corona, Calif./Centennial) in this class. There's still plenty of time for head coach Sonny Dykes to put this class together, and Cal will get long looks from a number of terrific players, including USC commit Shay Fields (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and former Boise State commit Jaylen Johnson (Corona, Calif./Centennial). But at this point, only Washington has verbal commitments from fewer players than Cal's 12.

One to watch: Heading into the season, the one game California high school football fans wanted to see was Concord (Calif.) De La Salle against Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. On Saturday night, they'll get their wish, as the Spartans and Braves meet up for the state title in the Open Division. And top recruits will be all over the field. St. John Bosco is led by Josh Rosen, the No. 1 quarterback in the 2015 ESPN 300, while the offense features ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama, wide receiver and USC commit Fields, wide receiver and UCLA commit Jaleel Wadood, 2015 ESPN 300 offensive tackle Zach Robertson and 2016 standout running back Sean McGrew. Defensively, the Braves boast a secondary that consists of Wadood, Arizona commit Naijiel Hale, Air Force commit Chandler Hawkins and 2016 safety D.J. Morgan. The front seven includes USC commit Malik Dorton, Washington State commit Chandler Leniu, defensive end Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and linebacker Christian Holland.

On the other sideline will be Washington State commit Kevin Griffin, Oregon State commit Sumner Houston, Arizona State commit Dasmond Tautalatasi, three-star tackle Larry Allen Jr., 2015 ESPN 300 defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie and 2015 outside linebacker Simba Short.

These are the types of rosters that will keep the Pac-12 conference loaded with talent in the coming years so conference fans wanting a glimpse into the future will want to take a look.

Bold prediction: Get ready for a push from Oregon. Although the season didn't end quite where the Ducks hoped, they'll have a chance to make a statement against Texas and get things back on track. It's been fairly quiet on the recruiting trail for Oregon recently, though it did land an important commitment from junior-college offensive guard Haniteli Lousi (Fremont, Calif./College of San Mateo) last week. The Ducks are after more offensive linemen in this class and will likely rebound from missing out on Quinn Bailey (Gilbert, Ariz./Higley), who committed to Arizona State after taking an official visit to Oregon. The Ducks are still in the mix for some big-time talent, and I'd expect them to hit on a few important targets over the next month or so.