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Thursday, December 19, 2013
Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Dec. 19

By Erik McKinney

The dead period runs through Jan. 15, and some recruits have said they will use that to take a break from recruiting, but that doesn't mean it will shut down for everyone. Coaches are still able to contact recruits during the dead period -- just no in-person contact -- and a number of recruits will be making commitments during this time. Over the next few weeks and through the holidays, Pac-12 recruiting fans will have a number of things to keep an eye on, including these five topics.

Who sets January visits?

With the dead period wiping out an entire weekend normally dedicated to official visits, recruits will have just three January weekends available to take visits -- the 17th, 24th and 31st -- if they'd like to commit and sign on signing day. Every Pac-12 program is looking to load up on official visits during those weekends. Stanford and USC look as though they will be very busy on Jan. 17, and Oregon is always able to grab a few late official visitors -- ESPN JC 50 WR Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College) is scheduled for Jan. 31. There are plenty of Pac-12 targets saying they will likely set up January officials to various schools.

USC and Washington assistants

Steve Sarkisian has announced the hirings of Tee Martin, Johnny Nansen, Peter Sirmon and Keith Heyward at USC, but that still leaves a handful of vacancies on the staff. It appears as though nothing will be announced until after USC's bowl game on Saturday. Clay Helton, Mike Summers and John Baxter are just a few of the assistants who could be candidates to remain at USC, but nothing has been finalized yet either way. Washington is in a similar situation. There are reports that the Huskies have hired former Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, which would be a significant hire. Washington coaches Justin Wilcox and Marques Tuiasosopo have been targeted by Sarkisian and are candidates to head to USC. Where those two end up and who fills the spots at both programs will have an effect on their recruiting classes. Things hit a speed bump for both programs with the revelation that Washington assistant coach Tosh Lupoi is being investigated for allegedly paying for tutoring and online classes for a recuit. Now, there is likely no chance he winds up at USC and a possibility he isn't back at Washington, either. But good hires at both programs will lead to momentum on the recruiting trail.

Pac-12 targets plan to announce at U.S. Army All-American Bowl

At least three high-priority Pac-12 targets will make their commitments at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4. Running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), tight end Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) and wide receiver Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside) all plan to declare their intentions during the game. Cal and UCLA are battling with Oklahoma and Wisconsin for Mixon, while Dixon is likely down to the two Los Angeles schools, with the Bruins perhaps holding a slight lead. Iheanacho has a number of programs in the running, but took a recent official visit to Oregon -- the lone Pac-12 program in the mix. We've seen that commitments made during All-Star games don't finish off recruiting battles when it comes to signing day, as recruits have flipped from their public commitments. But getting a televised verbal commitment at any All-Star event is big for that program.

Juco prospects left on the board

The first day of the junior college signing period came and went on Wednesday, and while a number of Pac-12 programs added potential impact players -- Oregon signed No. 12 overall prospect Tui Talia (Pleasant Hill, Calif./Diablo Valley College), USC signed No. 21 overall prospect Claudeson Pelon (Orlando, Fla./Mesa Community College) and Arizona signed No. 47 overall prospect Antonio Smothers (Gary, Ind./Scottsdale Community College) -- there are a number of targets still out there. At the top of the list is the No. 7 overall prospect and No. 2 cornerback Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Holmes Community College), but keep an eye over the next few weeks on defensive tackle Alfonso Hampton (Chula Vista, Calif./Southwestern). He hasn't received a ton of recruiting attention because coaches have been focused on the mid-year enrollees, but Hampton could see interest pick up over the next few weeks.

Semper Fidelis rosters loaded with Pac-12 recruits

One day after the Army All-American Bowl, the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl will take place in Carson, Calif. An interesting note this year for the All-American games is that coaches are no longer permitted to attend and host recruit functions following the game. That will likely put even more emphasis on the recruits-recruiting-other-recruits dynamic.

This year, the Semper Fidelis bowl is absolutely full of prospects likely to call the Pac-12 home in 2014.

On the East team, Oregon fans will be rooting hard for running back commit Tony James (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville) to make an impact on safety Mattrell McGraw (New Orleans/John Curtis Christian), who is down to Oregon and UCLA.

The West roster has 16 players already committed to Pac-12 programs. It should be very interesting to watch as they all get together.

Arizona State will be very well represented, as Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin), Tyler Whiley (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale) are three of the Sun Devils' best recruiters. Arizona will have teammates Rodney Carr, Jamardre Cobb and Marquis Ware (Los Angeles/Salesian) in attendance. UCLA and USC will have two commits each, as the Trojans will be represented by Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), while the Bruins boast Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) and Cameron Griffin (Los Angeles/View Park). Cal's Erik Brown (Fontana, Calif./Summit), Oregon's Tyrell Crosby (Henderson, Nev./Green Valley) Oregon State's Drew Clarkson (Camas, Wash./Camas), Stanford Bobby Okereke (Tustin, Calif./Foothill), Utah's Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger) and Washington State's Chandler Leniu (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) will be the only commitments from their respective programs on the West squad. They'll have their sights set on uncommitted prospects such as Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch), Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), Nick Gates (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) and Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino).