Friday, January 17, 2014
Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12
By Erik McKinney
The recruiting dead period is over, and it's full speed ahead for a number of Pac-12 programs as coaches look to load up on official visitors over the next three weekends. A list of important official visitors for Pac-12 programs this weekend could easily extend to two or even three dozen names, so limiting it to just the top 10 was challenging -- though likely not as difficult as the task facing conference coaches looking to wrap up their recruiting classes as national signing day approaches.
1. CB Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont College) visiting Arizona State. The ESPN Junior College 50 cornerback made an early commitment to Arkansas but pulled away from that as more Pac-12 programs expressed interest. Brown, the nation's No. 3 juco cornerback, will be at Arizona State as part of a huge group of official visitors and will be one of the main targets committed quarterback Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) sets his sights on this weekend.
ESPN 150 athlete Michiah Quick is taking official visits to USC and UCLA this month.
2. QB Kyle Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine Prep) visiting Washington. The ESPN 300 quarterback found his recruitment flipped upside down when coach James Franklin left Vanderbilt for Penn State. The move led Carta-Samuels to pull back from his commitment to the Commodores while waiting for other programs to come forward with offers. Though the Huskies haven't yet extended an offer, it would be surprising if Carta-Samuels returns from his visit without one.
3. WR Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) visiting Colorado. There has been chatter that Fields, a USC commit, would open his commitment ever since Steve Sarkisian took over at USC and didn't go hard after Fields to keep him as part of this recruiting class. The speedy receiver locked in a visit to Colorado, and the Buffaloes might now be the school to beat for Fields. A positive visit this weekend could go a long way for the Buffs.
4. OT Nick Gates (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) visiting Arizona. It looked as though Gates would select between Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M, but Arizona will get him on campus this weekend as the Wildcats look to add another offensive lineman to this class. While coach Rich Rodriguez will always get his share of skill players, landing Gates would send a strong message that the Wildcats' potent offense is here to stay.
5. DT Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) visiting California. The three-star defensive tackle was an early commitment to Washington State, but he has since decommitted and seen his recruiting pick up in a serious way. Cal got Griffin on campus in the fall for an unofficial visit and will have the big defender back for an official visit this weekend. Mississippi State and South Florida extended recent offers, while the Cougars are still an option.
6. WR Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College) visiting Arizona State. The four-star receiver already visited Florida and Nebraska and will now visit Arizona State and Oregon on back-to-back weekends. Lauderdale is the nation's No. 23 junior college player and No. 3 juco receiver. While the Gators are closer to home and the Ducks are an intriguing option for Lauderdale, he'll definitely hear all about the success wide receiver Jaelen Strong had this past fall as a junior college transfer with the Sun Devils.
7. OT Kolton Miller (Roseville, Calif./Roseville) visiting UCLA. Miller is another West region offensive tackle prospect who has seen his recruitment skyrocket in recent weeks. Miller has long been a target of Oregon State, where he took an official visit in December. But Oregon and UCLA will make it difficult on the Beavers, and there's a chance that a great visit to the Bruins could settle things for Miller.
8. ATH Charles Nelson (Daytona Beach, Fla./Seabreeze Senior) visiting USC. It looks as though Nelson will be leaving the state of Florida, and two Pac-12 programs have locked in visits. The Trojans will have an opportunity to host the wide receiver and special teams standout this weekend, while Oregon will get him on campus just before signing day. USC is in need of receivers in this class, and while there are two special ones out there in Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East), they are far from sure things for the Trojans.
9. ATH Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) visiting USC. The ESPN 300 athlete is looking hard at Notre Dame, Oklahoma and UCLA, but the Trojans managed to lock in an official visit from the nation's No. 75 prospect. If USC is going to land the dynamic playmaker, it will need to put together a terrific visit this weekend, as UCLA will get the last crack at Quick, who will visit the Bruins on Jan. 31.
10. QB Aaron Sharp (Houston/Summer Creek) visiting UCLA. After chasing Miami commit Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) all season, it looks as though the Bruins' quarterback hunt has shifted to Sharp, a three-star Kansas State pledge. Sharp picked up a recent offer from UCLA and quickly scheduled an official visit for this weekend. Sharp will again be on the road the following week, when he visits Washington, so if the Bruins are going to sign a signal-caller in this class, a positive visit with Sharp this weekend is a good way to start.