Friday, January 24, 2014
Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12
By Erik McKinney
Just two weekends of official visits remain before signing day, so it's no surprise that just about every Pac-12 program will have visitors on campus this weekend. It's a huge opportunity for USC, which will have arguably it's most important host weekend of the recruiting calendar. Other programs will have a few recruits on hand in hopes of making a big splash the following weekend. While every visit is big at this stage of the game, here are a look at 10 of the most important for the Jan. 24 weekend:
The big weekend at USC continues with Smith, who will join good friends Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) on the trip. Smith recently narrowed his college choices to Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and USC, though it looks good for the Pac-12 schools over the Fighting Irish. As with Mama, there has been considerable talk about Smith being a lean toward the Trojans, and a solid official visit could go a long way before the nation's No. 24 overall recruit makes his announcement on signing day.
Mammoth OL Damien Mama is ranked No. 67 in the ESPN 300.
2. OG Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) Visiting: USC
The ESPN 300 offensive lineman is down to Alabama, BYU, UCLA and USC, but has long been thought to be a lean to the Trojans. USC will have to sweat out a visit to BYU on Jan. 31, but the Trojans staff will have a terrific opportunity to make a statement this weekend, as good friend and USC commit Talamaivao will be on his official visit as well.
3. TE Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) Visiting: USC
In one of the rare cases in which an official visit from a committed player is very important, Dixon will visit both Los Angeles schools in the next two weeks. The nation's No. 89 overall prospect and No. 1 tight end selected USC over UCLA, but the Bruins haven't given up in this race and will get his final visit. USC coaches certainly hope they can lock things up with Dixon this weekend, as he appears to be the only tight end they are recruiting and that is truly a position of need for them this year.
After decommitting from Oregon, Baker announced that he would visit Washington and UCLA before announcing a decision on signing day. Last weekend, the ESPN 300 safety visited Washington; now he'll head down to see the Bruins. It's not the first trip to Westwood for the nation's No. 122 overall prospect, as UCLA will have a final shot to pull one of the West region's most dynamic athletes away from home.
The former Texas commitment will take his fifth visit this weekend, as the Ducks look to grab at least one more defensive tackle in the 2014 class. Lealaimatafao is looking hard at Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA among Pac-12 schools, and the Ducks will undoubtedly like their chances in getting a recruit's final visit.
McGary is the top offensive lineman on the board for several programs, and Oregon State and Washington State have already hosted him on official visits. Washington gets its turn this weekend, and it would be huge for the Huskies to keep the big lineman at home. A commitment from McGary would give new Huskies coach Chris Petersen three of the state's top seven recruits, with Baker still to decide. In 2013, Washington signed just two of the top 10 in-state recruits.
An early commitment to Washington State, Griffin's recruitment really picked up when he stepped back from that pledge. Several Pac-12 programs stepped up with offers, and Griffin is in the middle of back-to-back-to-back visits to close the process, as he visited California last week, Arizona this week and is scheduled to visit Mississippi State next week. The Wildcats already have 31 commitments in this class, but bringing in Griffin for a visit shows that coaches can never have enough big bodies in a recruiting class.
8. RB Drew Lewis (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake) Visiting: Washington
This is a visit that could solidify things for the two-way standout. Lewis originally committed to the former Washington staff and said he hasn't yet been assured of a spot from the new staff. It would be surprising if those doubts weren't erased this weekend, which could lead to Lewis firming up his commitment to the Huskies.
9. LB Chandler Leniu (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) Visiting: Cal
Leniu decommitted from Washington State earlier this month after Cal coaches put together a big push for the linebacker. This visit might actually be a two-for-one, as Leniu's teammate, former USC wide receiver commit Shay Fields, will be on hand as well during Cal's big recruiting weekend. After a long lull on the recruiting trail for the Golden Bears, things could begin to pick up for Sonny Dykes and his staff.
10. ATH Jalen Canty (Vallejo, Calif./St. Patrick-St. Vincent) Visiting: Utah
Originally committed to Fresno State, Canty backed away from that when several Pac-12 programs came in late in the process. Oregon, Utah and Washington State have all offered, and Canty will visit the Utes this weekend between visits to see the Cougars last week and the Ducks next weekend. The 6-foot-8, 260-pound Canty is a very good basketball player and has the ability to play on both sides of the line. If Utah wants to keep him away from Oregon, a good visit this weekend is a must.