Thursday, February 2, 2012
Pac-12 signing day wrap
By Ted Miller
National signing day is over. But life is not, even if it feels that way.
Clearing away the confetti and reviewing what happened.
Top class: Stanford signed a class that is the envy of all but a small handful of teams in the nation. ESPN Recruiting ranked Stanford's class 12th. Rivals rated the Cardinal No. 5; Scout ranked Stanford No. 6; 24/7 sports ranked the Cardinal No. 9; and Tom Lemming ranked Stanford 10th. Stanford's haul of offensive linemen might be one of the best in the history of recruiting rankings.
Biggest surprise: Is UCLA coach Jim Mora a rookie or a freshman? However the NFL lifer is best described, his first recruiting haul was outstanding by any measure, but particularly for a coach with basically zero college experience. What you have to credit is Mora hiring a great recruiting staff. The Bruins signed a top-20 class and hit plenty of need areas.
Biggest disappointment: There are very few people who believe that Rich Rodriguez wasn't a great hire for Arizona. Zero, maybe. That said, the Wildcats didn't get a recruiting bump based on that perception. They finished at or near the bottom of most rankings of Pac-12 recruiting classes and didn't sign any recruits with at least a four-star rating from ESPN Recruiting.
Fastest riser: Just over a week ago, Washington's recruiting was surprisingly mediocre, particularly after the Huskies lured ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi away from California. But the Huskies surged late, starting with a commitment from elite safety Shaq Thompson, a former Cal commitment. And the Huskies' surge didn't stop on signing day, as they moved up to No. 23 in the final national rankings.
Under the radar: While Pac-12 newbies Colorado and Utah didn't sign top-25 classes, both very quietly signed strong classes that addressed immediate needs, and they finished in the middle of the Pac-12 recruiting rankings. In their first season recruiting as real Pac-12 teams -- as in having a season of play under their belts -- here's a guess that both Colorado coach Jon Embree and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham are happy with how things went and are eager for another go-around in 2013.
Recruiter of the year: Many wondered if Stanford coach David Shaw could maintain the program momentum created by former coach Jim Harbaugh. Well, in his first season, he led the Cardinal to a BCS bowl game and top-10 finish. On Wednesday, he produced a better recruiting class than Harbaugh ever put together -- at least in terms of recruiting rankings. Those who think Stanford is going away because of the departure of Harbaugh and QB Andrew Luck might be in for a surprise.
Player you'll see next season: It would be surprising if Shaq Thompson isn't starting at safety for Washington in the opener against San Diego State. The same could be said for Isaac Seumalo on the Oregon State offensive line. In L.A., it will be battle between UCLA defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, USC outside linebacker Jabari Ruffin and USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams for top freshman defender. It will be interesting to see how Stanford's elite class of frosh offensive linemen shapes up. There should be some hot competition there, with one freshman breaking through and at least earning playing time. Also interesting in the Bay Area: Is senior Zach Maynard the answer at QB for Cal, or might Zach Kline earn playing time as a true freshman?