Monday, December 23, 2013
Pac-12 weekend recruiting wrap
By Erik McKinney
All eyes were on the California state bowl games this past weekend, as five contests pitted teams from Southern California against Northern California. And although recruiting took something of a backseat to the final games of the season, there was some noise made in the Pac-12 conference, including a quarterback shakeup that could continue to play out down the line.
Oregon secured a huge commitment this weekend, grabbing ESPN 300 ATH Bishard "Budda" Baker.
Biggest commitment: It came just before the weekend, but its impact could be felt for the next few years, as Oregon landed a commitment from ESPN 300 safety Bishard Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) on Friday morning. Though the Ducks had long held the lead in his recruitment, UCLA, USC and Washington continued to push hard for the talented two-way threat. Getting Baker to commit this early in the process -- he'd originally planned visits to his other finalists in January before a possible signing day decision -- removes all worry for the Ducks that he might wind up elsewhere and gives Oregon a weapon on either side of the ball. Likely destined for offense, Baker has the ability to make an immediately impact as a true freshman, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him develop into one of the next stars in that high-flying offense.
Biggest offer: The quarterback question had been surrounding USC all season. After missing on top target Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto), the Trojans extended an offer to Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) but couldn't get him to flip from his Miami commitment. But over the weekend, the Trojans extended an offer to Jalen Greene (Gardena, Calif./Serra). Greene had recently flipped his commitment from Boise State to Washington, but didn't need much time at all to jump on the offer from Steve Sarkisian and USC. It's a decision that definitely makes things interesting in the Pac-12. First, Washington will likely need to go out and find another quarterback in this class. Second, it could mean good things for UCLA, as the Bruins are still chasing Kaaya, who could be taking another look at the local schools. Since Sarkisian did not reach out to Kaaya since moving to USC, that leaves UCLA as the only local option for the No. 128 overall prospect.
Best performance by a commit/target: The Southern California teams scored a huge win for the region over their northern counterparts, as teams from the south won four of the five state title games over the weekend. The biggest win was put together by Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, which took down national power Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, 20-14. In the win, 2015 ESPN 300 quarterback Josh Rosen threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns, ESPN 300 athlete and UCLA commit Jaleel Wadood had 113 yards and two scores receiving, and 2016 standout running back Sean McGrew rushed for 143 yards. McGrew's size is the only thing keeping him from holding offers already, but it might not be long until a program overlooks the height issue and extends an offer based off his phenomenal sophomore season.
Colorado commit Donovan Lee turned in a terrific performance in the Division II game, as he intercepted three passes and helped Chaminade to a big win. Kaaya helped, throwing for 276 yards and two scores.
Most important visit: At this point in the process, anything Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) does is going to make noise. Jackson made a trip to Las Vegas this past weekend and took in USC's victory in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. With the way the nation's No. 7 prospect has handled his recruitment thus far, it's a trip that could mean nothing, or could mean plenty. While Southeastern programs such as Florida, Florida State and LSU have long held Jackson's interest, USC has been keeping itself in the picture and will put together a huge push with Sarkisian. Those close to Jackson haven't been able to get a good read on the superstar, so he should be able to keep people guessing until he announces his decision on signing day. But USC couldn't have done much more to woo Jackson during a dead period, as the Trojans put together an impressive display in a blowout win, and also grabbed a commitment from his good friend and quarterback.
Biggest answer: ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) removed some of the Pac-12 intrigue from his upcoming announcement when he removed California from his list of final four schools. Now down to Oklahoma, UCLA and Wisconsin, the Bruins would seem to be the last hope for keeping the No. 72 overall prospect in state. Although Mixon loved his visits to see the Sooners and Badgers, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him commit to the Bruins in two weeks. The other thing that wouldn't be surprising is to see a number of programs keep up their recruitment of Mixon, and this could turn into a situation where there are plenty of whispers and rumblings heading into signing day.
Biggest question: Where does Washington go from here? It looked as though the Huskies had gained some traction after losing a few commitments when Sarkisian took off for USC. But after Petersen reeled in Greene and tight end Drew Sample (Newport, Wash./Newport) from Boise State, Darren Gardenhire (Long Beach, Calif./Cabrillo) from Washington State and JoJo McIntosh (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) from UCLA, things looked to be heading in a positive direction for the Huskies, who had been struggling all year to grow their recruiting class. Now, with Greene heading to USC and four-star offensive lineman Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) decommitting late last week, Petersen will need to kick into high gear to begin filling this class out. There's little doubt that he'll be able to recover and put together a solid group of commitments, but it should be fun to watch how he does it over the next few weeks.