- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Armed with the knowledge of which recruits have signed where, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach has gallantly taken another swing at a way-too-early Top 25.
Then again, his first way-too-early Top 25 was more than a month ago. Does that make this one sorta-too-early?
However you define it, a new one is out and five Pac-12 teams made the list -- including three in the top 11.
Oregon checks in at No. 3. Some thoughts from Schlabach:
The Ducks promoted longtime assistant Don Pellum to replace retiring defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and also hired Philadelphia Eagles assistant Erik Chinander as their outside linebackers coach. The Ducks' best recruiting jobs might have been persuading quarterback Marcus Mariota (a draft-eligible sophomore), All-America cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and center Hroniss Grasu to come back for another season.
UCLA is the only other top-10 team at No. 9:
... with quarterback Brett Hundley returning for his junior season, along with seven other starters on both offense and defense, UCLA looks like the team to beat in the Pac-12 South this coming season.
Stanford is in at No. 11:
Stanford coach David Shaw continues to follow the same blueprint that helped him guide the Cardinal to back-to-back BCS bowl games, loading up on blue-chip linemen in another top-15 recruiting class.
USC is No. 18:
It didn't take long for Steve Sarkisian to make his mark on the recruiting trail, as the Trojans did much better than expected on national signing day under their new coach. The Trojans signed two of the country's most explosive athletes -- No. 3 cornerback Adoree' Jackson and No. 3 athlete Juju Smith -- who are fast enough to play on both sides of the ball.
Finally, Washington rounds out the Pac-12 teams on the list at No. 25.
Given his late start in recruiting, new Huskies coach Chris Petersen managed to put together a decent recruiting class. The Huskies had only eight commitments when Petersen was hired from Boise State to replace Sarkisian, but they finished with a class of 24 signees that was ranked in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12
Exactly how many Pac-12 teams will land in the preseason Top 25? A case can certainly be made for Arizona State. Sure, the Sun Devils have lost a lot on defense. But the defensive coaching staff is solid, and the Sun Devils should be a juggernaut offensively. It isn't out of the question to possibly see six Pac-12 teams in the preseason Top 25.
Arizona is another team to keep an eye on. If not in the preseason polls, then certainly throughout the season. Though quarterback is going to be a major storyline to watch in the offseason, and the Wildcats probably need to win a few games to bolster their recognition on a national level, those who know what they have in terms of skill positions might give them some preseason votes.
Washington's hire of Petersen gives it instant credibility -- and the Huskies are deservedly on the radar to be a preseason Top 25 team. The Trojans have plenty of momentum after landing the league's top recruiting class.
Then again, we all know the most important rankings are the ones that come out after the season, not before.
16hChantel Jennings and Ted Miller