Tuesday, August 13, 2013
The List: Must-have Pac-12 recruits
By Erik McKinney
The definition of a “must-have” recruit is not created equal for all Pac-12 programs. For some, it’s a player who would help the class the most. For others, it’s the local recruit who simply can’t get away. And for others still, it’s the recruit who would give the program the biggest splash in the recruiting world. With a number of West region recruits still undecided, there are “must-have” recruits out there for every Pac-12 program.
ATH Marquis Ware
6-foot-2, 210 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 120
Arizona is off to a terrific start with the 2014 recruiting class and the Wildcats already have commitments from two ESPN 300 prospects. But perhaps more importantly, they also have sincere interest from Ware, who is capable of playing outside linebacker or tight end at the next level. Not only would reeling in Ware give Arizona some serious bragging rights in the recruiting hotbed of Los Angeles, but the big athlete is teammates with linebacker Jamardre Cobb, who could join Ware in college.
OT Casey Tucker
ESPN 300 rank: 38
Missing out on Tucker won’t break Arizona State’s 2014 recruiting class, but adding the nation’s No. 4 offensive tackle would definitely make it. After decommitting from USC, Tucker’s sights seem set on Stanford, but Arizona State is consistently mentioned as a finalist as well, and Todd Graham would like to count Tucker as the biggest recruiting win of his ASU career. The Sun Devils are doing very well with Phoenix-area recruits in this class, and keeping Tucker close to home would be a huge recruiting boost for Arizona State.
RB Joe Mixon
ESPN 300 rank: 100
Like with Arizona State and Tucker, Cal’s chase of Mixon is less about being a “must-get” and more about his status as a “best-get” for the Golden Bears. The local standout recently limited his options to 10 finalists, and while they are mostly spread across the country, Cal made the cut and will have a chance to pursue the local standout. Not only would Mixon be a truly dynamic weapon in head coach Sonny Dykes’ offense, he’s one of the lightning-rod recruits in this class, where other players are drawn to him and would love to play alongside him at the next level.
OT Sam Jones
If Colorado is going to catch up to its Pac-12 counterparts, it needs to begin locking up the in-state talent. While it appears the top two Colorado recruits are headed out of state, big offensive tackle Sam Jones becomes the top in-state priority for the Buffaloes. The four-state tackle would be a huge addition for Mike MacIntyre’s program, as it would give Colorado recruiting momentum close to home, a potential immediate starter along the line and a recruiting victory over Pac-12 programs Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington.
S Bishard "Budda" Baker
ESPN 300 rank: 141
Oregon has a chance to flex its muscle in the northwest with Budda Baker. Though it looks like Oregon could miss out on some of the top in-state players this year, the Ducks are very much in it for Baker, the top northwest recruit. Baker is a phenomenal athlete, and the Ducks have spoken to him about playing slot receiver, which would give Oregon yet another talented player on that side of the ball and steal a big Washington target away from the Huskies.
DE Connor Humphreys
ESPN 300 rank: 249
Mike Riley’s program has been able to find on-field success without big-name recruits, but that is beginning to change, as Oregon State finds itself in the mix for several high-profile recruits. Last year, the Beavers signed ESPN 300 prospect Dashon Hunt, and Oregon State will do what it can to match that showing with Humphreys, the top player in Oregon. It would also mark an impressive recruiting victory over Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Wisconsin, as well as give the Beavers a marquee recruit to build the class around.
DE Solomon Thomas
ESPN 300 rank: 31
Grabbing local defensive end Nifae Lealao or regional offensive tackle Casey Tucker would be big additions for Stanford, but going into Texas and pulling out an elite big man with offers from virtually every college football power in the country would be huge. Stanford made headlines with an enormous signing day haul in the 2012 class, but was forced to take something of a back seat last year with limited scholarship availability. A commitment from Thomas would help put the Cardinal back on the recruiting front page for the 2014 class, as well as add to what has become a very good front seven.
CB Adoree' Jackson
ESPN 300 rank: 6
The Bruins might have their sights set on recruits across the country, but there is nothing more important for a Los Angeles program than locking down the local area. The Bruins put together a terrific 2013 recruiting class, but adding Jackson to the 2014 haul would help UCLA make a statement that they’ve completely turned the tide against USC when it comes to local recruiting. While making impacts in Texas and Louisiana will help UCLA’s national appeal, keeping the local stars at home will keep the Bruins moving forward on the field.
CB Adoree' Jackson
ESPN 300 rank: 6
With so much negative publicity surrounding how the 2013 USC recruiting class fell apart, Lane Kiffin and staff have a chance to turn things around with a good season combined with an impressive recruiting haul. That could start with Jackson, who is looking at a number of out-of-state schools but seems to still be giving the local programs a look. Although Jackson wants to play wide receiver in college and USC has a bigger need at cornerback, getting the top player out of Gardena (Calif.) Serra is always a priority for the Trojans, as they’ve found success recently with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. When USC was rolling at the top of the college football world, it was rare that local standouts would think about leaving the area. Jackson could be another piece of USC’s climb back to the top.
TE Dalton Schultz
ESPN 300 rank: 153
The Utes have done well in state, as five of the top 10 prospects are verbal commitments to Utah. But Schultz is sitting there as the top uncommitted player in the state and the top player at his position in the country. Utah made the final group of five schools for the big tight end, and the Utes must keep Schultz at home if they are eventually going to make a move up the Pac-12 standings or recruiting rankings.
S Budda Baker
ESPN 300 rank: 141
The Oregon-Washington rivalry could add another chapter with Baker’s recruitment, as the two programs will battle each other, as well as Notre Dame, Texas A&M and UCLA. Last season, Washington signed just two of the top 10 in-state recruits, which puts some pressure on head coach Steve Sarkisian to close the deal with Baker, who has the potential to be an instant-impact player.
CB Denzel Fisher
The Cougars need playmakers on both sides of the ball, so a number of recruits can be considered “must get,” but Fisher fits the bill as a talented cornerback who made plenty of noise this offseason. This looks to be a battle between Washington State and Utah, which means the Cougars could get a look at how their program is perceived in relation to another conference program also looking to climb the Pac-12 standings. With whispers that Mike Leach’s Air Raid Offense is starting to take hold on the Palouse, adding depth on the other side of the ball, specifically cornerbacks of Fisher’s caliber, will be a must for every Washington State recruiting class.