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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Best Pac-12 classes by position

By Erik McKinney

Arizona’s haul of 24 verbal commitments is nine more than any other Pac-12 team, while only one BCS program has fewer than USC’s seven -- Minnesota, with six. Oregon, UCLA, Utah and Washington have all yet to reach double digits. But this week, we take a look at which program has put together the best class at each position at this point in the recruiting process.

Strongest class: Stanford

There are a number of talented quarterbacks who appear headed to the Pac-12, but only one program went out and got a commitment from the No. 1 pocket passer in the country. Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) looks as though he will fit in perfectly with the Cardinal and could be one of the signal-callers from the 2014 class to push for early playing time at a prominent program.

Running back
Strongest class: California

This is probably splitting hairs between the Golden Bears and Arizona Wildcats, but Sonny Dykes’ program gets the nod, based on depth and versatility. Devante Downs (Mountlake Terrace, Wash./Mountlake Terrace), 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, and Vic Enwere (Sugar Land, Tex./Fort Bend Austin), 6-foot-1 and 213 pounds, can both be big thumpers, while Tre Watson (Corona, Calif./Centennial) is dynamic in a run-based spread offense. All three will give Dykes’ offense plenty of options throughout their careers.

Wide receiver/Tight End
Strongest class: Arizona

The rival Sun Devils get some consideration here with their two ESPN 300 prospects slated to line up at wide receiver, but Arizona has talent and numbers. ESPN 300 athlete Cameron Denson (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic) can be a game-changer on offense, while receivers Tony Ellison (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay) and Jordan Morgan (Beaverton, Ore./Southridge) should find their way into the depth chart. What puts Arizona clear ahead of the conference in this category is its pair of tight ends, Trevor Wood (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and Darrell Cloy Jr. (La Habra, Calif./La Habra). Both are very talented and Wood, specifically, was one of the more highly recruited tight ends in the West.

Offensive line
Strongest class: USC

There has been some negativity surrounding the Trojans after the way the season started, but the offensive line class assembled, even after sustaining the loss of Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), is still the strongest in the conference. Led by ESPN 300 offensive guard Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), the Trojans’ collection of three offensive linemen is more than any other Pac-12 program. Joining Lobendahn in the class is mammoth ESPN 300 offensive tackle Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./La Jolla Country Day) and intriguing three-star tackle Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont).

Defensive line
Strongest class: USC

Again, even after a decommittment -- in this case, ESPN 300 defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central East) -- the Trojans hold the strongest Pac-12 class at this position. ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) will fit in on the outside of the 5-2 defensive front, while defensive tackle Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) might be versatile enough to play anywhere along the line. Defensive tackle Michael Wyche (Monterey Park, Calif. /East Los Angeles College) is a big body junior college prospect who quickly earned a scholarship offer from defensive line coach Ed Orgeron this past spring.

Strongest class: Stanford

Stanford might wind up with an argument for the best linebacker class in the nation, as the Cardinal already have four on board and could add more down the line. Four-star outside linebacker Jordan Perez (Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad) was a wrecking ball at Stanford’s camp last summer and didn’t give the Cardinal coaches any choice but to eventually extend an offer. Joey Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit) was outstanding at the Northern California Nike Camp this past spring, while Bobby Okereke (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) was sought after by every top Pac-12 program and has the ability to play multiple positions for the Cardinal. Stanford will also bring in outside linebacker Lane Veach (Chandler, Ariz./Perry), a 6-foot-5, 220-pound athlete who would seem to fit right into a growing line of long, lanky, outside rushers up on the farm.

Strongest class: UCLA

Just as USC’s class is only made up of players inside the box, UCLA’s is solely comprised of skill-position players. That includes five future members of the secondary, led by ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito). He’s joined by fellow cornerbacks Antreal Allen (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) and Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial), as well as a safety tandem of Ron Robinson (Corona, Calif./Santiago) and JoJo McIntosh (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade). Wide receiver Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra) is also talented enough on that side of the ball to make the transition if inecessary, which further strengthens the position for the Bruins.