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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Pac-12 class rankings analysis

By Erik McKinney

The Pac-12 now has four schools in the updated recruiting class rankings for the Class of 2014, as UCLA took over the No. 5 spot in the conference and moved to No. 40 overall. Arizona still paces the Pac-12, sitting at No. 18 overall, while Arizona State dropped a spot and now sits at No. 23, Stanford held steady at No. 25 and Oregon bumped up one position to No. 29.

Trending up: UCLA landed its second ESPN 300 prospect of the week on Tuesday, as athlete Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) joined defensive tackle Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) in committing to the Bruins. In doing so, UCLA moved into the top 40 rankings. UCLA has plenty of momentum right now, especially after keeping coach Jim Mora and ace recruiters Demetrice Martin and Adrian Klemm. Adding running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu will only make UCLA stronger down the recruiting stretch, as ESPN 300 prospects Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure), Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./Saint John Bosco) are very much in play.

Trending down: Washington hasn't yet steadied its footing on the recruiting trail under new coach Chris Petersen. Some of that has to do with the uncertainty surrounding his assistant coaches, and some of it has to do with the fact that he just hasn't been there very long. After cornerback Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) backed away from his pledge, the Huskies have just six verbal commitments at this time, the lowest number among BCS-conference schools. The good news for Washington fans is that Petersen is working with basically a blank slate and it's only a matter of time before he starts putting this class together in earnest.

One to watch: Oregon landed another impact player at a position of need this week in junior college offensive guard Haniteli Lousi (Fremont, Calif./College of San Mateo). With 15 verbal commitments, it appears the Ducks could be ready to make a run into the top 40 rankings, as they will receive official visits from offensive tackle Nick Gates (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) and wide receiver Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside) this weekend, and are very much in the running for four-star linebacker Jimmie Swain IV (Olathe, Kan./Olathe North) and ESPN Junior College 50 wide receiver Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College).

Bold prediction: I continue to believe that more than half of the conference will wind up in the final class rankings, which means that Steve Sarkisian at USC will put the finishing touches on a strong class, and one of a group consisting of Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah, Washington and Washington State will close well enough to finish ranked. The Beavers, Huskies and Cougars should be fun to watch as February approaches. All have shown they are capable of putting together strong classes, and it should be especially interesting to see how Oregon State and Washington State do in the junior college ranks -- a place where both have been very strong in recent years.