Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Updated ESPN 300: Pac-12 analysis
By Erik McKinney
There were a several shifts for Pac-12 commits and targets in the newly updated ESPN 300. While it's difficult to make big jumps for players toward the top of the list, Oregon, UCLA and USC target John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) made a considerable move up 14 spots to No. 24 overall, while Arizona State and Stanford target Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) slid up seven spots and into the top 40 at No. 39 overall. But there were several others with Pac-12 ties who saw their stock rise even more:
USC offensive guard commit Viane Talamaivao (right) has moved up nine spots in the updated ESPN 300.
TE Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure): The USC verbal commitment moved up 37 places and now sits at No. 89 overall. He is now the No. 1 player at his position. The Trojans will need to hold off a late push from UCLA, which was his other finalist, but coach Steve Sarkisian's history with the tight end position as well as the fact that USC lost tight end Xavier Grimble to the NFL draft should allow the Trojans to keep hold of Dixon's commitment.
USC offensive line commitments: Dixon's jump wasn't the only good news for Trojan fans. Three of USC's offensive line commitments saw a jump in the rankings. Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) moved into the top 100, at No. 96 overall, while Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) sits close behind him at No. 116 overall -- after a move up of 39 spots. But the big winner was offensive tackle Chris Brown (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola), who moved into the ESPN 300 for the first time this year, and now sits at No. 272.
Safety Bishard Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue): Oregon Ducks commit "Budda" Baker continues his climb up the ESPN 300, as the versatile two-way threat moved from No. 147 to No. 122. Baker is still the top-ranked player in the Northwest, and he also moved up one spot in the safety rankings as he is now the No. 8 safety in the nation.
TE Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham): Schultz was a big riser, as the uncommitted tight end moved 34 spots and now sits at No. 104 overall. He's still the No. 1 player at his position -- TE-Y -- but now checks in as the No. 3 tight end overall. Schultz is still considering Stanford and Utah among Pac-12 schools and would be a significant signature for both programs. The Cardinal saw their tight end production dip dramatically this season, while keeping Schultz at home would be one of the biggest recruiting wins ever for the Utes.
OLB Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn): The uncommitted outside linebacker lists UCLA among his final three schools -- Alabama and Auburn are the others -- and now Evans is listed as the No. 52 overall prospect in the 2014 class, up 32 spots from his previous ranking. Evans is now the No. 2 outside linebacker -- up from No. 3 -- and sits just four spots behind the nation's top player at his position, Alabama commit Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley).