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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Pac-12 class rankings analysis

By Erik McKinney

Not only are there six Pac-12 programs in the updated class rankings, all six are among the top 30 in the country. Arizona State still has the conference's top class at No. 16 overall, while Arizona checks in at No. 20. Oregon and USC are back-to-back at Nos. 23 and 24, after the Ducks rose two places and the Trojans three. UCLA is a close No. 5 in the conference at No. 26 overall. The Bruins were the biggest risers among all schools this week, jumping seven places to overtake Stanford, which checks in at No. 6 in the Pac-12 and No. 29 overall.

Trending up: UCLA

The Bruins' seven-spot jump was made because several of their verbal commitments moved up in the updated rankings and they received a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Matt Dickerson (San Mateo, Calif./Junipero Serra). UCLA now has commitments from nine four-star recruits and look to be another Pac-12 program poised for a big finish to this recruiting class.

Trending down: The race for Tee Shepard

ESPN JC 50 cornerback Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Holmes Community College) looked set to take official visits to Oklahoma and USC and make a signing day decision. Instead, the nation's No. 7 juco prospect announced on Twitter that he will return to California next year for one more season of junior college, with hopes to enroll for the 2015 season. It's certainly a frustrating situation for Shepard, who initially signed with Notre Dame as part of the 2012 class, but it's equally disappointing for college football fans, who are robbed of the chance to see Shepard -- a phenomenal defensive talent -- on the field this fall.

One to watch: QB Kyle Carta-Samuels

Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine) thought he was finished with the recruiting process when he committed to Vanderbilt in July 2012, but when coach James Franklin left and took over at Penn State, the ESPN 300 quarterback reopened his recruitment and is now waiting to hear from programs. Boise State and Washington moved quickly and Carta-Samuels will take an official visit to see the Huskies this weekend. It would be surprising if he didn't land an offer. Washington lost Jalen Greene (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) when the three-star quarterback flipped and enrolled early at USC, but if the Huskies can land four-star Carta-Samuels, coach Chris Petersen would likely be just fine with that trade.

Bold prediction: Oregon will land a surprise

The Ducks appear to be in good position for defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Earl Warren) and ESPN 300 safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), but the Ducks have proved themselves masters of the late addition or flip. After an important recruiting weekend coming up, Oregon still has two weeks to work on recruits it would like to bring in for visits -- and for the Ducks, getting a recruit on campus is more than half the battle. There aren't a lot of spots left for Oregon in this class, but there's a good chance that at least one of them will leave Ducks fans pleasantly surprised.