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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Pac-12 class rankings analysis

By Erik McKinney

With just two weeks until signing day, this week's updated class rankings illustrate just how close the gap is between the top teams in the Pac-12. Arizona State again checks in at No. 1 in the conference and now sits at No. 17 in the nation. Behind the Sun Devils, five more Pac-12 teams are within 10 places, as Arizona is No. 20, USC is No. 22, Stanford is No. 23, Oregon is No. 24 and UCLA rounds out the Pac-12 entrants at No. 27.

Trending up: Stanford

The Cardinal rose six spots following a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham). Schultz was an absolute need for Stanford in this class, as the Cardinal had to sign a tight end in 2014 and had virtually no backup plan after Schultz. With his commitment, Stanford jumped UCLA and Oregon in the class rankings and now sits at No. 4 in the conference. The Cardinal are also very much in the mix for two big ESPN 300 prospects: defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and offensive tackle Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton).

Trending down: The possibility of an uneventful signing day

Five of the top eight recruits in the West region will announce their commitments on signing day, and all could have significant impacts on the Pac-12. Throw in ESPN 300 safety Budda Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) as well as impact recruits such as Baker's teammate, defensive tackle Marcus Griffin, and three-star offensive tackle Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger), and signing day will likely again be a hand-wringing experience for the majority of Pac-12 recruiting fans.

One to watch: ESPN JC 50 wide receiver Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College)

After an official visit to Arizona State this past weekend, the nation's No. 23 junior college prospect and No. 3 wide receiver announced that he would not take a scheduled official visit to Oregon this weekend. Instead, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound receiver plans to announce his commitment on Saturday. Arizona State and Florida have long been two of the leaders for Lauderdale, and it could be telling that he made this decision shortly after spending time with the Sun Devils. Arizona State certainly sold Lauderdale on the idea that he could follow in the footsteps of fellow junior college transfer Jaelen Strong, who made a significant impact in 2013. Adding Lauderdale to the already-committed ESPN 300 receiving duo of Nick Alexander (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) and Jalen Harvey (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) would give the Sun Devils a terrific group of receivers and would make it even tougher for another conference program to catch Arizona State in the final class rankings.

Bold prediction: Washington fans will be pleased with this class

After it looked as though Washington might just pass on taking any kind of recruiting class in 2014 -- the Huskies were stuck under double-digit commitments for the entire 2013 calendar year -- head coach Chris Petersen has his program on a positive trajectory as signing day approaches. Not only has he reeled in 10 commitments since taking over the program last month, almost all of them were flips from other programs, including Boise State, Colorado, UCLA and Washington State. Recent commitments from running back Jomon Dotson (American Canyon, Calif./American Canyon) and defensive tackle Greg Gaines (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) are solid pickups for the Huskies, and Washington still remains in the mix to land Baker on signing day, which would be one of the biggest signings in the Pac-12 this year.