Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Pac-12 class rankings analysis
By Erik McKinney
In the final updated ESPN recruiting class rankings before national signing day, six Pac-12 schools remain among the top 40 classes in the country, and all are within striking distance of claiming the top spot in the conference. Arizona State remains No. 1 in the conference and No. 17 in the nation, and Stanford made a big jump for the second straight week, moving to No. 2 in the Pac-12 and No. 19 overall. Arizona slid one spot with Stanford's move, checking in at No. 21, and USC and Oregon remain tightly bunched at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively. UCLA rounds out the group from the Pac-12 at No. 28.
Trending up: Stanford -- Once again, the Cardinal are the biggest movers in the nation, jumping four spots this week after moving six spots up last week. On the strength of offensive line commitments Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Jesse Burkett (Jacksonville, Fla./Bartram Trail), Stanford is now among the top 20 schools and is closing in on putting together the top group in the Pac-12. Two targets remain on the board from Stanford's big visit weekend in ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and three-star cornerback Terrence Alexander (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian).
Trending down: None -- It might be the product of easy grading, but it's tough to say anybody in the Pac-12 is trending down at this point, as the schools ranked below the top six are all filling needs. This week, Colorado landed an important commitment from former USC commit Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco). Washington State landed a commitment from a very intriguing prospect in 6-foot-8, 260-pound athlete Jalen Canty (Vallejo, Calif./St. Patrick-St. Vincent). Utah went into the Southeast to grab wide receiver Kenric Young (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville) and athlete Donovan Wilson (Shreveport, La./Woodlawn), and Cal doubled up at the linebacker position with Chandler Leniu (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Aisea Tongilava (Orange, Calif./Lutheran).
Offensive guard Damien Mama, who is ranked as the No. 5 prospect in California, is among the recruits visiting UCLA this weekend.
One to watch: UCLA -- While much has been made about USC's opportunity to close with the top three uncommitted players in the state -- Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) -- UCLA is another program with its sights set on a big signing day. This weekend, the Bruins will host ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East), ESPN 300 wide receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) and his four-star linebacker teammate Kenny Young, LSU commit and ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) and Arizona State commit Kalen Ballage (Peyton, Colo./Falcon). They're also hosting Mama and his already-committed teammate, defensive lineman Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco). The Bruins might also get a visit from USC commit Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), whom they continue to recruit.
Bold prediction: One of the Los Angeles schools will finish atop the conference -- While Arizona State has the lead heading into the home stretch and will likely add to that after a visit from ESPN Junior College 50 defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River CC), there are too many options still out there for UCLA and USC to believe at least one won't make a huge jump in the final rankings if all goes well. The Bruins might be the more likely group to do it, as they have more available scholarships and showed last year that the coaching staff can make plenty of noise over the final 24 hours. But if the Trojans can pull off the trifecta of landing Jackson, Smith and Mama, it might be tough to keep them out of the top spot. Either way, there will be plenty of intrigue across the Pac-12 this week, as those final six spots could realistically be placed in any order between these ranked programs.