Monday, August 18, 2014
Pac-12 preseason recruiting report card
By Erik McKinney
Nearly 90 recruits -- including 10 ESPN 300 prospects -- made commitments to the Pac-12 since the start of June, as the conference recruiting race heated up alongside the weather this summer. Not surpisingly, even with the boon over the past two and a half months, the Pac-12 still lags behind other conferences when it comes to sheer commitment numbers. Many Pac-12 programs have become content to wait until the season, or after the season, to put an emphasis on official visits and commitments. At this point, 35 programs hold commitments from 16 or more recruits, and only one of those -- Arizona -- resides in the Pac-12.
Who's trending up: For the second year in a row, Arizona went wild on the recruiting trail this summer, pulling in a conference-best 14 commitments since June 1, four more than any other Pac-12 program.
Who's trending down: Utah gained just four summer commitments -- the fewest in the conference -- and lost a potential impact commitment in junior college wide receiver Brandon Snell.
Biggest remaining target:
Arizona -- Kyahva Tezino
Arizona State -- Christian Kirk
Cal -- Bar Milo
Colorado -- Chris Warren III
Oregon -- Josh Sweat
Oregon State -- Lavan Alston
Stanford -- Canton Kaumatule
UCLA -- Rasheem Green
USC -- Iman Marshall
Utah -- Osa Masina
Washington -- Henry Roberts
Washington State -- Marvell Tell
Three teams that must improve their class: There is no real surprise when looking at the numbers, as Cal, Colorado and Oregon State all rank among the bottom four Pac-12 programs in terms of commitments. All three still have plenty of time to make a move with their classes. Recruits are interested to see what Year 2 looks like under Sonny Dykes at Cal, the Utes like to use their game-day atmosphere to sell recruiting during official visits and Colorado looks to make a significant push during December and January official visit weekends. For the Golden Bears, defensive difference makers are a necessity, as only three of Cal's commitments play on that side of the ball. The Utes will look to add bodies defensively as well, as they are without a commitment in the defensive backfield or along the defensive line. Colorado has gone heavy up front thus far, so the Buffs will have a chance to make an impact with skill position players at wide receiver and running back between now and signing day.
Three teams that can gain the most this fall: It starts with the two programs with new coaches, as USC and Washington will have opportunities to make big impressions on recruits in the first years under Steve Sarkisian and Chris Petersen. The Huskies have a small class right now with plenty of room for recruits to jump on board if they like the way the Huskies look under Petersen. The Trojans have an opportunity to make significant noise this year, as Sarkisian will be able to take a full load of 25 signees and USC is in the mix for virtually all of the uncommitted Los Angeles-area standouts. It's too tough of a call between Oregon and UCLA for the third team, so they both get the nod. With a strong season, it could be the Bruins who clean up in Southern California come signing day, while the Ducks are legitimately in the mix for several top-50 prospects. A run to the national championship could propel either of them toward a top-10 class this year.
One big prediction: The streak will continue, as a Pac-12 program has not had a top-10 recruiting class since USC's 2011 group ranked fourth. However, the conference will double the number of top-20 classes from last season, placing at least four among the elite groups in the country. The starts from the conference's recruiting powers this spring and summer were too good to cool off any before signing day.