Monday, September 16, 2013
Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12
By Erik McKinney
It was another extremely impressive weekend for Pac-12 programs on the field, as the conference went 9-2 overall, which included a guaranteed loss as Oregon State traveled to Utah. On the recruiting trail, things were just as impressive, as blowout wins by Oregon and UCLA had recruits buzzing about the resiliency of the Bruins on the road and the overpowering display on both sides of the ball by the Ducks. Elsewhere, Utah added a big commitment and Cal hosted a huge recruiting weekend.
Biggest commitment: Utah had plenty of talent on hand for its overtime loss to Oregon State, and while the result was disappointing for a team looking to make a statement early in the season, the atmosphere in the stadium helped land a big verbal commitment from junior college wide receiver Brandon Snell (Miami/Garden City CC). Snell originally signed with Louisville as part of the 2012 class, but enrolled at Garden City Community College in Kansas and will now take his speed and elusiveness to Utah, as the Utes continue to stockpile talent that will allow it to compete in the Pac-12.
Biggest offer: It hasn't taken Kahlil McKenzie long to adjust to life in California. The 2015 ESPN 300 defensive tackle made the move from Wisconsin to Concord (Calif.) De La Salle this past summer, and collected his first two offers this month. Mississippi extended the first one two weeks ago, while Washington became McKenzie's first Pac-12 offer this past weekend. While home-state Wisconsin could be tough to beat if it ever extends an offer, the offer from the Huskies puts them firmly in the game for the 6-foot-3, 260-pound talent.
Best performance by a commit/target: He doesn't hold a Pac-12 offer at this point, but a few more performances like this past Friday could change things for running back Harris Ross (Pittsburg, Calif./Pittsburg). Ross ran for a school-record 464 yards and seven touchdowns on Friday night, backing up a 233-yard, four-touchdown performance he posted the previous week. It's tough to figure out which numbers are more impressive from Friday's win -- the fact that Ross ran for 361 yards on only 10 carries in the second half, or that his seven touchdown runs alone covered 357 yards. Ross holds offers from Eastern Washington and Sacramento State, as well as interest from Oregon State, Utah and Washington. As the season progresses, it wouldn't be surprising to see Ross push himself into serious discussion with a number of conference programs about whether to extend an offer.
Most important visitor: The more times Cal can get ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) on campus, the better. Whether it's official or unofficial visits, every trip to campus seems to strengthen the bond between the big-time talent and the Golden Bears coaching staff. Mixon took his official visit to Cal this weekend and was hosted by sophomore wide receiver Bryce Treggs. Mixon had originally planned to take an official visit to Texas A&M this past weekend, so it was already a victory for Cal to get him on campus. Momentum seems to be on the Golden Bears' side in Mixon's recruitment, though it looks like they will need to withstand four official visits to prominent programs Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wisconsin.
Biggest answer: Heading into the weekend, there were some serious doubts about whether USC could pick itself up after all the negativity surrounding last weekend's loss to Washington State. But there were the Trojans doing just that, delivering a decisive 35-7 beating of Boston College. The number of recruits on hand was drastically reduced from last week, but ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Keisean Lucier-South (Orange, Calif./Lutheran) was on hand, as was quarterback Drew Doxtator (Henderson, Nev./Foothill), who could become an intriguing prospect for the Trojans as virtually all of their potential in-state targets appear locked into their verbal commitments.
Biggest question: Can Cal keep the recruiting momentum going?
It's tough to imagine a program generating more positive momentum from an 18-point loss, but Sonny Dykes and his staff have done a terrific job selling recruits on the idea that everything is moving in the right direction at Cal. Recruits have nothing but positive things to say about their relationship with the various coaches and they love the entertaining offensive displays the first three games have produced. However, after narrowly escaping Portland State and decisive losses to Northwestern and Ohio State, it will be interesting to see if the positive momentum off the field can be maintained if results on the field -- especially on the defensive side of the ball -- don't improve this season. The staff certainly seems capable of putting together an impressive 2014 class based on early returns, but the Golden Bears travel to Oregon and UCLA for two or their next three games.