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Thursday, January 30, 2014
Ultimate 300: Pac-12's top classes

By Erik McKinney

Since 2006, only once has USC not claimed the top recruiting class in the Pac-12, which makes the Trojans an easy selection as the top recruiting school in the conference. But the Ultimate ESPN 300 proves that several other Pac-12 programs have seen terrific recruiting success over that time as well. Here’s a look at the top five Pac-12 recruiting schools over the past eight years:

1. USC
The Trojans' 15 entries in the Ultimate ESPN 300 are the most of any Pac-12 program. Proven or potential superstars have been signed in each of USC’s past six classes, with OT Matt Kalil, QB Matt Barkley, WR Robert Woods, ATH Marqise Lee, DT Leonard Williams and safety Su'a Cravens all signing with USC between 2008 and 2013. The Trojans also landed two recruits in the top 20 of the ultimate rankings, with safety Taylor Mays joining Barkley. Sanctions have hurt USC in the past three seasons, but it wouldn't be surprising to see new head coach Steve Sarkisian finish the 2014 season on a positive note and put together a terrific 2015 class.

2. Stanford
The Cardinal have become a recruiting force over the past few seasons and landed seven prospects in the Ultimate ESPN 300. Andrew Luck, the first Pac-12 player on the list, comes in at No. 9 overall. Joining him in the 2008 class was OL David DeCastro and the Cardinal also put offensive linemen David Yankey and Andrus Peat on the list. Joining Luck in changing the path of this program was 2006 signee Toby Gerhart and 2009 addition Shayne Skov, who both made the list. While Alabama is stockpiling a terrific group of offensive linemen in the 2014 class, special attention should continue to be paid to what Stanford accomplished in the 2012 class, bringing in Peat along with Joshua Garnett, Kyle Murphy, Nick Davidson, Graham Shuler, Brandon Fanaika and Johnny Caspers.

3. Oregon
The Ducks landed six players in the Ultimate ESPN 300 -- seven if Lache Seastrunk (he signed with Oregon before moving on to Baylor) is included -- with three each coming from the 2008 and 2011 class. Not surprisingly, the top three players for the Ducks were all running backs, with De'Anthony Thomas, LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner earning recognition. The other three -- QB Marcus Mariota, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and DE Dion Jordan -- all show how well Oregon coaches evaluate talent to fit the Ducks' system, as none of the three were ranked in the ESPN 150 for their respective years. Oregon has also found more success recently in terms of ESPN 300 recruits, as the Ducks signed five in the 2013 class and have commitments from four in 2014.

Six former and current Bruins made the Ultimate ESPN 300, with standout linebacker Anthony Barr leading the way. Defensive backs Alterraun Verner and Rahim Moore made the list from 2006 and 2008, respectively, while 2009 offensive line commit Xavier Su'a-Filo helped anchor the line last season and quarterback Brett Hundley and two-way standout Myles Jack will be the faces of the program in 2014. While UCLA sits at No. 4 in the Pac-12 on this list, the Bruins look to be on the way up. Jim Mora and staff have been phenomenal on the recruiting trail of late, landing 11 ESPN 300 recruits in the 2013 class, topped by five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, and holding commitments from six more in the 2014 class.

5. Washington
The Huskies landed four players on this list, as quarterback Jake Locker from the 2006 class was joined by 2011 signees in tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and running back Bishop Sankey, as well as 2012 addition Shaq Thompson. While Washington has not received some of the recruiting attention that other Pac-12 programs have, the Huskies have done a solid job over the past eight years, grabbing players such as Mason Foster in 2007, Alameda Ta'amu, Chris Polk and Jermaine Kearse in 2008 and Desmond Trufant in 2009, to go along with huge recruiting wins in recent years for Kasen Williams in 2011, Cyler Miles in 2012 and five ESPN 300 recruits in the 2013 class.