It was a very busy weekend in the Pac-12, as several programs picked up recruits during the various All-American games across the country.

Biggest commitment: Five conference teams added commitments since last Thursday, and all will likely play a big role in shaping classes on signing day.

Arizona got an early start on the weekend, as the Wildcats grabbed two huge commitments this past Thursday with ESPN 300 cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) -- the No. 15 overall prospect in the nation -- and former USC commit and ESPN 300 offensive tackle Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./La Jolla Country Day).

Arizona State landed a commitment from two-way lineman Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch) during the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Sunday. Delp will still visit other programs, but if he sticks with Arizona State, he'll provide a boost at defensive tackle.


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videoOregon continues to stockpile talent with the 2014 recruiting class, as the Ducks received a commitment from four-star outside linebacker Jimmie Swain IV (Olathe, Kan./Olathe North) during the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Sunday evening.

Swain committed to Oregon over Arkansas, Michigan State and Texas A&M.

"It's been a great process for me," Swain said during his televised commitment. "For the next four years, I'll be playing at the University of Oregon."

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De'Anthony Thomas entering draft

January, 5, 2014
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Running back De'Anthony Thomas will leave Oregon to enter the NFL draft, he announced Sunday.

Thomas had 594 rushing yards, 246 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns this season despite being sidelined for nearly four games because of a right ankle injury.

He also excelled as a returner, running back four kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns in his three seasons in Oregon.

"I am officially withdrawing from the University of Oregon to pursue a professional career in the NFL," Thomas said in a statement. "I want to express my deepest appreciation and thanks to the University and all of my teammates, coaches and fans. I look forward to staying connected to the University and visiting the sidelines as often as possible."

Thomas' 5,345 total yards are third in school history after LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner. He holds Oregon records for kickoff return yards with 1,885 and his 17.1 punt return average.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Los Angeles native ran for two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin after the 2011 season. The next season in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State, he ran the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.

"De'Anthony has been a spectacular talent in college football and has been a part of some of the most memorable plays in the history of the University of Oregon," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "We wish him success going forward with his career."

Thomas also ran track for the Ducks, anchoring their 4x100-meter relay team.


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Lunch links: Draft declarations

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
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Happy Friday.

Pac-12 bowl season? A gentleman's C

January, 3, 2014
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The Pac-12 went 6-3 in its bowl games. On Dec. 9, the Pac-12 blog noted, "Anything less than 6-3 would be a major disappointment."

So the Pac-12 didn't notch a "major disappointment" this bowl season. And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

Sure, conference teams were favored in all nine games, but you can't win them all, right? A .667 winning percentage is solid by just about any measure. The super-awesome SEC is just 5-2 with a couple of tough games remaining.

SportsNation

How would you grade the Pac-12's postseason?

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Why then am I so underwhelmed?

Short answer: It should have been better. Our Pac-12 bowl season grade? A gentleman's "C."

Part of the problem was the matchups, which were unusually forgiving. USC's blowout win over No. 20 Fresno State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl was the only win over a ranked team, mostly because the only other ranked team the Pac-12 played this bowl season was Stanford against No. 4 Michigan State in the Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO, a 24-20 Spartans victory.

Another part of the problem was how things went down.

While Washington State fans seem split on whether the Pac-12 blog is allowed to call the Cougars' monumental double-dog-derp against Colorado State by the term that everyone immediately thought of (don't worry, we won't type "Couged it"), that was a quintessential example of a team forcibly yanking defeat from the jaws of victory.

Then there was Arizona State against Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl. For whatever reason, the Sun Devils simply didn't show up. We apologize for seeming to not give Texas Tech credit for a great win, but the Red Raiders need to understand the Sun Devils they played looked nothing like the Sun Devils of 2013. That game was utterly shocking, at both a player and coaching level. Todd Graham was right to take the blame afterward. His team wasn't ready to play.

That game reminded me of a coach who once told me that having a senior-laden team can become a mixed blessing for a bowl game. Sometimes, senior leadership provides focus to a locker room. And, sometimes, seeing that the seniors won't be accountable to the coaching staff and their teammates the following fall, they lose interest and start looking ahead to their own futures. My guess is the latter happened with Arizona State.

Stanford? It hardly played a perfect game, but the Rose Bowl was simply a good, hard-fought matchup that Michigan State took from Stanford, instead of the Cardinal giving it to the Spartans. The result served more as a validation of the Big Ten champs than a reduction of Stanford's national status.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Wilkerson
Jonathan Moore/Getty ImagesAnthony Wilkerson and Stanford didn't slip up too badly in the Rose Bowl loss to Michigan State.
That take mostly rings true for the Pac-12's bowl season. Going 6-3 won't represent a retreat; it won't cause a negative national re-evaluation of the strength of the conference. For one, if Auburn loses to Florida State in the national title game, no conference will post a dominant bowl season. Big 12 champion Baylor losing to Central Florida in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Alabama losing to Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl showed that bowl-season nuttiness can affect even the heaviest of favorites.

So kudos to USC, Oregon State, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and UCLA for taking care of business in their bowl games.

USC and Washington won despite coaching turmoil. The Ducks showed what a healthy Marcus Mariota looked like and gave defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti a great farewell with a dominant performance on that side of the ball. Oregon State, Arizona and UCLA brought their A-games and dominated.

My general feeling is the carryover to 2014 will be at least four and probably five teams ranked in the preseason: Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC and maybe Arizona State.

The Pac-12 bowl season was only OK. It could have been worse; it could have been better.

That's nothing to aspire toward, but at least the conference won't have to spend the offseason wringing its hands over its national status as we head toward the first season of a four-team College Football Playoff.
Bowl season is over for the Pac-12. And after high hopes with the conference being favored in all nine games -- at least in the eyes of Vegas -- it finished with a 6-3 record.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Comments? Criticisms?

The 6-3 record sounds good. But how good is it, really? Especially with both division champs losing their bowl games.

SportsNation

How would you grade the Pac-12's postseason?

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    4%
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    51%
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    36%
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    8%
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Discuss (Total votes: 4,913)

Is this about how you thought the league would do? Or did it do better or worse? The three losses were doozies. Two of them involved blowing double-digit leads, another was a beat down. But the wins were substantial; at least the margin of victory was. The Pac-12 went 2-1 against the Mountain West, 1-0 against an independent, 1-1 against the Big 12, 2-0 against the ACC and 0-1 against the Big Ten. That’s 3-2 against teams from other major BCS conferences. Though one of those two losses was a BCS bowl game.

Time to weigh in. How would you grade the Pac-12’s postseason?

A: Considering how the league has done in previous years, six wins is outstanding. You’re bound to lose a few bowl games along the way, but the fact that nine teams were in bowls and six of them won is as good as we could have realistically hoped for.

B: Pretty good. The six wins were nice, but the two losses to teams from AQ conferences, and losing the BCS bowl game puts a mild stain on an otherwise pretty solid performance.

C: Considering the expectations, the league’s performance was average at best. Losing to a Mountain West team is frustrating and losing the BCS bowl game is frustrating. With the firepower the league had, there should have been more than six wins out there in those nine games.

D: Very disappointing. There is always one team that loses a game it shouldn’t in the postseason, but to only come away with six wins is a black mark on the league. For what the expectations were compared to how the league finished, this is disappointing.

F: Yucky! With only one BCS team, the Pac-12 could ill-afford to lose that game, let alone let a Colorado State team come back and win while watching ASU get run up and down by Texas Tech. It was an embarrassing end of the year -- especially to see both of the division champions go down in the postseason.

Army Bowl notebook: Jan. 2 

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
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SAN ANTONIO -- Thursday’s practice session for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl saw players in more of a rhythm on offense, but it also saw defensive players showing their skills. If Thursday is any indication, Saturday’s contest could be a low-scoring affair.

Here are a few notes:

Cannon reaffirms Baylor commitment … again.

For the Baylor fans who read the late-Wednesday tweet coming from ESPN 300 receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), don’t read anything into it.


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Some news and notes from Day 2 at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Ducks and Bruins battle for McGraw

The fight for the nation's No. 194 prospect is down to Oregon and UCLA, as those two programs are the last standing for safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). And perhaps surprisingly, whoever wins this recruiting battle will have a former USC star to thank.


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Pac-12's lunch links

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
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This is the end, beautiful friend. This is the end, my only friend, the end.
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Four-star outside linebacker Jimmie Swain IV (Olathe, Kan./North) is listed as an uncommitted recruit, but that distinction is not exactly true.

Following the first day of practice for the 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Swain said he has known for a while where he will play his college football and he has let the coaches of his finalists know his decision. The public will be let in on the secret during the game on Sunday, when the 6-foot-3, 229-pound linebacker will announce his commitment.

Swain is down to four schools -- Arkansas, Michigan State, Oregon and Texas A&M -- and all but the Spartans have received official visits.

As for his leaders, Swain gave a quick look into why they stand out in the race for his signature.

"[Michigan State has] always been in my top five ever since I started watching college football," Swain said. "At Arkansas, I have a good relationship with Randy Shannon and I fit in well with the players on my visit. At Oregon, it's the whole coaching staff. My mom really enjoyed them when they came to visit. They've been at Oregon so long, and the football there speaks for itself, when a 10-2 season is considered a bad season. With Texas A&M, I had a fun visit down there. A lot of people worry about what happens to them when Johnny [Manziel] is gone, but their recruiting class is really good and I don't think they're going to skip a beat."

Swain has been avoiding interviews and any real talk of recruiting in recent weeks, as he said he's been "relaxing and enjoying time with family." But he'll make some significant noise on Sunday, particularly for the program that receives a verbal commitment from the standout linebacker, who plans on pursuing a double major in marketing and finance.


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Lunch links: Happy New Year!

January, 1, 2014
Jan 1
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And there’s a hand my trusty friend, And give me a hand o’ thine;
And we’ll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne.

Army Bowl notebook: Dec. 31 

December, 31, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO -- The second day of practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl -- on the last day of 2013 -- has come to a conclusion. Here is Tuesday’s notebook featuring some of the nation’s elite athletes:

LB Williams: Law and order equals '98 percent'


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Three days of practice are now in the books and overall execution was sharper as the players begin to move into final preparations for the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday. The productivity of the players picked up as did the speed of the play, and they’re continuing to think less and display their natural ability more. It was a physical day, with the pads popping and some big hits throughout the practice. Here are some of the highlights.

Top performers


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Pac-12's lunch links

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
2:30
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You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack.

3-point stance: Mariota puts on a show

December, 31, 2013
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1. The Marcus Mariota we saw for two-and-a-half quarters Monday evening before cramps took away his running game is the Oregon quarterback who made it deep into October as the Heisman Trophy favorite. Mariota is a good passer who can improve. Mariota on healthy wheels makes the Duck offense lethal. He and Jameis Winston will get the bulk of the offseason attention. With good reason.

2. The Pac-12 went into the National University Holiday Bowl on Monday night with a 4-1 bowl record, which means the league was a Washington State last-minute meltdown in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl away from a perfect record. You can argue that the matchups favored the Pac-12 teams and you would be correct. But that shouldn’t diminish what an outstanding year the league had. And with the hiring of Chris Petersen at Washington, the Pac-12 just got tougher.

3. The Seattle Times reports that Petersen asked Marques Tuiasosopo to stay at Washington, where he had been quarterback coach, where he remains the last quarterback to win a Rose Bowl. And Tuiasosopo wants to go with Steve Sarkisian to be USC’s tight ends coach. Maybe Tuiasosopo wants to flesh out his resume and show he will coach anywhere. Maybe Sarkisian knows how to keep a staff together. It wouldn’t be a long-term blow to Petersen. But it underlines the change that has come to U-Dub.

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After a recent rise into the top 10 overall, defensive end Byron Cowart of Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) joins ESPN's Matt Schick to discuss recruiting and the new ESPN 300.Tags: Byron Cowart, Armwood, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Matt Schick
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