Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Pac-12 class rankings analysis
By Erik McKinney
Pac-12 programs did not move in this week's updated class rankings. Arizona continues to pace the Pac-12 at No. 23, while Stanford is second in the conference at No. 28. Arizona State checks in at No. 35, while USC hangs on to the No. 40 spot. There's a chance a new Pac-12 team will be knocking at the door soon, however. UCLA seems to be gaining momentum and added two commitments Tuesday evening, while several conference programs will be looking to generate recruiting momentum with home games in front of important visitors this weekend.
Trending up: UCLA
The Bruins didn’t have a big summer when it came to recruiting, as they entered the season with only seven commitments and just one ESPN 300 prospect. But UCLA head coach Jim Mora and his assistants did a great job of laying the groundwork for some of the state’s top recruits, building up the idea that the Bruins are back on the national scene and preparing their season opener against Nevada to serve as a launching pad for recruiting success. With dozens of high-profile recruits in attendance, the Bruins rolled to a big win and, three days later, collected the first two commitments of the college football season, as ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) and three-star cornerback Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial) announced their commitments on Twitter. Pickett’s commitment served as a huge win over USC, which seemed to focus on the four-star corner as a primary target at a position of absolute importance for the Trojans. But USC wouldn’t allow Pickett to take an official visit during the season, and the Bruins were the beneficiaries of the decision. UCLA now holds commitments from three cornerbacks in the 2014 class, which will combine nicely with ESPN 300 prospects Priest Willis and Johnny Johnson from the 2013 haul.
Trending down: USC
Not to pile on the Trojans, but even with just eight commitments in the class right now, it feels like things could be set for a repeat of the 2013 recruiting season, when USC held 18 commitments during the summer and watched as a number of them took other visits and eventually wound up elsewhere. Already, three of the eight -- Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) -- have said they are keeping their options open and look forward to hearing from other schools. And ESPN 300 linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) will now have plenty of pressure from good friend Pickett to flip his commitment to UCLA -- one of his two finalists, along with the Trojans. The season-opening win against Hawaii generated little buzz as well, as one prominent target in the 2015 class said he couldn’t even find what channel was showing the Trojans’ game. However, Lane Kiffin’s program has a chance to flip this perception on Saturday, as a large number of recruits -- similar to the number who showed up to UCLA’s game last weekend -- will be in attendance for the contest against Washington State. An impressive win could turn some of the tide and get momentum back with the Trojans.
One to watch: Oregon State
The Beavers will be a fascinating case study this weekend, as they look to bounce back from a brutal loss to Eastern Washington with a home game against Hawaii. What’s more, they’ll try to do so with a number of recruits pacing the sideline. At the top of the list will be two important wide receivers in this class -- Jalen Brown (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) and Alex Van Dyke (Elk Grove, Calif./Cosumnes Oaks). Both are the kind of impact receiver who would make a huge difference in this recruiting class for the Beavers. It’s likely that neither will make a decision soon since both have four visits in mind and would like to take all five, but making a good first impression will be important for Oregon State.
Bold prediction: Virginia visit bags a future Duck
Oregon is something of a traveling circus, where every stop brings onlookers curious as to what’s in store. This weekend, a trip to Virginia could be big for Ducks recruiting, as Virginia seems to be producing more and more high-quality recruits each year. Three five-star recruits in the 2014 class reside in the state -- part of eight ESPN 300 prospects in Virginia -- while the 2015 class boasts 13 prospects in the ESPN Junior 300. As of now, Oregon doesn’t have a player from Virginia on its roster, and while it might not be an immediate reaction, the guess here is that after the Ducks blitz the Cavs in Charlottesville, that number will increase down the road.