Monday, November 4, 2013
Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12
By Erik McKinney
Oregon State reeled in two verbal commitments despite a Friday night loss to USC. UCLA hosted the nation's No. 21 overall recruit. An Arizona commitment authored a huge game in a blowout win. And all eyes will be on one colossal matchup in the Pac-12 this week.
Biggest commitment: Oregon State can split this between the two commitments hauled in over the weekend. The Beavers added offensive tackle Yanni Demogerontas (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg) and tight end Jake Knight (Meridian, Idaho./Rocky Mountain). While neither commit will send shockwaves through the recruiting world, it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see other programs begin to pick up interest in both players. Oregon has already been looking at Knight, so the Beavers might eventually need to battle to keep both.
Best performance by a commit/target: Arizona commit Cameron Denson (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic) had a phenomenal performance last week, as the ESPN 300 athlete filled in at quarterback -- as well as everywhere else. Denson threw for a touchdown, rushed for two more, returned a punt for a score and took an interception back 81 yards for a touchdown.
Staying in Arizona, 2015 ESPN 300 wide receiver Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) was his usual self last week, as the nation's No. 3 wideout touched the ball just seven times on offense, but managed to score four touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
In Southern California, attention needs to be paid to the Long Beach (Calif.) Poly defense, which went nearly five league games without allowing a point. After four shutouts, the Jackrabbits gave up a last-minute touchdown in a blowout win on Friday night. ESPN 300 athlete John Smith contributed on special teams, with a 65-yard punt return and an onside kick returned for a touchdown. Teammate and 2015 ESPN 300 cornerback Iman Marshall chipped in offensively with a 38-yard touchdown run. Smith and Marshall have't had to do everything for Poly this season, but they've been at or around the middle of just about every big performance.
Cal running back commit Tre Watson (Corona, Calif./Centennial) continues to put up terrific numbers during his senior season. In a big win, Watson rushed for 312 yards and four touchdowns. In the same game, USC defensive line commit Austin Maloata had two sacks.
Bo Scarbrough took a look at Westwood.
Most important visit: When a top-25 prospect makes a trip across the country, it's bound to generate some attention. This weekend, athlete Bo Scarbrough (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy), the country's No. 21 overall prospect, took an official visit to UCLA. While Scarbrough has been committed to Alabama since early September, the Bruins have been making a consistent push for the two-way standout.
After visits to Mississippi and Notre Dame, UCLA had an opportunity to make an impact on the 6-foot-2, 215-pound athlete. Jim Mora and staff might be able to use the tailback-by-committee approach in this game (no running back carried more than six times and quarterback Brett Hundley led the ground game with 11 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns) as the lead in a pitch to feature Scarbrough at tailback.
Biggest answer: The results didn't change for Cal and Colorado, but there's no denying that there was some fight in the Golden Bears and Buffaloes against Arizona and UCLA, respectively. Recruits might not be completely swayed by wins and losses, but they can absolutely tell when programs are playing hard for the coach and whether players want to be there. Recruits will notice signs of life. USC’s victory over Oregon State on Friday proved that the players are all-in for interim coach Ed Orgeron. While recruits will continue to wait for the announcement of a new head coach, this was the hoped-for change in atmosphere when the complaints about Lane Kiffin grew louder.
Biggest question: This is easily the fastest the page will be turned on one weekend in the Pac-12 this season, as a moderate slate of games gives way to a week with 10 teams in action, including the conference game of the year between Oregon and Stanford. While the Ducks and Cardinal don't often chase a lot of the same recruits, this will be a game the winning coaching staff will gladly use on the recruiting trail next weekend. A follow-up question this week deals with UCLA's trip to Arizona -- two programs that often chase the same recruits. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Wildcats bring in a number of unofficial visitors for a game that could have significant Pac-12 South implications.