USC Trojans: Budda Baker

Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues with the safeties.

Arizona: The Wildcats have a lot of experience at safety with a combined 78 starts between Jourdon Grandon, Tra'Mayne Bondurant and Jared Tevis. All three of their backups on the AdvoCare V100 Bowl depth chart -- Anthony Lopez, William Parks and Jamar Allah -- also return.

Arizona State: Damarious Randall returns as one of the more talented safeties in the conference after a season in which he finished tied for third on the team with 71 tackles. Marcus Ball is a strong candidate to eventually earn the job next to Randall, but he's still working his way back from a clavicle injury that cost him the 2013 season. Laiu Moeakiola, who appeared in 10 games last year as a reserve, James Johnson, Jayme Otomewo and Ezekiel Bishop are other names to watch.

California: Cal started five different players at safety last year and four of them -- Michael Lowe, Cameron Walker, Avery Sebastian and Damariay Drew -- will be back. Sebastian began the year in the starting lineup and had an interception and 10 tackles before suffering a season-ending Achilles tear in the first half of the season opener. Look for him to regain his starting job next to Lowe.

Colorado: The Buffs need to replace SS Parker Orms, who had 26 career starts and 10 last season, but FS Jered Bell will return. All three of the players competing to replace Orms -- Marques Mosley, Terrel Smith and Tedric Thompson -- have started at least three games. Smith redshirted last season after he underwent shoulder surgery and has 19 career starts.

Oregon: The Ducks lose both Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson from a secondary that has consistently been among the nation's best. Fifth-year senior Erick Dargan, Patterson's high school teammate, looks to slide into his first full-time starting role after three years of meaningful contributions on both special teams and reserve duty. Opposite him, Issac Dixon is the presumed favorite with Tyree Robinson and Reggie Daniels also in the mix.

Oregon State: The Beavers have both Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman back for their third year as starters, which should help soften the blow of losing CB Rashaad Reynolds. A few others to watch are sophomore Cyril Noland-Lewis, Justin Strong, Brandon Arnold, Zack Robinson and walk-on Micah Audiss, who was No. 2 behind Zimmerman in the season-ending depth chart.

Stanford: Ed Reynolds' early departure for the NFL creates the one real unknown spot for the Cardinal. Two former offensive players -- QB Dallas Lloyd and WR Kodi Whitfield -- are in the competition for the vacant spot, as is Kyle Olugbode. Zach Hoffpauir will join the competition once baseball season is over. The winner will play next to Jordan Richards, a senior who has started the past two seasons and played regularly as a freshman.

UCLA: Starters Randall Goforth and Anthony Jefferson are both back after being named all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season. Two names to watch are Tahaan Goodman and Tyler Foreman, both of whom arrived as part of the Class of 2013.

USC: Su'a Cravens and Josh Shaw are back, but the Trojans will have to replace Dion Bailey, who left early for the NFL after converting to safety from linebacker last year. Shaw could wind up back at corner, which would open the door for Leon McQuay III. Gerald Bowman got a medical redshirt after appearing in three games last year and should provide depth.

Utah: Veteran Eric Rowe is set to begin his fourth year as a starter in the Utes' secondary, but he'll play next to a new player with Michael Walker out of eligibility. Charles Henderson was Walker's primary backup last season, but look for junior-college transfer Tevin Carter -- a former Cal Bear -- to challenge him for the starting job.

Washington: The Huskies are looking to fill both starting spots and will likely do so with young players. Sophomores Brandon Beaver, Kevin King and Trevor Walker all saw spot duty last year and the program signed an impressive crop of high school safeties, including Bellevue's Bishard “Budda” Baker.

Washington State: Replacing Deone Bucannon means replacing one of the school's all-time greats at his position. Isaac Dotson looks like the favorite to take that spot, but will be pushed by David Bucannon, Darius Lemora and true freshman Markell Sanders, who arrived for spring practice.



Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
2:00
PM PT
video
With just two weeks until signing day, this week's updated class rankings illustrate just how close the gap is between the top teams in the Pac-12. Arizona State again checks in at No. 1 in the conference and now sits at No. 17 in the nation. Behind the Sun Devils, five more Pac-12 teams are within 10 places, as Arizona is No. 20, USC is No. 22, Stanford is No. 23, Oregon is No. 24 and UCLA rounds out the Pac-12 entrants at No. 27.

Trending up: Stanford

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
8:00
AM PT
The first big official weekend of crunch time for the 2014 recruiting class came and went, and if the past 48 hours are any indication of what's to come in the Pac-12, this will be a very interesting ride to signing day.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Pac-12 weekend recruiting wrap 

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
8:00
AM PT
All eyes were on the California state bowl games this past weekend, as five contests pitted teams from Southern California against Northern California. And although recruiting took something of a backseat to the final games of the season, there was some noise made in the Pac-12 conference, including a quarterback shakeup that could continue to play out down the line.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
2:00
PM PT
The Pac-12 now has four schools in the updated recruiting class rankings for the Class of 2014, as UCLA took over the No. 5 spot in the conference and moved to No. 40 overall. Arizona still paces the Pac-12, sitting at No. 18 overall, while Arizona State dropped a spot and now sits at No. 23, Stanford held steady at No. 25 and Oregon bumped up one position to No. 29.

Trending up: UCLA landed its second ESPN 300 prospect of the week on Tuesday, as athlete Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) joined defensive tackle Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) in committing to the Bruins. In doing so, UCLA moved into the top 40 rankings. UCLA has plenty of momentum right now, especially after keeping coach Jim Mora and ace recruiters Demetrice Martin and Adrian Klemm. Adding running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu will only make UCLA stronger down the recruiting stretch, as ESPN 300 prospects Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure), Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./Saint John Bosco) are very much in play.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

November, 18, 2013
11/18/13
8:00
AM PT

A huge win at USC was witnessed by a number of big-time recruits, while Washington added a second commitment to its 2015 class and UCLA provided another statement to recruits, utilizing the talents of a two-way freshman. Also, a USC commit had a big day, and the top tailback in the West region went even bigger, in this week's Pac-12 weekend recruiting wrap.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Most important targets: Pac-12 

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
8:00
AM PT

After a few weeks of additions and subtractions to the Pac-12's recruiting classes, it's time to take another look at the most important target in the 2014 class for each program. While some schools are still in search of the same recruit from our previous report, others have either missed or reeled in that target and are on to another. A number of local prospects dot the list, while Stanford chases a national prospect -- and the top recruit in the West is heard from several times.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
8:00
AM PT

There was plenty of news made in the desert this weekend, as Arizona landed two commitments and Arizona State had a number of visitors on hand. A number of standout performances by Pac-12 targets and positive statements made in losses are also highlighted in this week's recruiting wrap.

Biggest commitment: A nod goes to USC, which landed a commitment from three-star defensive end Olajuwon Tucker (Gardena, Calif./Serra) on Friday night, but focus quickly shifted to Arizona over the weekend, as the Wildcats landed two commitments. Wide receiver Kaelin Deboskie (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic) gives the Wildcats another dynamic offensive skill player and a local talent, as he joines teammate and ESPN 300 prospect Cameron Denson in Arizona's class. The Wildcats also grabbed a commitment from offensive tackle Levi Walton (Cape Coral, Fla./Ida Baker), who announced via Twitter that he gave a verbal to Arizona while on an official visit. Arizona now holds 26 verbal commitments in the 2014 class and will continue to recruits its top targets -- including offensive lineman Layth Friekh (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial), who was on an official visit this past weekend -- as academics and late defections have a way of shaping recruiting classes as coaches close in on the right number of signatures.

Best performance by a commit/target: Normally, 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns won't get noticed, but in the case of ESPN 300 safety Bishard Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), those numbers came on just three carries and despite a few nagging injuries.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
8:00
AM PT


A Pac-12 North showdown went decidedly to the Ducks, while two Pac-12 South programs added impressive commitments this weekend. There also seems to be some positive energy coming from USC, while a number of future Pac-12 signal-callers put together impressive performances this past Friday.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Pac-12 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
8:00
AM PT


This week's list offers a look through the Pac-12 at the potential best-case and worst-case scenarios that the 2014 recruiting cycle could bring for various programs. While a few of the best-case scenarios might be close to within reach for some programs, many of the worst-case scenarios would take a special brand of bad luck.

Arizona
Best-case scenario: Arizona doesn't hold onto all of its 24 verbal commits, but keeps all of its priority recruits in the fold. In exchange for some of the decommitments, the Wildcats are rewarded with a big splash from either ESPN 300 prospect John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) or Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure). A strong finish to the season also helps Arizona clean up in its home state, landing commitments from offensive linemen Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe), Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino), Layth Friekh (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and junior college defensive lineman Claudeson Pelon (Mesa, Ariz./Mesa College).

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

WeAreSC recruiting mailbag 

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
12:03
PM PT
WeAreSC recruiting reporter Blair Angulo answers reader questions in his mailbag every week. Have a USC recruiting question of your own? Submit it via Twitter @WeAreSCstaff or @bangulo.
WeAreSC: There have not been many scholarship offers made to Class of 2014 cornerbacks, but that should change with Adarius Pickett -- a four-star cornerback from El Cerrito (Calif.) -- committing to UCLA this week and five-star prospect Adoree’ Jackson of Gardena (Calif.) Serra recently stating his preference for the offensive side of the ball. The Trojans will add corners in this recruiting class, but their top targets are coming off the board quickly.

Still, it’s not time to panic. There’s plenty of time for USC to make a run at the batch of the local defensive backs. A good season on the field should help with those efforts.




Recruiting for the 2014 class bumped up another notch this past Sunday, when college coaches could begin making their one phone call per week to high school seniors. Today, we take a look at what position group those Pac-12 coaches might consider their most important position to add talent with this class.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Pac-12 recruiting mailbag

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
11:00
AM PT
Friday means a trip to the mailbag to answer questions you sent in about Pac-12 recruiting. The mailbag will run every Friday, so be sure to send in your questions via Twitter (@EMcKinneyESPN) or email (erik.mckinney@gmail.com). And good luck to your teams as the high school and college seasons kick off.

@notbartholomew: Thoughts on Cade Aspay? Also, thoughts on MacIntyre's '14 class 2 date. not rated highly but seems to have some solid kids.

Erik McKinney: I really like Cade Apsay (Canyon Country, Calif./Canyon) as a quarterback and as a person. He is definitely a Pac-12 quarterback and should put up some impressive statistics during his senior season. I don't think he will be seen as being as big of a get as Sefo Liufau from the 2013 class, but if the quarterback recruiting stays on this trajectory for head coach Mike MacIntyre, Colorado is going to be just fine at the position.

As for the rest of the class, I think Colorado is doing what it needs to do with what it has right now. I like that it's defense-heavy, as the top five commitments play on that side of the ball. Linebacker Rick Gamboa (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) is a very nice addition. The message MacIntyre and the staff are delivering is hitting recruits, but it will be about taking a step forward on the field this season.

It's a tough spot he was put in, trying to dig out of the bottom of a deep conference, but so far it seems he's doing a very good job of targeting and getting players who can add to the program now, as well as those who can develop for the future.

@SoCalSunDevil: Is Texas or California more important to recruit from, esp for my #ASU program?

EM: Is it cheating to say both?

I'd go with California, simply because any player Arizona State takes out of California likely means one less player the Sun devils will have to face in conference play. But if Arizona State is going to challenge for conference and national titles, it can't sit home and only recruit in state. And once the Sun Devils start crossing borders, California and Texas are the two no-brainer states to hit.

It's important for Arizona State to have a presence in both states, but I believe it will always find more success in California, due to proximity and the recruits' familiarity with the program/conference.

@UTSportsAction1: Have some of the western states recruits caught up to California recruits?

EM: The short answer is no, but the longer answer might depend more on what you're asking.

The other West states are not likely to catch up to California in terms of producing talent, simply because of population size and the overall number of recruits produced. Of the California recruits ranked No. 90 through 98, seven already are committed to Pac-12 programs. No other state in the region will come close to that kind of depth.

If you're asking whether, say, the top five players in each West state could compete with California's top five, then -- depending on the year -- the answer would be yes.

Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham), Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) absolutely could play with the top players in California, and many of them have shown it this spring and summer.

Four linemen from Hawaii are in the 2015 ESPN 300, and Arizona will be talked about more and more as one of the blossoming talent-producing states in the country.

But even with talent spread throughout the region, there's a reason all the Pac-12 coaches fought to play at least one game in Southern California every year. The depth of talent in that state, and specifically that area, is unmatched by any other in the region.

Pac-12 recruiting mailbag

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
11:00
AM PT
Friday means a trip to the mailbag to answer questions you've e-mailed or tweeted about the Pac-12 recruiting. The Pac-12 recruiting mailbag will run every Friday, so send in your questions to Erik McKinney, via e-mail or @EMcKinneyESPN.


@choidog00: who's going to win battle for budda baker -- UW, UCLA or Oregon?


Erik McKinney: There are a few more teams in that mix now, as Bishard Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) listed Notre Dame among his favorites, then received an offer from Texas A&M. Baker said he is concentrating on the season right now and hasn't begun to firmly establish official visit plans, but did add that he was considering a trip to see Texas A&M host Alabama.


He's talked about his mom's health being one reason to stay close to home, and allowing his family to make a short trip to see him play as another. I think in the end it depends on what Washington and Steve Sarkisian is able to produce. If the Huskies are competitive and finally race past that seven-win barrier, they'll give the nation's No. 8 safety yet another reason to stay home.


@Stunzeed: Chip left, but now that Oregon has the new facilities, do you see recruiting going up, down, or staying about the same?



EM: Oregon is getting comfortable as one of the nation's elite recruiting teams, and with or without Chip Kelly, they're going to stay there. Some fans of other programs might knock the Ducks' rolodex of uniforms, but there is a reason just about every program in the country is breaking out alternate jerseys and updating their look. The new facilities speak for themselves and keep Oregon among the trendsetters in the college football landscape.


Recruits also quickly took notice of the fact that the Ducks' offensive and defensive systems are still going to be the same under new head coach Mark Helfrich. The only effect losing Kelly will have on recruiting is if it effects the on the on-field product. If the Ducks keep winning, they'll keep recruiting well.


The only problem Oregon has when it comes to recruiting rankings is a self-imposed one. They don't always go after the consensus top-ranked player, instead choosing to focus on recruits who fit their systems, because they are so unique on both sides of the ball. As long as the Ducks are winning and the buzz continues in Eugene, they are going to get their share of ESPN 300 prospects, though I wouldn't expect them to be battling for the No. 1 class in the country.


@rmcglenn: what is going on with USC recruiting? Very few commits of quality. Is it kiffin turning these kids off?



EM: First of all, I'd take slight exception to the idea that there are "very few commits of quality" in the USC class. Four of the seven commitments are ESPN 300 prospects, Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) will be playing his first year of high school football in the United States, Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont) is a high-upside tackle with other Pac-12 offers -- a situation reminiscent of Chad Wheeler, who could be the starting left tackle for the season opener -- and Michael Wyche (Monterey Park, Calif./East Los Angeles College) will be evaluated as part of the junior college rankings. It's a good start to the 2014 class for USC.


I believe the issue that Trojans fans are hitting on is that when you compare this class to the 2013 class at the same point, they aren't even close. After last July's recruiting haul, the Trojans probably could have stood pat and wound up with the No. 1 class in the country. It was a phenomenal recruiting performance in the summer.


But what happened after that is a big reason why recruits aren't committing to USC right now. They saw what happened on the field. They hear the whispers about Lane Kiffin being on the hot seat and they are waiting to see what happens with USC this fall.


An offer from USC is still a hot ticket, evidenced by the number of ESPN 300 prospect showing legitimate interest in the Trojans. But the type of player USC is after has the luxury to wait and see what happens on the field before making a commitment. If the Trojans put a good season together, they could have another impressive signing day.
The definition of a “must-have” recruit is not created equal for all Pac-12 programs. For some, it’s a player who would help the class the most. For others, it’s the local recruit who simply can’t get away. And for others still, it’s the recruit who would give the program the biggest splash in the recruiting world. With a number of West region recruits still undecided, there are “must-have” recruits out there for every Pac-12 program.

Arizona
ATH Marquis Ware
6-foot-2, 210 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 120
Arizona is off to a terrific start with the 2014 recruiting class and the Wildcats already have commitments from two ESPN 300 prospects. But perhaps more importantly, they also have sincere interest from Ware, who is capable of playing outside linebacker or tight end at the next level. Not only would reeling in Ware give Arizona some serious bragging rights in the recruiting hotbed of Los Angeles, but the big athlete is teammates with linebacker Jamardre Cobb, who could join Ware in college.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 8/28
Friday, 8/29
Saturday, 8/30