USC Trojans: Dalton Schultz

Bold predictions: Pac-12 

February, 4, 2014
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If the past several years are any indication, it's always fairly safe to expect something unexpected on signing day. From supposed locks signing elsewhere to supposed flips staying put, signing day wouldn't be signing day without the accompanying element of surprise.

With that being said, we look ahead to Wednesday and offer five predictions as to how the Pac-12 will fare.

Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

January, 22, 2014
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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


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Updated ESPN 300: Pac-12 analysis 

January, 14, 2014
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There were a several shifts for Pac-12 commits and targets in the newly updated ESPN 300. While it's difficult to make big jumps for players toward the top of the list, Oregon, UCLA and USC target John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) made a considerable move up 14 spots to No. 24 overall, while Arizona State and Stanford target Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) slid up seven spots and into the top 40 at No. 39 overall. But there were several others with Pac-12 ties who saw their stock rise even more:

[+] EnlargeViane Talamaivao and Austin Maloata
Blair Angulo/ESPNUSC offensive guard commit Viane Talamaivao (right) has moved up nine spots in the updated ESPN 300.
TE Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure): The USC verbal commitment moved up 37 places and now sits at No. 89 overall. He is now the No. 1 player at his position. The Trojans will need to hold off a late push from UCLA, which was his other finalist, but coach Steve Sarkisian's history with the tight end position as well as the fact that USC lost tight end Xavier Grimble to the NFL draft should allow the Trojans to keep hold of Dixon's commitment.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 13, 2014
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Stanford put its best foot forward with its Big Visit Weekend, while a number of other Pac-12 programs positioned themselves for big recruiting weekends throughout the month of January. California was able to lock in a familiar face on the recruiting trail, while Oregon was able to the same on the coaching staff, in this week's recruiting wrap.


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Most important targets: Pac-12 

January, 8, 2014
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The West region still has a chance to greatly impact the Pac-12, as five of the top six recruits in the region remain uncommitted. And while a few Pac-12 classes still have a ways to go and others are looking for the finishing touches, there is still a most important commit for each program still out there. Here, we take a look at the one "must-have" recruit for each conference program.


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Most important targets: Pac-12 

December, 10, 2013
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There are a number of impact players in the 2014 recruiting class still uncommitted and looking hard at Pac-12 programs. While one commit won't likely make a break a class, there are prospects out there that are extremely important for each class, for reasons on and off the field. This week, we take a look at arguably the top uncommitted target for each program, and why the recruit would make such an impact for that school.

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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

December, 4, 2013
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There was some good news for the Pac-12 in the updated class rankings released on Wednesday as Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon all moved up. The Wildcats maintained their grip on the top class in the conference and now sit at No. 18 overall. The Sun Devils jumped two places -- from No. 24 to No. 22 -- largely on the strength of a commitment from four-star running back Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale), and in doing so, leapt Stanford for the No. 2 spot in the Pac-12. The Cardinal slid two spots, down to No. 25 overall, while Oregon remains the fourth conference team among the top 40, up to places to No. 30 overall. Here's a look at the conference's rankings. Insider

Trending up: In the 2013 class, Arizona State didn't sign and enroll a single four-star high school prospect. With Richard's commitment on Monday, the Sun Devils now have eight in their 2014 class. While Richard is the first commitment since mid-November, Arizona State's on-field performance has recruits buzzing about the future of the Sun Devils and with a win this weekend, coach Todd Graham will have an opportunity to close out this class in a big way.

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Most important targets: Pac-12 

October, 22, 2013
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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.


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the Big Ten, check out our conference rankings:

1. Arizona, 24 commits: The Wildcats check in at No. 23 in the RecruitingNation class rankings with a class that includes four ESPN300 commitments, including No. 120 overall Marquis Ware and No. 185 Jamardre Cobb of Salesian High in Los Angeles. Arizona will take its shot with No. 17 overall Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy), and teammate Dae'Juan Funderburk (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) in December.


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Pac-12 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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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).

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Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Sept. 19 

September, 19, 2013
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Three Pac-12 programs added commitments in the past week, while several more appear poised to close this class in a big way. A number of Pac-12 programs are off this weekend, but one program in particular looks to be in line for a busy recruiting weekend.
Cardinal closing strong

There was only one team that made any kind of movement in Wednesday's updated team recruiting rankings, and it was a big jump for the Stanford Cardinal. On the strength of a commitment from ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian), Stanford moved up four places, from No. 28 to No. 24 overall. It seems to be only a matter of time before Stanford is sitting atop the Pac-12 conference, as ESPN 300 prospects Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) appear to be strong leans to the Cardinal. Several other four-star prospects across the country are giving the program a long look.

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Most important Pac-12 recruiting targets 

September, 17, 2013
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As the regular season heats up on the field, so too does the action on the recruiting trail, as prospects are setting official visits, trimming final lists and setting their sights on February's signing day. With a number of targets still on the board for every coach in the conference, this list illustrates the biggest name still out there for each Pac-12 program.

Arizona
OT Layth Friekh (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial)
6-foot-6, 251 pounds


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Pac-12 recruiting mailbag

August, 23, 2013
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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 class rankings analysis 

August, 14, 2013
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Though several Pac-12 teams gained commitments over the past week, Stanford stole the show with a huge pickup on Saturday. Wednesday’s class rankings reflect the Cardinal’s big day, as David Shaw’s program jumped several spots and widened the gap between its top class and Arizona, which holds firm at No. 2 in the conference.

Trending up: Stanford

The Cardinal moved from No. 30 to No. 27, thanks to the commitments of three-star defenders Joey Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit), Kirk Tucker (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) and Bobby Okereke (Tustin, Calif./Foothill). Stanford already holds the Pac-12’s top recruiting class and could be poised to close in a big way, as ESPN 300 prospects Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Tex./Coppell), Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham), Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, NJ/Bergen Catholic) and Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) all have the Cardinal on their short lists.

Trending down: Oregon

Don’t expect the Ducks to stay down for long, as they are sure to shoot up the rankings when official visits begin and that high-powered attack and those flashy uniforms hit the field this fall. But for now, things haven’t been going the Ducks' way on the recruiting trail. They lost a big commitment two weeks ago when ESPN 300 linebacker Jordan Hoiem (Wailuku, Hawaii/Baldwin) made the decision to quit football. In state, the Ducks weren’t able to lock up the top talent, as Alfieri is headed to Stanford while ESPN 300 defensive end Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) never received an Oregon offer.

One to watch: Connor Humphreys


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The List: Must-have Pac-12 recruits 

August, 13, 2013
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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.


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