NCF On The Trail: California Golden Bears

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: California wide receiver Trent Irwin showed he’s among the nation’s best players at Sunday’s Nike Football Training Camp, and UCLA has a major need at the running back spot and will probably have to look all over the country to fill it.


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Signing day wrap: Pac-12

February, 5, 2014
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While it was a terrific day for the Pac-12 overall, USC stole the signing day spotlight on Wednesday, hitting for the cycle in landing its top four targets.

The day began well for new coach Steve Sarkisian, as three-star cornerback Lamont Simmons (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) faxed over his signature, but that was only an appetizer for the Trojans. With 19 scholarships available this year -- NCAA sanctions limited the Trojans to just 15 scholarships in this class and USC was able to roll four unused rides over from the 2013 class -- Simmons took the class to 16. Left on the board were a trio of Southern California ESPN 300 prospects in No. 9 overall prospect, cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), No. 24 overall prospect, athlete John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and No. 67 overall prospect, offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco).

[+] EnlargeJohn
Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY SportsJohn "JuJu" Smith was part of a huge signing day for USC.
Sarkisian and the Trojans were able to land all three, giving USC one of the best signing days of any program in the country. The signings give USC 19 additions in the 2014 class, including nine ESPN 300 pledges, one ESPN JC 50 prospect and impact players on both sides of the ball. There is really no way to overstate how well Sarkisian and the Trojans closed on signing day, posting what amounted to a perfect day.

The Trojans wound up with the No. 1 class in the Pac-12, but the rankings in the conference were bunched at the top.

Stanford made a huge run late, landing commitments from all six recruits it targeted over the past two months. The Cardinal added signatures from ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Tex./Coppell) -- at No. 25 overall, the highest rated Stanford addition since ESPN began its rankings in 2006 -- and three-star cornerback Terrence Alexander (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). Though the Cardinal lost a late commitment from defensive end Uriah Leiataua (Compton, Calif./Dominguez), it was a very strong visit and a terrific class headed to the Farm.

Alexander wasn't the only recruit from John Curtis Christian to commit to the Pac-12, as Oregon and UCLA took their biggest commitments of the day from that program. The Ducks landed ESPN 300 safety Mattrell McGraw, while UCLA picked up its lone signing day commit in Kenny Young.

Oregon missed out on Smith and defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Earl Warren) but was able to land safety Khalil Oliver (Meridian, Id./Rocky Mountain) in a battle against Washington.

UCLA coaches will likely be disappointed with the day. Although the Bruins did reel in Young, UCLA missed on Thomas, No. 1 overall wide receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) and the Southern California trio, which made matters worse for Jim Mora & Co. by committing to the Trojans. UCLA brought a very good recruiting class into signing day and did a good job of holding onto everybody, but the Bruins took some big swings at some big prospects across the country and didn't get the results they were hoping for.

Arizona State slid a few spots in the national rankings, but the Sun Devils did everything they could on signing day. Todd Graham brought a relatively full class into the day and was able to add two huge signatures in ESPN JC 50 prospects defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River CC) and cornerback Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont). The Sun Devils were also able to hold onto another junior college standout in wide receiver Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College), who received a significant late push from Florida.

Arizona was relatively quiet. The Wildcats brought in a huge list of verbal commitments and didn't lose anybody off the top of the class, landing five ESPN 300 prospects. Defensive tackle Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) was the big addition, as the big lineman selected Arizona over Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State.

Oregon State grabbed a signature from offensive guard Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch), who will play defensive tackle for the Beavers. Utah announced defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) as a part of this class after he attempted to sign with the Utes in 2013.

Washington's big addition came Tuesday night in the form of ESPN 300 safety Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), but Chris Petersen and the Huskies also received a signing day commitment from intriguing 6-foot-5 receiver Brayden Lenius (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade). The Washington State Cougars closed with their second four-star commitment in this class, safety Deion Singleton (Paco, Wash./Chiawana).

But the day in the West belonged to USC, which jumped from No. 4 in the conference to landing the Pac-12's top 2014 recruiting class. Nationally, the Trojans moved from No. 24 to No. 15 overall.

Stanford (15th), Arizona State (21st) and Arizona (23rd) all finished among the top 25 recruiting classes in the nation.

Most important targets: Pac-12 

January, 28, 2014
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With only eight days before national signing day, it truly is crunch time for coaches and recruits alike for the 2014 class. In the Pac-12 especially, a number of spots remain available in a majority of classes. This week, we take a look at the most important uncommitted target for each conference program.

Arizona: DT Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue)
6-2, 299 pounds
Three-star prospect

The Wildcats jumped into the process late for Griffin but made enough of an impression that the big lineman took an official visit to Tucson last weekend. Griffin will announce on signing day from a group that consists of Arizona, Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State. While the Wildcats have a full class at this point, it looks as though they'd like to add one more big body along the defensive line and Griffin is one of the top defensive tackles in the region, regardless of commitment status.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 27, 2014
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There were official visitors all over the Pac-12 this weekend, as conference coaches look to close out the 2014 recruiting class. But the most noise was made by a 2015 quarterback who committed to stay home for his college football career.


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Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12 

January, 24, 2014
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Just two weekends of official visits remain before signing day, so it's no surprise that just about every Pac-12 program will have visitors on campus this weekend. It's a huge opportunity for USC, which will have arguably it's most important host weekend of the recruiting calendar. Other programs will have a few recruits on hand in hopes of making a big splash the following weekend. While every visit is big at this stage of the game, here are a look at 10 of the most important for the Jan. 24 weekend:

1. ATH John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly)
Visiting: USC


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After generating some significant momentum following its Big Visit Weekend and grabbing a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham), Stanford's recruiting class took a hit on Wednesday night, when ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) announced his decommitment via Twitter.

Lealao, the nation's No. 243 overall prospect and No. 20 defensive tackle, said he will now choose between Cal, Oregon State, Utah and Vanderbilt.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive lineman, who is now exploring his other options, took an official visit to Cal this past weekend. Landing Lealao would be a huge recruiting victory for Cal, as the Golden Bears are in need of immediate help on the defensive side of the ball. Vanderbilt being on Lealao's final list doesn't come as much of a shock either, considering former Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason is now the Commodores’ head coach. His familiarity with Lealao, as well as the academic tradition at both schools, makes it a possible landing spot for the big defender.

Oregon State could use another presence along the defensive line after losing defensive end Shane Bowman (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) to Washington recently. Oregon State's lone defensive tackle commit is three-star Kalani Vakameilalo (Kapolei, Hawaii/Kapolei).

Utah, on the other hand, already has four defensive tackles committed in the 2014 class. However, if he does land in Salt Lake City, it wouldn't be surprising to see Lealao jump up the depth chart and eventually pair with top 2013 signee Lowell Lotulelei to form the interior of the Utes defensive line.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Bryce Dixon, the nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect, has committed to USC, but that hasn’t stopped UCLA from pursuing him; Clemson’s receiver class is making a case for the best in the country; and junior college cornerback Darius White was afraid he wasn’t going to find a home after he wasn’t able to enroll at midterm, but that changed this weekend.

Trojans, Bruins duking it out for Dixon
Things have certainly gotten interesting in the battle to sign Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure tight end Bryce Dixon. The nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect committed to USC at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, but since then rumors have continued to swirl about Dixon’s pledge. One Pac-12 coach told me Dixon publicly is telling people he’s still with the Trojans but privately he’s looking very hard at UCLA. “The key is going to be whatever team ends up stepping up and taking his teammate, cornerback Davonte Nunnery,” the coach said. “They’re a package deal.” Dixon is scheduled to visit USC this weekend, likely with Nunnery in tow, and UCLA is scheduled to get a visit on Jan. 31. Don’t be surprised, however, if some wrangling occurs and USC tries to push the visit back to the final weekend of the recruiting calendar.

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Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12 

January, 17, 2014
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The recruiting dead period is over, and it's full speed ahead for a number of Pac-12 programs as coaches look to load up on official visitors over the next three weekends. A list of important official visitors for Pac-12 programs this weekend could easily extend to two or even three dozen names, so limiting it to just the top 10 was challenging -- though likely not as difficult as the task facing conference coaches looking to wrap up their recruiting classes as national signing day approaches.

1. CB Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont College) visiting Arizona State. The ESPN Junior College 50 cornerback made an early commitment to Arkansas but pulled away from that as more Pac-12 programs expressed interest. Brown, the nation's No. 3 juco cornerback, will be at Arizona State as part of a huge group of official visitors and will be one of the main targets committed quarterback Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) sets his sights on this weekend.


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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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There are still better than three weeks left for the 2014 recruiting class, but that won't stop the 2015 class from making noise before signing day.

Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) -- the nation's No. 1 quarterback prospect and No. 16 overall recruit -- will be on the move over the next few weeks and it isn't out of the question that his recruitment could come to a close before spring hits.

Rosen attended last weekend's Elite 11 Regional in Southern California but did not participate, as he is still recovering from a shoulder injury he played through for much of his state-title-winning junior season. At the event, Rosen said he plans to take unofficial visit to UCLA and USC after the dead period ends.


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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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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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The dead period runs through Jan. 15, and some recruits have said they will use that to take a break from recruiting, but that doesn't mean it will shut down for everyone. Coaches are still able to contact recruits during the dead period -- just no in-person contact -- and a number of recruits will be making commitments during this time. Over the next few weeks and through the holidays, Pac-12 recruiting fans will have a number of things to keep an eye on, including these five topics.

Who sets January visits?

With the dead period wiping out an entire weekend normally dedicated to official visits, recruits will have just three January weekends available to take visits -- the 17th, 24th and 31st -- if they'd like to commit and sign on signing day. Every Pac-12 program is looking to load up on official visits during those weekends. Stanford and USC look as though they will be very busy on Jan. 17, and Oregon is always able to grab a few late official visitors -- ESPN JC 50 WR Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College) is scheduled for Jan. 31. There are plenty of Pac-12 targets saying they will likely set up January officials to various schools.


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Midyear signings: California

December, 18, 2013
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According to CalBears.com, the following players have signed with California:

Devante Downs ATH Mountlake Terrace, Wash./Mountlake Terrace
HT: 6-2 WT: 225
Positional Rank: No. 26 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 212)

Jonathon Johnson DE Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce College
HT: 6-4 WT: 260
Positional Rank: No. 8 DE Juco
Stars: 3

Sam Atoe S Santa Rosa, Calif./College of San Mateo
HT: 6-0 WT: 205
Positional Rank: No. 10 S Juco
Stars: 3

David Davis DT Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Long Beach City College
HT: 6-2 WT: 295
Positional Rank: N/A Juco
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Trevor Kelly South San Francisco, Calif./College of San Mateo
HT: 6-3 WT: 305
Positional Rank: N/A Juco
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

December, 18, 2013
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There's a new No. 1 team in the Pac-12, according to the updated team rankings released on Wednesday.

Arizona State made the biggest jump of any team in the rankings, leaping from No. 22 to No. 17 overall, and in the process, bypassing Arizona, which moved from No. 18 to No. 19.

Six Pac-12 teams are now in the rankings, with the addition of USC at No. 39. Stanford fell back one spot to No. 26, due to Penn State's rise, while Oregon remains at No. 29, and UCLA rounds out the rankings at No. 40.

Trending up: Red and gold in the Pac-12 South.

Sure, it's not really red for either program, but whether it's the maroon of Arizona State or the cardinal of USC, those two programs shined on the recruiting trail this past week. Few teams anywhere are as hot as Arizona State, which added six commitments --including two four-stars -- in past week. The haul featured three defensive linemen, two running backs and an offensive tackle. But if any Pac-12 program can challenge the Sun Devils over that same period, it's USC, which added three four-star commitments and a three-star cornerback since last Wednesday. The Trojans are the newest Pac-12 program to appear in the updated class rankings, as USC checks in at No. 39.

Even though those two programs have been hot over the past week, it seems slightly unfair to leave this category without mentioning the fact that a case could be made for virtually every Pac-12 program. Arizona, California, Colorado, Utah, Washington and Washington State all received verbal commitments from important recruits over the past week, in what was an incredibly successful seven days for Pac-12 coaches on the recruiting trail and hosting official visitors.


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