NCF On The Trail: California Golden Bears

Tale of the tape: Stanford vs. Cal 

November, 19, 2014
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Heading into the season, the Pac-12 rivalry game likely to be separated by the most distance in the standings was the Big Game. With Stanford looking to challenge for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff and Cal looking to escape the conference cellar, the fact that these two teams are playing for bowl eligibility this weekend is somewhat surreal. It's a similar story on the recruiting trail as well, as these two programs have the fewest number of verbal commitments in the conference, as Cal holds 12 commitments and Stanford just 10 -- though Stanford holds the edge in ESPN 300 prospects at three to one.

The recruiting rivalry between these two programs is interesting in that they aren't separated by much distance, but don't overlap in their chase for the same prospect as often as you might expect. Stanford -- arguably the most national recruiting program in the country -- has commitments from players from 10 states, while eight of Cal's dozen commits hail from its home state and there might not be a true recruiting battle between these two for any prospect in this class.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

November, 11, 2014
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There wasn't much movement on the Pac-12 recruiting scorecard this weekend, but Utah was able to bounce back from a tough loss to Oregon by scoring a commitment, and Arizona State might have set the stage for one of the conference's stronger runs toward signing day with a big win against Notre Dame. Elsewhere, Stanford is looking to gain some recruiting momentum after some time without a commitment, and several Pac-12 targets are headed out of the area this weekend.


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Several Pac-12 commitments and prospects saw some significant movement in the updated ESPN 300 rankings released Wednesday. Overall, the conference holds commitments from two of the top 22 prospects in the country and 26 of the top 300. With fewer than four months until signing day, let's take a look at where the Pac-12 stands in the ESPN 300.


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Best of the visits: Pac-12

October, 19, 2014
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Another weekend of Pac-12 games meant another weekend of Pac-12 visitors, as multiple conference programs hosted important official and unofficial visitors. Those recruits took to twitter to share their experiences, as Arizona State, Cal, USC and Oregon all put together significant performances -- including three home victories -- in front of recruits.

Cal hosts big weekend

The Golden Bears had a number of official visitors on hand -- including ESPN 300 wide receiver Carlos Strickland -- and almost pulled off the upset against UCLA. As always, the Cal passing game was on display, and this time it came in front of Strickland and three-star receiver Lavan Alston. Class of 2016 standout running back Sean McGrew, who holds a number of Pac-12 offers, was also on hand on an unofficial visit.

Oregon's ESPN 300 visitors

Perhaps no Pac-12 program hosted a more potent one-two punch than the Ducks, as Oregon brought in ESPN 300 teammates John Houston Jr. and Rasheem Green on official visits.


The two hold significant interest in UCLA, USC and other programs, but the Ducks picked a great weekend to bring in the talented defenders on official visits. Neither is expected to make a decision before signing day, but Oregon could be in the mix for both until the end.

Masina's second Pac-12 trip

ESPN 300 outside linebacker Osa Masina has three Pac-12 programs among his final schools, and the nation's No. 124 overall prospect was on an official visit to Arizona State this weekend. Masina went to UCLA earlier this month and will visit USC at the end of November.

Recruits see big USC win

While the Trojans didn't host any official visitors, being the only game in Los Angeles brought out some important local prospects.

ESPN 300 athlete Ykili Ross attended several USC games this season and was at the Coliseum again on Saturday.


The Trojans also received an unofficial visit from 2016 ESPN 300 safety C.J. Pollard, who picked up an offer from USC last week. Pollard is another in a long line of Gardena (Calif.) Serra standouts and his father, Marvin, is a former USC cornerback.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

October, 17, 2014
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As the schedule flips to the second half of the season, recruits will witness some important games in the Pac-12 this weekend. The three biggest recruiting weekends in the conference all feature ESPN 300 prospects, as programs look to positions themselves to close their recruiting classes with marquee prospects.

1. Oregon


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Pac-12 North recruiting roundup 

October, 16, 2014
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At the halfway point of college football's regular season, there is still plenty to be decided both on the field and on the recruiting trail. The Pac-12 placed six programs among the top 40 recruiting classes in Wednesday's updated class rankings and conference recruiting classes contain as many as 24 -- Arizona -- and as few as nine -- Stanford -- verbal commitments. This update offers a look at where each Pac-12 North program stands with its 2015 recruiting class, including its top prospect and position of strength, as well as a look at where things are going well, and not so well, for each class.

Cal

Total number of commitments: 10

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

October, 14, 2014
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Pac-12 home teams are 4-14 this season, but the coaches in the conference continue to find recruiting success despite being forced to pitch their programs to prospects following home defeats. This past Saturday, Pac-12 home teams went 0-3 yet came out victorious on the recruiting trail, landing commitments and making positive impressions.


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Best of the visits: Pac-12

October, 12, 2014
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The Pac-12's three Saturday home games featured several significant visitors, and even though home teams went 0-3 -- hardly a surprise in the conference this season -- favorable impressions were made.

Big turnout at the Rose Bowl

It was the marquee game in the conference thus far, as Oregon met UCLA at the Rose Bowl, and the visitor list matched the hype of the game. It's always newsworthy when five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, the nation's No. 8 overall recruit, makes it out to a game, and he was in attendance Saturday.


Marshall was joined by another huge UCLA target in ESPN 300 wide receiver Cordell Broadus, who made the trip out from Las Vegas.


Like Marshall, Broadus has been fairly tight-lipped about his recruitment thus far, so for the Bruins to get him out on an unofficial visit represents a big recruiting win. It wouldn't be surprising to see Broadus make a return trip to Westwood for an official visit at some point.

UCLA hosted a few official visitors for the game, but none was more important than ESPN 300 running back Soso Jamabo, the No. 32 overall prospect. While Jamabo had to have been impressed by the Bruins rushing for 328 yards against the Ducks, there was something else that caught his eye during his visit.

Arizona wins early, loses late

Arizona might have lost its game against USC when it missed a last-second field goal, but the Wildcats won on the recruiting trail before the game even started, as they added a commitment from three-star cornerback Shun Brown.


There were also a number of Arizona verbal commitments in attendance, including ESPN 300 offensive tackle Keenan Walker.


With Brown's commitment, all three official visitors for Arizona this weekend are now Wildcat commitments. Defensive end Kendal Franklin provided Arizona fans with a number of videos of his trip that he posted via twitter, including a quick look at pregame and a shot of the three committed visitors, including Franklin, Brown and Brown's teammate, Orlando Bradford.

Big visitor for Bears

Cal couldn't keep its forward momentum going on the field, but the Golden Bears coaches are hopeful they can do enough to make a favorable impression on defensive tackle Drayton Carlberg, who was in town on an official visit. From the looks of what Carlberg had to say Sunday morning, Cal -- which is in Carlberg's top six schools -- might be able to keep itself in the mix until the end.


The Golden Bears also hosted a number of local unofficial visitors. One to keep an eye on for the 2016 class is quarterback Kevin Davidson. Though he has yet to receive his first offer, a number of Pac-12 programs are keeping in regular contact with him, and it could be just a matter of time until he grabs that first one.

Decommitments are now as much a part of recruiting as official visits and signing day. Each year virtually every program sustains its share of decommitments and does everything it can to flip recruits committed to other schools. Most of the time, the school losing the commitment can rebound quickly, either in that class or the next, and fill the void caused by the switch.

Once signing day arrives, the hand wringing over decommitments usually fades away, as coaches do everything they can to talk about the recruits who signed, rather than the ones who got away. And in the big picture, a recruit is never fully committed until he arrives on campus.

[+] EnlargeShaq Thompson
Jesse Beals/Icon SMICal's class of talented receivers will take on the Huskies and one-time Golden Bears pledge Shaq Thompson.
Occasionally, a decommitment can lead fans down a rabbit hole of "what-ifs?" that can be fun or heart wrenching -- or both -- to imagine. What if Oregon held onto commitments from both Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel? What if former Washington running back Chris Polk kept his pledge to USC? What if UCLA had junior college transfers Dominick Jackson and Jermaine Eluemunor to help along the offensive line this season?

But one of the biggest "what-if?" scenarios in the Pac-12 will play out this weekend, when the Washington Huskies, including do-it-all star Shaq Thompson, visit the California Golden Bears.


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Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

October, 10, 2014
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This week provided easy selections for the top three visit weekends in the Pac-12, as there are only three conference games on Saturday. All eyes in the conference will be focused on Oregon's visit to UCLA, and recruits are no different, as there will be an impressive group at the Rose Bowl. Elsewhere, Arizona and Cal host statement games against USC and Washington, respectively. Tucson will be home to a huge recruiting weekend, while Cal will have a key recruit in attendance as well.

1. UCLA

[+] EnlargeSoso Jamabo
Tom Hauck for Student SportsOne of UCLA's top prospects, Soso Jamabo, will be in Los Angeles to watch the Bruins take on Oregon.
ESPN 300 running back Soso Jamabo will be on an official visit to Westwood this weekend, as the No. 32 overall prospect likely ranks as the most important official visitor the Bruins have hosted this season. Though Jamabo has several Texas schools hot on his trail, he is taking a long look at Pac-12 programs such as Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA. The Bruins will have the first opportunity among conference teams to make an impression on Jamabo, and the 6-foot-2, 206-pound versatile back would be one of the biggest recruiting wins during Jim Mora's UCLA tenure.

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Help is on the way: Pac-12 

October, 8, 2014
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Through six weeks of the 2014 season, every program has flashed at least one weakness or one position where depth is needed in a hurry. While the incoming batch of 2015 recruits won't help the prospects of the 2014 team, some will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact the following year, as they'll provide depth -- or perhaps jump into starting roles -- at positions of need. Here is a look through the Pac-12 at the biggest areas of need for each program, and the 2015 recruits on the way to provide help.


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Juco recruits to watch: Pac-12 

October, 6, 2014
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Pac-12 programs have found plenty of success in the junior college ranks over the past few years. Wide receivers Jaelen Strong and Vince Mayle's impacts for Arizona State and Washington State, respectively, have been substantial. Oregon, Oregon State and USC found defensive stalwarts Joe Walker, Steven Nelson and Claude Pelon, respectively, at the junior college level. Those are only a few of the juco prospects in the Pac-12, and with programs such as Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah and Washington State able to recruit so well at the junior college level, the conference is likely to land a number of impact junior college prospects who find themselves in the recently released Juco Watch List.

A dozen members of the Watch List have already committed to Pac-12 programs, but here are three names on the list that Pac-12 fans should know.


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Best of the visits: Pac-12

September, 28, 2014
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Pac-12 programs loaded up on visitors this weekend and the conference delivered three thrilling finishes on Saturday. The only weekend game in the conference decided by more than one score was USC's blowout win against Oregon State, which came at a perfect time for the Trojans, as they were able to bounce back in front of a number of important recruits.

Stars are out at USC

The USC Trojans put more than a few eggs into Saturday night's basket, bringing committed recruits Chuma Edoga and Aca'Cedric Ware, along with ESPN 300 wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge in on official visits, and also loading up on unofficial visitors. With a convincing 35-10 victory, the strategy appeared to pay off.

Cedar Hill (Texas) High School was very well represented, as 2016 women's basketball prospect Joyner Holmes made the trip alongside Ware and Lodge.
Five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, the No. 8 overall prospect in the nation, made his way to the game and took a photo alongside Edoga and quarterback Caleb Wilson, the son of USC defensive line coach Chris Wilson. Quarterback K.J. Costello, the No. 61 prospect in the 2016 ESPN 300, snapped a shot of the pregame from the sideline. Utes host big weekend despite loss

Like USC, Utah put plenty of effort into bringing in a number of recruits this weekend. Despite the loss to Washington State, the Utes were able to feature wide receiver Kaelin Clay, a junior college receiver, which might have been the perfect recruiting pitch considering they were hosting a trio of junior college receivers in Dede Westbrook, Kyle Fulks and Kinte Hatton. Recruits see power of Bear Raid

Prospects in Berkeley were treated to an offensive explosion between Cal and Colorado, where the Golden Bears were able to put on an offensive show in front of official visitor, junior college wide receiver Isaac Whitney. It was also an intriguing game for local 2016 prospect Camilo Eifler, who holds early offers from both Cal and Colorado, and caught up with former Bishop O'Dowd receiver De'Zhon Grace. Huskies on hand

Washington hung tough with Stanford for four quarters and did so in front of several committed recruits, including wide receiver Isaiah Renfro and 2016 ESPN 300 athlete Brandon Wellington.

Renfro gave future Washington official visitors a glimpse of what they can expect upon arrival to Seattle. Wellington, meanwhile, looked to get a hashtag going, likely on the heels of linebacker Shaq Thompson's third defensive touchdown of the season.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

September, 26, 2014
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The biggest game of the weekend in the Pac-12 -- and perhaps the country -- took place Thursday night between UCLA and Arizona State, but that won't stop the conference from putting together a truly remarkable visit weekend. There are four Pac-12 games on Saturday's docket and, though this is normally a top-three list, this week all four are deserving of mention when it comes to important weekend visitors.

1. USC

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

September, 2, 2014
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The Oregon Ducks made the biggest splash on the recruiting trail over the weekend, landing a commitment from ESPN 300 athlete Malik Lovette. The Ducks had the nation's No. 276 prospect on campus for an official visit and sealed the deal rather quickly. Elsewhere, it was a fairly quiet weekend for the conference overall, as three Thursday games, two Friday game and several away games left only four programs hosting Saturday contests and even fewer official visitors.


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