NCF On The Trail: Utah Utes

Signing day has come and gone and with it an entirely new batch of Pac-12 players is joining the conference (269 players, to be exact).

With the Pac-12 gaining more national recognition, it’s no surprise to see the recruiting trends heading further outside of what was typically considered “Pac-12 territory.”

For example, the most heavily recruited area was -- unsurprisingly -- the West Coast and states that are the home to one or more Pac-12 programs. But right after that, the next-biggest target was the South and Southeast: SEC territory. The Pac-12 signed the same number of recruits from Texas as it did Arizona. Louisiana was a big state for the conference as well -- Pac-12 schools signed 13 players from the Bayou State.

Here’s a closer look at where exactly the conference picked up its Class of 2015 talent:
Observations:

  • One obvious note is the number of players from California -- players from the Golden State account for 48 percent of Pac-12 signees in 2015. That’s not too surprising, considering how large and talent-rich the state is. Of the top 25 players in California, 21 signed with Pac-12 schools. The other four signed with Alabama, Tennessee, Notre Dame and San Jose State.
  • Each Pac-12 program signed at least one player from California in the 2015 class (that’s the only state with which that’s true this season). On average, there are 11 signees from California in each recruiting class this season. Though it’s USC who leads the way with 17 signees from California, Washington State was right on the Trojans’ heels with 16 signees from Cali.
  • The state of Washington showed out pretty well in the conference. While there was only one player from Washington in the ESPN 300, there were 16 signees from the state who landed with Pac-12 programs.
  • The only program to not sign a player from the program’s home state was Oregon. However, there were five players from Oregon that did sign with Pac-12 programs. Those players ended up at Arizona (1), Oregon State (2), Stanford (1) and Washington (1).
  • Players staying home: Arizona and Arizona State signed seven players from Arizona; California, Stanford, UCLA and USC signed 48 players from California; Colorado signed four players from Colorado; Oregon State signed two players from Oregon; Utah signed three players from Utah; and Washington and Wazzu signed a total of nine players from Washington.
  • The most national class (meaning the team that signed the players from the most number of states) was Stanford, which signed players from 13 states. The least national class was USC, which signed players from just six states.

But what about the concentration of top talent in the 2015 class?

Again, unsurprisingly, California leads the way. The Golden State makes up half of the four-star and five-star players in the 2015 Pac-12 class. USC snagged five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, who hails from Long Beach, California, and 33 of the 66 four-stars in the 2015 class are also from California.

But this is where there’s a bit of a changeup. Of the 14 players from Texas that signed in the 2015 class, five (36 percent) are four-star players who landed at Pac-12 programs. After that -- with the exception of three four-star players from Georgia -- the majority of the top talent, again, hails from the traditional Pac-12 region.

[+] EnlargeChris Clark
Joe Faraoni/ESPN ImagesIt's not often that the Pac-12 pulls top prospects from Connecticut, such as UCLA-bound tight end Chris Clark.
Five-stars:

  • Hawaii: 1
  • California: 1
Four-stars:

  • California: 33
  • Texas: 5
  • Washington: 4
  • Arizona: 3
  • Georgia: 3
  • Utah: 3
  • Two four-star signees: Louisiana, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma
  • One four-star signee: South Carolina, Colorado, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, Connecticut, Hawaii

More notes:

  • Notably, the conference signed a four-star and five-star player from Hawaii. There were only four players in the state that were four- or five-star players. The two players who didn’t sign with a Pac-12 team went to Texas Tech and BYU. Both had Pac-12 offers.
  • The conference also cleaned up -- in regard to snagging the limited top talent out of state -- in Nevada. There were only three four-star players in Nevada and two ended up in the Pac-12 (UCLA and USC). The other player signed with Notre Dame.
  • More impressively, the conference was able to sign one of two four-star players out of Connecticut (TE Chris Clark, UCLA). When considering the distance between Nevada and the Pac-12 and Connecticut and the Pac-12, this is quite a recruiting feat.

As these players get more into the programs and possibly become big Pac-12 contributors, it will only open up these national pipelines more, making the conference’s footprint even bigger.

Pac-12 2015 recruiting in review 

February, 12, 2015
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The Pac-12 landed six top-30 recruiting classes and 47 ESPN 300 prospects as every program brought in potential immediate, impact players capable of making an impression on the 2015 season. Here, we take a look back at the recruiting cycle and signing day, and hand out some superlatives for the 2015 recruiting class.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 27, 2015
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It was a busy weekend in the conference, as 14 prospects made commitments between Friday and Monday night and several others backed out of Pac-12 recruiting classes. It looks as though this could be a sign of things to come, as the conference recruiting race is heating up with little more than a week until signing day.


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Pac-12 recruiting class breakdowns

January, 26, 2015
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Here's a look at how programs in the Pac-12 are faring on the recruiting trail heading into national signing day on Feb. 4.

Arizona

Commitments: 28

ESPN 300 commitments: 1

Who they have: The Wildcats hit it big with their top two commitments in ESPN 300 offensive tackle Keenan Walker and ESPN JC 50 defensive tackle Anthony Fotu. Arizona also will add four-star tackle Cody Creason, three-star tackle Harper Sherman and three-star guards Alex Kosinski and Nathan Eldrige to the offensive line. There are a number of skill players on both sides of the ball, including running backs Orlando Bradford and Darick Holmes Jr., cornerbacks Shun Brown, Anthony Mariscal, Samuel Morrison and Dane Cruikshank, wide receiver Cedric Peterson and athletes Antonio Parks and Brion Anduze.

Who they want: There aren't many spots left in this class for the Wildcats, but there are a few important names left on the board. The wide receiver spot could see another addition with Jaylinn Hawkins, though rival Arizona State will put up a fight there. Arizona also will look to continue its run of success in Louisiana, as teammates Arthur McGinnis and Darrell Clark (New Orleans/Warren Easton) are two of the top prospects left for the Wildcats, as well as teammates of Arizona commit Kendal Franklin.



To read the rest of our Pac-12 recruiting class breakdowns, click here Insider.

Best of the visits: Pac-12

January, 25, 2015
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It was another big weekend for visits in the Pac-12, as programs are looking to line up strong finishes in the run up to signing day on Feb. 4.

Bruins looking to close with Clark

UCLA and Michigan are in a neck-and-neck battle for ESPN 300 tight end Chris Clark. And after visiting the Wolverines two weekends ago, Clark was in Los Angeles this weekend.


The Bruins also received some help from former UCLA and current Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis.


Clark would be a significant addition for either program, and the Bruins are hoping they can sway him into becoming the lone true tight end on the roster and a potential immediate-impact player.

UCLA also hosted LSU offensive line commit Maea Teuhema. The nation's No. 71 overall prospect has been committed to the Tigers since February, but the Bruins are looking to make the nation's No. 2 offensive guard part of their strong finish in the state of Texas.


And although not from Texas -- but close enough -- ESPN 300 offensive guard Josh Wariboko could also be part of a massive closing stretch for UCLA. The No. 105 overall prospect was in Los Angeles for the B2G West Coast Bowl over the weekend and had an opportunity to spend time with UCLA commits Colin Samuel and Bolu Olorunfunmi.

Sun Devils host two standouts

Arizona State hosted ESPN 300 defenders Rasheem Green and Porter Gustin this weekend, and the Sun Devils look to be in competition with USC for both prospects.


While Arizona State hasn't been discussed much in terms of top classes during this recruiting cycle, Todd Graham's program has an opportunity to close in a big way with some impact prospects still on the board. And speaking of impact, Green had an opportunity during his visit to meet an NFL superstar who can make an impact with any recruit (regardless of the typo in his last name).

Oregon State's big weekend

The new Oregon State coaches hit the ground running when they took over the program after Mike Riley took much of his staff with him to Nebraska. Gary Andersen's staff has reshaped much of the recruiting class and added a big one recently when they were able to flip defensive end Keivonnis Davis from his Syracuse commitment. Davis was on his official visit this weekend and took some time to get to know the Oregon State mascot.


Oregon State is also in on fellow defensive end Simi Moala, who holds offers from Miami, Utah and Washington State. At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Moala is an intriguing prospect along the defensive line.

Cal hopes to catch another

The Golden Bears have done well at the wide receiver spot in this class, but head coach Sonny Dykes obviously feels there can't be enough talent at that position on his roster. High three-star Texas receiver A.D. Miller took an official visit to Cal over the weekend and had a simple question for Golden Bears fans.

Utes host commit

Part of Oregon State's recent run on the recruiting trail has come at the expense of Utah, as former Ute assistant coaches made their way to Corvallis and were able to flip two commitments in the process. But Utah still holds a strong class, especially with the recent flip of former Cal commit Johnny Capra. The offensive tackle makes four nice additions at that position for the Utes, including three-star Arizona prospect Nick Carman, who took his official visit to Utah over the weekend.

Daily Social Roundup: CeCe Jefferson stays busy 

January, 23, 2015
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Thursday saw activity on social media throughout the country, with coaches on the road, schools collecting commitments and No. 9 overall prospect CeCe Jefferson receiving a visit from one of his finalists.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 20, 2015
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This past weekend was the first time since the middle of December that recruits and coaches could meet face to face and Pac-12 programs took advantage, as dozens of prospects took official visits to conference programs. With signing day rapidly approaching, recruiting fans got a sense of what the next two weeks could be like, as there were plenty of news and notes since Friday.


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Top recruiting targets in the Pac-12 

January, 16, 2015
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With a little more than two weeks before signing day, a number of uncommitted prospects remain who could greatly alter both the college football landscape as well as the way recruiting classes are perceived on Feb. 4. Remaining “must get” recruits don’t check all the same boxes for every program, as some schools already have commitments from their must gets (for example, Arizona with Keenan Walker, or UCLA with Josh Rosen) and some of these prospects won’t exactly break a class if they don’t wind up there. But whether it’s keeping a local prospect at home, landing a five-star standout or filling a position of need, these are the uncommitted must-get recruits for every Pac-12 program between now and signing day.


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GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- News and notes from Day 4 of practices for Sunday's Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, including recruiting updates for a committed four-star and two high three-star prospects.

Bruins have big lead for Benning

Three-star defensive lineman Benning Potoa'e has taken official visits to Oregon State and UCLA. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound versatile athlete will take an official visit to Washington on Jan. 16, and the Huskies staff has its work cut out as they look to land the in-state star.


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SANTA ANA, Calif. -- News and notes from the West team on Day 3 of practices for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, including previews of two commitments coming Sunday.

Joyner ready to announce

ESPN 300 running back Austin Joyner has been committed to both Washington and Washington State at various points during his recruiting process, and there's a chance that he could commit to one of those schools yet again when he announces during Sunday's game.

Joyner, the nation's No. 268 prospect, will choose between Boise State, Washington and Washington State, and said he finalized his decision sometime last week.

Joyner has taken official visits to Boise State and Washington, adding that he didn't need to take an official visit to Washington State because he is so familiar with the campus. After he originally committed to Steve Sarkisian when he was at Washington, Joyner pulled away from that commitment when Sarkisian left for USC. Joyner then committed to Washington State, but backed away from that pledge when the Cougars fired their defensive coordinator. Now, Joyner said he's ready to make a final call.

"It's going to feel good once I have it done because I feel like I've made the right decision this time for a bunch of different reasons," Joyner said. "The coaching staff, education and everything that you look at. Before, I wasn't really sure what I should be looking for, but now I'm positive."

Joyner said that his primary position will be cornerback, but he'll be worked into other spots on offense, such as running back.

Folau will make the call

Three-star linebacker Christian Folau plans to announce his decision during the game on Sunday, but there could still be a few twists and turns in his recruitment. Folau, a former Stanford commitment, has had a top three of Oklahoma State, Utah and Wisconsin, but a few coaching changes have thrown a wrinkle in that.

With Gary Andersen moving from Wisconsin to Oregon State, the Beavers are now one of the teams in the mix for the 6-foot, 241-pound linebacker. But that's not the only Pac-12 program that could throw a late wrench in this recruitment. Folau has also been hearing from Oregon, and though the Ducks have yet to offer, they could actually be in the best position for Folau right now. Folau, in fact, still isn't sure which school he wants to commit to.

"I'm still trying to weigh options, solidify offers and see if programs with the coaching carousels that have been going on still want me," Folau said. "I have a feeling Oregon might come in late. I'm still trying to talk to them."

Folau said he understands that the Oregon coaches have been busy with the season continuing for the Ducks, but if an offer comes in from Oregon -- no matter when it happens -- it will alter his recruitment.

"That will change things," Folau said of a possible offer from the Ducks. "They started recruiting me as a sophomore but didn't offer because I was committed to Stanford."

Day 3 standouts


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Recruit and return: Utah Utes 

December, 20, 2014
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Utah put together signature wins against Michigan, UCLA, USC and Stanford this season in announcing its presence in the Pac-12. Now, the Utes are hoping they can turn that on-field success into more significant recruiting hauls in order to compete regularly for conference titles.


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Another wild week in Pac-12 

December, 19, 2014
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The Pac-12 and the West region are capable of producing some wild weeks during the lead-up to signing day, with so many prospects in the area waiting until that day to make their commitment and rivals going after so many of the same prospects.


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Top sleeper recruits: Pac-12 

December, 18, 2014
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Five-star and ESPN 300 prospects create the most buzz, but with more than a hundred FBS programs competing for talent, it takes more than just those top-rated prospects to have success. Rosters are built largely with prospects who enter college with little fanfare, but their development and contributions are key. Every year we see prospects who flew under the radar but developed into some of their conference's top players.

Throughout our evaluations, we come across many players who show promise and are great additions based on their upside for development and/or scheme fit.

Here are five commitments in the Pac-12 that we believe are unheralded, but great additions worth keeping an eye on.


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LSU and Texas A&M have become bigger rivals on the field and in recruiting now that both are in the SEC. Plus, few programs are trending like Ohio State is on the field and on the recruiting trail.


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Early Offer: Malik Jefferson's final 7 

November, 24, 2014
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Malik Jefferson reduced his list to seven schools on Monday, and though the list is hardly a surprise, recruiters think there are still some in store with the No. 35 player in the country.

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