NCF On The Trail: Washington Huskies

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Georgia fans have had to watch rivals Auburn and Alabama crow after recruiting victory after recruiting victory the past few months, but Bulldog fans got a chance to thump their chest some after landing two of the nation’s best 2016 prospects Saturday after its Dawg Night camp. But will those commitments stay true for the long haul? Plus, Penn State’s James Franklin remains hot on the recruiting trial.

While Pac-12 parity is on the rise thanks to an influx of money and dynamic coaching, all things still are not equal on the recruiting scene. The conference as a whole has more to offer recruits than ever before, but location and tradition simply can't be trumped, as we take a look at the five best recruiting jobs in the Pac-12.

[+] EnlargeTommy Trojan
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsIt's tough to beat the tradition of USC, especially for the rest of the Pac-12.
1. USC

Proximity to out-of-state talent: Finding out-of-state talent ranks a distant second to locking up in-state recruits, of which a large majority lives near USC's home in Los Angeles. The top players from Arizona, Washington and Nevada are easy enough to reach, while going into the Southeast is made possible by the draw that is Los Angeles. Still the distance to Florida and the rest of the Southeast does take a number of talented prospects off the board before the recruiting process even really begins.


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Pac-12 recruiting roundup

May, 15, 2014
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With spring football done and the Pac-12 coaches hitting the recruiting trail, we figured it was time to check in on how each team is faring with its recruits.

Here's a look at where each school stands:


Arizona

2015 commits: 6
Players: Keenan Walker, OT, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Taren Morrison, RB, Mesa, Ariz.; Darick Holmes Jr., RB, Westlake Village, Calif.; Finton Connolly, DT, Gilbert, Ariz.; Alex Kosinski, OG, Larkspur, Calif.; Ricky McCoy, TE, Fresno, Calif.

2016 commits: 2
Players: Trevor Speights, RB, McAllen, Texas; Shea Patterson, QB, Shreveport, La.



Arizona State

2015 commits: 6
Players: Brady White, QB, Newhall, Calif.; Morie Evans, ATH, Huntsville, Texas; Bryce Perkins, QB, Chandler, Ariz.; Nick Ralston, RB, Argyle, Texas; Tony Nicholson, ATH, Grand Prairie, Texas; Raymond Epps, TE (JC), Yuma, Ariz.

2017 commit: 1
Player: Loren Mondy, DE, Mansfield, Texas


Cal

2015 commits: 4
Players: Austin Aaron, WR, Napa, Calif.; Greyson Bankhead, WR, Corona, Calif.; Malik Psalms, CB, Chino Hills, Calif.; Lonny Powell, RB, Sacramento, Calif.


Colorado


2015 commits: 3
Players: T.J. Fehoko, DE, Salt Lake City; N.J. Falo, OLB, Sacramento; Dillon Middlemiss, OG, Arvada, Colo.


Oregon

2015 commits: 4
Players: Taj Griffin, RB, Powder Springs, Ga.; Zach Okun, OG, Newbury Park, Calif.; Jake Breeland, WR, Mission Viejo, Calif.; Shane Lemieux, OT, Yakima, Wash.


Oregon State

2015 commits: 3
Players: Tyrin Ferguson, OLB, New Orleans; Kyle Haley, OLB, Anaheim, Calif.; Treshon Broughton, CB (JC), Tustin, Calif.


Stanford

2015 commits: 3
Players: Arrington Farrar, S, College Park, Ga.; Christian Folau, ILB, Salt Lake City; Rex Manu, DT, Mililani, Hawaii


UCLA

2015 commits: 7
Players: Josh Rosen, QB, Bellflower, Calif.; Alize Jones, TE, Las Vegas; Tevita Halalilo, OG, Moreno Valley, Calif.; L.J. Reed, WR, Elk Grove, Calif.; Jaason Lewis, ATH, Virginia Beach, Va.; Bolu Olorunfunmi, RB, Clovis, Calif.; Victor Alexander, ILB, Jacksonville, Fla.


USC

2015 commits: 5
Players: Chuma Edoga, OT, Powder Springs, Ga.; Ricky Town, QB, Ventura, Calif.; David Sills, QB, Elkton, Md.; Taeon Mason, CB, Pasadena, Calif.; Roy Hemsley, OT, Los Angeles


Utah

2015 commits: 7
Players: Jake Grant, OT, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tuli Wily-Matagi, ATH, Kahuku, Hawaii; Donzale Roddie, WR, Paramount, Calif.; Chayden Johnson, K, South Jordan, Utah; Brandon Snell, WR (JC), Miami; Corey Butler, WR (JC), Wilmington, Calif.; Zach Lindsay, OT (JC), Kaysville, Utah


Washington

2015 commits: 3
Players: Jake Browning, QB, Folsom, Calif.; Trey Adams, OT, Wenatchee, Wash.; Myles Gaskin, RB, Seattle

2017 commit: 1
Player: Tathan Martell, QB, Poway, Calif.


Washington State

2015 commits: 5
Players: Thomas Toki, DT, Mountain View, Calif.; Austin Joyner, RB, Marysville, Wash.; Tyler Hilinski, QB, Upland, Calif.; Kameron Powell, S, Upland, Calif.; James Williams, RB, Burbank, Calif.
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There should be a big of intrigue on the recruiting trail during this cycle when it comes to the Oregon-Washington rivalry. Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich heads into his second year as the leader at Oregon, while Washington counters with almost a completely new staff, headed by Chris Petersen. The rivalry between these two programs has been anything but that on the field of late, as Oregon owns 10 consecutive wins in the series. However, Petersen brings a 2-0 record against the Ducks to Seattle and will undoubtedly use that fact on the recruiting trail.


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Washington scored big on the recruiting trail on Monday morning, as ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Jake Browning announced his commitment to the Huskies.

Browning originally planned to hold off committing until April, but he decided that he couldn't wait any longer. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound quarterback, who plans to graduate and enroll early, announced his commitment via Twitter.

Washington coach Chris Petersen has yet to coach a game with the Huskies, but he has already proven to be a big hit with quarterbacks. Petersen worked quickly to bring in ESPN 300 signal-caller Kyle Carta-Samuels at the end of the 2014 recruiting cycle, and he quickly grabbed his quarterback for the 2015 class.

Browning is among a group of standout California quarterbacks in this class, and the Pac-12 continues to reap the rewards of having such a strong contingent in the region. UCLA and USC already cashed in by snagging the Nos. 1 and 2 pocket passing quarterbacks in the country in Josh Rosen and Ricky Town, respectively. Now, Washington holds a commitment from the No. 7 pocket-passer in the country and No. 6 overall quarterback in the West region.

Not only was Browning a hot commodity on the recruiting trail, as he'd picked up a recent offer from Alabama and was getting strong looks from several Pac-12 programs, he gives the Huskies a quarterback of the future who stands to make plenty of news in the present. Browning should comfortably hold the California state career records for passing yards and passing touchdowns by the time he is finished with his senior season. As a junior, Browning threw for 5,737 yards and a state-record 75 touchdowns -- numbers that would look otherworldly if they didn't only just beat out what he did during his sophomore season, when he threw for 5,248 yards and 63 touchdowns. Browning was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year last year.

His commitment gives Petersen and the Huskies three verbal pledges for the 2015 class, as Browning joins offensive tackle Trey Adams and running back Myles Gaskin. His commitment could also shift the spotlight toward West region quarterbacks such as Brady White, Brett Rypien, Sheriron Jones and Kyle Kearns -- all uncommitted ESPN Junior 300 prospects. Brian Lewerke is another quarterback to watch in the region, as there are enough talented signal-callers in the area to more than make up the Pac-12's signees come February. At this point, it looks as though the conference is doing well to keep many of them close to home.

Cal is one program that could look to capitalize on Browning's commitment to Washington, as the Golden Bears were after the local product. With him off the board, their focus could shift even more toward White, who already holds an offer from Cal.

video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

It's now a common occurrence for seventh and eighth graders to collect scholarship offers and even make verbal commitments to schools. Defensive tackle Jacob Daniel didn't take that route to becoming an elite prospect. In fact, when Daniel was that age, he wasn't playing football at all.

[+] EnlargeJacob Daniel
Blair Angulo/ESPN.comJacob Daniel didn't grow up a football player but took to the sport quickly in high school.
"I was a basketball player and I didn't play football until my freshman year," said Daniel, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman who now checks in as the No. 61 overall prospect and No. 10 defensive tackle in the country. "I didn't even really like football."

Daniel began his career as an offensive tackle, but was moved to the middle of the defensive line as a sophomore. It was during that season when his football light went on.

"We were playing Clovis High and we were undefeated," Daniel said of a game his team would eventually lose. "There were about 5,000 people in the stands and there was all that noise. I thought, 'Wow, this is fun.' That sealed the deal for me with football."

Daniel said he now can't live without the sport and is extremely grateful that night put him on a path to where he is now. He gives California two of the top 10 defensive tackle prospects -- along with Rasheem Green -- which should make Pac-12 coaches extremely happy, considering the position has been fairly thin in terms of depth in the state over the past few years.

Thomas Toki and Kahlil McKenzie also give California four of the top 20 defensive tackles in the nation, and Daniel said he's had his eye on the group for a while now, watching their highlight tapes.

Daniel, Green and McKenzie had a chance to meet during a trip to USC for the Trojans' junior day this winter, and while Daniel said he had a good time with the other ESPN 300 prospects and that he could see them working well as teammates, there's no guarantee they'll wind up at the same school, as all three still have plenty of the recruiting process left to explore.

For Daniel, roughly 30 offers have been cut to a final 11 schools, and he'll look to take that group down to five by the summer. And when Daniel ultimately settles on one program and makes his commitment, the coach might want to take a moment to send a thank you to the fans that filled that Fresno football stadium two years ago.

About his recruitment: Daniel made an early commitment to Washington, but pulled away from that when Steve Sarkisian left for USC. Daniel cut his list to 11 schools this spring, as Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Fresno State, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington remain in the hunt. The big defensive tackle is looking to trim that list even further before summer begins, as he'd like to head into the long break with a top five schools.


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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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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Monday’s offerings: After a few weeks to recover from the holiday that was signing day, it’s always interesting to analyze the data to get a better understanding of what really happened. This past Friday, I took a look at the teams that saw the biggest gains from 2013 to 2014. But what were some of the teams that were on the other end of the spectrum?

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Ohio State has made quarterback recruiting a major priority under Urban Meyer and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon; and it’s a good year for talent in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Washington. Will that translate to good classes for Washington and Washington State?


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Top 2015 targets: Pac-12 

February, 6, 2014
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After several of the top 10 West region recruits from the Class of 2014 got away from Pac-12 teams, the conference will look to clean that up with the 2015 group. It's off to a strong start, as the only two committed prospects among the top 10 are headed to UCLA and USC. The 2015 class in the West region is loaded and there will be huge commitments from any of the 52 ESPN Junior 300 prospects in the West, but there's no surprise that the top five Pac-12 targets are the top five uncommitted prospects in the region.


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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.
After originally planning to announce his decision on signing day, Bishard Baker couldn’t wait and made the call for Washington on Tuesday night. It’s a huge get for new Huskies coach Chris Petersen, as Baker is the state’s top prospect and a former Oregon pledge.


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ESPN 300 S Baker stays home

February, 4, 2014
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ESPN 300 safety Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) got a head start on signing day. The nation's No. 122 overall prospect pushed his commitment forward from Wednesday morning to Tuesday night so that he could declare his commitment on local news station KING 5, where Baker announced that he will stay home and sign with the Washington Huskies.

"I'll be going to the University of Washington," Baker said while donning a Huskies hat and revealing a Washington shirt. "Family always comes first. I'll be close to my family and they'll be able to come see me play. It's a true blessing."

It's a huge recruiting win for head coach Chris Petersen, who was able to reel in arguably his top two in-state targets this week in Baker and offensive tackle Kaleb McGary (Fife, Wash./Fife). Baker had been committed to Oregon but dropped his pledge last month and focused his attention on UCLA and Washington. As signing day drew near, all the momentum swung to the Huskies. While Baker didn't shock many with his announcement on Tuesday night, it's still a huge commitment for Petersen and his staff.

Baker is already something of a local legend, as the 5-foot-9, 174-pound, two-way standout had his jersey retired at Bellevue High School following his senior season and gives this Washington class a true headliner in Petersen's first haul. Baker also gives the Huskies some significant momentum heading into signing day, which seemed far-fetched when Petersen initially took over a class with only eight commitments that was reeling following the departure of Steve Sarkisian. But Petersen worked diligently to first flip several recruits who were committed to Pac-12 schools, including UCLA and Washington State, then brought a few recruits with him from the Boise State class. He also made a splash in landing ESPN 300 quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine Prep), who decommitted from Vanderbilt.

But it's likely that no recruit in the 2014 haul will mean more to Washington fans or the Huskies depth chart next season than Baker, who will likely have the opportunity to compete immediately at safety and perhaps chip in on the offensive side of the ball as well. His commitment marks the first time the Huskies have kept the top in-state player home since the 2011 class, when Washington signed wide receiver Kasen Williams.

Biggest flips: Pac-12 

February, 3, 2014
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Many of the biggest flips relating to Pac-12 teams came fairly early in the process, which means there might not be much chaos on signing day when it comes to recruits flipping commitments. However, as with every year, flips will help and hurt a number of conference programs come Wednesday, and we take a look at the five biggest in the Pac-12 during this recruiting cycle.


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Since 2006, only once has USC not claimed the top recruiting class in the Pac-12, which makes the Trojans an easy selection as the top recruiting school in the conference. But the Ultimate ESPN 300 proves that several other Pac-12 programs have seen terrific recruiting success over that time as well. Here’s a look at the top five Pac-12 recruiting schools over the past eight years:

1. USC
The Trojans' 15 entries in the Ultimate ESPN 300 are the most of any Pac-12 program. Proven or potential superstars have been signed in each of USC’s past six classes, with OT Matt Kalil, QB Matt Barkley, WR Robert Woods, ATH Marqise Lee, DT Leonard Williams and safety Su'a Cravens all signing with USC between 2008 and 2013. The Trojans also landed two recruits in the top 20 of the ultimate rankings, with safety Taylor Mays joining Barkley. Sanctions have hurt USC in the past three seasons, but it wouldn't be surprising to see new head coach Steve Sarkisian finish the 2014 season on a positive note and put together a terrific 2015 class.


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