NCF On The Trail: Tre Watson

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.

Breaking down USC's '14 class by position 

December, 19, 2013
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A recent string of commitments heading into the dead period has left USC with only five remaining slots in its 2014 recruiting class. The Trojans have 19 total spots to use, as long as four of them are mid-year enrollees.

Here's a position-by-position look at how USC could allocate those empty spots, with a projection of how many players at each position the Trojans will try to sign:

Offensive line: 6

The Trojans hold five commitments on the offensive line, two of those from mid-year enrollees who already have signed financial aid agreements. They might not be done, though, as a big fish is still out there and possibly leaning toward signing with his childhood favorite. If the coaching staff decides a scholarship would be more important at another position, the Trojans might have to part ways with a prospect from this bunch.


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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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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 9, 2013
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The Pac-12 conference has seen a flurry of action recently, with coaching news and rumors keeping recruits on their toes. Following a week where Steve Sarkisian took over at USC and Chris Petersen moved from Boise State to Washington, this past weekend was tame by comparison. But UCLA made some significant noise with a big commitment, while Oregon extended two intriguing offers. CIF championship games provided backdrops for huge performances from Pac-12 recruits, while the conference title tilt was only the appetizer in the battle between Arizona State and Stanford.


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USC recruits chase championships 

December, 5, 2013
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While much of the attention will be on Saturday night’s massive matchup between Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei under the lights at Angel Stadium this weekend, the action on Friday night should also draw plenty of eyes.

USC commits Ajene Harris (Los Angeles/Crenshaw) and Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) will face off in the CIF City Section championship at East Los Angeles College, while top targets Adoree' Jackson and Jordan Lasley will chase yet another ring for Gardena (Calif.) Serra against four-star quarterback Brad Kaaya and West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade. But perhaps the most intriguing matchup will take place deep in the Inland Empire, where USC commits Viane Talamaivao and Austin Maloata hope to lead Corona (Calif.) Centennial past rival Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta again.

But even if their season ends on a sour note, Maloata and Talamaivao have the assurance they’ll continue to suit up in the same colors.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 2, 2013
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Rivalry weekend brought plenty of excitement to the Pac-12, but it didn’t produce much recruiting activity aside from a few official visits. There were plenty of interested eyes across the West region, though, as UCLA knocked off USC for the second consecutive season, Arizona State reclaimed the Territorial Cup, and Oregon and Washington held off their in-state rivals.


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Video: Potential recruiting flips

November, 29, 2013
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In the wake of several ESPN 300 recruits switching their college decisions, Damon Sayles, Erik McKinney, Jared Shanker and Derek Tyson join Phil Murphy to predict which committed recruits could sign elsewhere.

A wild recruiting week out West 

November, 20, 2013
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It's only a Wednesday in late November, but this week has seen enough recruiting action out West to make you think signing day is just around the corner.

A flurry of commitments and decommitments began Monday night and affected six Pac-12 programs in less than three days. It began with USC's big victory on Monday, when it received a commitment from former Alabama commit Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), the nation's No. 5 offensive guard.


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USC commits, targets revel in upset win 

November, 17, 2013
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USC interim coach Ed Orgeron had already revitalized the Trojans’ recruiting efforts, sending out several local offers and picking up four commitments in the weeks since taking over for Lane Kiffin.

That momentum grew exponentially Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where a loaded list of top-flight recruits saw USC upset Stanford in front of a crazed crowd that rushed the field in jubilance. Five-star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), ESPN 300 athlete John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and ESPN 300 tight end Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) were among the top targets in attendance.

The list featured all but one of USC’s nine verbal commits, as longtime pledge Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) couldn’t make the trip but watched intently from home.

“Going into the game, I knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Lobendahn said. “I wanted the Trojans to battle no matter what and they did that. I wasn’t going to lose faith in them no matter what, but I’m so glad we got the W and so happy for Coach O and the team. I’m super mad I couldn’t go celebrate.”

Lobendahn could get the scoop from USC receiver commit Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), who was in the middle of the celebration.

“The locker room was really crazy,” Fields said. “Everybody was dancing and going crazy in there. The recruits were loving the intensity inside that locker room. Now I’m trying to get everybody (to join me).”

Fields had a number of recruits to choose from, as the Trojans drew the presence of local recruits whom have made pledges elsewhere, including Cal athlete commit Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Miami quarterback commit Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade), Cal running back commit Tre Watson (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and UCLA receiver commit Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra).

“It definitely gives me something to think about,” Wadood said. “It was a huge win for SC. I’m still trying to decide if I will take an official visit. My last one will be between Washington and USC.”

Kaaya, a four-star pocket passer who landed an offer from childhood favorite USC shortly after Orgeron took the helm, surprised his mother with tickets for her birthday.

“It was exciting to watch,” Kaaya said. “Funny thing is, the first college football game I ever saw was Stanford-USC at the Coliseum when USC lost. This time, it seemed like the situation switched and USC came out on top.”

For three-star offensive tackle Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont), the game also served as a chance to build a relationship with a future teammate.

“It was pure excitement in the locker room following the well-deserved win,” Austin said. “I hung out with Jordan Poland primarily, but we did not talk much about recruiting. Rather, it was just friend to friend.”

The Class of 2015 was also well represented, with No. 1-rated signal-caller Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), No. 4 cornerback Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and No. 7 wide receiver Cordell Broadus (Diamond Bar, Calif./Diamond Bar) headlining a group that also included No. 2 outside linebacker John Houston Jr. (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and No. 12 defensive tackle Rasheem Green (Gardena, Calif./Serra).

“It was a great game,” Broadus said. “The atmosphere was very electric.”

The job Orgeron and his staff have done has not been lost on recruits. ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) has been open to visiting other schools while being committed to the Trojans, but that would all disappear if Orgeron were to get hired.

“Recruits want the coaches to stay on staff really bad; at least I know I do,” Dorton said. “If those guys stay, I’m definitely coming.”

Three-star outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne), who last month became the first recruiting class member from the Los Angeles City Section, left the Coliseum with a smile on his face.

“It was great. I had a good time and I feel like I made the right choice,” Nwosu said. “After the game, we went in the locker room and it was crazy in there. All the coaches were getting turned up.”

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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

November, 13, 2013
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Three wasn't much movement overall in the updated class rankings and even less in the Pac-12 this week, as recruits head into playoffs and continue taking their official visits. Two huge Pac-12 showdowns this weekend have a chance to shake up the recruiting scene, as plenty of momentum could be gained or lost when Washington visits UCLA on Friday and USC hosts Stanford, as well as College GameDay, on Saturday.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

November, 4, 2013
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Oregon State reeled in two verbal commitments despite a Friday night loss to USC. UCLA hosted the nation's No. 21 overall recruit. An Arizona commitment authored a huge game in a blowout win. And all eyes will be on one colossal matchup in the Pac-12 this week.

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Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 31 

October, 31, 2013
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Arizona State and Oregon added to top-40 classes earlier this week, as the Sun Devils grabbed another ESPN 300 prospect and the Ducks flexed their muscles in Texas. USC softened its policy against in-season visitors, while UCLA will look to take advantage of hosting a committed visitor of its own this weekend.

Arizona State adds another

It didn't come as much of a surprise when ESPN 300 outside linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) verbally committed to Arizona State this past Sunday, but that didn't make the commitment any less important for the Sun Devils. Head coach Todd Graham's program is picking up steam on the recruiting trail as it puts together wins on the field. Calhoun joins teammate Jalen Harvey and four-star tackle Sam Jones (Highlands Ranch, Colo./ThunderRidge) as recent commitments for Arizona State, while quarterback Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) continues to do an excellent job in selling the program to recruits. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Sun Devils eventually reel in California prospects Michael Lazarus (Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley), Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch) and Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdae), as the buzz -- especially in California -- continues to grow. Arizona State now has the nation's No. 25 recruiting class -- up three spots due to the updated ESPN 300 -- and sits just behind No. 24 Stanford and No. 20 Arizona as the third-best class in the Pac-12.

Hollins hollers for Oregon


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Recruiting notebook: USC going local 

October, 14, 2013
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The recent flurry of local offers began last week when USC reached out to three-star receiver Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and three-star cornerback Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial).

This, of course, was after the commitment from three-star safety Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne). The trend continued on Friday night with an offer for three-star defensive end Olajuwon Tucker (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and again Sunday with unheralded offensive lineman Chris Brown (Los Angeles/Loyola) and three-star receiver Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra) picking up offers.

The recruiting strategy under interim head coach Ed Orgeron is clear: go local and trust the evaluation. The Trojans might have waited a bit too long to pursue Los Angeles-based prospects when Lane Kiffin was at the helm, but Orgeron and other staff members appear set on changing that.

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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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Best Pac-12 classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Arizona’s haul of 24 verbal commitments is nine more than any other Pac-12 team, while only one BCS program has fewer than USC’s seven -- Minnesota, with six. Oregon, UCLA, Utah and Washington have all yet to reach double digits. But this week, we take a look at which program has put together the best class at each position at this point in the recruiting process.

Quarterback
Strongest class: Stanford

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