- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
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Friday means a trip to the mailbag to answer questions you've e-mailed or tweeted about the Pac-12 recruiting. The Pac-12 recruiting mailbag will run every Friday, so send in your questions to Erik McKinney, via e-mail or @EMcKinneyESPN.
@choidog00: who's going to win battle for budda baker -- UW, UCLA or Oregon?
Erik McKinney: There are a few more teams in that mix now, as Bishard Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) listed Notre Dame among his favorites, then received an offer from Texas A&M. Baker said he is concentrating on the season right now and hasn't begun to firmly establish official visit plans, but did add that he was considering a trip to see Texas A&M host Alabama.
He's talked about his mom's health being one reason to stay close to home, and allowing his family to make a short trip to see him play as another. I think in the end it depends on what Washington and Steve Sarkisian is able to produce. If the Huskies are competitive and finally race past that seven-win barrier, they'll give the nation's No. 8 safety yet another reason to stay home.
@Stunzeed: Chip left, but now that Oregon has the new facilities, do you see recruiting going up, down, or staying about the same?
EM: Oregon is getting comfortable as one of the nation's elite recruiting teams, and with or without Chip Kelly, they're going to stay there. Some fans of other programs might knock the Ducks' rolodex of uniforms, but there is a reason just about every program in the country is breaking out alternate jerseys and updating their look. The new facilities speak for themselves and keep Oregon among the trendsetters in the college football landscape.
Recruits also quickly took notice of the fact that the Ducks' offensive and defensive systems are still going to be the same under new head coach Mark Helfrich. The only effect losing Kelly will have on recruiting is if it effects the on the on-field product. If the Ducks keep winning, they'll keep recruiting well.
The only problem Oregon has when it comes to recruiting rankings is a self-imposed one. They don't always go after the consensus top-ranked player, instead choosing to focus on recruits who fit their systems, because they are so unique on both sides of the ball. As long as the Ducks are winning and the buzz continues in Eugene, they are going to get their share of ESPN 300 prospects, though I wouldn't expect them to be battling for the No. 1 class in the country.
@rmcglenn: what is going on with USC recruiting? Very few commits of quality. Is it kiffin turning these kids off?
EM: First of all, I'd take slight exception to the idea that there are "very few commits of quality" in the USC class. Four of the seven commitments are ESPN 300 prospects, Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) will be playing his first year of high school football in the United States, Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont) is a high-upside tackle with other Pac-12 offers -- a situation reminiscent of Chad Wheeler, who could be the starting left tackle for the season opener -- and Michael Wyche (Monterey Park, Calif./East Los Angeles College) will be evaluated as part of the junior college rankings. It's a good start to the 2014 class for USC.
I believe the issue that Trojans fans are hitting on is that when you compare this class to the 2013 class at the same point, they aren't even close. After last July's recruiting haul, the Trojans probably could have stood pat and wound up with the No. 1 class in the country. It was a phenomenal recruiting performance in the summer.
But what happened after that is a big reason why recruits aren't committing to USC right now. They saw what happened on the field. They hear the whispers about Lane Kiffin being on the hot seat and they are waiting to see what happens with USC this fall.
An offer from USC is still a hot ticket, evidenced by the number of ESPN 300 prospect showing legitimate interest in the Trojans. But the type of player USC is after has the luxury to wait and see what happens on the field before making a commitment. If the Trojans put a good season together, they could have another impressive signing day.