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What to watch this weekend

11/17/2011

Big visitors in town for Oregon

It seems like every week, at least one Pac-12 school hosts a big recruiting weekend and this week, it will be Oregon. The Ducks take on a rejuvenated USC team that is quietly playing like a top-10 football program right now.

The majority of the players tripping to Eugene are from outside the West, so it will be interesting to see if the Ducks can make up some ground on a few of the guys who appear to be leaning towards staying close to home. The one notable exception is Arik Armstead (Elk Grove, Calif./Pleasant Grove), but a pair of four star athletes seem genuinely interested in the Ducks.

Receiver Dwayne Stanford II (Cincinnati, Ohio, Taft) and linebacker Kwon Alexander (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) have said since the summer they plan to visit Oregon and although they don’t appear to lead for either player, the Ducks are definitely in their top three.

Oregon State bringing in talent

The Ducks aren’t the only Pac-12 school bringing in some quality official visitors. Northwest rival Oregon State has some talented athletes coming in as well, headlined by two of the top receivers in the region.

The Lakewood (Calif.) duo of Malik Gilmore and Darius Powe will head to Corvallis for the Beavers' final home game of the year against Washington. Gilmore has already committed and the Beavs and OSU has a great shot at landing Powe as well.

UCLA, Michigan and Utah are involved with Powe as well but if signing day was today, more than likely, he would be a Beaver. Talented defensive back and former Arizona commit Devian Shelton (Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood) will visting OSU as well.

Armstead looking hard at Oregon

Armstead has been featured quite a bit here lately but when you’re the top overall prospect in the West, your every move is considered big news. This week, the talented two-way lineman will take official visit No. 3 to Oregon and the Ducks have a very good shot in this race.

Armstead has already officially visited Notre Dame and Alabama and had great visits to both schools. Visits to Auburn and Texas are likely so the Ducks along with USC, the school he was formerly committed to, are the only schools out West that Armstead is seriously looking at.

That begs the question, how serious is Armstead about leaving the West versus staying closer to home? The lineman is very close to his family, which was a big reason for his early commitment to USC in the first place. Basketball is also a bigger factor than some realize and if Armstead sees what he needs to see in Oregon, the Ducks could emerge as the leader.

Major matchup in Grand Canyon State

Two of Arizona’s most talented teams will square off with a berth in the Div II state championship game on the line. Scottsdale Chaparral will be gunning for their third state championship in a row when they take on Peoria Centennial on Friday.

The Firebirds are led by one of the nation’s most dynamic duos in quarterback Connor Brewer and two-way standout Davonte Neal. Brewer was a sophomore starter for the Firebirds when they won their first state title and Neal is one of the nation’s top players at both receiver and corner.

The Coyotes are loaded as well and 11-1 on the season, with their only loss being to Deer Valley, which they avenged last weekend. Cal bound safety Zach Hoffpauir is a special talent and junior running back Jalen Ortiz has rushed for over 1,100 yards and already been offered a scholarship by Washington.

Rios hitting the road

Former Boise State commit Marcus Rios (Elk Grove, Calif./Cosumnes Oaks) has already taken an official visit to UCLA and will be back out on the road this weekend to check out Arizona State.

The Sun Devils will be hosting a handful of players for their final home game this weekend when they take on in-state rival Arizona and Rios is one of the headliners. Since backing off his commitment to the Broncos, several schools have stepped up their recruitment of the corner but the Sun Devils have been there from the beginning.

Another school that has been on Rios for some time is Nebraska and the corner will visit the Huskers next weekend. At this point, the Bruins look like the front runners but they’ll have to hold off a handful of schools to land Rios.