Pac-12: Utah Utes

Last week your humble Pac-12 Blog broke down the 2015 Pac-12 recruiting class and where those players came from. But those kinds of numbers always prompt more questions like: OK, this is one class, what about the last two classes? The last three? What about every class that each Pac-12 coach has signed?

Well, your humble Pac-12 Blog is back. And it's back with those answers (with signees by state).

ARIZONA WILDCATS:
Rich Rodriguez, four classes -- 98 signees, 11 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 41
  • Arizona: 16
  • Texas: 9
  • Florida: 7
  • Louisiana: 5
  • Colorado: 3
  • Two signees: Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia
  • One signee: Canada, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS:
Todd Graham, four classes -- 100 signees, seven ESPN 300 members
  • California: 46
  • Arizona: 17
  • Florida: 7
  • Louisiana: 6
  • Three signees: Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas
  • Two signees: Nevada, Washington, Washington D.C.
  • One signee: Canada, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, New York, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah
CALIFORNIA BEARS:

Sonny Dykes, three classes -- 71 signees, four ESPN 300 members
  • California: 49
  • Texas: 6
  • Three signees: Arizona, Washington
  • Two signees: Hawaii, Mississippi, Oregon
  • One signee: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana
COLORADO BUFFALOES:

Mike MacIntyre, three classes -- 66 signees, no ESPN 300 members
  • California: 33
  • Colorado: 14
  • Texas: 8
  • Arizona: 3
  • Two signees: Hawaii, Utah
  • One signee: Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Washington
OREGON DUCKS:

Mark Helfrich, three classes -- 63 signees, 17 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 26
  • Oregon: 5
  • Four signees: Arizona, Texas, Washington
  • Three signees: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii
  • Two signees: Louisiana, Nevada
  • One signee: Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee
OREGON STATE BEAVERS:

Gary Andersen, one class -- 22 signees, no ESPN 300 members
  • Utah: 6
  • Four signees: California, Florida
  • Two signees: Oregon, Texas
  • One signee: American Samoa, Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana
STANFORD CARDINAL:

David Shaw, five classes -- 95 signees, 26 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 25
  • Georgia: 7
  • Six signees: Arizona, Florida, Texas
  • Five signees: Utah, Washington
  • Four signees: Louisiana
  • Three signees: North Carolina
  • Two signees: Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia
  • One signee: Hawaii, Indiana, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington D.C.
UCLA BRUINS:

Jim Mora, four classes -- 92 signees, 31 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 55
  • Texas: 10
  • Arizona: 5
  • Three signees: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii
  • Two signees: Delaware
  • One signee: Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Washington
USC TROJANS:

Steve Sarkisian, two classes -- 43 signees, 25 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 32
  • Texas: 3
  • Two signees: Florida, Utah
  • One signee: Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma
UTAH UTES:

Kyle Whittingham, five classes* -- 108 signees, 0 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 40
  • Utah: 29
  • Texas: 15
  • Florida: 8
  • Louisiana: 6
  • Nevada: 3
  • Two signees: Arizona, Hawaii
  • One signee: Maryland, New Jersey, New York

*This is only counting Whittingham's classes that he recruited into the Pac-12 conference (so, starting with the 2011 signing class since the Utes made it official on June 22, 2010).

WASHINGTON HUSKIES:

Chris Petersen, two classes -- 49 signees, 4 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 28
  • Washington: 14
  • Idaho: 2
  • One signee: Maryland, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Wyoming
WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS:

Mike Leach, four classes -- 102 signees, one ESPN 300 members
  • California: 57
  • Washington: 14
  • American Samoa: 7
  • Three signees: Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Texas
  • Two signees: Alabama, Georgia
  • One signee: Colorado, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Oregon, Oklahoma, Utah
NOTES/OBSERVATIONS:

There are 20 states from which no current Pac-12 South coach has ever signed a player, and 18 from which no current North coaches have never signed a player. Of those states, 11 are overlapping, meaning that no player from the following states has been signed to a current Pac-12 coach during his tenure as head coach -- Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

It's not surprising that no players has been signed from Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska or North Dakota because those are the four least-populated states in the U.S. What is surprising is that only three players have been signed from the state of Alabama -- two to Mike Leach and one to Sonny Dykes.

Long story short: If you're a high school prospect and you want to play in the Pac-12, it doesn't hurt to live in California, Florida or Texas (if you live outside of "Pac-12 territory"). If you're a high school prospect and you live in Wisconsin or West Virginia -- even though some of these coaches have been head coaches in those states, your chances don't look good at all.

Eleven of the 12 programs have signed the most players from the state of California during current coaches' tenures. The only coach who hasn't is Oregon State coach Gary Andersen, but California is tied for second-most on his list.

North coaches have signed -- on average -- three classes per coach while the South coaches have signed -- on average -- four per. While it's really only a difference of one class, it is a difference of 20-30 student athletes per coach, so really the possibility of 120-180 different home states.

In the South the most recruited states outside of California and home states -- as a whole -- are Florida and Texas. Again, this might not be surprising considering how talent-rich both of those states are, but the only Pac-12 South coach who has ever coached in one of those states is Todd Graham (Rice).

In the North, it's a bit more of a mash-up. The states of Arizona and Washington are big for Cal and Oregon. Florida is big for Oregon State and Stanford. Chris Petersen really hasn't had to reach out of California or Washington, much like his in-state foe, Mike Leach. However, Leach also likes to go to American Samoa, where he has signed seven players.

USC has had the most success with the top recruits. Fifty-eight percent of Sarkisian's recruits are ESPN 300 members. After him, the next most "successful" recruiting coaches are Mora (33.7 percent), Shaw (31.6 percent) and Helfrich (27 percent).

Signing top recruits certainly gives teams a boost on the field as evidenced by the teams above and the successes they've had under each coach. But look at Utah. Whittingham hasn't signed a single ESPN 300 player and yet his team was in the hunt for the South title last season. It's the same with Rich Rodriguez: Even though just 7 percent of his players have been ESPN 300 members, he has still had major success on the field for the Wildcats.
The NFL Combine kicks off on Friday.

Here’s a breakdown of which Pac-12 players will be appearing on which days.

FRIDAY, FEB. 20 | Specialists, offensive linemen, tight ends

Offensive linemen:
Tight ends: SATURDAY, FEB. 21 | Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers

Quarterbacks:
Running backs:
Wide receivers: SUNDAY, FEB. 22 | Defensive linemen, linebackers

Defensive linemen:
Linebackers: MONDAY, FEB. 23 | Defensive backs
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.
Prep for the 2015 season for a few teams is right around the corner as players begin to hit the field over the next few weeks for the start of spring practices.

That means that some players' campaigns for the 2015 player of the year starts ... now (at least in the Pac-12 Blogosphere).

Marcus Mariota -- even last spring -- was the clear-cut frontrunner for the award. This year, it's not as obvious. There are a few players that stand out, and then there's always the possibility for a dark horse candidate, someone to burst onto the scene out of nowhere.

SportsNation

Who will be the 2015 Pac-12 Player of the Year?

  •  
    10%
  •  
    30%
  •  
    8%
  •  
    23%
  •  
    29%

Discuss (Total votes: 6,415)

So, who do you think walks away with next season's player of the year honors?

1. UCLA RB Paul Perkins

Perkins led the conference in rushing yards in 2014 (1,575 rushing yards). His 121.2 rushing yards per game still put him front of Oregon State and Washington State's team rushing totals per game. His 6.3 yards per carry was a Pac-12 best, and with the UCLA offense looking a little different next season, it wouldn't be surprising to see Jim Mora relying even more on Perkins to carry the load. Could that be enough to propel him to the top of the Pac-12?

2. USC QB Cody Kessler

Kessler will be right there with Perkins, fighting for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game and the player of the year honors. Kessler didn't get as much attention this season as some other QBs in the conference despite leading the Pac-12 in completion percentage (69.7) and finishing second in passing touchdowns (39), but in 2015 he should be the talk of the town, especially considering how many weapons the Trojans will have around Kessler.

3. Arizona LB Scooby Wright III

Wright was the defensive darling of the postseason award circuit in 2014 picking up the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, and many others. He was the 2014 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, which sets him up well for a step up -- player of the year -- in his next season. But the other players on this list are talented and, no surprises here, they're all offensive players and every talented defensive player will tell you how much more they have to do to get the same amount of love as an offensive skill player (every single lineman will say this, too). But with 14 sacks and 31 tackles for a loss in 2014, it's a pretty safe bet to expect more of Two Star Scoob in 2015.

4. Oregon RB Royce Freeman

With another offseason under his belt, Freeman is going to appear even more prepared for the college game (which is kind of a scary thought). He tore apart Pac-12 defenses this season -- 1,113 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns versus conference opponents in 2014. Whoever starts for the Ducks at quarterback is going to have their ups and downs -- that's to be expected of a first-year starter. Expect Oregon to lean more on the run game -- meaning Freeman -- to get its offense going.

5. Other

The battle for the fourth spot in this poll was highly contested (but due to technology, only five names could be put into this poll which is why the voting is relatively limited). Utah running back Devontae Booker was right there with Freeman, especially when considering what Booker did this season and knowing that 2015 is his last hurrah. He burst onto the Pac-12 scene as a relative unknown and finished second in the conference in rushing yards per game (116.3). Cal quarterback Jared Goff was under serious consideration. When looking at the strides he made between his freshman and sophomore seasons, it's wild to think what he might look like as a junior. Arizona running back Nick Wilson was also in the conversation. Though Freeman was the freshman running back that garnered the most attention in the Pac-12 last season, he wasn't the only one. Wilson -- another year older, another year stronger -- is going to be a force in the conference in 2015, too.

Pac-12 2015 recruiting in review 

February, 12, 2015
Feb 12
9:00
AM ET
video
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.

How resilient was your defense in 2014?

Last Thursday, we looked at the teams in the Pac-12 and how well they produced points after turnovers. This was the South Division, and here was the North. Now, we look at the flip side.

It can be frustrating when, after a big defensive stand, the offense coughs it up and gives the ball right back. Time for the defense to take the field again, be it inside their own red zone, the 50 or the opponent’s 1-yard line. (Or if you’re Shaq Thompson, just run it back 100 yards.)

Just like offensive points off of turnovers, there are exceptions. Sometimes a team gets a turnover at the end of the half or a game, so the defense doesn’t have to make a stand. So these numbers aren’t completely cut-and-dried. But rather it’s a measuring stick.

We’ll start with South and look at the North later today. If you’re curious how your team did in 2013, here are the numbers for the South and the numbers for the North.

Arizona

Turnovers committed: 18
Opponent scores vs. opportunities: 10-18 (55 percent)
Total points allowed after turnovers: 53
Games without committing at least one turnover: 3
Games without allowing points after turnovers: 5

Arizona State

Turnovers committed: 13
Opponent scores vs. opportunities: 10-13 (76 percent)
Total points allowed after turnovers: 62
Games without committing at least one turnover: 6
Games without allowing points after turnovers: 0

Colorado

Turnovers committed: 21
Opponent scores vs. opportunities: 16-21 (76 percent)
Total points allowed after turnovers: 104
Games without committing at least one turnover: 2
Games without allowing points after turnovers: 0

UCLA

Turnovers committed: 16
Opponent scores vs. opportunities: 13-16 (81 percent)
Total points allowed after turnovers: 82
Games without committing at least one turnover: 2
Games without allowing points after turnovers: 3

USC

Turnovers committed: 12
Opponent scores vs. opportunities: 6-12 (50 percent)
Total points allowed after turnovers: 42
Games without committing at least one turnover: 5
Games without allowing points after turnovers: 4

Utah

Turnovers committed: 16
Opponent scores vs. opportunities: 9-16 (56 percent)
Total points allowed after turnovers: 55
Games without committing at least one turnover: 4
Games without allowing points after turnovers: 3

Pac-12 morning links

February, 6, 2015
Feb 6
9:00
AM ET
You're gonna need a bigger boat.

Happy Friday.

Leading off

February 4 is long gone, but don't think that the drama of national signing day has vanished with the date. UCLA is still at the center of some national attention because linebacker Roquan Smith, one of their touted Wednesday commits, hasn't faxed his national letter of intent to Westwood. Smith is reportedly concerned that Bruins defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich has been in talks with the Atlanta Falcons, news that leaked shortly after Smith's commitment to UCLA but before his pledge to the Bruins became binding.

Smith may feel fortunate that he's not in the same boat as Ohio State recruit Mike Weber, who found Buckeyes running backs coach Stan Drayton was leaving to the NFL after he was locked into Urban Meyer's program.

In the case of Smith, UCLA, Georgia, Michigan, and Texas A&M are still technically alive in the battle for his services, and the saga will likely stretch into next week.

"[The recruiting period] isn't over until the end of April," Smith's coach said. "So there's no rush."

So in case any Pac-12 recruiting fans thought signing day would present a cut and dry finish to the 2015 cycle, think again. We're going to overtime, and it'll be a while longer before the drama fully subsides and the pre-spring ball vacation is here.

News/notes/team reports
  • Arizona's DaVonte' Neal is changing positions to help a thinned-out Wildcats defense. Read about the switch here.
  • .One of Arizona State's biggest victories this recruiting season came through the signing of defensive tackle prospect Joseph Wicker.
  • Is Cal football trying to mimic how Stanford recruits?
  • Colorado's series with an in-state rival is likely to end after 2020.
  • More signing day aftermath: This piece examines Oregon's slow-and-steady recruiting style.
  • A developing Oregon State trend: Polynesian players. The Beavers just signed eight of them.
  • Offensive lineman Kevin Reihner has exercised a graduate transfer to Penn State, and David Shaw indicated that he's not the only Stanford player who's been mulling his future options.
  • Chronicling UCLA's Jeff Ulbrich/Roquan Smith saga.
  • When it comes to recruiting, Steve Sarkisian has finished strong at USC.
  • Grading Utah's coaches for their 2014 performance while looking ahead to 2015.
  • Chris Petersen believes he has something special at Washington in Jake Browning.
  • Washington State has lost wide receivers coach Dennis Simmons to Oklahoma.
Just for fun

Here's another "my, how times have changed" glimpse at college football, featuring a former USC Heisman Trophy winner.

The turnover battle is the consummate game within the game. You want them. Coaches love them. They can be momentum-swinging game-changers.

However, they can also be wasted drives. Sure, a turnover is nice because you take the ball out of the hands of the opposing offense. But if you can’t turn those turnovers into points, you’re just using clock. And with so many up-tempo offenses in the Pac-12, that’s not always that big of a deal.

Obviously, points off of turnovers aren’t the end-all-be all. Sometimes a turnover can end a game, such was the case with Scooby Wright stripping Marcus Mariota or J.R. Tavai’s strip-sack of Kevin Hogan. No points were scored, yet it decided the outcome. Washington State was one of the best teams in the conference at converting turnovers into points (75 percent). Problem is, the Cougars only forced eight all year.

So don’t take the following stats as cannon. Rather, they are a decent indicator of how your team did in 2014 at turning turnovers into points. We’ll start with the Pac-12 South and hit the North later today. And tomorrow, we’ll flip the script and look at points allowed following a turnover.

If you’re curious, here are last year’s totals so you can see if your team improved or regressed.

Arizona

Turnovers created: 26
Scores vs. opportunities: 18-26 (69 percent)
Total points after turnovers: 110
Games without forcing at least one turnover: 2
Games without points after turnovers: 3

Arizona State

Turnovers created: 27
Scores vs. opportunities: 22-27 (81 percent)
Total points after turnovers: 142
Games without forcing at least one turnover: 4
Games without points after turnovers: 3

Colorado

Turnovers created: 11
Scores vs. opportunities: 4-11 (36 percent)
Total points after turnovers: 20
Games without forcing at least one turnover: 5
Games without points after turnovers: 3

UCLA

Turnovers created: 16
Scores vs. opportunities: 11-16 (68 percent)
Total points after turnovers: 69
Games without forcing at least one turnover: 5
Games without points after turnovers: 3

USC

Turnovers created: 23
Scores vs. opportunities: 12-23 (52 percent)
Total points after turnovers: 83
Games without forcing at least one turnover: 1
Games without points after turnovers: 5

Utah

Turnovers created: 21
Scores vs. opportunities: 16-21 (76 percent)
Total points after turnovers: 84
Games without forcing at least one turnover: 1
Games without points after turnovers: 0
Note: Utah was the only Pac-12 team to score off a turnover in every game in which they forced one.

Pac-12 morning links

February, 5, 2015
Feb 5
9:00
AM ET
The exclusive club of Pac-12 football officially has a couple hundred new members, so today's movie quote relates to that.

The first rule of Pac-12 football is: You do not talk about Pac-12 football.

Actually, that's not true. You are allowed to talk a lot about Pac-12 football. That's what this blog is all about. So, let's discuss morning links in the wake of national signing day.

Leading off

Wednesday marked the end of an arduous selection process for thousands of prospective collegiate student-athletes. They finally had a chance to make their decisions official while fax machines relished the opportunity to be relevant again. Signing day was particularly kind to the L.A. schools -- USC flexed its recruiting muscle to finish with one of the nation's top-rated classes while UCLA made an eye-popping closing surge -- but noteworthy developments populated all corners of the conference.

Perhaps the best way to summarize the day lies in this conference map, which plots the hometown of every single recruit that signed on to play Pac-12 football yesterday. It was a true nationwide operation. A team-by-team look is below.

News/notes/team reports
  • Signing day in Tucson didn't generate much fanfare, but Rich Rodriguez thinks he's inked his kind of guys.
  • There was only one surprise in Arizona State's recruiting class, which ended up looking like a strong haul that included a handful of four-star recruits from the Southern California hotbed.
  • Ryan Gorcey delivers anything and everything related to Cal's signing day right here. The Bears are hoping a handful of additions in the secondary will be able to contribute immediately.
  • Five -- and maybe six -- players in Colorado's 2015 recruiting class are expected to contribute as true freshmen this fall.
  • Five takeaways from Oregon's 2015 recruiting class.
  • Gary Andersen had to scramble to salvage Oregon State's recruiting class after he took over for Mike Riley in December. Here's a final evaluation.
  • Here is Andy Drukarev's detailed account of Stanford's signing day, which came and went without any surprises.
  • Keep an eye on this developing story involving the Atlanta Falcons' interest in UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.
  • The national media thinks that USC and their crosstown rivals were among America's big signing day winners.
  • Tracking Utah's signing day.
  • A live, time-stamped log of how signing day went for Washington.
  • Mike Leach says that his 2015 class is the best of the four he's netted at Washington State.
Just for fun

Snoop Dogg had long been a USC fan, but his son Cordell Broadus signed with UCLA Wednesday, so it appears the rapper has switched allegiances.

Now he wit mora. N so am I. Let's go!!!(<<=L

A photo posted by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) on

Pac-12 morning links

February, 4, 2015
Feb 4
9:00
AM ET
What are you doing?

Self-realization. I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "I drank what?"

Leading off

Today is signing day. Let the hype machine begin. Bring forth the hats, the puppies, the nerd nation glasses and a world of props we haven't thought of yet. Be excited about the four- and five-star players that head to your school. But let our Two-Star Scoobs series remind you that sometimes the most unheralded players can make the biggest impact.

And as Chris Foster notes, it's good to sign high-star players. But it's how they are developed that makes the difference.

We start with the news that linebacker Porter Gustin (Salem, Utah), a five-star recruit by some services (No. 92 in the ESPN 300) committed to USC on Tuesday. You can watch the full announcement -- complete with confetti -- here.

Our Tom Luginbill offered some thoughts on Gustin in this insider piece. Insider But because I'm that great of a guy, here's a little snippet:
Gustin is a spectacular athlete for his size, and the sky is the limit in terms of potential. While we could see him play early as a sub-package pass-rusher or pressure linebacker, he will likely need time to develop the nuances of a position before becoming an every-down player.

The Salt Lake Tribune also has a piece from the announcement.

Lots happening today, so you can tune in to ESPNU from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a full day of coverage. Yours truly will be in Long Beach for Iman Marshall's announcement (No. 4 on the ESPN 300) and then heading up to USC. If you don't follow me already on Twitter, click the necessary buttons and hang out for the ride.

Closely watched will be the landing spot of Cordell Broadus, who is eyeing USC, UCLA and ASU. The AP also has a list here of some big-name recruits to keep an eye on.

Also, an interesting piece from USA Today on how much schools are spending on recruiting.

News/notes/team reports
Just for fun

The JFF section of the morning links isn't just for the wacky and the hilarious. It's also for stuff that's just really, really cool. Like this tweet from ASU:

Pac-12 morning links

February, 3, 2015
Feb 3
9:00
AM ET
Listen to me, Hillary. I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a woman that he met at a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist, only to lose her to her childhood lover who she last saw on a deserted island, who then turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.

Leading off

On Monday morning, the Utah Utes put their coordinator questions to bed with a series of staff announcements.

The school announced that former defensive line coach John Pease has been lured out of retirement -- again -- by head coach Kyle Whittingham to serve as the team's defensive coordinator. They also promoted Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding to co-offensive coordinators, a role Roderick previously held.

In the statement from the school, it said that Whittingham wouldn't discuss the hires until they hold their signing day news conference on Wednesday. Makes sense ... he's got some stuff to do in the next 24 hours.

Also notable is the title promotion of Dennis Erickson to assistant head coach. He'll continue to work with the running backs.

Here's our news story on the hires and other staff changes. The Salt Lake Tribune has a story here, and some notes from the Deseret News.

News/notes/team reports
Just for fun

UCLA quarterback Jerry Neuheisel (aka N-E-Heisel) tests the UCLA gymnastics team on their football knowledge. Funny stuff.

Pac-12 morning links

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:00
AM ET
Happy Friday.

Leading off:

Money, money, money, money .... Mon-ayyyyyy.

Yep, that's right. We're starting off Friday with conversations about dollars. It's one of the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table, which means we'll absolutely discuss it on the Pac-12 Blog.

On Thursday, John Wilner looked into the salaries of each Pac-12 coach and compared the South coaches against the North coaches and came to a very interesting conclusion -- the South coaches are paid, on average, much better. He calculated that the North coaches' salaries came out to $13.95 million while the South coaches' salaries came out to $16.85 million.
One factor clearly is the artificially low compensation for two North coaches who were promoted from within. Mark Helfrich isn’t paid like a national finalists -- he’s a screamin’ deal -- and David Shaw would command more on the open market than he’s currently making with two of the past three league titles.

Then add Riley’s relatively low compensation, the result of being in one place for so many years, and the situation starts to make sense.

It's an interesting piece that's definitely worth your time. Note: The Stanford and USC dollar figures used are estimates, just keep that in mind.

Notes/team reports/recruiting updates:
Utah's resurgent 2014 campaign generated plenty of good feelings in Salt Lake City. That optimism has already created palpable buzz for the 2015 season, electricity that's amplified by the Utes' first game: a Thursday night home contest against Jim Harbaugh's Michigan program. There's room for improvement within Kyle Whittingham's program before then, though.

Position to improve: Quarterback. Utah enjoyed a sack-happy defense and the Pac-12's third-most productive rushing attack behind Devontae Booker in 2014, but their passing attack languished in the conference cellar.

Why it was a problem: Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson, who both saw action under center for Utah, were far from impressive. Both completed about 60 percent of their passes, but Thompson really wasn't much of a threat to throw at all -- he averaged only 46 passing yards per game. Wilson threw much more frequently, but he also finished with a rather meager average (166.9 yards per game). Both quarterbacks did some damage with their legs, but they ultimately didn't pack the desired aerial punch necessary to make Utah's attack balanced. Despite Booker's massive 1,500-yard year, the Utes finished last in Pac-12 total offense. That simply shouldn't happen.

How it can be fixed: It looks like it'll be either Wilson or Thompson (coming off a leg injury) at quarterback next year, so Utah will have to see tangible improvement from either of those two when it comes to the downfield passing game. This will be tough, especially since top receiving target Kaelin Clay has exhausted his collegiate ability. The Utes would be best served to hire a new offensive coordinator with quarterback-developing experience soon. That position is still vacant following Dave Christensen's departure for Texas A&M, and it's likely a key toward boosting quarterback productivity next year.

Early 2015 outlook: At the very least, Utah fans can take solace in the fact that Wilson took solid care of the football in 2014: He threw 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions. But unless he develops into a more consistent aerial threat while throwing to new primary targets, the Utes will have to again rely heavily on that workhorse named Booker, who made his living after contact running against stacked boxes in 2014.

Pac-12 morning links

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
9:00
AM ET
So, Peter, you've become a pirate.

Leading off:

Super Bowl media day has come and gone. With it there were a few notable appearances and quotes by some former Pac-12 players (there are 18 former conference players and five former conference coaches between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots). Notes/team updates/recruiting nuggets:
Just for fun:

On Tuesday, Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici and safety Jordan Simone attended Super Bowl media day to add to some of azcentral.com's coverage of the event. We'll have a story later on today with Bercovici's thoughts on the day and his advice to other reporters (now that he has such a deep understanding of the profession), but as a preview to some of the in-depth and exclusive content you'll get from the Bercovici-Simone media team, check out this tweet:



We're sure it was enlightening. Someone get this man a Pulitzer.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
10:00
AM ET

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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES