Southern California always has been an inviting target for college football recruiters, but it might never have been as tempting as it is right now. The talent base is rich and deeper than it has been in a decade, especially with linemen, according to college coaches.
But that's not the only reason that recruiters are so fired up this year. The USC Trojans, the local heavyweight, are still coping with NCAA sanctions, which will limit the number of prospects they can sign in February. On top of that, the UCLA Bruins are in the delicate spot of having their coach, Rick Neuheisel, on the hot seat, after Neuheisel went 4-8 in 2010 in his third year with the Bruins.
Several sources contacted for this story agreed that the recruiting landscape has changed in the L.A. area for multiple reasons, and not just because both local schools are currently dealing with issues.
Some key factors adding to it:
1. Former USC assistant and L.A. native Steve Sarkisian has the Washington Huskies on the rise.
2. The Oregon Ducks, who have gone to back-to-back BCS bowls, have emerged as one of the coveted "cool" schools in many recruits' eyes.
3. The Stanford Cardinal not only are offering one of the best educations to recruits but also have football bona fides after coming off a BCS bowl win.
4. There are two new Pac-12 programs in the mix in the Utah Utes and Colorado Buffaloes, who are pushing to build stronger pipelines into the area, especially because both have staffers with many L.A. ties.
To read Bruce Feldman's full take on the new battle for Southern California recruiting, including how certain newcomer teams are faring, become an ESPN Insider today.