NSD 2018 Wrap-Up: Ranking the Pac-12 classes
The class of 2018 is officially off the clock as National Signing Day has come and gone. So how did everything shake out at the conference level? Today we take a look at the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings in the Pac-12 and offer some commentary on the biggest hits and misses for each program.
USC - No. 1 in Pac-12, No. 3 nationally
The Good: Everything. The Trojans closed strong with five-star commitments from Olaijah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart, four-star linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu could be a star and USC flipped Eli'Jah Winston from Oregon. That all happened on signing day or the day before. The duo of five-star QB JT Daniels and five-star WR Amon-Ra St. Brown is enough for USC fans to be thrilled.
The Bad: Not much here. USC basically did whatever it pleased leading up to signing day and, sure, there were some players who went elsewhere but that’s recruiting. The Trojans have to be thrilled with this class.
Washington - No. 2 in Pac-12, No. 14 nationally
The Good: Washington’s recruiting class was generally drama-free as almost the entire class signed early and then the Huskies loaded up in the final days. Four-star DT Tuli Letuligasenoa flipped from USC and Washington landed a star in four-star defensive back Julius Irvin. The Huskies beat out Alabama and others for four-star LB Brandon Kaho and WR Marquis Spiker has the potential to be special. This was a phenomenal class, one that could help lead Washington back to the College Football Playoff.
The Bad: No five-stars is a tad disappointing for the Huskies, especially with USC getting five in this class. Also, losing out on four-star Tre’Shaun Harrison to Florida State could be regrettable if he pans out in Tallahassee. Everything else pretty much went according to plan and the Huskies loaded up.
Oregon - No. 3 in Pac-12, No. 15 nationally
The Good: There was no implosion of the recruiting class when Willie Taggart left after one year to go to Florida State. If anything, the Ducks’ group was reinforced when Mario Cristobal took over. Landing four-star OL Penei Sewell on National Signing Day was huge. Oregon reloaded at the skill positions mainly with four-star WRs Jalen Hall and Isaah Crocker along with TE Spencer Webb, and added huge offensive linemen.
The Bad: In-state recruiting did not go well. Hufanga picked USC. Four-star Chase Cota, whose father played in Eugene, selected UCLA. Four-star athlete Braden Lenzy went to Notre Dame, Winston flipped to USC and four-star DE Draco Bynum along with four-star WR Trey Lowe picked Washington. That’s the top six prospects in the state and none picked the Ducks.
UCLA - No. 4 in Pac-12, No. 17 nationally
The Good: First-year coach Chip Kelly revamped a good deal of UCLA’s recruiting class and the Bruins finished in the upper echelon of the conference after a sluggish start to Kelly’s tenure. Landing four-star WR/TE Michael Ezeike on signing day was huge for the Bruins because he could be perfect for Kelly’s offense. There’s a ton of talent in this class on both sides of the ball and four-star QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson could be special.
The Bad: In-state recruiting lacked, mainly because of USC and other Pac-12 programs dipping in and landing top players. UCLA landed only two of the top 34 prospects in the state. Winning more recruiting battles in Los Angeles will be crucial if UCLA can become a Pac-12 contender and a national power.
Arizona State - No. 5 in Pac-12, No. 36 nationally
The Good: A lot of questions surrounded just how well Herm Edwards would recruit in Year 1 and there was reason for worry all the way up to signing day because the Sun Devils did not have a lot of traction. Then Wednesday came and Arizona State was one of the busiest teams in the Pac-12 with commitments from eight players. It was an excellent finish for the Sun Devils, who loaded up at positions of need.
The Bad: As has been an issue for years, Arizona State does not do a good enough job recruiting in-state talent. This recruiting cycle none of the top 10 players in the state ended up with the Sun Devils and only one player from Arizona is on the signee list. The 2019 class is strong in the state so the Sun Devils have to make more of an impact there.
Utah - No. 6 in Pac-12, No. 38 nationally
The Good: The Utes did an excellent job down the stretch locking up top players from three-star defensive linemen Jackson Cravens, Paul Maile, Tennessee Pututau and Tevita Fotu to going into Arizona and stealing four-star WR Solomon Enis, who was also high on Penn State (where his father played) and ASU. Four-star quarterback Jack Tuttle could be a star in the making and two-star Thomas Yassmin is a rugby star who could emerge as a football phenom.
The Bad: The theme continues. In-state recruiting was lackluster for the Utes and that cannot happen because there is tremendous talent at home and Utah needs to lock the state down to compete for conference titles. Sewell went to Oregon. Four-star DE Cameron Latu went to Alabama. In a surprise move, four-star OL Junior Angilau picked Texas over Utah and others. None of the top five players in the state picked Utah but three others chose Pac-12 programs.
Cal - No. 7 in Pac-12, No. 43 nationally
The Good: The Golden Bears did not make any splashes on or around signing day but coach Justin Wilcox and his staff addressed needs at numerous positions including running back, defensive end and linebacker, among others. Will Craig is a stout offensive lineman, WR Nikko Remigio is great in space and Cal will find linebackers in this class who can star in the Pac-12.
The Bad: At one point or another, Cal had four-star quarterback Adrian Martinez or three-star QB J.T. Shrout committed in the class. The Golden Bears finished with no QBs signed and that could be a worry because there were a lot of great ones in the West this recruiting cycle.
Washington State - No. 8 in Pac-12, No. 45 nationally
The Good: Four-star quarterback Cammon Cooper put up huge numbers in high school and could be a perfect fit in coach Mike Leach’s offense. Plus, the Cougars went to Texas for a four-star WR in Drue Jackson and reinforced Wazzu’s explosive offense by loading up with talented receivers who could shine early.
The Bad: Maybe more than any team in the conference because of the system it runs, recruiting rankings aren’t a huge factor for Washington State but landing only two players from the state of Washington and only two four-stars could be concerning. To beat the Huskies and compete for conference championships, higher-level recruits will be needed.
Colorado - No. 9 in Pac-12, No. 51 nationally
The Good: The Buffaloes’ coaching staff knows what they’re doing from an evaluation standpoint as to which players fit their system and they answered a lot of needs. High three-star wide receivers Dylan Thomas and Daniel Arias are both downfield threats. In-state recruit Dimitri Stanley could definitely be a future star.
The Bad: This is the first time since 2015 that Colorado has not landed any four-star prospects. The Buffaloes and Oregon State are the only two teams in the conference to not reach the elite-level recruits and with goals of returning to the conference championship, that could be a roadblock. There is a lot of talent in this class but to compete with teams across the Pac-12 that are getting better it could be a serious challenge.
Arizona - No. 10 in Pac-12, No. 53 nationally
The Good: Coach Kevin Sumlin’s first task was to make sure Arizona’s recruiting class did not disintegrate when former coach Rich Rodriguez was fired. He did just that and kept four-star DE Adam Plant, three-star QB Jamarye Joiner and many other high-level recruits in the class. The Wildcats did a nice job loading up, especially on the defensive line.
The Bad: Sumlin was hired in mid-January and his first order of business was to lock up the existing Arizona commits. Mission accomplished. But with his SEC chops, it was surprisingly quiet for the Wildcats leading up to signing day and no top-end players flipped to the Pac-12 school. More than anything, Sumlin will start to be judged on how Arizona recruits in the 2019 class and beyond.
Stanford - No. 11 in Pac-12, No. 63 nationally
The Good: Even if Tanner McKee is going on a two-year Mormon mission, his signing is huge for Stanford’s stability at quarterback for years to come. The four-star has special ability and could be a major addition in the coming years. Getting three-star Jack West means the Cardinal have one of the best QB duos in the class. Four-star WR Michael Wilson could be excellent in Stanford’s offense.
The Bad: Ranked as the second-to-last class in the conference, Stanford did not deliver with five-stars and high-level four-star prospects like in recent years. The best player in the class won’t be available for at least two years and there isn’t a ton of star power in the class.
Oregon State - No. 12 in Pac-12, No. 72 nationally
The Good: A lot of top commits were pushing for interim Cory Hall to become coach for the Beavers but when that didn’t happen, first-year coach Jonathan Smith did an excellent job of locking up the class and finishing well close to signing day. Three-star Matthew Tago is a talented two-way player and three-stars such as Deshon Wilson, Isaac Hodgins and others should be nice additions.
The Bad: Losing four-star quarterback Spencer Petras to Iowa late in the recruiting process hurt because he could be special. In-state recruiting remains an issue as well as none of the top 10 prospects from Oregon signed with the Beavers. That will need to be addressed as both Oregon and Oregon State struggled in that area.