National Letter of Intent day is almost over and boy, it was a good one for the west coast – some teams, anyway. It’s a day when fans that have played more EA Sports NCAA than actual football come together to watch 17 and 18-year old kids make crazy decisions in front of large crowds before faxing in their letter of intent. An unusual ritual? Absolutely. An important one? Even more so. This is how programs build and where the two-star player becomes a stud and a four-star never steps foot on campus and makes the “experts” look foolish in three-years time. Never the less, we have to give credit where credit is due and tear down some teams who didn’t show up this recruiting season.
We’ll be going over all the west coast teams in the next few days/weeks, but we begin by going through the Pac-12. This is just our initial standings because more student-athletes will sign in the upcoming days. Until then, here are our current standings:
1. Stanford – This team hit an absolute homerun and really shot up the boards after getting some unexpected players. They grabbed a top-five guard, center and two top-ten tackles. Guard Joshua Garnett and tackle Kyle Murphy are five-star players who will be able to anchor the line for a long time. They grabbed a lot of big boys on the offensive side, but running back Barry Sanders Jr. – yes, that Barry Sanders – will have the chance to do some great things on the farm. Defensively, the front-seven gets even better with four-star players Noor Davis (OLB) and Aziz Shittu (DT) joining the Cardinal. Safety Alex Carter pairs up with Zach Hoffpauir to create a solid tandem. Georgia native Jordan Watkins is our pick for gem of the class and will dominate at the defensive end spot.
2. USC – Despite sanctions that limited the Trojans to 15 scholarships – the NCAA allotment is 25 – USC had a truly impressive day. Seven signees are ranked in the ESPNU 150. I’ll let that settle in for a minute… Now that you’re back and realizing that USC is just doing what it always does, let’s admire the linebacking corps which includes Jabari Ruffin and Scott Starr. Both players will have the chance to keep the trend going of outstanding linebackers in LA. Matt Barkley will have some new toys with receiver Nelson Agholor and arguably the best tight end in the nation Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. The future QB will get good blocking from Jordan Simmons and Max Tuerk. To top it off, USC got one of the best JC players in the nation in Gerald Bowman. The ten scholarships could hurt depth in the future but for now it seems to be strong across the board.
3. Oregon – The Ducks get a slight edge over UCLA because they loaded up at almost every position. One-time Cal recruit Arik Armstead switched to Oregon and will star on the defensive line alongside defensive ends DeForest Buckner and Alex Balducci. The offense grabbed a lot of people and running back Byron Marshall will jump right into the mix of the offense with LaMichael James jumping to the League. QB Jake Rodrigues fits the Oregon mold very well and will be the future.
4. UCLA – The Bruins may finally find some consistently at the quarterback spot after picking up super-athlete Devin Fuller and a more traditional T.J. Millweard. They have some competition in front of them on the depth chart but Jim Mora Jr. did an excellent job getting both men in. I’ve been extremely hard on UCLA in the past and didn’t think highly of the Mora coaching selection, but he did an outstanding job in a short amount of time. The defensive signees are the most impressive and linebackers Aaron Porter and Jeremy Castro will fit in nicely in the program. The secondary got some help but the concern is how much was done on the offensive line. Not to say there isn’t a diamond in the rough here, but if you’ve seen a UCLA game in the past, you know they need to shore up the line quickly.
5. Washington – U-Dub’s hire of Tosh Lupoi has already paid dividends and the Huskies got some great players, highlighted by five-star safety Shaq Thompson. Cornerbacks Brandon Beaver and Cleveland Wallace will have a chance to step in and make some plays early to create a dynamic secondary. The story of the day for the ‘Dawks are the signings of quarterbacks Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles. Both are four-star players and both are going to create a quarterback buzz in the upcoming years and maybe one can be just like Jake Locker – note: this isn’t a good thing, Locker was highly overrated and this writer can provide plenty of stats and situations to prove it. There are a lot of three-star players after that which could create some good depth.
6. Colorado – The Buffs get the nod because they got a lot of student-athletes in and many of them will be able to step in immediately to help the program get back on track. The secondary was atrocious last year and the addition of four cornerbacks goes a long way. Yuri Wright is the stud of the group and he arrived late after some completely inappropriate Tweets scared off many of his original schools of interest. I guarantee in the War Room coaches were saying he had too much baggage but then saw the tape of last year and said, “who cares, sign him.” Shane Dillon is a tall quarterback who needs to put some meat on his bones before stepping into the spotlight but he can make an impact in the offense.
7. Utah – JC running back Kelvin York is going to be the next John White and fans should be ecstatic. Utah can get the best out of RBs and York seems to fit the mold of what they do in those parts. The offensive line improved at the tackle and center spot. QB Travis Wilson has some serious size but needs to get stronger and get some more arm power. The Utes signed four defensive ends and three undersized but fast linebackers.
8. Cal – They end up at eight, but it was a nightmare of a day for the Golden Bears. They signed some big names and recruits but lost a lot of players and only ended up with 16, only four of which are on defense. Football revolves around the QB and Cal ran away with the best one in the Pac-12 after Zach Kline sent in his NLI. Lucky for him, receivers Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, Chris Harper, and Darius Powe are all heading to the Bay Area. It wouldn’t be surprising if they were one of the more dangerous passing teams in the nation in two or three seasons. The offense filled out on offensive line but failed to get a promising running back. The defense signed two four-star players: linebacker Michael Barton and corner Cedric Dozier. Aside from that: nothing.
9. Arizona State – Todd Graham had a tough task at hand after coming in with a lot of criticism, but he pulled together a decent class with two running backs who will shine in his offense. D.J. Foster is the future and is the gem of this class. He has size, speed, character and the intelligence to play at a high level. JC transfer Marion Grice will be able to step in and put up numbers fast. Another team that loaded up on linebackers, signing three high school kids and two JC players. Overall, this class was better than I expected in Graham’s short recruiting period. The Sun Devils have four young QBs on the roster, but Graham failing to sign one of his own is bad news.
10. Oregon State – This team lucked out that the best guard in the country, Isaac Seumalo, happened to play at Corvallis High. The offense had a much better day than the defense with the addition of big offensive lineman, two tight ends, some speedy receivers and quarterback Brent Vanderveen. The defense did not do enough so hopefully there is a diamond in the rough for this team.
11. Washington State – As far as a recruiting class in Pullman goes, this one was pretty good. Add in the fact Mike Leach had limited time and didn’t get his staff into place until a few weeks ago and it looks even better. Receiver was the focal point for the offense and this speaks well to the air-raid attack Leach runs off his cocktail napkin. Gabriel Marks, Alex Jackson and Robert Lewis – who will most likely switch from RB to WR – will give new QB Austin Apodaca some help in the future. Leach has a history of turning three-star receivers into stars. Defensively, this class was linebacker heavy which is good based on how awful the run defense has been the past few years.
12. Arizona – The surprising thing out of Tucscon is the how Rich Rod failed to bring in some offensive firepower. Granted, he had a short period of time to hit the trail, but this class could be called a wash on that side of the ball. The defense had some decent signees, focusing on the front seven with highly-touted linebacker Dakota Conwell highlighting the class. They may have recruited a few more people than Wazzu, but they don’t necessarily bring as much to the table. Look for an offensive overhaul next season and for Rich Rod to get this program turned around.Tags: Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Cal Golden Bears, College football, Colorado Buffaloes, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Pac 12, Stanford Cardinal, UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans, Utah Utes, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars