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Conference breakdown: The alpha dog of every Pac-12 class

In every recruiting class there is at least one prospect who rallies others to join them, and that is the case this year in Pac-12 recruiting. Here is a look at the “alpha” among the programs and why that recruit is so important moving forward.

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What makes him special: Johnson is not a big talker but he carries a lot of weight when it comes to his commitment because not only is he the second-highest ranked prospect in Arizona's class, but he’s also the teammate of five-star receiver Joseph Lewis. The four-star, who will almost certainly play cornerback for the Wildcats, is super talented and good enough to start from day one. Lewis is going to take an official visit to Tucson and if that Los Angeles Hawkins pipeline opens up, there are plenty of top prospects in 2018, 2019 and beyond who could look at the Wildcats.


What makes him special: It was a big loss for Arizona State and many other programs when four-star quarterback Ryan Kelley committed to Oregon early in the recruiting process. But in recent months, the four-star quarterback flipped to the Sun Devils and it could be a huge factor with a lot of in-state undecided prospects. Some of the best recruits in the state of Arizona have still not made their decisions. With a quarterback in place, Kelley could be a big deciding factor down the road, especially for some of the skill position players.


What makes him special: Hawkins is an outgoing, talkative person who could get in the ear of many top prospects in Southern California and convince them that playing for Cal might be the right decision. He’s also linked with a bunch of B2G prospects – one of the top 7-on-7 teams in the state – so that could play a factor as well. With three-star QB Chase Garbers locked in, selling the Golden Bears’ offense to receivers and playmakers should not be all that difficult.


What makes him special: Lytle committed to the Buffaloes in recent weeks and it could be a big deal for many reasons. First, the three-star quarterback has a good arm and under the right coaching could really emerge as a steal in this class. Secondly, he plays at Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, which always produces players, and with the Elite Athletes 7-on-7 team, one of the best in the area. With his personality and likability, Lytle could do some recruiting work with top recruits in Southern California to get them to Colorado and start something special.


What makes him special: Lenoir is not all that outgoing or talkative but his commitment to the Ducks is crucial with prospects in California and could help Oregon land more players from that talent-rich state. Lenoir’s teammate is four-star linebacker Rahyme Johnson, who’s still waiting for an Oregon offer, and Lenoir is friends with many top recruits in the area. Another important member of Oregon’s class is four-star OL Alex Forsyth, teammate of undecided four-star DB Elijah Molden.


What makes him special: Although Morris is not a lineman, there are plenty of top players at those positions in the Pacific Northwest this recruiting cycle. Since Morris is one of the best in the area, he could carry some pull, especially when it comes to convincing players where to go during official visits. Morris turned down other Pac-12 programs to play for Oregon State and he can work on convincing others to do the same.


What makes him special: Mills might live across the country in Georgia, but currently the Cardinal have as many commits from that state as they do from California. With Mills in the fold, playmakers and wide receivers across the country can be confident in Stanford’s offense for years to come. It’s no problem recruiting offensive linemen and running backs at Stanford. Because Mills is such an outstanding quarterback, receivers will definitely give the Cardinal a closer look, too.


What makes him special: Five-star defensive end Jaelan Phillips is also important in this area, but four-star DE Hunter Echols is super active on social media, seems to interact more with top prospects and could have the ear of many of them when it comes to decision time. Echols has taken other visits and could take other officials, but the Bruins still look good in his recruitment. He could be a driving force, especially when it comes closer to National Signing Day, to convince other top recruits in the area to join him at UCLA.


What makes him special: Yes, Carr is a soft commit and will take other official visits, but that seems to be the norm these days, so his voice when it comes to the Trojans is still important. The Fontana Summit standout could be another link to top Ground Zero 7-on-7 talent in the Inland Empire, and there are plenty of outstanding recruits in that area. USC does just fine recruiting prospects closer to the city, but Carr could be another connection to players in the IE. If Carr stays with his commitment, there are numerous top 2018 and 2019 recruits in that area who could follow him downtown.


What makes them special: The Utes only have three commitments so far in the 2017 class and the other one is a JUCO defensive tackle who probably doesn’t hold much sway with a lot of high school commitments. Utah will land its fair share of players from the area and reach into other parts of the West for top talent, but Texas is always fertile recruiting ground, so getting the McCollum brothers on board is definitely a significant first step.


What makes him special: There is an abundance of prospects in Washington’s class that could have earned this nomination, but we went with Ngata because the three-star linebacker is making four-star Addison Gumbs a top priority. Gumbs remains uncommitted and is looking at Washington, UCLA and others. Having four-stars Keith Taylor and Terrell Bynum committed could be crucial for them to work on Southern California standouts. In-state recruits Hunter Bryant and Connor Wedington are undoubtedly working on four-star Salvon Ahmed and others closer to home.


What makes him special: The Pacific Northwest is loaded along the offensive line this recruiting cycle and Neville could be in charge of convincing some of those top prospects to join him in Pullman. He’s outgoing and talkative, so Neville shouldn’t have a problem working some of those guys to at least visit in the fall. Getting receivers and playmakers there is no problem as long as Mike Leach is the coach, but Neville could add an extra layer to convince top guys to join him at Washington State.