Five must-get prospects for West Coast programs
Commitment season is upon us and the college football world is waiting for certain dominoes to fall. Many of the nation's best prospects have been recruited for years and the teams that target certain players from an early age can't afford to miss out on players they worked this hard to sign.
Here are five players from the West that are must-get prospects for certain teams this cycle.
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OREGON: Jayden Wayne
First-year coach Dan Lanning and defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi could make a huge early statement by beating Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Miami and others and keeping the five-star defensive end from Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln home.
Wayne had a great recent visit to Eugene, he loves the coaching staff there and he could be a carbon copy of first-round NFL Draft pick Kavyon Thibodeaux, who picked Oregon over Alabama in his recruitment.
Lanning convinced five-star offensive lineman Josh Conerly from Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach in the 2022 class to pick the Ducks over numerous national programs late in the recruiting cycle. Wayne is certainly very interested in Oregon and playing in the SEC, so this is a must-get for the Ducks as Lanning establishes his recruiting bona fides in the West.
USC: Matayo Uiagalelei
It is unlikely that the four-star defensive end from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco follows his brother, D.J., to Clemson and there are plenty of others staying involved including Alabama, Georgia and Oregon. But coach Lincoln Riley is in a must-get situation when it comes to Uiagalelei and this USC class.
Uiagalelei is an athletic defensive end coming off the edge even at his size and is also a valuable asset as a pass-catching tight end in high school. Maybe even more importantly for USC is that Uiagalelei is serious about the music industry, making beats and starring in videos and what better place than Los Angeles?
If Uiagalelei is looking for the best of both worlds – a football program steeped in history and access to the entertainment industry – then the Trojans need to keep him home.
WASHINGTON: Caleb Presley
A top 12 does not really evoke much information as to where Presley could be leaning but first-year coach Kalen DeBoer needs to get the four-star cornerback from Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach to stay home. Presley likes the new Washington staff far more and that could be a huge benefit for the Huskies as his recruitment continues.
DeBoer and his staff also did something super special to Presley and his mother, who has Chiari malformation, a brain and spinal cord issue, and so when the four-star visited Washington everyone on staff had a purple ribbon on their shirts in support of Presley’s family. That gesture meant a lot.
In recent years, Washington has not kept much top talent home. DeBoer needs to change that and Presley should be a top target.
STANFORD: Walker Lyons
Ohio State, Stanford, Utah, BYU, Alabama and USC make up the top six for Lyons so there is significant competition but he is a must-get for the Cardinal for many reasons. During a visit there in early April, Lyons said Stanford is “Tight End U” and so he recognizes the importance of that position at the school and it’s by far the closest to home, about 2.5 hours away.
Stanford already has a talented four-star tight end committed in Jaden Platt and two receivers in the class so playmakers have been a focus early on for coach David Shaw in this recruiting class. The Cardinal will live without Lyons but landing a Northern California prospect of this caliber is essential for Stanford to return to Pac-12 prominence.
UCLA: Tre Edwards
Many Pac-12 teams are off to a slow start landing commitments in the 2023 class and that's normal but Edwards said Sunday that UCLA is recruiting him the hardest. Some other Pac-12 programs are poking around and that should be a huge indicator that the Bruins cannot miss on the four-star linebacker.
The Chula Vista (Calif.) Mater Dei Catholic standout is not against leaving home for college but the schools recruiting him the hardest are relatively local. He’s planning a trip to UCLA this summer and this is one where the Bruins should lock him up. Arizona and Cal should not be beating the Bruins for talented prospects who live only about two hours from campus.