NSD 2019 Wrap-Up: Pac-12 superlatives
National Signing Day is in the rear-view mirror but it’s worthwhile to take one more look at which prospects could be special in the coming years. We move to the Pac-12:
HIGHEST CEILING: Josh Calvert, Washington
Overview: Calvert is an incredibly intelligent prospect who played quarterback and linebacker in high school and could be the leader of Washington’s defense in no time. The four-star prospect should be a perfect fit for the Huskies and there’s no reason to think he cannot be close to as productive as Ben Burr-Kirven, who had a mind-boggling 176 tackles this past season. After a strong showing at the Under Armour game, Calvert moved even higher in the rankings.
Farrell’s take: Calvert is a kid who always seems to be in position on defense and could be a tackling machine in college. He has instincts you can’t teach on defense and playing quarterback on offense has really helped his ability to read the play on the opposite side of the ball. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him lead the Pac-12 in tackles for a few years.
MR. VERSATILITY: Sean Dollars, Oregon
Overview: Dollars could also be used in the Fits Like A Glove category, but his versatility during his senior season at Santa Ana Mater Dei could be special for Oregon’s offense in the coming years. Ranked as the second-best all-purpose back in the 2019 class, Dollars can run between the tackles but he’s best breaking runs outside, coming out of the backfield to catch passes or even lining up in the slot and creating mismatches. He had more than 1,000 total yards in his senior year and could be special early on for the Ducks.
Farrell’s take: Oregon will line Dollars up all over the field and he will be a mismatch for most defenses if he stays healthy. He can catch the ball out of the backfield or out of the slot as he’s a very good route runner and he has excellent downfield speed. The Oregon offense is known for speed and he amps it up a bit for them.
CANNON ARM: Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
Overview: After a great week at the Under Armour game and another fantastic season, Daniels moved to the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback nationally and he should be in the running for the starting job at Arizona State. He has a serious arm that can deliver the ball all over the field as he put up 4,515 yards with 60 touchdowns and four picks in his senior year. Daniels also rushed for an amazing 1,536 yards and 16 scores as he was a massive part of Cajon’s offense. Daniels is super talented and his arm is pretty impressive.
Farrell’s take: Arizona State could have a star on its hands here as Daniels is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. He has a nice release and the ball comes out quickly and usually in a tight spiral. His ability to run is helpful, but it’s his passing ability that has us excited for his future.
MR. SANDMAN: Tuasivi Nomura, USC
Overview: Even early in his senior season, Nomura did not have many offers and was not receiving a lot of recruiting attention, but he had an outstanding year at Corona Centennial and finished with 20 offers. He picked USC late in the recruiting process and he could have a big career in the Trojans’ secondary. Nomura plays fearlessly, he flies all over the field to make hits and he’s a headhunter. If USC is looking for a spark and more intensity in the back end, Nomura could be the answer.
Farrell’s take: Noruma has a fearless attitude when it comes to hitting whether it’s in pass coverage or in run support. He’s going to be a fan favorite because he’s such a big hitter and he will improve the physicality of the USC defense, something that is in desperate need.
FUTURE NO. 1 PICK: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Overview: The only five-star signee in the entire Pac-12, Thibodeaux proved during the Under Armour week that he has rare skills as an edge rusher and he could be unstoppable for the Ducks at defensive end. The top-rated prospect in the state of California, Thibodeaux has all the physical tools to play early in Eugene, he has incredible speed off the edge and he can also play in space, so it wouldn’t be a surprise for Mario Cristobal to find a way to get him on the field early. Oregon has developed plenty of top defensive ends in recent years and Thibodeaux could be the most naturally talented of them all.
Farrell’s take: Thibodeaux has a high ceiling for sure but he’s also shown many of his abilities at the high school level. He has a great first step, very good motor and he’s long and can get after the passer. Defensive end is a premium position in the NFL, so he could go very high in the draft if he develops at Oregon and has the most upside of anyone in the 2019 class who signed with the Pac-12.
INSTANT IMPACT: Drake Jackson, USC
Overview: After an unacceptable 5-7 season at USC, every position will be for the taking and Jackson showed special abilities in his senior season where he was nearly unstoppable to block at defensive end. The high four-star prospect has exceptional size and strength, active hands and he has surprising speed off the edge as well. Jackson had dominating moments at the All-American Bowl and his mix of speed and power could be used immediately by the Trojans.
Farrell’s take: USC needs talented and physical players on the offensive and defensive line and Jackson fits the bill. He not only has speed, but he’s aggressive, works well off of contact and has an excellent bull rush. It’s hard to imagine he won’t make an impact right away.
FITS LIKE A GLOVE: Mycah Pittman, Oregon
Overview: On a Calabasas team loaded with receivers like 2020 five-star Johnny Wilson and 2020 four-star Jermaine Burton, it was Pittman who led the way with 67 receptions and he added 824 yards and 12 touchdowns. With leading catcher Dillon Mitchell gone, the Ducks will need a playmaking pass-catcher and a top target for returning quarterback Justin Herbert and Pittman fits the mold. He’s strong enough to play outside, fast enough to move inside and he could be used all over the field.
Farrell’s take: Pittman is exactly what Oregon needs in its offense because he can work outside or inside and he will be an early favorite of Herbert because of his catch radius. When he’s on, he can be tough to handle and the Ducks will expect big numbers from him.
BOOM OR BUST: Kyle Ford, USC
Overview: The boom is much more likely than the bust for Ford, who ended up No. 65 in the 2019 class, but there are some questions. First, the Orange Lutheran standout missed half of his senior season and the All-American Bowl with a knee injury. How will he bounce back from that? He’s also entering a USC offense that might be utilizing smaller receivers in space more than ever with Graham Harrell taking over as offensive coordinator. Ford is a big, physical outside presence. Ford is incredibly talented, so a big career could be ahead, but nothing is guaranteed in college football.
Farrell’s take: Will he be a focal point of the offense or just a guy they go to in the red zone and on short yardage downs? The new USC offense will be all about catch-and-run guys and Ford is more of a possession receiver, so time will tell how he figures into the mix. If they utilize his many skills, he will have a big career, but he could also get lost in the new offense.
EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES: Oregon's recruiting in California
Overview: Eleven of Oregon’s 27 signees are from the state of California and they weren’t slouches either as the Ducks landed the state’s No. 1 player in Thibodeaux along with the Nos. 10-12 players and No. 14 in four-star defensive end Mase Funa. Mario Cristobal and his staff were especially aggressive at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei and other hot spots in Southern California. If one team dominated recruiting in California this recruiting cycle, it was definitely Oregon and it could pay huge dividends in the years to come.
Farrell’s take: This won’t always happen as USC was down and who knows what UCLA was up to, but it’s still pretty impressive. Recruiting California will be key for Cristobal moving forward and this is a great start.
HIGHLIGHT MAN: Puka Nacua, Washington
Overview: The four-star receiver who flipped from USC to Washington after signing day caught 103 passes for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior season. Everyone knew the ball was being thrown his way and nobody could stop him as the athletic Nacua made many difficult catches. There is also a YouTube video floating around of Nacua dunking on a defender during his basketball season, which shows he’s an elite athlete in this class.
Farrell’s take: Watch out for Nacua in the Washington offense as he could end up being a major focal point early and often. He has great route-running ability and is a deep threat and could be a big-time steal for the Huskies.