Out-of-state teams that have excelled in recruiting California
California is prime recruiting territory for Pac-12 teams, and it’s become more common that national powers such as Clemson and Alabama, among others, have come into the state to pick off elite players.
The effect of social media has made the world smaller. Aggressive coaches across the conference have dipped into talent-rich areas for recent recruiting successes. The struggle of USC in recent years is real, and it has made an impact on recruiting, although the Trojans could be bouncing back in the 2021 class.
When evaluating the last four recruiting classes of committed or signed prospects in the 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 classes of top 20 players from each group, it’s Oregon that leads with 15. USC is next with 12, but then a few other Pac-12 schools are up high as well.
Stanford nabbed four; Cal and UCLA one each. With so many top players in the state, local recruiting has to get better if those in-state schools are going to become serious conference and national contenders,
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Here’s a look at who’s winning California when it comes to top 20 players over the last four recruiting cycles.
Top 20 California signees/commitments: 15
Coach Mario Cristobal came to Oregon a few years ago, and his recruiting philosophy was clear: He was going to go non-stop, recruit the heck out of Southern California and it has been a winning proposition so far. He dipped into the Los Angeles area for five-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and four-star ATH Mykael Wright and both have paid off in a huge way. Five-star linebacker Justin Flowe could be next as the Ducks beat out Clemson, USC and others for the hard-hitter from Upland, Calif. Northern California has also been fruitful for Oregon, with four-star quarterback Jay Butterfield joining in the 2020 class. More than any other school by far, the Ducks have hit California hard – and it’s paying off.
Farrell’s take: No surprise at all here, as Oregon has become the elite recruiting program in the Pac-12 under Cristobal. The fact that the Ducks have more top 20 players than USC is actually astonishing. And with players like Thibodeaux and Flowe, things keep getting better for the Ducks on defense, which is the key. USC stealing away super-recruiter Donte Williams could help even things up here, so keep an eye on that.
Top 20 California signees/commitments: 6
The Huskies have been hot and cold in California as they landed three key pieces in the 2020 class in four-star quarterback Ethan Garbers, four-star receiver Jalen McMillan and four-star interior offensive lineman Myles Murao in 2020. Washington went dry in the 2019 class and it doesn’t have any pledges yet in 2021, but the 2018 group was busy as well with four-star receivers Marquis Spiker and Austin Osborne and four-star defensive back Julius Irvin in the group. The transition from coach Chris Petersen to Jimmy Lake has been as smooth as possible and the state of California should continue to be fertile recruiting territory for the Huskies.
Farrell’s take: The Huskies have done well here, but the drop-off after USC and Oregon is a big one. Can new coach Jimmy Lake improve this number and get closer to the Ducks? That will be key. Consistency will also be the key because the state is very important to the Huskies' success and they need to pull a few upsets. As more East Coast teams raid the state, Washington will have a tougher time making an impact in California.
3. ARIZONA STATE
Top 20 California signees/commitments: 5
Coach Herm Edwards and his coaching staff have been aggressively recruiting California, and it’s been paying off in a big way. Four-star Merlin Robertson was a big early win for that staff and then Arizona State landed four-star quarterback Jayden Daniels, who looks to be the next breakout star in college football. The Sun Devils did an excellent job flipping four-star receiver Johnny Wilson from Oregon and landing fellow four-star WR Lavon Bunkley-Shelton in the 2020 recruiting class. Let’s also not forget four-star ATH Elijhah Badger, who could make an impact on either side of the ball. California has been great to ASU over the last four cycles.
Farrell’s take: How about Herm Edwards? I thought he’d be in over his head, and he’s doing very well in recruiting, led by associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Antonio Pierce and now former USC player Chris Hawkins (defensive backs coach). Daniels is a difference-maker and he will help draw others into the fold as he continues to develop and become a national name. Edwards has assembled a very good staff that knows California well.
T4. CLEMSON, NOTRE DAME, UTAH
Top 20 California signees/commitments: 3 each
Clemson has done an exceptional job picking off top players from California in recent years by landing the commitment of four-star receiver Beaux Collins and then signing five-star QB D.J. Uiagalelei and five-star WR Joe Ngata. Those numbers don’t account for five-star DE Korey Foreman, the No. 1 player in the 2021 class who recently backed off his Clemson pledge.
Notre Dame has landed four-star QB Tyler Buchner, four-star LB Jack Lamb and four-star DB Isaiah Rutherford.
Utah got QBs Peter Costelli and Jack Tuttle (who has transferred out), along with flipping four-star CB Clark Phillips from Ohio State last recruiting cycle, which was a big win for the Utes.
Farrell’s take: Clemson is not a surprise the way it has been recruiting lately, and Notre Dame always does well in California. Utah develops players very well, but it needs to increase this number with a weaker recruiting home turf.
NOTES: The other programs to land commits or signed players from the top 20 players in the state of California over the last four recruiting cycles are Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Texas with two each, and then one each for Alabama, Cal, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and UCLA.