The UCLA Bruins are in trouble with only eight commits just days away from National Signing Day. Can coach Rick Neuheisel convince some prospects that things are being turned around after a 4-8 season?
We break down the conference in a special edition of the Pac-12 Blitz.
The Sun Devils picked up two big commitments this week. The first was four-star center Mo Latu who chose Arizona State over Oregon, Missouri and Utah. The local prospect is rated as the second-best center nationally. The offensive line got another boost from Vivii Teofilo, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound guard, who chose ASU over Oregon State. The big piece is four-star offensive guard Cyrus Hobbi, who is expected to make his decision Friday afternoon. USC, UCLA and Arizona State are the finalists and different sources have various feelings about his destination. Either way, closing on Latu and Teofilo was important. Arizona State is running the risk of losing one of its quarterback commits, though. Four-star dual-threat standout Michael Eubank visited Utah last week and is headed to Pittsburgh this week. He'll make a final decision on his future soon after this weekend's trip.
The Golden Bears did a fantastic job of landing four-star cornerback Stefan McClure on Thursday morning. The Vista, Calif., standout has enough talent to contribute in the secondary early in his career. Despite a struggling season, coach Jeff Tedford and his staff have done another fabulous job on the recruiting trail despite losing some coaches. Getting running back Brendon Bigelow to switch from Washington was big. Landing defensive linemen Todd Barr, Jason Gibson, Mustafa Jalil, Viliami Moala and Brennan Scarlett was downright impressive. Sacramento (Calif.) Grant defensive end Puka Lopa, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly linebacker Corey Waller, a Washington commit, and Arizona defensive back pledge Travis Feeney could visit this weekend.
New head coach Jon Embree inherited a tough situation in Boulder. The Buffs do not have any four-star commits and do not appear to be on the verge of signing any for the second year in a row. They have received a rash of pledges over the past week and a half from players that were little known at the time such as two-star prospects Gregory Henderson, Jermaine Clark and Rashad Hall all this past weekend. They are one of three finalists for Hawaii defensive end Juda Parker after he visited as well. USC offensive guard commit Marcus Martin is scheduled to visit this weekend and, with Colorado heading to the Pac-12 next year, they should be able to recruit California prospects such as him a lot easier now.
Any class with Colt Lyerla leading the way is a good one because the Hillsboro, Ore., athlete is a game-changer who was incredibly impressive at the Army game. Wide receiver Devon Blackmon and defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu are two of Southern California's finest players. Both decided to leave for the Ducks. There's an outside shot Oregon could land McKeesport, Pa., prospects Delvon Simmons, a defensive tackle, and defensive end Branden Jackson. Both have showed high interest in the Ducks. Oregon has closed strong on wide receiver B.J. Kelley, defensive end Lake Koa-Ka'ai and South Carolina defensive end Roderick Byers, three big pickups in the final weeks of recruiting. Don't forget too that the Ducks already have four-star defensive end Jared Ebert as an early enrollee.
Oregon State is one program that could have a big finish especially since three-star guard Akeem Gonzales has stated the Beavers are No. 1 at this point. He has one visit left to Nebraska this weekend and then he'll make his decision but it's looking good for Oregon State here. Wide receiver Michael Thomas, who dominated in Southern California with 86 catches for 1,656 yards and 21 touchdowns this season, is also high on Oregon State but might be waiting for other offers down the stretch. Other possibilities include Sacramento (Calif.) Grant teammates Puka Lopa and Darryl Paulo going as a package deal. The word during Army week was that the other Grant stars - James Sample and Viliami Moala - would all go to Corvallis but that is not expected to happen now.
Losing Jim Harbaugh definitely had a toll on Stanford's recruiting class - mainly four-star running back Amir Carlisle and four-star linebacker Anthony Sarao headed for USC - but new coach David Shaw has done a commendable job keeping the Cardinal class together. Translation: There wasn't a mass exodus which could have happened. Four-star defensive tackle Todd Peat Jr. has eliminated Stanford and four-star running back Remound Wright is expected to visit Iowa this weekend so Shaw isn't out of the woods just yet. Running back Jordan Perkins has already de-committed and is headed to Northwestern. As of this past weekend, commit J.B. Salem and Anaheim (Calif.) Servite four-star recruit Troy Niklas were still waiting on admissions. Niklas would be a big pickup although USC and Notre Dame are coming on strong. There is some good news, though, because Stanford has apparently moved way up for Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake cornerback Ronnie Harris.
The Bruins are in trouble with only eight commits. There's no other way around it except there are some issues at UCLA with a new offensive coordinator - former coordinator Norm Chow is now at Utah - and no defensive coordinator. This doesn't invoke a lot of confidence for recruits making their decisions closer to Signing Day. The one saving grace is that coach Rick Neuheisel is a fantastic recruiter who might be able to convince some prospects that things are being turned around after a 4-8 season. Four-star wide receiver Devin Lucien was expected to meet with new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson this week. By all accounts, Lucien had a great visit to UCLA last weekend but has Miami, Colorado, Utah and Arizona State pushing as well. Four-star offensive guard Cyrus Hobbi is expected to pick USC, UCLA or Arizona State on Friday afternoon. Torian White is visiting USC this weekend so that's something to watch.
From what we can gather, the Trojans are loading up in this recruiting class so if they have to deal with USC sanctions later on USC will have an already loaded roster. There have been some curious names taken in this class - especially some junior college players - but loading up is the key to this class. Like always, USC has another top-notch class. Wide receiver George Farmer and cornerback/running back De'Anthony Thomas were outstanding at the Army game. Quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek each had impressive all-star performances. Other prospects are doing well. And the Trojans could close strong, believe it or not. Gardena (Calif.) Serra teammate Marqise Lee is considered a lean to USC. The Trojans might even steal four-star lineman Aundrey Walker and some others. Landing Carlisle and Sarao after Harbaugh left Stanford were two big pickups. USC is not done in this recruiting class - not by a long shot.
Utah took a hit when three-star dual-threat quarterback Derrick Brown decided to switch to Washington last week but the Utes are going after a couple quarterbacks - including four-star Michael Eubank - so the offense should be just fine. Hiring Norm Chow from UCLA to be the offensive coordinator should be a lot for Utah's offense and should also help in recruiting. Keeping running back Harvey Langi in-state was crucial because Stanford and many others held a lead for him at one point or another. There isn't a lot of room left for Utah but coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff have done a good job of mixing in junior college talent - defensive back Keith McGill and running back John White especially - with top high school players. Keeping Ryan Henderson and maybe adding Junior Pomee in these final days will be something to watch.
Washington doesn't have a lot of room left but the Huskies have done pretty much all the work that needed to be done. They took a shot at West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett but word is he has dropped the Huskies and will look elsewhere. That's fine because last weekend former Utah pledge Derrick Brown, a three-star recruit who can run and throw, committed to Washington. The biggest news for Washington came earlier this week when Spokane (Wash.) Gonzaga Prep running back Bishop Sankey finally flipped from Washington State to the Huskies. It's a huge pickup. Locking up the top in-state players - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams and Danny Shelton - was important. Keeping cornerback Kameron Jackson locked up after he considered Cal and others was crucial as well.
The Cougars have 23 commits but are still ranked last in the Pac-10 by Rivals.com because they have no four-star commits. Losing Sankey earlier this week really put a dent in their recruiting class. There are some bright spots though. Tight end Mansel Simmons recently picked up an offer and the three-star has to be considered a lean to Washington State. Logan Mayes is another bright spot.