Rivals.com analyst Adam Gorney ranks the Pac-12's 2012 recruiting classes by position.
Pac-12's best by position
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It was a close call with USC trying to sway four-star Cyler Miles on signing day, but Washington landed the Denver (Colo.) Mullen standout along with four-star Jeff Lindquist from nearby Mercer Island, Wash. Immediately the Huskies have two players that could contribute for years, especially Miles, who shined at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and can pass and run.
Oregon also signed two quality quarterbacks in Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie. The four-star Rodrigues is coming off a broken leg but will fit in perfectly in coach Chip Kelly's offense. Lockie put up huge numbers in his senior season. Zach Kline could compete for immediate playing time at Cal. Arizona was the only other Pac-12 team to sign two quarterbacks.
After a 3-10 season in 2011, Colorado needs players that can make things happen all over the field and the Buffaloes did a quality job loading up at running back by signing four players. Three-star Davien Payne and Terrence Crowder are big, punishing backs and Donta Abron could be the sleeper in this class. Clay Norgard is expected to play fullback and he's a tough, hard-nosed player.
Washington State did a nice job signing three running backs and they're all homerun hitters. The best of the bunch is Robert Lewis from South Gate (Calif.) South East, who has earned the nickname The Human Joystick for his ability to make people miss. Lewis is small but electric and should fit in well in coach Mike Leach's system. Arizona State landed four-star junior college recruit Marion Grice and he could be an immediate contributor.
For all the talk about how Cal's recruiting class was going to fall apart once coaches Tosh Lupoi and Eric Kiesau left for Washington shortly before signing day, the Golden Bears did a solid job keeping things together for the most part and finishing strong, especially at wide receiver. Four-star Bryce Treggs is the best player in the class and keeping him from USC or UCLA was crucial. Four-stars Darius Powe and Kenny Lawler are not far behind Treggs and three-star Chris Harper is an outstanding player who catches everything thrown his way.
USC signed only two receivers but getting five-star Nelson Agholor from Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep was huge. He could be a nice addition to an outstanding receiving corps. UCLA reloaded at the position under first-year coach Jim Mora by signing five receivers. Jordan Payton flipped to the Bruins on signing day and four-star Javon Williams, who has great size, picked UCLA as well. Three-star Kenneth Walker could be a sleeper in the Bruins' class.
Four-star prospects Evan Baylis and Pharaoh Brown signed with the Ducks and coach Chip Kelly said those were the two tight ends Oregon targeted throughout the process. Both are outstanding players and Brown earned even more recognition after playing so well at the Offense-Defense Bowl.
In-state rival Oregon State also signed two quality tight ends in four-star Caleb Smith and three-star Dustin Stanton. Keeping Smith was crucial, especially since Arkansas and UCLA were trying to poach him close to signing day. Colorado loaded up at this position as well by signing three three-stars in Vincent Hobbs, Sean Irwin and Austin Ray. Four-star Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick considered other programs but signed with USC and it could pay off in the coming years. No tight end is more physically gifted than him.
Offensive line was the biggest position battle in the Pac-12 and the Cardinal won out by landing five-stars Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy. Four-stars Joshua Garnett, Nick Davidson, Brandon Fanaika and Graham Shuler along with three-star Johnny Caspers gives Stanford one of the best offensive line signing classes in recent memory in the Pac-12. Murphy was huge for Stanford because USC put the pressure on leading up to signing day.
USC finished second in the Pac-12 rankings but its class is incredibly good as well. The Trojans landed five-stars Zach Banner and Jordan Simmons along with four-star Max Tuerk, who shined at the Army Bowl. Oregon State loaded up by signing seven linemen led by four-star guard Isaac Seumalo. Utah signed the most out of any team in the conference - eight - with four-star Cedrick Poutasi leading the way.
The Bruins signed only one defensive tackle but getting five-star Ellis McCarthy from Monrovia, Calif., was huge for UCLA's program. He had been committed to Cal but once Lupoi left for Washington, McCarthy de-committed and looked elsewhere. USC pursued him but UCLA was a better fit and he landed there. McCarthy is one of the top prospects the Bruins have signed in years.
Utah did a nice job getting four-star junior college recruit Visesio Salt plus two three-stars in the class. Arizona State and Colorado each signed four players. All four for the Sun Devils are three-star prospects. Jaxon Hood and Milo Jordan are incredibly active inside and Mike Pennel and Jake Sheffield are junior college transfers who will add depth.
The Ducks finished with the top class at this position because they signed five players, led by three four-stars in Arik Armstead, Alex Balducci and DeForest Buckner. Balducci was especially good at the Army Bowl and Armstead, who could also shine at offensive tackle, had his moments in San Antonio. Three-star Terrence Daniel has impressive film and two-star Cody Carriger, out of Butte, Mont., could be a special player that no one really knew about. His athleticism is off the charts.
Stanford was the only team in the Pac-12 to sign a five-star defensive end in Aziz Shittu, who was impressive at the Army Bowl. Four-star Luke Kaumatule is another nice piece in Stanford's class. USC signed two four-stars in junior college transfer Morgan Breslin and Leonard Williams out of Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland. Breslin and Williams could be big-time players down the road.
USC was the only Pac-12 program to land two four-star linebackers in Jabari Ruffin and Scott Starr and both are talented players. Each had about 100 tackles in their senior seasons and both fly around the field looking to make plays. The Trojans continue to stockpile linebackers and both Ruffin and Starr should have quality careers at USC.
The Sun Devils got four three-star commits at the position, including Long Beach (Calif.) Poly teammates Salamo Fiso and Matthew Rowe. Fiso was especially impressive during his senior season for one of the biggest powerhouse programs in Southern California but Rowe wasn't too far behind, either. Stanford, Cal, Oregon and UCLA also landed one four-star linebacker in the class.
Washington pulled off a major coup when it flipped five-star safety Shaq Thompson away from Cal because the Sacramento (Calif.) Grant was the top-rated player in the state of California. Thompson proved at the Army Bowl that he can be an instant-impact player and he should get a chance to play from Day 1. The Huskies also landed four-star cornerback Brandon Beaver from Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Flipping Cleveland Wallace from Oregon State was also big for the Huskies.
USC was the only Pac-12 school to sign three four-star defensive backs in Gerald Bowman, Kevon Seymour and Devian Shelton. Bowman could be a star coming from the junior college ranks and Seymour impressed at the Army Bowl. Shelton received a late offer and almost immediately jumped on it. UCLA and Colorado got two four-star prospects each.
UCLA pulled out a major recruiting victory when it landed four-star athlete Devin Fuller late in the recruiting process out of Old Tappan, N.J. The Bruins also landed three-star athletes Kenny Orjioke out of Georgia and Chandler, Ariz., standout Paul Perkins, who will probably play running back.
Washington also landed a four-star in Jaydon Mickens and two three-stars in Kendyl Taylor and Erich Wilson. All three will probably end up on offense and that should be a major boost to the Huskies. Mickens shined in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and Taylor is a surprisingly quick running back/wide receiver who can make things happen.
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