Pac-12 Spotlight: Top targets as Late Signing Period approaches
CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team
MORE: Top Big Ten targets as the Late Signing Period approaches | SEC | ACC
The Late Signing Period is just a week away, and while some teams have already finished their 2019 recruiting class, others still have some very important targets out there. Take a look at each Pac-12 program's top remaining targets.
Unless Arizona has a completely unexpected surprise up its sleeve leading up to National Signing Day, the Wildcats are finished with their 2019 recruiting class with all of their players signed led by four-star receiver Jalen Curry. But Arizona is working on landing former BYU defensive lineman Tevita Mounga, who has decided to transfer from that program. Although Mounga did not put up major statistics during his career with the Cougars he has a massive frame at 6-foot-3 and 340 pounds and he could be a nice addition to the rotation.
Eno Benjamin emerged as one of the best running backs in college football this past season rushing for 1,642 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore but possibly after next year he will be off to the pros and the Sun Devils will need a replacement. That is why former USC commit Jordan Wilmore from Lawndale, Calif., has become such a top priority for Arizona State, Utah, UCLA and others. He is a talented, physically-gifted back who could take the place of Benjamin in the Sun Devils’ backfield at some point down the line.
There could be some preferred walk-on spots filled in the coming week but the Cal coaching staff has basically moved on to the 2020 recruiting class after signing 23 prospects in the early period led by four-star defensive tackle Brett Johnson and JUCO linebacker Kuony Deng. The Golden Bears’ class ranks fifth in the Pac-12. As for where Cal is focused, 2020 four-star quarterback Jay Butterfield out of Brentwood (Calif.) Liberty has emerged as the clear-cut top target in the next class.
With the coaching change from Mike MacIntyre to Mel Tucker, January has been an especially busy month for the Buffaloes as they’ve now landed sixth commitments since the New Year. Colorado’s class is filling up fast but there is at least one more major target left on the board in four-star receiver La’Vontae Shenault from DeSoto, Texas. The former Texas Tech commit’s brother, Laviska, had a tremendous year in Boulder this season so targeting another Shenault could certainly pay huge dividends.
The Ducks already have the best recruiting class in the Pac-12 by a wide margin and they’re ranked seventh in the 2019 class but Mario Cristobal and his staff could still have some irons in the fire with only days until National Signing Day. It’s highly unlikely with LSU and Alabama leading the way but Oregon is still pursuing four-star defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher. One thing that could give a team an edge down the stretch is that Sopsher wants to only play in college with his brother, Rodney, who would be coming from junior college.
A late-riser on the recruiting radar, Matavao-Poialii visited Oregon State last weekend and seemed to be highly impressed by the academics in Corvallis and the early relationship he’s building with offensive line Jim Michalczik. Those things could be playing a big role in Oregon State’s favor but Baylor, Kansas and Fresno State are also in his top four. Matavao-Poialii plans to visit Kansas this weekend and then should be ready to make his final choice.
Unlike some recent recruiting cycles, Stanford was particularly aggressive leading up to the early signing period and the Cardinal had an incredible amount of success. So much in fact that Stanford is completely done at 21 with its class and is not pursuing any other prospects leading up to National Signing Day. Running back Austin Jones, defensive ends Stephen Herron and Joshua Pakola and wide receiver Elijah Higgins lead a class that’s currently ranked fourth in the Pac-12.
Four-star tight end Mike Martinez has been committed to UCLA since June but he decided not to sign in the early period so he remains the top target for Chip Kelly and the Bruins in the closing days. The massive prospect from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei has given no serious indications of heading anywhere else so the Bruins should feel confident. Wilmore is another target to shore up things at running back and Corona (Calif.) Centennial safety/linebacker Tuasivi Nomura has emerged in recent months with UCLA, USC and others trying to land him.
USC just went through one of the more bizarre recruitments in Rivals history when Bru McCoy signed with the Trojans, enrolled for a couple weeks and then decided to transfer to Texas. It was a wild ride and Clay Helton and his staff are trying to dodge any further losses in this class. Four-star receiver Kyle Ford did not sign during the early period and that’s worrisome but it looks like USC is still in great position with him. Fellow four-star receiver Puka Nacua has been taking numerous visits in the last few weeks so his recruitment will be one to watch. USC is also trying to flip four-star defensive back and Arkansas commit Adonis Otey, who recently visited with the Trojans.
Wilmore remains a top priority for numerous Pac-12 schools after his decommitment from USC and Utah has him high on the board as well. The Utes currently have only 12 commits in the class - a conference low - and the lowest-ranked group in the Pac-12 but landing Wilmore during what could be a fast finish for the Utes would be huge. Wilmore is a skilled back who could be used in the run and pass game and after he backed off his USC pledge, Utah has paid plenty of attention to the Lawndale, Calif. standout.
Like Chris Petersen likes it, Washington was relatively drama-free and signed the vast majority of its class during the early period. There was some interest when four-star Asa Turner decided to reopen his recruitment and he’s down to the Huskies and Notre Dame now with the Irish looking like the team to beat. Washington is very much in the running for four-star linebacker Daniel Heimuli and the Huskies could be considered the team to beat after he had a great visit there recently. Alabama and others are trying to stay in the mix but finishing with Heimuli would be a nice end for Washington’s class.
Mike Leach has loaded up across the board for his system in Pullman and has done an admirable job at offensive line and defensive back - although keeping Hunter Hill in the class after he landed a USC offer this week will be huge. One position that still needs attention is along the defensive line and Montgomery (Ala.) Park Crossing standout Marcus Harris has emerged as the top target for the Cougars to polish off this class.