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Pac-12 Spotlight: Winners and losers from 2021 recruiting cycle

Both National Signing Days for the class of 2021 are now complete, and while there may still be a recruitment or two ongoing that involves Pac-12 programs, the script for this class is pretty well complete. We look back over the strangest of recruiting years, and declare winners and losers for the conference.



RELATED: Big Ten winners and losers | SEC storylines | ACC winners and losers | Top QB classes | Top RB classes | Top WR classes | Top TE classes | Five programs that improved the most in the team rankings | Five that regressed

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series



Mario Cristobal

Ty Thompson
Ty Thompson

Cristobal has been responsible for three full recruiting classes at Oregon and he’s finished No. 1 in the Pac-12 team rankings all three times. The 2020 recruiting class was arguably his best by far and absolutely loaded, especially at linebacker. But 2021 was back with a vengeance as Oregon landed five-star quarterback Ty Thompson, five-star offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia and many others.

Oregon was the only program in the conference with multiple five-star signees. The Ducks also tied USC with 16 four-stars. Without ever seeing Avante Dickerson in person, Oregon landed the four-star DB from Omaha, despite him living about an hour from Nebraska’s campus. On and on it goes for the Ducks as they are recruiting at an incredible level.



The future of USC's defense

Raesjon Davis
Raesjon Davis (

Five-star Korey Foreman is the headliner but USC’s defensive haul in the 2021 class was outstanding at all three levels. It was bolstered by the late addition of four-star linebacker Raesjon Davis, who had been committed to LSU for nearly a year.

Defensive back was also loaded for the Trojans, as five of them were added – all four-stars. That group was led by Los Angeles Loyola’s Ceyair Wright and Prophet Brown, who has star potential written all over him.



UCLA, for many reasons

Devin Kirkwood
Devin Kirkwood

After Oregon and USC, there is a dramatic drop-off but UCLA had a strong showing in the 2021 class and the Bruins’ third-place finish in the conference is the best since 2016. UCLA beat out USC late for Devin Kirkwood, who was seriously thinking about flipping to the Trojans. The Bruins landed former Michigan commit Quintin Somerville while four-star Tiaoalii Savea is a two-way standout who brings a physical nature to the game.

The Bruins also hit the jackpot in the transfer portal when former four-star Zach Charbonnet left Michigan and decided on UCLA over USC and others. His physical running style and playmaking ability will be a welcome addition in Westwood.



Washington ... but barely

Sam Huard
Sam Huard (

The Huskies signed a small class of just 15 players so they were never going to be in the hunt for the team recruiting title in the Pac-12. But Washington landed some talented players led by five-star quarterback Sam Huard.

This was also arguably the best class in Washington state history with three five-stars and it’s unlikely the other two end up with the Huskies as receiver Emeka Egbuka signed with Ohio State and defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau has Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon and USC as his front-runners.

This was a huge chance to load up and while Washington pieced together a strong class, it missed on the elite in-state prospects.




Those programs waiting on J.T. Tuimoloau

J.T. Tuimoloau
J.T. Tuimoloau (

Tuimoloau is a phenomenal defensive line prospect who could play on the edge or could move inside in some packages. He’s a five-star prospect with tremendous athletic ability (Washington also offered him in basketball). But only one program can get him and everyone might have to wait until at least April.

The Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic standout wants to take visits before making his decision and that won’t happen for months so Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon and USC will have to sit and wait for months … and then three of those programs will end up disappointed anyway.


Parity in the conference

Stanford signee Aaron Armitage
Stanford signee Aaron Armitage

Oregon and USC had the best Pac-12 classes by far and the point differential between the second-place Trojans and third-place UCLA Bruins was more than 1,100 points. The entire remaining 10 teams in the conference had just 21 four-star signees and only Washington signed another five-star prospect. Five teams (Washington State, Stanford, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon State) had either one or no four-stars at all.