Recruiting Trends: Who is up, down and holding steady in the Pac-12?
Recruiting trends are always interesting to follow especially for programs that don’t end up getting as much attention as the blue bloods. This week we will look at each Power Five conference and discover some teams trending up, down and remaining remarkably consistent. We continue today with the Pac-12.
Recent class rankings: No. 50, No. 38, No. 37
Overview: The Sun Devils may have received some ridicule for their hire of Herm Edwards after the 2017 season, but the ex-NFL coach surprised many by putting a winning product on the field and more than holding his own in the recruiting world by bringing in the No. 37 class in the country. Edwards helped his recruiting situation by bringing in an energetic coaching staff that has quickly built strong relationships with high school coaches and players throughout the West Coast. With the ridicule long gone, many eyes are now on Tempe to see if Edwards and the Sun Devils can take things to the next level.
Farrell’s take: Edwards made some very smart hires and won his share of battles for prospects such as Stephon Wright and Jayden Daniels and inherited a bit of talent as well. The 2020 cycle is off to a slow start with only a few commitments, but we have learned not to count out Edwards.
Recent class rankings: No. 75, No. 44, No. 38
Overview: While Justin Wilcox is only 12-13 in his first two seasons in Berkeley, recruiting has made a marked improvement since his arrival. Finishing 7-6 and making a bowl game in 2018 definitely helped the process, but the jump from No. 75 in 2017, to No. 44 and most recently No. 38 is an impressive step in the right direction for the Golden Bears.
Farrell’s take: The 2017 class was a small group led by Elijah Hicks and Chase Garbers but 2018 and 2019 brought much more depth to the program. The 2019 haul was a very deep class with 23 commitments and many of them being highly regarded three-stars. Cal has nine commitments so far in 2020 without any four-stars, but its class includes some very talented prospects such as Muelu Iosefa and Jeremiah Hunter. Wilcox has been doing a solid job.
Recent class rankings: No. 18, No. 13, No. 7
Overview: While the Willie Taggart experiment in Eugene did not last very long, his time on campus helped produce an impressive recruiting class, which new coach Mario Cristobal further improved on in 2018 and 2019. Now the positive buzz is back inside the program, which should only further help recruiting for the Ducks. And while Oregon is still focusing the majority of its efforts on the West Coast, the Ducks have continued to branch out to other parts of the country, like Texas and Florida, to find players that fit their needs.
Farrell’s take: Taggart did a very good job, but Cristobal has taken things to the next level for Oregon and the 2019 class was one of the best in the program’s history. Kayvon Thibodeaux was a rare five-star addition for the Ducks and really helped the program gain notice at the end of last year. The 2020 cycle is going very well, led by commits from Florida, California, Maryland, Oklahoma, Washington and Hawaii. If the Ducks keep this up, they will win the Pac-12 sooner than later.
Recent class rankings: No. 21, No. 19, No. 44
Overview: With the hiring of Chip Kelly, many expected UCLA to make a steady rise to the top, both on the field and in recruiting. However, that has yet to happen since his hire in 2017. The Bruins finished 3-9 in Kelly’s first season, while recruiting took a tumble from No. 19 to No. 44 from 2018 to 2019. This was a surprise to many, as it was expected that recruiting would flourish, even if the on-field product took a little time to develop. Now the 2019 season looms large, as the Bruins need a winning season to try and sell an improving program to recruits.
Farrell’s take: Jim Mora was a solid recruiter but he couldn’t get the job done on the field. Kelly hasn’t done a good job recruiting at all yet for UCLA and his strategy is confusing as he doesn’t seem to be targeting the best players in state consistently. The 2020 cycle hasn’t been much better, although quarterback Parker McQuarrie is a good one and comes from Kelly’s old stomping grounds in New Hampshire. But only three commitments? That’s not great.
Recent class rankings: No. 25, No. 37, No. 46
Overview: This is a difficult one to understand, as the Utes have gone 44-22 over the last five seasons and 4-1 in bowl games during that stretch. However, they have seen their last three recruiting classes dip from No. 25 to No. 37 and most recently to No. 46. While this is somewhat against the norm, Kyle Whittingham has proven himself to be a winner in Salt Lake City. So while there may be some disappointment with recruiting results, there is no reason to believe that the Utes will not continue to produce a winning product on the field.
Farrell’s take: Utah hasn’t taken advantage of its winning ways in recent years but the Utes are up against it recruiting out of their home state. Wide receiver Darren Jones and offensive lineman Sataoa Laumea led the class last year, but the group was not loaded with high-level talent. But Whittingham develops talent very well and many three-stars end up playing better than their ranking. Utah's 2020 efforts are off to a very slow start however.
Recent class rankings: No. 6, No. 3, No. 19
Overview: When reviewing the final numbers for the class of 2019 team recruiting standings, USC finishing at No. 19 may have been the biggest eye-opener of them all. A consistent member of the top-10, if not top-five, the Trojans' fall to No. 19 further verified their disappointing recent play on the field. This disappointment has resulted in some uncertainty regarding Clay Helton’s future, which has only added to the issues with recruiting. Marked improvement on the field in 2019 should quickly alleviate many of these concerns and issues, but are the Trojans and Helton capable of this?
Farrell’s take: USC would be ranked much higher had Bru McCoy and Chris Steele, both five-stars, been factored into the equation, but there is still no excuse for the Trojans to be ranked outside the top-10. Helton is under fire and even with quarterback Bryce Young committed, 2020 is off to a very slow start.
Recent class rankings: No. 23, No. 15, No. 16
Overview: As occasionally happens with West Coast programs, it likely sailed under the radar that Washington has established itself as one of the top recruiting teams in the country over recent years. Maintaining this is the key, and the Huskies seem to have accomplished that with classes at No. 23, No. 15 and No. 16 during the last three years. The Huskies have taken their winning on the field and translated it to recruiting success. They have continued to experience great success in the Northwest, while also dipping into California and grabbing an increasing amount of elite talent from the Golden State.
Farrell’s take: There’s a reason why Washington has become the class of the Pac-12 in recruiting and that’s because of very consistent recruiting efforts. The Huskies have done a very good job in California as USC and UCLA have struggled and that’s led to some dynamic playmakers choosing UW. The 2020 class is off to a slow start, but quarterback Ethan Garbers and tight end Mark Redman are excellent four-stars additions from California.