football Edit

Recruits react to Friday's Pac-12 exodus

Naki Tuakoi
Naki Tuakoi

Conference realignment hit the turbo boosters in recent days with the Pac-12 as we have known it disintegrating before our very eyes.

Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will be off to the Big 12. Oregon and Washington will join USC and UCLA in the Big Ten.

Left holding the bag are the commits to the four remaining schools that have not found a future conference home yet, or the places that will be remaining as the Pac-12 tries to piece together its conference again with Mountain West schools or others from various affiliations.


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It’s all very confusing, frustrating and concerning.

Those were the words used by prospects committed to Cal, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington State late Friday and Saturday after the news broke that all the other conference programs would be exiting stage left soon.

What these recruits also exuded was loyalty. Not one of the more than two dozen respondents said they were decommitting. But they certainly want to know what’s happening - and the sooner, the better.

“It’s definitely not a good thing to hear that the Pac-12 is falling apart, not even for the athletes who play in the Pac-12, but for all the history of the Pac-12 that will never be the same,” Oregon State offensive line pledge David Abajian said.

“My commitment to Oregon State was based on the culture and coaching staff there which I loved, but also being able to play P5 football was something I was looking forward to. I would say it doesn’t change too much about my commitment as of now, because I can’t tell what the future will hold or what conference Oregon State will end up in.”

Cal quarterback commit EJ Caminong said: “It is a little concerning due to the fact it’s so uncertain, and all I can do in my position is watch things play out, but at the same time that’s what it is, something no one can really control except the schools themselves. Even then it doesn’t change my commitment or feeling with Cal.”

The Stanford commits were particularly steadfast and devoted to their commitments. Naki Tuakoi said it doesn’t change a thing for him. Kahlil House said he’s “not really concerned” about the situation but he is paying attention while staying committed.

EJ Caminong
EJ Caminong

Brandon Nicholson called the situation “very chaotic and also surprising to see” but he remains happily pledged to the Cardinal. Sam Mattingly said it’s “all a bit overwhelming” but that he trusts Stanford will make the right decision. Aiden Black is locked in with Stanford and believes the school will find a way to stay in the Power Five. Same story with Jaylen’Dai Sumlin and others.

“Change and adversity will always happen as a part of life,” Stanford receiver commit Ricky Johnson said. “My commitment with Stanford is 1,000 percent. No better place for a student-athlete.”

There are plenty of faithful commits at the four schools left behind for now. Some are still very concerned.

Oregon State wide receiver commit Exodus Ayers is one of them.

“It seems like we don’t know the next move and what will happen but I trust the coaching staff and Oregon State,” Ayers said. “That’s the main thing: If they stay, then I’m good. If it’s not Power Five anymore that’s when I would start looking in another direction.

“It’s really hard to say if the demotion of Power Five happens then my dreams would be ruined and I would look for a new school.”

Cal commit Michael-Anthony Okwura shared similar trepidations.

“I am very concerned about the Pac-12 falling apart,” Okwura said. “I wanted to become a part of a conference that could uphold great competition. This has not had any impact on my commitment so far. I believe in Cal and hopefully things can change for the better in the future. If possible, Cal to the Big 12, but I know that is very slim.”

So everyone watches and waits as things happen around them. The conference is being gutted and no one knows what’s next.

“I didn’t commit to Washington State just because it was in the Pac-12, I committed because I believe no matter what happens in the future, I know Washington State is the place for me,” offensive line commit Carson Osmus said. “So if I am wearing a Pac-12 patch or a Mountain West patch or whatever it may be, It will not affect my decision.”