Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Pac-10
The Pac-10 once again was dominated nationally by the USC class. The Trojans performed well in their own backyard and scored some solid national recruits. But the gap between the haves and have-nots really closed this season.
Stanford, UCLA, California, Arizona State, Oregon and Arizona each posted very solid recruiting classes, which should make the Pac-10 one of the most competitive leagues in the future.
Check out the breakdown of National Signing Day in the conference in a special edition of the Pac-10 Blitz.
Headliner: UCLA looks like it found its quarterback of the future with Richard Brehaut of Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos. The 6-2, 206-pounder is one of the most accurate passers in the nation and has the tools to be a great field general because of his leadership skills.
Sleeper: UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow went to Hawaii to recruit five-star linebacker Manti Te'o, and while he was there found receiver Roby Toma of Honolulu Punahou. The 5-9, 160-pounder might not be the biggest receiver, but he catches everything and has good quickness, which makes him a solid steal.
Overview: Coach Rick Neuheisel said he was going to make recruiting his No. 1 priority. Some outsiders might view the Bruins' class as second-rate behind USC, but there's no question that there is more talent heading to Westwood this season than in years past and the Signing Day switch of Randall Carroll from USC to UCLA didn't hurt. The Bruins did a tremendous job of filling needs, especially at defensive back with stars like Marlon Pollard, Stanjarivus McKay and Sheldon Price coming aboard. The offensive line class, headlined by Greg Capella and Nik Abele, will also go down as one of the best. Then there was the addition of star linebacker Todd Golper. All in all, Neuheisel deserves a tip of the hat for this effort. He has made UCLA's recruiting competitive again in L.A.
Headliner: Linebacker Shayne Skov from Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity Pawling was one of the nation's most heavily recruited linebacker prospects, and he was a great early recruiting victory for the Cardinal. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder is regarded as one of the nation's best run stoppers and should help Stanford immediately.
Sleeper: Cornerback Terrance Brown was one of only two two-star recruits to pick Stanford, but he has a very good background. The 5-11, 175-pound corner developed as a senior, starring for one of the top high school programs in California at Orange Lutheran.
Overview: Easily one of the nation's biggest surprises has to be Stanford. The Cardinal average the past three seasons was 51st in the nation, but coach Jim Harbaugh got Stanford in line to sign a top 25 class for the first time since 2003. That year Stanford finished 25th, but this year the Cardinal have done a tremendous job not only in California but also nationally. Stanford signed eight four-star players and 12 three-star recruits. The Cardinal has to expect big things from Skov, receiver Jemari Roberts and running back Tyler Gaffney.
Headliner: There is no simpler way to put it. Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro four-star defensive tackle Corey Adams was a must get for Arizona State. Not only was he a local kid who ranked in the Rivals100, but he was also at a major position of need. His ability to rush the passer should help ASU immediately.
Sleeper: Quarterback Brock Osweiler didn't grab as many national headlines as other signal-callers, mainly because he was from Montana - a spot that's hardly a recruiting hotbed. But the ASU coaches like his size (6-8, 235 pounds), his arm and athleticism. He was also heavily recruited in basketball, and he looks to be a heck of a steal.
Overview: Nobody recruits the state of Arizona like ASU. With it being a banner year of in-state targets, ASU did a tremendous job in its own backyard. The only real big miss was Kennard, who bolted for USC. In the end the majority of top in-state recruits stayed to play for the Sun Devils. Jamal Miles, Anthony Jones and Marcus Washington are all highly touted local players who joined Adams by picking ASU. The Sun Devils also did a nice job in Los Angeles, where it reeled in Osahon Irabor, one of the best defensive backs in California, and defensive tackle William Sutton, a four-star tackle from state champion Corona Centennial. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was a huge Signing Day get for the Sun Devils.
Headliner: You don't recruit junior college players to sit the bench, and Oregon fully expects four-star linebacker recruit Bryson Littlejohn to come in and make an immediate impact. The 6-foot, 235-pounder is a true headhunter who was a major recruiting victory for the Ducks over Pac-10 rivals like Cal, Arizona and Arizona State.
Sleeper: Kicker Jackson Rice quickly emerged as one of the best in the nation. The 6-2, 195-pounder from California was in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and picked the Ducks over Washington. Kickers never get much attention, but Rice has the ability to be a weapon as a punter.
Overview: Oregon's class is very solid, but Ducks fans can't help but think about what might have been. Oregon finished second for many top prospects, including guys like quarterback Tajh Boyd, Adam Hall and Rudell Crim. But in the end, it still will go down as a very good all-around effort for the Ducks. The Ducks went hard and heavy for defensive prospects and did quite well at linebacker and defensive back. Cliff Harris has the chance to be a star for the Ducks if he can make sure he qualifies, and Littlejohn was one of the best junior college prospects in the nation. On the offensive side, the line was a major need and was addressed with quality prospects like Karrington Armstrong and Jamaal Burrell heading to Eugene.
Headliner: Running back will always be the focal point in the Cal offense, and the Bears landed one of the nation's best in San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral four-star prospect Dasarte Yarnway. The 6-0, 215-pounder is a solid between-the-tackles runner who has a nice burst, which could make him a home-run threat.
Sleeper: Offensive lineman Charles Ragland of Denver Mullen plays for one of the top high school programs in Colorado, and he emerged late in his senior season. With a big frame at 6-8 and 285 pounds, Ragland has a lot to work with, and he could lock down a tackle spot in the future.
Overview: Cal continues to chug along and produce solid recruiting classes, and the 2009 group was no different. While it was a smaller group compared to others in the conference, it definitely packs a strong punch with some solid headline recruits like two-way, four-star lineman Deandre Coleman, four-star linebacker Jarred Price, four-star quarterback Allan Bridgford and four-star cornerback Steve Williams. The Bears also did a nice job of adding high-quality offensive linemen and a great group of defensive backs.
Headliner: Landing Adam Hall was a must. Not only was he a local guy from Tucson, but he was also one of the nation's most highly coveted athletes. He should be able to help Arizona right away at safety. Getting Hall also sends a message that Arizona is still going to be a force to deal with in state.
Sleeper: Coach Mike Stoops says he thinks he got a steal with Chula Vista, Calif., three-star defensive end Taimi Tutogi. The 6-1, 260-pounder was way under the recruiting radar, but he's got a major motor and could also play on the offensive side of the ball if things don't work out at defensive end.
Overview: Stoops continues to take steps forward both on the field and in the recruiting front. While this class didn't crack the upper portion of the Pac-10, it's still one of his best all-around efforts. The group filled a lot of needs, especially at running back and linebacker. Four-star linebacker Trevor Erno has the tools to be a star, and four-star all-purpose back Daniel Jenkins should be a terror in the Arizona offense. Help was also brought in at receiver, offensive line and defensive end. In the end, this group filled needs with a lot of high quality players, which is a must if Stoops wants to keep moving forward.
Headliner: Michael Philipp was about as big as it gets for any team in the conference. The four-star guard is the No. 1-ranked player at his position and many people had him pegged for Arizona, where he has family playing. But Mike Cavanaugh did a tremendous job recruiting him and got him to head to OSU.
Sleeper: Quarterback Jack Lomax's father, Neil, was a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Phoenix Cardinals. The younger Lomax not only has the bloodlines but also the skill to be one of the biggest steals in the conference. He's got a big, big upside and a great build.
Overview: Oregon State also showed some great signs of success on the field this season, and much like Arizona, this class gets overshadowed by others in the conference. The Beavers, however, do a tremendous job of evaluating players and make sure – perhaps better than any team in the conference – that the kids they recruit fit their style of play and their way of going about things. There will be a massive influx of overall athletic ability and offensive linemen in this group. There are five athletes in this group and several of the quarterbacks recruited could also end up playing other positions. The line class will compete with the likes of UCLA as one of the best in the conference. Help was also brought in at receiver with Kevin Cummings, who is a nice steal from Crespi High School in Los Angeles.
Sleeper: Quarterback wasn't a major pressing need, but the Huskies got a good one with Keith Price of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. He's an athletic passer who has a nice arm and showed major improvement over his senior season.
Overview: Despite the bumps in the road with alleged NCAA violations, Washington made up a lot of ground late in the game under new coach Steve Sarkisian. The dismal season on the field made it tough to land a ton of blue-chippers, but Sarkisian's energy attracted a lot of attention from top prospects late, and he was able to land some quality prospects in the 11th hour. Sarkisian knew help was needed immediately so he targeted some top junior college players, including three-star punter Will Mahan. Washington tried to rally with some of the local players in state, but next year will be when we see the Huskies make an impact with top Washington talent.
Headliner: Running back Arthur Burns was a big reason why Corona (Calif.) Centennial won a CIF title and a state championship in 2008. Burns is a solid combination of size, speed and running ability. He could be the type of back who helps get the Washington State offense rolling in the future.
Sleeper: Washington State might have gotten a steal with Johnny Forzani, a 6-1, 205-pound receiver from Calgary, Alberta. After spending most of his life playing basketball, he switched to football and became one of the top players for the Calgary Colts, a scout team for the Calgary Stampeders, a team in the Canadian Football League.
Overview: The state of Washington has never been a recruiting hotbed, but if there was any year that WSU could make a move up the charts in the Pac-10 it was going to be this year. It was the second year of the program under coach Paul Wulff, and there was plenty of turmoil in Seattle as the Husky program was going through a transition. In the end, Wazzu did finish with three of the top five players in the state, but outside the state the Cougars were not able to capitalize on a lot of top-flight talent. The Cougars eventually got passed by UW after the coaching change and finished in the cellar of the conference for the third consecutive year.