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Three-Point Stance: Pac-12 superlatives, returning RBs, commits

National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance hands out Pac-12 recruiting superlatives, looks at the most productive running backs returning for next season and reviews some key recent commitments.

MORE: Comparing top QBs in NFL Draft with current recruits

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

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

1. PAC-12 RECRUITING SUPERLATIVES

Jake Garcia
Jake Garcia (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

OK, it’s time to pick back up on my series looking at 2021 recruiting by conference. We’ve done the Big Ten, SEC and ACC so now we move on to the Pac-12.

Hot Start: USC — After an embarrassing recruiting cycle in 2020, things are much better for the Trojans so far in 2021. USC is back in the national top-15 and are recruiting well locally. The Trojans have also done well out-of-state, as evidenced by luring running back Brandon Campbell from Texas.

Biggest Get: Jake Garcia, USC — Garcia is huge for USC after Bryce Young decided to flip to Alabama last year. Recruiting quarterbacks isn’t that difficult for USC, or at least hasn’t been in recent years, but Garcia sends a message to local recruits that they should follow him and stay home.

Biggest Loss: DE Korey Foreman, Clemson — This is obvious as, once again, the top prospect in the state of California has decided to go across the country to try to win a national title. Things like this must stop happening for the Pac-12 to thrive.

Slowing Down: UCLA — OK, maybe the Bruins never sped up under Chip Kelly, but is this really the level of recruiting we can expect from UCLA. Based on geography alone, the Bruins should be doing much better.

Steady Eddie: Oregon — Oregon has replaced USC as the big program in the Pac-12 for West Coast talent, but Mario Cristobal also recruits very well nationally.

As Expected: Arizona State — This is amazing to write because I was skeptical of the Sun Devils' Herm Edwards hire and his ability to recruit. Now they are in the mix for many of the region's best players and that’s become the norm.

Must Keep: DE J.T. Tuimoloau — The freakish defensive lineman from Washington needs to stay in the Pac-12 for the sake of the conference. Washington or another conference program needs to stop him from heading to Ohio State.

Out of State Grab: QB Peter Costelli, Utah — Utah just landed the talented four-star quarterback from California and this addition will jump start the Utes' class. They don’t have a great home state to pull prospects from, so they need recruiting wins like this.

In-State Keep: QB Sam Huard, Washington — Huard is a talented kid who could have played anywhere, but he decided to stay home for new coach Jimmy Lake and he has a chance to have a great career.

Surprise Start: Cal — Don’t look now but the Bears are recruiting well and are off to a quick start (by Pac-12 standards, at least) in 2021 led by Rivals100 tight end Jermaine Terry.

New Coach ‘Crootin: Jimmy Lake, Washington — Lake is a good choice to succeed Chris Petersen and will do a very good job recruiting. He’s under pressure early with in-state guys like Tuimoloua and Emeka Egbuka to try to keep home.

Hot Seat Recruiting: Clay Helton, USC — This is a big year for Helton on and off the field and recruiting must continue to improve as the bar is set so high. Ten or more wins and a top-10 class are needed.

2. THE FIVE MOST PRODUCTIVE RETURNING RUNNING BACKS

Chuba Hubbard
Chuba Hubbard (AP Images)

Stats can be misleading. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was clearly one of the best quarterbacks in the country last season, but he didn’t finish in the top-five nationally in passing yards. So how about the running backs? Here are the top five rushing leaders returning to college football and again, one of the elite backs in the country is missing. Can you figure out who?

1. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (2,094 rushing yards) — Hubbard leads the way and is an amazing talent. I’d keep an eye on Oklahoma State this season as the Cowboys could pull some upsets with the offensive skill they have. To me stats, don’t lie here as he’s the best returning running back in the country.

2. Travis Etienne, Clemson (1,614) — Many were surprised when Etienne decided to return to college football and he will help lead Clemson back to the playoff. Najee Harris (below) is slightly better, but it will be fun to watch the two of them battle it out.

3. Javian Hawkins, Louisville (1,525) — Don’t know Hawkins? You should tune in and watch as this kid is dynamic and doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Louisville has a really fun offense to watch.

4. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State (1,350) — People freaked when I didn’t include Hill, the leading returning rusher in the SEC, on my list of top-10 running backs recently. It will be interesting to see how he does in Mike Leach’s offense, but he has the talent to be dominant again.

5. Najee Harris, Alabama (1,224) — Harris is getting better and better each season and is a tremendous pass catcher as well. He could make a push for the Heisman Trophy this season.

That’s right, Oregon's CJ Verdell isn’t on here as he rushed for 1,220 yards. Does that make him less valuable that Hawkins or Hill, who play on mediocre teams who won’t impact the college football playoff? Probably not. It just shows how sometimes you can miss the big picture if you go solely off of stats.

3. RECENT COMMITMENTS THAT CAUGHT MY EYE

Jaylen Reed
Jaylen Reed (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Here are some big commitments that have happened recently and why they move the needle for these teams.

OL Raheem Anderson, Michigan — One of the best interior offensive linemen in the country, Anderson was a huge get for Jim Harbaugh in state with so many programs coming in to try to steal talent. You know the lure of being the next Cesar Ruiz was big.

ATH Jordan Moore, Duke — Moore is athletic and can play many positions, so his versatility will be huge for Duke. If he gets a first look at quarterback, we all know what David Cutcliffe can do.

QB Peter Costelli, Utah — I mentioned Costelli above so I won’t go into much detail but just know he’s a great fit for what Utah likes to do on offense.

ATH Gabe Nealy, Michigan State — Nealy could be a steal if he can play corner at his size, but his length in the secondary will help at whatever position he lands on. And this is a top talent-producing school in South Florida so good for Mel Tucker and his Southeast efforts.

DB Jaylen Reed, Penn State — Reed is active, can come up and hit and covers well so this is an important grab out of the state of Michigan for James Franklin.

ATH Zakee Wheatley, Penn State — Wheatley is a big athlete who projects to the defensive side of the ball as a safety but can also play wide receiver. This continues the momentum for Penn State in Maryland.

CB Kalen King and LB Kobe King, Penn State — The coveted twins from Michigan play for a power program and were wanted by Harbaugh and staff, so this is a nice double dip for the Nittany Lions. Kalen is the better one now but watch out for Kobe long term.

TE Roc Taylor, Tennessee — Taylor is a very athletic kid who could be a big wideout or a flex tight end and should be a matchup problem down the line.

DB Steven Ortiz, Minnesota — Ortiz is a great get from Arizona for PJ Fleck and shows his recruiting prowess nationally. Minnesota is building a team with a lot of key players from all over the country and Ortiz could be the biggest commit of this cycle.

ATH Lovasea Carroll, Georgia — Carroll can be a running back, wide receiver or play defense, so his versatility stood out to Georgia. His ability to play other positions is important the way Georgia continues to recruit running backs.

OL Micah Morris, Georgia — Morris is a massive and powerful lineman who could play inside or outside at the next level and throws people around. His aggression is part of his lure.