West region spotlight: Offseason surprises
The offseason has been one of excitement and surprises in the West region. Here is a look at five pledges that were the biggest stunners so far.
This one goes down as one of the biggest recruiting surprises in recent memory. The four-star quarterback from Newbury Park, Calif., had been committed to Oklahoma for months and seemed perfectly happy with the Sooners, but a late decision to visit Texas for the spring game changed everything. Either Rising was coy, or he really did make a last-second choice to visit the Longhorns. After that trip, the four-star flipped his commitment. Not only is he one of the top quarterbacks in the class, but switching from one Big 12 rival to another was certainly a gutsy call, one not many saw coming.
Martinez sat at the Under Armour Future 50 registration over the holidays and laid out all the reasons why he committed early to Cal: the academics, the professional opportunities after college, the offense under Sonny Dykes, the success of Jared Goff and others. But once Dykes was fired and the new regime came to Berkeley, it never felt the same and Martinez decided to back off his pledge. Offers flooded in from all over – Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oregon, you name it. But after a visit to Tennessee, the four-star decided to wrap up his recruitment once and for all and pick the Vols. Going there was not the big shock but the timing – making a decision as his recruitment was really exploding again – was a surprise, and a big boon for coach Butch Jones’ club.
The four-star quarterback made an early commitment to Oregon, but once that coaching staff changed – and Mark Helfrich was fired – the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, standout opened things back up. That goes along with the normal process of recruiting sometimes and as much as prospects say they committed to a school and not a coach, that doesn’t always bear out. But when Yankoff committed to Washington in March, that came as a shock, especially since fellow four-star Jacob Sirmon had been committed for so long. As is the case when two quarterbacks commit in a class, usually one earns the job and the other is left out in the cold. Yankoff is making the calculated gamble that he can win the job for the Huskies – and he certainly has the talent to do it.
It is not a complete stunner that Jordan picked Miami because he’s one of the top tight ends in the 2018 class and the Hurricanes have produced so many good ones throughout the years. But it was a tremendous loss for UCLA, especially since Jordan and four-star Las Vegas Bishop Gorman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson looked like a package deal to the Bruins. And what a lethal combination it could have been in Westwood. Instead, after a spring visit to Miami, the four-star tight end committed to the Hurricanes and he’s been doing an absolutely phenomenal job on social media trying to recruit other top prospects.
Early in the spring, Washington seemed like the team to beat for the four-star who mainly played receiver but has transitioned to cornerback in the last few months. But after taking a few wide receivers, the Huskies backed off – and it was a huge win for the Huskers. Still, his commitment timing was a surprise because it seemed Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, USC and others were all involved. But after a visit to Lincoln, Williams was sold. It’s not a major shock he picked Nebraska. But the quick decision did catch some off guard. Williams is excellent on both sides of the field and the Calibraska movement continues to pay dividends.