Recruits stay home as flush Pac-12 schools clean up
Virtually every top West Coast prospect largely stayed put as Pac-12 schools had a banner day, led by Stanford, USC and UCLA.
Seattle Times staff reporter
After the dust had finally cleared on another letter-of-intent day, recruiting analysts said it wasn't so much about an individual school coming out on top in the Pac-12 as it was about the Pac-12 itself.
The conference is flush with new television money, allowing many schools to make aggressive changes in either head or assistant coaches in recent weeks. And that might have been the reason that virtually every significant recruit on the West Coast stayed home.
"A lot of years, kids have left for the SEC or the Big Ten," said Adam Gorney, the West recruiting analyst for Rivals.com and Yahoo Sports. "For one reason or another, all of those kids really stayed home this year."
In fact, of Rivals.com's top 10 recruits in the states of Arizona, California and Washington, only three who had signed by Wednesday went to non-Pac-12 schools.
As of early Wednesday evening, Rivals.com had 11 Pac-12 schools ranked among its top 45, and Scout.com had 11 ranked among its top 46.
Jake Worthen, the West recruiting analyst for Scout.com and Fox Sports, said "the coaching changes and all the money had a huge impact on the way things turned out."
The Pac-12 joined in the national trend of having more players decide in the past day or two. But Worthen said only Utah and California really suffered net losses on signing day. Cal lost two assistants to Washington and slid from a top-10 class nationally to No. 42 by Scout and No. 25 by Rivals.
"A lot of guys stayed, and that will really bolster the talent and the overall competitiveness of the conference," Gorney said.
Here's a quick look at each school as ranked by The Seattle Times:
1, Stanford: The Cardinal was maybe the biggest of the Signing Day winners, getting surprising commitments from two of the top 10 offensive tackles in the country — Andrus Peat (Tempe, Ariz.) and Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif.). Worthen said Stanford compiled "the best offensive-line class I've ever seen."
2, USC: The Trojans, under scholarship limitations for the next three years, signed just 15 players, and lost a few key battles Wednesday (notably Peat and Murphy to Stanford). Still, what USC got was quality, with both sites giving USC's players the highest average star rating in the Pac-12. The haul includes two highly rated guards (Max Tuerk, Jordan Simmons) and Lakes tackle Zach Banner.
3, UCLA: New coach Jim Mora made a huge splash, officially signing 25 players, including luring perhaps the best defensive tackle in California from Cal (Ellis McCarthy) and stealing four-star WR Jordan Payton away from the Huskies.
4, Oregon: Both Scout and Rivals rated Oregon 15th, a class sparked by the addition over the weekend of DE Arik Armstead, who was thought to be leaning toward Cal at one point, and getting a Signing Day commit from four-star receiver Bralon Addison of Sugar Land, Texas, who had been committed to Texas A&M.
5, Washington: UW's late flurry, fueled by the addition of five new coaches in the last month who have reputations as solid recruiters, helped revive a class that was viewed as somewhat disappointing a month ago. Five-star safety Shaq Thompson might be the best defensive player to sign with UW in more than two decades.
6, California: The Bears' class took huge hits with the loss of McCarthy, Payton, Thompson and Armstead after Washington raided its coaching staff. Still, Cal landed seven four-star recruits (to rank tied for third with Oregon in Pac-12 average rating) including QB Zach Kline.
7, Colorado: The Buffs struggled mightily in their first Pac-12 season but put together a surprisingly good class of 28 players. It included nine defensive linemen and highly rated cornerback Yuri Wright, who saw some other schools back off after some controversial tweets.
8, Utah: The Utes signed 16 offensive and defensive linemen, as well as three-star QB Travis Wilson, who briefly considered UW last spring, but lost touted in-state OL Brandon Fanaika to Stanford.
9, Arizona State: New coach Todd Graham signed 23 players, including eight junior-college transfers led by one-time Huskies signee Chris Young of Auburn, who spent the past two years at Arizona Western. Graham also won a big battle to keep touted RB D.J. Foster, who had offers from Oregon and USC among others, home.
10, Oregon State: After UW lured away secondary coach Keith Heyward, the Beavers lost some key defensive backs, including CB Cleveland Wallace (who signed with the Huskies). The class was led by five-star Isaac Seumalo, rated by Scout as the best guard in the country and the son of Beavers assistant Joe Seumalo.
11, Arizona: New coach Rich Rodriguez won a couple of big Signing Day battles — for DE Dylan Cozens (who also considered UW) and athlete Bryan Harper (a one-time UW commit). The Wildcats also signed receiver Trey Griffey, son of Ken Griffey Jr.
12, Washington State: Worthen and Gorney each said new coach Mike Leach did a good job of getting WSU in a lot of battles. But the Cougars came up just short on a few (such as Lakes WR Cedric Dozier), leaving them at the bottom of Pac-12 rankings. Still, both say Cougars added a lot of talent, notably four-star WR Gabriel Marks and three-star LB Jeremiah Allison, each of Los Angeles.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @bcondotta