Seattle Times reporter Bob Condotta analyzes the Pac-12 football teams in the wake of signing day.
So much for the theory that USC’s program was on an NCAA sanctions-powered downhill spiral.
When it came to recruiting, anyway, the Trojans proved as powerful as ever in 2011, again bringing in a class of 30 that ranked as the consensus best in the Pac-12.
And that was despite the loss of cornerback/running back De’Anthony Thomas, who decided Wednesday night to sign with Oregon instead of the Trojans, to whom he had been committed for months.
“USC has so far not been hurt by the sanctions in the least bit,” said Jake Worthen, a West Coast recruiting analyst for Scout.com and FoxSports.com. “This is what people are used to seeing and what they were doing back when Pete Carroll was there and what people weren’t sure they’d be seeing for a while.”
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Recruiting analysts generally had Oregon and Cal just behind USC’s pace — the Ducks getting a boost with the decision of Thomas — with the rest of the conference a little further back.
“The rich getting richer,” Worthen said.
Here’s a brief overview of each school in order of class ranking:
With penalties restricting how many scholarships USC can give out (the school is appealing that ruling), the Trojans were able to put together a full class, and then some, replenishing the depth that had been an issue a year ago with top-grade talent at nearly every spot, including two top QBs in Max Wittek and Cody Kessler. GRADE: A.
Thomas, an electrifying player who may end up on offense for the Ducks and is regarded as the top recruit in the West, if not the nation, turned in one of the bigger switches in recent memory with his decision to instead sign with Oregon. The Ducks signed 22 other players, and eight high-school All-Americans. GRADE: A.
Despite a rare losing season, the Bears cleaned up in recruiting, especially on defense, signing three of Scout.com‘s top 10 defensive tackles in the nation. The Bears also stole cornerback Kameron Jackson from UW on signing day. GRADE: A-minus.
The Huskies didn’t get a big signing-day boost, but signing the top five players in the state, led by five-star WR Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, was enough to put UW in the top 25. GRADE: B-plus.
The Cardinal’s class took some hits after the departure of Jim Harbaugh for the 49ers. But the 19 players the Cardinal signed comprised a solid group, including end Charlie Hopkins of Gonzaga Prep. GRADE: B-plus.
6. Oregon State
The Beavers had one of their better efforts under coach Mike Riley, capped by a late get in JC end Rudolf Fifita, as well as OT Akeem Gonzalez, who also had been offered by the Huskies on two different occasions. GRADE: B.
The Utes’ class was led by nine in-state players, including four-star running back Harvey Langi, who turned down USC, UCLA and Washington, and four-star JC receiver Anthony Denham, who had offers from UW, Oregon and LSU. GRADE: B-minus.
The Wildcats got a few late bounces to go their way to help salvage what many considered a disappointing effort, apparently due in part to some assistant coaching changes. Among the 17 signees, however, was Ka’Deem Carey, regarded as the best running back in the state and subject of a fierce battle with rival ASU that went down to signing day. GRADE: C-plus.
The Buffs had some work to do after changing coaches and hiring Jon Embree. He hired some aggressive recruiters, however, and the Buffs made some late waves, including swiping two linemen away from UW on signing day in Honolulu’s Paulay Asiata — regarded as the top commit in the state of Hawaii — and Stephan Nembot of Van Nuys, Calif. GRADE: C-plus.
The Bruins are generally considered as having the most disappointing class in the conference, due in part to uncertainty over the future of the coaching staff. The Bruins also were limited in numbers with few seniors departing, ultimately signing 16.
UCLA did get a signing-day win, however, from OL Torian White, who signed with the Bruins after committing to USC on TV earlier in the day. GRADE: C.
11. Washington State
The Cougars were really hurt by a slew of late decommits, including RB Bishop Sankey to the Huskies. However, the Cougs were also helped by the late signing of Curtis’ Rahmel Dockery, and keeping four-star Hawaiian linebacker Chester Sua in the fold. And five JC linemen should add immediate help. GRADE: C-minus.
12. Arizona State
The Sun Devils are another team hurt by some late defections. But the Sun Devils kept one key player in the fold in QB Michael Eubank, who after committing then visited Pitt and Utah (he also considered UW in the fall). ASU was also limited to 14 players with few seniors departing. GRADE: D.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org