Loaded in the secondary, the Huskies' 2018 class is the only one that compares in talent level to USC. (Not included in that assessment: the addition of former 5-star QB Jacob Eason.)
The early signing period has come and gone. Now, so has National Signing Day. The traditional signing period carries on through March, but most have wrapped up their 2018 recruiting classes.
I evaluated the classes on an absolute scale: What was the best-case scenario for each team given its circumstances, and how close did it come to achieving that outcome?
This was, after all, a recruiting cycle unlike any the conference has seen — ever — because of the combination of multiple signing periods and five coaching changes.
Pac-12 recruiting rankings
Arizona’s best-case, with a late-December firing, and Utah’s best-case, with the same head coach in place for 13 years, aren’t equivalent.
So remove relativity from the equation:
The awarding of the same grade to two teams doesn’t mean the recruiting classes are equal, only that the teams executed in comparable fashion given individual circumstances.
Rich Rodriguez’s 16-player class has several promising prospects. The key piece for Kevin Sumlin (his only recruit, in fact) was QB Kevin Doyle, the former Michigan commitment. (More on Sumlin here.)
Arizona State: A-
Solid close for Herm Edwards amid low expectations. The decision to hire Antonio Pierce from Long Beach Poly was one of the Pac-12’s smartest staff moves.
Justin Wilcox’s overhaul continued with a huge emphasis on in-state players. The Bears missed on several top targets but got the OT they needed in Will Craig.
With limited in-state talent (only two 4-stars players), the Buffs again leaned on Texas and California prospects passed over by the heavyweights. That’s a tough existence.
Navigated the Willie Taggart fallout successfully, corralling two major talents at a position of immediate need with WRs Jalen Hall and Isaah Crocker (i.e., options for Justin Herbert.)
Oregon State: B
Recruiting to Corvallis is tough enough without a miserable season and coaching change, but Jonathan Smith squeezed water from stone with this class — the Beavers couldn’t have asked for much more.
Class includes two touted QBs (Jack West and Tanner McKee) but was framed by limited numbers and lacks the wow factor we’re used to seeing at other positions.
After pivoting from Jim Mora’s plan, Chip Kelly loaded up with four DLs, a position of immense need, and secured his QB of the future in Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Another stellar finish allowed the Trojans to secure key pieces in the secondary. JT Daniels and Amon-Ra St. Brown form the best incoming QB-WR combination in the nation.
Could be one of the best classes in school history if QB Jack Tuttle meets expectations. Utes also grabbed a high-end WR (Solomon Enis) and loaded up on the DL.
Loaded in the secondary (surprise!), this is the only class close to USC’s in overall talent. And I’m not including in that assessment Jacob Eason, the former 5-star QB arriving from Georgia.
Washington State: B+
Big in numbers and heavy on WRs, Mike Leach’s class built on the Cougars’ multiyear uptick. Look for QB Cammon Cooper to lead the conference in passing by 2021.