USC's recruiting success is a good thing for the Pac-12, but Washington is quickly closing the gap.

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USC fans flooded my inbox this morning. “Fight on!!” Greg from Kent wrote.

Bruce chimed in: “So please remind me (or maybe more accurately it should be remind YOU) just who is #1 in Pac-12 recruiting?”

These were in reference to a story I wrote Tuesday examining Washington’s push to topple USC and finish with the Pac-12’s top-ranked recruiting class for the first time.

Pac-12 recruiting rankings

Team,24/7 Sports,Rivals Arizona,56,52 Arizona State,37,36 Cal,41,42 Colorado,58,51 Oregon,18,15 Oregon State,61,69 Stanford,45,70 UCLA,13,18 USC,4,3 Utah,31,38 Washington,9,14 Washington State,39,45

Meet the Huskies: Offense » | Defense »

That didn’t happen.

USC, as it does, surged on National Signing Day and finished not only with the No. 1 class in the Pac-12 but with another top five recruiting class nationally.

That’s good for USC. Good, too, for the Pac-12. As we all know, many outside the West Coast are quick to disregard Pac-12 football as a whole if USC is not a contending team.

That said, nothing changes.

This is nothing new for USC, which regularly has one of the nation’s most hyped recruiting classes. With its many built-in advantages — tradition, weather, a rich recruiting base, Hollywood celebrities — USC should have one of the nation’s most hyped classes every year.

But this is new for the Huskies. They finished with the No. 9 class in the nation (per 247Sports) and No. 2 in the Pac-12, which on paper is their most highly regarded class ever.

The Huskies got three recruits USC wanted. One of them, 338-pound defensive tackle Tuli Letuligasenoa, had been committed to the Trojans for more than nine months before a late flip to UW early this week. Two other touted prospects, five-star linebacker Brandon Kaho and four-star defensive back Julius Irvin, were courted heavily by USC and Alabama.

That is a significant development for Chris Petersen and the Huskies.

Does this mean Petersen going to regularly beat USC (and Alabama) in head-to-head recruiting battles? Probably not.

But he doesn’t necessarily need to, either. He’s already proven he doesn’t have to have that kind of hyped-up, high-end talent to compete — and win — in the Pac-12. (See: 2016 conference championship.)

Is there a coach in college football who has done more with less? In his eight years at Boise State, Petersen never had a recruiting class ranked in the top 50, and yet Boise State finished in the top 20 of the final Associated Press poll six times.

Petersen’s first four recruiting classes were ranked 38th, 29th, 26th and 22nd, respectively (and never higher than fifth in the Pac-12, per 247Sports’ composite rankings), and yet the Huskies have back-to-back top-20 finishes in the AP poll (including a No. 4 ranking after the 2016 season).

USC fans have reason to gloat, sure. They probably always will on National Signing Day.

I’ve heard from just as many Husky fans who are giddy about this UW class … and eager to see what Petersen can do on the field with some USC-type talent.


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