Pac-12 Spotlight: Breaking down the 2023 class
The 2023 class has been all but wrapped up save for five-star tight end Duce Robinson’s upcoming decision so there’s no better time to break down each conference. Here’s a look at the Pac-12:
HOW THEY FINISHED
1. Oregon (8 nationally) – The Ducks finished back atop the conference rankings and while they missed on five-star Nyckoles Harbor, getting four-star corner Rodrick Pleasant away from USC was huge.
2. USC (11) – A signing day surprise commitment from four-star tight end Walker Lyons was great news for the Trojans but missing on Pleasant, a speedster from nearby Gardena (Calif.) Serra, to Oregon was not as welcome.
3. Utah (19) – It was a quiet signing day for the Utes who did a lot of important recruiting work in December by landing six four-stars that month.
4. Colorado (27) – December was incredibly busy for first-year coach Deion Sanders and his staff and the biggest blockbuster came in mid-January when the Buffaloes flipped No. 1 cornerback Cormani McClain, a five-star who had been pledged to Miami.
5. Washington (28) – Signing Day was quiet for Washington in the 2023 class but the Huskies landed 2024 QB Austin Mack and December saw UDub land two big-time targets in four-star cornerback Caleb Presley and four-star receiver Taeshaun Lyons.
6. Arizona (39) – It wasn’t as loaded as the Wildcats’ 2022 class that finished atop the conference rankings but three-star receiver Devin Hyatt was a nice addition late.
7. Stanford (44) – The Cardinal had a tough signing day by losing three-star RB LJ Martin to BYU and three-star DL Cameron Brandt to Michigan but Stanford had a productive December and January in coach Troy Taylor’s first class.
8. UCLA (46) – Signing Day was pretty quiet for UCLA as the Bruins are still celebrating the recruiting win of five-star quarterback Dante Moore and they have quickly landed two quality commitments in the 2024 class.
9. Arizona State (51) – The Sun Devils have been incredibly busy in the transfer portal and they got some good news Wednesday when four-star QB Jaden Rashada, who recently got out of his NIL to Florida over a disputed NIL deal, picked the Sun Devils.
10. Oregon State (55) – There was not much action for the Beavers on signing day but they did a lot of work in the summer and fall to put this class together and four-star quarterback Aidan Chiles is really good.
11. Washington State (61) – December was incredibly productive for the Washington State recruiting class as the Cougars went to California and many other states for top talent although things were quiet this week.
12. California (91) – The Golden Bears finished last in the conference rankings with a small class of 12 but signing day was productive with junior college commitments from three-star WR Marquis Montgomery and three-star OL Martin Tine.
BIGGEST SIGNING: Dante Moore looked to be headed to the Pac-12 regardless. The longtime Oregon commit backed off his pledge when coach Kenny Dillingham left for Arizona State and the No. 4 overall prospect and five-star quarterback ended up at UCLA giving the Bruins a huge boost.
BIGGEST STEAL: Moore is the highest-rated flip in the Pac-12 but let’s go with Cormani McClain here. He’s from Lakeland, Fla., he had been committed to Miami but new Colorado coach Deion Sanders came in late and flipped the five-star cornerback to the Buffaloes.
BIGGEST SLEEPER: Washington State coach Jake Dickert talked highly of Trey Leckner both in December and on the Rivals Signing Day Show and there’s a good chance his low three-star ranking is a miss. The Snohomish (Wash.) Glacier Peak standout is a plug-and-play guy, positionless where he can go anywhere on offense and do big things as he averaged nearly 20 yards per catch this past season with 13 receiving scores.
TOP THREE PAC-12 RECRUITERS
Demetrice Martin, Oregon: The Ducks had one of the best classes in the country and the top one in the Pac-12 and one big reason was because of the defensive back haul. Martin got his four-star son, OK, that’s easy. But he also flipped four-star Daylen Austin from LSU, convinced four-star Rodrick Pleasant to pick Oregon over USC even though he’s from right down the road and then added four-star Tyler Turner and helped with three-star Kodi DeCambra, too.
Dennis Simmons, USC: There were a lot of hands involved in getting five-star receiver Zachariah Branch, high four-star Makai Lemon and top three-star Ja’Kobi Lane in the Trojans’ recruiting class from coach Lincoln Riley on down but Simmons played a key role in their recruitments as well. USC clearly loaded up in a big way with devastating and top-notch receivers who could make things happen as Branch and Lemon are elite players.
Jim Harding, Utah: The Utes had an impressive haul across the board but what was really interesting to see was that Harding targeted four-star offensive linemen Caleb Lomu and Spencer Fano from the very beginning and he landed both in the class. Lomu and Fano were two of the best linemen at the all-star events and it only further speaks to the Utah coaching staffs ability to identify prospects early and then go get them.
Quarterbacks: UCLA – With Kenny Dillingham leaving Oregon for Arizona State, it opened the door for the Bruins to land five-star quarterback Dante Moore and coach Chip Kelly didn’t miss the opportunity.
Running Backs: Oregon – The Ducks reached into Mississippi for four-star power back Dante Dowdell and then flipped Lake Stevens, Wash., four-star Jayden Limar from Notre Dame as the backfield looks loaded again.
Wide Receivers: USC – Five-star Zachariah Branch could make every argument in the world that he’s the best receiver in the class and no one is going to argue with four-star Makai Lemon’s production throughout his high school career.
Tight Ends: USC – A little TBD here since five-star Duce Robinson still hasn’t made his decision with USC and Georgia leading Oregon and Texas but the Trojans look best after getting four-star Walker Lyons on signing day.
Offensive Line: Utah – Four-stars Spencer Fano and Caleb Lomu proved during the all-star events that they’re both of the best offensive linemen in this class and then Roger Alderman is a developmental-type player but lots of NFL OL were undersized heading to college.
Defensive Line: Oregon – The headliner is five-star defensive end Matayo Uiagalelei as Oregon beat out Ohio State, USC and others for the Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco standout but he was hardly the only impactful defensive linemen in Oregon’s class. Four-stat A’Mauri Washington is really talented and defensive ends Johnny Bowens and Terrance Green are two others to watch.
Linebackers: USC – The Trojans did excellent work at linebacker – and not by resorting to players locally. USC went to Many, La., for hard-hitting four-star Tackett Curtis and stayed in that region for four-star Braylan Shelby out of Friendswood, Texas. Three-star David Peevy from San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln is an intriguing prospect and could end up being a steal.
Defensive Backs: Colorado – Not a ton of high-end defensive backs are headed to the Pac-12 this recruiting cycle so the pick is Colorado since it flipped five-star Cormani McClain from Miami in one of the biggest moves this entire recruiting cycle.