February 4, 2010

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Pac-10

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USC was once again the big story on National Signing Day in the Pac-10 and nationally, finishing the day with the No. 1 class. But USC wasn't the only Pac-10 program that had a big finish on Signing Day.

UCLA, Cal and Oregon were among the other teams that closed strong, which should make the Pac-10 one of the most competitive leagues in the future.

Check out the breakdown of National Signing Day in the conference in a special edition of the Pac-10 Blitz.

Arizona | Arizona State | California | Oregon | Oregon State
Southern California | Stanford | UCLA | Washington | Washington State

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Pac-10
1. USC

Commit List
USCFootball.com
Message Board
Headliner: Receiver Kyle Prater is ranked as the nation's No. 3 prospect and the top receiver in the 2010 class. Because he's already enrolled, Prater should have the same impact at the next level as Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Michael Floyd or DeAndre Brown did as true freshmen.
Sleeper: In a class full of four and five-stars, it's easy to overlook Anthony Brown. However, Trojans fans will grow to love his desire to become great. Nobody works harder than Brown, and he also has very good athletic ability. He could blossom into a talented defensive back in college.
Overview: There was no bigger story during the final few weeks of the recruiting season - and again on Signing Day - than what was happening with USC. Lane Kiffin and Co. did a tremendous job keeping together the pieces of the puzzle that were already assembled by former coach Pete Carroll. Keeping Prater, Dillon Baxter and Robert Woods on board was huge. Sure, they five-star players, but they are also players at a positions where more depth was needed. The Trojans also closed stronger than anybody else in the nation. The addition of five-star Seantrel Henderson was huge. Henderson's situation is still somewhat up in the air because he has committed to USC, but has not signed his letter-of-intent. He plans to wait to see what happens with the Trojans at their Feb. 19-21 meeting with the NCAA infractions committee. USC's climb to the top was aided by the late signings of five-star Markeith Ambles, four-star Nickell Robey and four-star Hayes Pullard.
2. UCLA

Commit List
BruinBlitz.com
Message Board
Headliner: Stealing four-star defensive tackle Cassius Marsh away from LSU was sweet for Bruins fans. Marsh is one of the nastiest players in the country, and his toughness could help him become the next in line behind standout Brian Price.
Sleeper: Sealii Epenesa has all the physical tools to be a steal out of Hawaii. He's a big, 300-pound space eater at defensive tackle. While he's not a refined product yet, Epenesa does have a very big upside.
Overview: With all the attention that was paid to the transition at USC, it's easy to overlook the tremendous job that has been done by UCLA's staff. The Bruins really hit some home runs on the offensive side of the ball, adding running threats Malcolm Jones and Jordon James. Anthony Barr could also get a look at running back, but the four-star prospect could also star on the defensive side of the ball; he's that talented. The Bruins also closed very strong by pulling in Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Dietrich Riley, Jordan Zumwalt and Anthony Jefferson on Signing Day. The flurry helped push UCLA into the No. 8 spot in the country. This signing class might be enough to help put the Bruins back in contention for the Pac-10 title sooner, rather than later. UCLA's class does have a West Coast flavor, but the Bruins were able to go beyond the region and snag talented players like kicker Kip Smith from Colorado, defensive tackle Derrick Bryant from Ohio and linebacker Aramide Olaniyan from Virginia.
3. California

Commit List
BearTerritory.net
Message Board
Headliner: Five-star defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin is a special player. He also became a key recruiter for the Bears down the stretch. His efforts helped Cal land several key players in the final few weeks, giving the Bears their best recruiting class in years.
Sleeper: Jacob Wark is the type of player that is underappreciated simply because he's a tight end. The 6-5, 240-pounder showed rapid improvement as a senior. He could become a complete weapon for the Bears in the future. He can not only block, but he has good hands - making him dangerous in every phase of the game.
Overview: The Bears got defensive this season, landing one of the Pac 10's best defensive classes. Highlighted by a linebacker group that features Martin, four-star linebacker Nick Forbes, four-star linebacker Cecil Whiteside and four-star linebacker David Wilkerson, there's a lot to like about this group. Throw in the late additions of five-star safety Keenan Allen and four-star linebacker Chris McCain, and this could be the building blocks of one of the best defenses in the league. The offensive side of the ball was also addressed with the additions of running back Trajuan Briggs, four talented receivers - led by speedsters Tevin Carter and Kaelin Clay - and offensive tackle Alex Crosthwaite.
4. Oregon

Commit List
DuckSportsAuthority.com
Message Board
Headliner: Quarterback Bryan Bennett has everything that Oregon wants in a quarterback. He has size, an accurate arm and great leadership skills. But most importantly Bennett has the ability to move around and hurt you with his feet. The Ducks coaches are really high on Bennett, and he could be a star in the Oregon spread offense.
Sleeper: Tampa Plant two-star safety Eric Dungy is the son of former NFL coach Tony Dungy. Dungy played both wide receiver and safety for his high school team and was a key player in helping Plant win a championship in Class 5A.
Overview: The Ducks made a splash again nationally when they reeled in five-star running back Lache Seastrunk and landed Rivals100 defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli on Signing Day. But this Oregon class is full of other potential stars. Running back Dontae Williams, tight end Curtis White, athlete Keanon Lowe and offensive tackles Ryan Clanton are all major recruits that rank as four-star players. The Ducks also have one of the best offensive line classes in the conference - Nick Rowland and Hroniss Grasu could be stars in Eugene. The defensive back group looks like it has plenty of talent, too. Cornerback Dior Mathis from Detroit was a steal for the Ducks. All in all, Oregon landed recruits from in Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas. Chip Kelly and Co. definitely showed they can recruit with the best of them this season.
5. Stanford

Commit List
CardinalReport.com
Message Board
Headliner: Quarterback wasn't a major need, but the Cardinal added more depth at the position by landing Brett Nottingham. The four-star quarterback had been a previous commitment to UCLA and has the ability to be the next in line behind Andrew Luck.
Sleeper: Linebacker Joe Hemschoot emerged as a senior in Colorado and blossomed into a prospect that had Big 12 and Pac-10 offers. He's not completely polished as a player, but he's athletic and has a good football IQ - which makes him a good fit for the Cardinal.
Overview: Maybe it's finally time to stop calling anything Jim Harbaugh accomplishes at Stanford a surprise. Not only can he and his staff coach, they can also recruit. Take this year's class for example. Some might call it surprising to see Stanford's class rank where it did, but those that follow what Harbaugh has done in California aren't surprised. Stanford's academic lure to national kids is helping things get even more exciting on The Farm. Stanford did take some lumps down the stretch by losing four-star running back Brandon Bourbon, four-star defensive back Louis Young and four-star linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. But in the end, there's still plenty to like about this class. The offensive line group - led by four-star Dillon Bonnell - will be one of the best in the Pac 10. More help at defensive back is coming, too.
6. Washington

Commit List
UDubSports.com
Message Board
Headliner: Four-star defensive Sione Potoae was important for the Huskies for a number of different reasons. Not only was he a big-time prospect at a need position, he was also an in-state kid that UW needed to keep home. The Huskies beat out USC and other Pac-10 powers head-to-head with Potoae.
Sleeper: Defensive end Brent Williams didn't generate as many headlines as other players in this class, but he has a tremendous motor and is a major steal. He's the type of player that traditionally would end up somewhere like Utah or Oregon State and people years later would wonder why he didn't play at a more "name" program.
Overview: The Huskies took major steps forward on the field this season, and their recruiting efforts reflected that. While it won't go down as a top-25 class, this was definitely a big rebound class full of talent. The Huskies went toe-to-toe with many other top programs in the Pac-10 and the results were quite promising. Landing four-star safety Sean Parker away from USC drew a lot of attention on Wednesday. Running back Deontae Cooper could be an immediate threat at the running back spot, and opening holes for him will be one of the best offensive line classes in the Pac 10. Washington also landed steals with Gregory Ducre and Garret Gilliland on the defensive side of the ball.
7. Arizona State

Commit List
ASUDevils.com
Message Board
Headliner: Offensive tackle Brice Schwab was a one-time USC commitment, but he flipped to ASU after the coaching change. He has the size, frame and ability to be a franchise left tackle for ASU.
Sleeper: Defensive end Joita Te'I is a flat-out tackle machine. If he continues to develop physically like he did this season, then the sky's the limit with him.
Overview: With ASU struggling on the field this season, the Devils hit the junior college ranks a little harder than in the past. But with Dennis Erickson's track record with juco players, there's plenty of reason to think they'll help right the ship. Four-star receiver George Bell has the explosive ability to make an immediate impact for ASU. The Devils also landed a nice collection of running backs highlighted by Deantre Lewis, a steal from Norco, Calif. Defensive help is also coming from defensive end Nduka Onyeali, arguably the best player in Colorado this season. Linebacker Carl Bradford and defensive back Devan Spann were good gets, too.
8. Arizona

Commit List
GoAZCats.com
Message Board
Headliner: Four-star athlete Marquis Flowers of Goodyear (Ariz.) Millennium not only was the top player in Arizona, he was one of the nation's top 100 prospects. If Flowers is focused, he can make an impact as a freshman because of his superior size and speed.
Sleeper: Quarterback Cameron Allerheiligen received an offer after the Wildcats lost longtime commitment Matt Brown to TCU. Allerheiligen completed nearly 70 percent of his passes as a senior and has some athleticism.
Overview: Help on the defensive side of the ball is on the way with four-star juco linebacker Derek Earls and three-star linebacker Paul Vassallo already enrolled. Throw in Marquis Flowers and Willie Mobley - both four-stars - and this looks like the type of defensive talent Stoops loves to work with. The Wildcats also added speed and skill to their receiver corps with quality pickups like Dexter Ransom and Garic Wharton. Wharton could carry on the Wildcats' tradition of landing impact receivers from Nevada. The offensive line also got a much-needed boost with Trent Spurgeon coming to the desert from Oklahoma.
9. Oregon State

Commit List
BeaverBlitz.com
Message Board
Headliner: Oregon State has a great tradition of taking quarterbacks that are somewhat under the radar and turning them into excellent players. QB Sean Mannion has a rocket for an arm and all the tools to be special for OSU.
Sleeper: Fred Thompson was productive as a senior, but the defensive tackle from Oakland has still not scratched the surface of what he could become. If he develops like defensive players tend to at OSU, look out.
Overview: Oregon State wasn't going to win a lot of team rankings races this season, mainly because of its extremely small class. The Beavers were limited in quantity, but they more than made up for it with quality. The Beavers made a considerable upgrade on the defensive line with the pickups of Thompson and Thomas Molesi. The Beavers have also had tremendous success with undersized running backs, and Malcolm Marable could be the next big thing. As always the Beavers did have a few Signing Day surprises - three-star Mana Tuivailala looks like a steal, and four-star Shaydon Akuna is the best player in Hawaii.
10. Washington State

Commit List
CougZone.com
Message Board
Headliner: Quarterback Connor Halliday has all the tools to be the star of the future. He showed great promise when he torched teams this fall.
Sleeper: Receiver Robert Jiles didn't garner the same attention that his teammates did, but he showed plenty of promise as a senior and at several summer camps. He has very good hands and could be a real steal for the Cougars.
Overview: Washington State finds itself at the bottom of the Pac 10 rankings again, but things are definitely looking up with this class. There is a definite improvement in the type of talent and prospect looking at Wazzu, and the overall numbers say that's true. The Cougars landed 14 three-star prospects - it's highest number in the last five years. Defensive back Deone Bucannon ranks in the California top 100, and WSU also did a nice job in-state. Five players that have committed to the Cougars rank in the state's top 20.

More Conferences: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | SEC




 

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