The USC Trojans closed out the December recruiting cycle with a fine class that could become even better in February. The Trojans finished with the nation’s No. 13 overall recruiting class according to 247 Sports, which was also good enough for No. 2 in the Pac-12 behind Oregon. The centerpiece of USC’s recruiting class was quarterback Miller Moss out of Bishop Alemany in Mission Hills, California. The Trojans signed a quality number of players, but how did they fare against the other Pac-12 programs within the context of five-year trends in overall average?
The most notable drop on the list according to Brett Cianci of Pick Six Previews is the Washington Huskies at No. 30, largely due to the loss of Chris Petersen. That said, Washington winning the Pac-12 North this year should help new head coach Jimmy Lake get some positive forward momentum as a result. If Washington wants to keep pace with Oregon, it will need to do better than 30th — a LOT better. It will have to particularly succeed in keeping prime in-state talent at home, and not letting it get away.
Losing in-state receiver Emeka Egbuka to the Ohio State Buckeyes is a particularly stinging defeat for Lake and Washington. The Huskies have struggled to get prime receivers since John Ross. They need their passing game to be a lot better. They need to land elite receivers in order to attract quality quarterback prospects. That is exactly where Washington has fallen short in recent years, including the Class of 2021.
On top of all this, the Huskies didn’t get a chance to beat the Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship Game — that would have gone a lot further than just claiming the Pac-12 North.
Other notable teams on that list above include Arizona St. at No. 46 in the nation. You’d think head coach Herm Edwards would have built more goodwill in the recruiting game by now. The Sun Devils need to recruit better; they’re certainly worth a look as long as Edwards is there. Kids should also know Edwards can help them reach their NFL goals and as long as he’s winning and producing talent, that’s frankly all you can ask of him if you’re being fair. Edwards can turn No. 46 in the nation into a Pac-12 South title, but he should aim higher and deliver more.
UCLA at No. 49 is a bit surprising. Head coach Chip Kelly certainly seems to have his offense taking shape, even if it didn’t fully hold up against USC last week. Kelly can do more with less, so we’ll keep an eye on that, but the low ranking seems to be based on whether UCLA can even keep Kelly at this point. It would be a bad decision to fire him quickly, unless UCLA somehow could convince one of their two desired targets — Chris Petersen and Urban Meyer — to take over their program and compete with the USC Trojans.
(UCLA landing those two is an extreme long shot… but someone will dare to dream.)
Stanford is about where you’d expect, but one wonders if head coach David Shaw is running his course as a head coach there. The product seems to have taken a noticeable turn for the worse, even if Shaw is making sure these men are educated and prepared for the next stage of their lives. Stanford ended the Pac-12 season well, but how real is that finish? Oregon and Washington still appear to be the power centers of the Pac-12 North in the coming years.
Arizona’s No. 66 is undoubtedly the result of firing head coach Kevin Sumlin before the December signing day. Oregon State sitting at No. 110 makes some sense, but hopefully Jonathan Smith can turn the comeback over Oregon into wins on the recruiting trail for February and beyond. That was a quality win against the Ducks, it should do something for the Beavers on the trail.