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February 2, 2012

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Pac-12

MORE: Top 25 teams | Signing Day Central

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

Rivals.com analyst Adam Gorney ranks the Pac-12 recruiting classes coming out of National Signing Day.

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

Pac-12 Blitz
1. Stanford

Commit List
CardinalReport.com
Message Board
Headliner: Offensive tackle Andrus Peat and defensive end Aziz Shittu are five-star prospects, but the top player in the class is offensive tackle Kyle Murphy, rated as the third-best offensive tackle and No. 19 prospect in the 2012 class. Murphy picked the Cardinal over USC and should compete for early playing time. Usually, Peat or Shittu would be the star in Stanford's class, but that speaks to how well it did this recruiting cycle.
Sleeper: Three-star wide receiver Michael Rector flipped from Washington late could be a huge pickup in the coming years. The 6-foot-1 prospect had more than 1,000 receiving yards in his junior season and combined for 24 touchdowns in his final two high school years. Rector can make plays and could be a much-needed addition to Stanford's passing attack.
Overview: Stanford did a phenomenal job across the board. Murphy and Peat are the obvious standouts on the offensive line but don't forget four-star Joshua Garnett, who was one spot away from five-star status, and four-star Brandon Fanaika, who almost flipped to Utah. Add in Graham Shuler, who was impressive at the Army Bowl, and Nick Davidson and that's an outstanding group. Four-star running back Barry Sanders has to be excited. Shittu along with four-stars Noor Davis and Alex Carter lead an impressive defensive haul as well.
2. USC

Commit List
USCFootball.com
Message Board
Headliner: Five-star offensive linemen Zach Banner and Jordan Simmons should keep USC quarterbacks protected for years to come. Those were both nice additions, but the biggest one was five-star wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Adding him into an offense that already features Robert Woods and Marqise Lee could get very interesting - and light up the scoreboard even more.
Sleeper: Scott Starr isn't necessarily an under-the-radar guy, but some might not understand the impact he could have at USC. The Norco, Calif., linebacker has been compared to Brian Cushing and for good reason - the two are incredibly similar. Plus, Starr loves USC and has always dreamed of playing there, so it's expected he'll go in, work hard from Day 1 and make an impact throughout his career.
Overview: USC was limited to 15 scholarships, and the Trojans didn't waste any of them. The entire class is solid from Banner, Simmons and Agholor to the outstanding junior college players they signed to linebacker Jabari Ruffin, defensive backs Kevon Seymour and Devian Shelton. There was some disappointment that Murphy, Peat and others spurned USC, but this class is phenomenal, like most USC classes.
3. UCLA

Commit List
BruinBlitz.com
Message Board
Headliner: There is no doubt five-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy is the top player in UCLA's class. He showed flashes of brilliance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and dominated on every stage throughout his high school career. McCarthy needs to learn to go 100 percent all the time, but first-year coach Jim Mora and his staff should be able to motivate him. Getting McCarthy to flip from Cal was a huge move for UCLA's new staff.
Sleeper: Nate Iese has gone relatively anonymous for too long. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound prospect is a phenomenal athlete who dominated in the Cal State Game and put up impressive numbers throughout his career. Iese, from Elk Grove (Calif.) Sheldon, could play defensive end or in a pinch flip to tight end because he's that athletic.
Overview: Mora said he thought he knew what recruiting was about but really learned some valuable lessons from the outstanding group of assistant coaches he assembled. For the first time out, Mora did a phenomenal job. McCarthy is the key to this class, but flipping wide receiver Jordan Payton from Washington and Jeremy Castro from Oregon, getting Devin Fuller from New Jersey, keeping Aaron Porter from flipping to Oregon and landing Ishmael Adams, Lacy Westbrook, Javon Williams and Marcus Rios proves the Bruins are on the right track again.
4. Oregon

Commit List
DuckSportsAuthority.com
Message Board
Headliner: Auburn, Notre Dame, Cal, Washington and others were pursuing Arik Armstead, but Oregon won out for the four-star defensive end. Armstead is a phenomenal athlete and an even better offensive tackle who plans to play basketball for the Ducks as well. There were no signing day surprises like last year when Oregon flipped five-star De'Anthony Thomas, but Armstead is a solid prospect who could play soon.
Sleeper: Oregon coach Chip Kelly said he believes if Cody Carriger was from California he would be one of the top players in the country. That might be a stretch, but the Butte, Montana, defensive end is a phenomenal athlete who is 6-foot-6 and plays with a lot of intensity. Had Carriger gotten more exposure throughout his high school career, he probably would have received numerous Pac-12 offers.
Overview: Oregon didn't have the fireworks like last recruiting cycle when it flipped Thomas and landed five-star Colt Lyerla late in the process, but this is a strong and solid class for the Ducks. Armstead leads the way but there are plenty of other four-star recruits to like in wide receivers Dwayne Stanford and Bralon Addison (who flipped from Texas A&M) linebacker Brett Bafaro, defensive ends Alex Balducci and DeForest Buckner, tight ends Evan Baylis and Pharaoh Brown, quarterback Jake Rodrigues and running back Byron Marshall.
5. Washington

Commit List
UDubSports.com
Message Board
Headliner: Landing five-star safety Shaq Thompson was instrumental in Washington's recruiting class. The Sacramento (Calif.) Grant recruit is the best safety in the country, fierce, hard-hitting and physically developed so he could play early on. Flipping him from Cal late was crucial to the Huskies' class. Thompson is a player with NFL potential and he should provide lots of hard hitting for Washington.
Sleeper: Cornerback Cleveland Wallace made news on signing day when he flipped from Oregon State to Washington and even before when USC pursued him in the final weeks, but he still seems a little undervalued. Wallace looked phenomenal at the Cal State Game, is a big-time playmaker and should compete for early playing time for the Huskies.
Overview: Washington fans should be excited about Thompson and getting four-star quarterbacks Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist, especially because Miles was seriously considering a flip to USC on signing day. Four-star Jaydon Mickens has outstanding speed, and the Huskies did a good job on Signing Day of landing four-star cornerback Brandon Beaver and flipping four-star defensive end Pio Vatuvei from USC. There are a bunch of three-stars in the class that are impressive, including Kendyl Taylor and Jake Eldrenkamp.
6. California

Commit List
BearTerritory.net
Message Board
Headliner: Bryce Treggs had a difficult decision in the hours leading up to Wednesday evening: Stick with Cal or flip to USC (which offered Tuesday) or to UCLA. He stuck with the Golden Bears, and it's huge for their offense because Treggs is a playmaker, has deceptive speed and rarely drops a pass. With all the defections in Cal's class, keeping Treggs was vital.
Sleeper: Athlete Damariay Drew emerged on the scene late in the recruiting process, and after his commitment to Cal in early January, other Pac-12 programs such as Oregon and Washington pursued him. The Livermore, Calif., prospect can play a variety of positions and possesses outstanding speed. He flew under the recruiting radar for some time but could emerge as a steal in this class.
Overview: For all the talk about players leaving Cal's class after assistant coaches Tosh Lupoi and Eric Kiesau left for Washington, the Golden Bears still compiled a top 25 class. This group could have been much better if Thompson and McCarthy along with Payton stayed in the fold, but it's still strong. Treggs leads the group but quarterback Zach Kline, athlete Cedric Dozier, wide receivers Kenny Lawler and Darius Powe and offensive tackle Freddie Tagaloa are all outstanding players.
7. Utah

Commit List
UteZone.com
Message Board
Headliner: In the final days before National Signing Day, four-star offensive lineman Cedrick Poutasi was strongly considering Oregon, but the Las Vegas (Nev.) Desert Pines prospect stuck with the Utes. Good for them. Poutasi is a humongous, strong lineman who will be able to open up holes and protect the quarterback for many years.
Sleeper: One player who slipped under the radar in Southern California and probably didn't get the credit he deserves is three-star wide receiver Delshawn McClellon from Cerritos (Calif.) Gahr. McClellon caught 65 passes for 1,045 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior season. He has proven that he can be a playmaker in the Pac-12.
Overview: Utah did a solid job across the board. In addition to keeping Poutasi, the Utes landed junior college four-star prospects Kelvin York and Visesio Salt; four-star defensive back Justin Thomas; and signed Chase Hansen, one of the top players in the state. On signing day, the Utes got junior college lineman Carlos Lozano, defensive back Alphonso Marsh and linebacker Moana Ofahengaue. All in all, Utah should be proud of its class.
8. Colorado

Commit List
BuffStampede.com
Message Board
Headliner: For all the scuttlebutt about Yuri Wright and Twitter, at the end of the day the four-star cornerback is a phenomenal player who could be a big-time steal for the Buffaloes. The U.S. Army All-American had offers from across the country and is a ball hawk and an athletic, tough corner. Wright and fellow four-star cornerback Kenneth Crawley could be a formidable duo.
Sleeper: Running back Donta Abron is a sneaky, tough, little prospect who put up big numbers against tough competition in Southern California. The Upland, Calif., recruit finished with 1,754 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns in his senior season and averaged almost seven yards per carry.
Overview: Coach Jon Embree and his staff are trying to turn things around at Colorado, and this recruiting class has some pieces that could be part of that revival. Wright and Crawley are great cornerbacks, defensive ends Kisima Jagne and Samson Kafovalu, defensive tackle Justin Solis and athlete Christian Powell are all talented players. This class isn't phenomenal but it is solid.
9. Arizona State

Commit List
ASUDevils.com
Message Board
Headliner: D.J. Foster was the home run first-year coach Todd Graham needed in this recruiting class. The Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro prospect spurned USC and Cal to stay home and play for the Sun Devils, and he should have the opportunity to play immediately. In his senior season, Foster rushed for 3,058 yards and 54 touchdowns.
Sleeper: There has been a lot of talk about the four Long Beach (Calif.) Poly players who signed with Arizona State, but still three-star linebacker Salamo Fiso doesn't get his due. Fiso is an active, hard-hitting prospect who gets to the ball and makes plays. He had 127 tackles in his senior season and he knows how to rock ball carriers.
Overview: Arizona State loaded up with nine junior college prospects and four recruits from the same powerhouse program in Southern California. Graham had a tough job coming into this situation late but did an admirable job closing on some prospects. If Foster had left the state for either USC or Cal this class would not be nearly as good. Getting a playmaker like that was crucial moving forward.
10. Oregon State

Commit List
BeaverBlitz.com
Message Board
Headliner: Four-star offensive guard Isaac Seumalo considered USC but decided to stick with Oregon State, where his father, Joe, is defensive line coach. That is hugely important for Oregon State because Seumalo is one of only two four-stars in the class, and he's a tremendous player. He is technically sound, no-nonsense and seems like a perfect fit in Corvallis.
Sleeper: He is a three-star prospect but Tyler Hasty has hinted time and again that he could be even higher in the rankings. Hasty absolutely dominated against Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian early in the year and led his Bellevue, Wash., team to an undefeated season. Hasty is aggressive, tough and plays with a mean streak and should be an outstanding defensive back in the Pac-12.
Overview: From top to bottom, Oregon State's recruiting class is no-nonsense. Four-stars Seumalo and tight end Caleb Smith lead the group, but there is a lot of three-star depth with Hasty, offensive linemen Gavin Andrews, Grant Bays, Stanley Hasiak, Garrett Weinreich and others. Wide receiver Malik Gilmore and running back Chris Brown are also game-breakers. Junior college linebacker Cade Cowdin could make an instant impact.
11. Arizona

Commit List
GoAZCats.com
Message Board
Headliner: Four-star defensive end Kyle Kelley could have flipped to some prestigious programs after the coaching switch, but the Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge prospect decided to stick - and that's big for the Wildcats. Kelley is undersized, but he'll play that hybrid defensive end/linebacker position and thrive there.
Sleeper: First-year coach Rich Rodriguez needed a dual-threat quarterback, and he got one in Prosper, Texas, recruit Javelle Allen. He could be a big-time sleeper. Allen threw for 2,347 yards with 30 touchdowns and five interceptions and also rushed for 1,539 yards and 22 scores. How he only had a Florida Atlantic offer is amazing.
Overview: Rodriguez and his staff came to Tucscon and didn't steal away any major prospects but did a fine job stabilizing things. They kept Kelley and four-star Zach Hemmila, plus added Allen and a few other quality prospects and looking forward. Once the new staff gets settled in and their people in place, the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes should be much better. Athlete Bryan Harper and defensive end Dwight Melvin could be steals.
12. Washington State

Commit List
CougZone.com
Message Board
Headliner: There is no question Gabriel Marks is one of the best wide receivers in California. He won the wide receiver MVP award at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp as a sophomore, runs great routes and catches everything. Plus, Marks plays with a nastiness where he feels he needs to prove himself at all times. He could make an immediate impact in first-year coach Mike Leach's offense.
Sleeper: The player Washington State's coaches are raving about is defensive end Destiny Vaeao from American Samoa. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound prospect has impressive film and could be a major steal in this recruiting class. He's an aggressive, tough guy who could also play tight end.
Overview: Washington State finished on the bottom of the Pac-12 rankings but this class is much stronger than recent groups. Marks, linebacker Jeremiah Allison, wide receiver Alex Jackson, all-purpose back Robert Lewis, defensive end Kache Palacio and linebacker Khalil Pettway all had great senior seasons in Southern California. There are impressive players across the board here that could help Washington State became a player in the Pac-12 again.

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