National Signing Day has come to a close without many surprises happening around the Pac-12. The Colorado Buffaloes gained one of the best recruiting classes in the past decade stocked full of talent on both sides of the ball. It’s clear to say the “Chiaverini factor” is starting pay off in his first full year in Boulder.
Colorado recruited strong in southern regions of the country, landing three quality wide receivers out of the Dallas area and a total of thirteen recruits for the Buffs received offers from SEC schools.
Here’s how CU’s 2017 class ranks against the rest of the schools in the Pac-12.
Colorado Buffaloes (27 Recruits) 10-4, 8-1 Pac-12 Last game: Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma State (38-8, L) Spring Game: Saturday, March 18 in Boulder
Key additions: OL Jake Moretti, WR Laviska Shenault, WR KD Nixon, WR Jaylon Jackson OT Grant Polley, CB/WR Chris Miller, DT Javier Edwards, DE Shamar Hamilton
Watch List: DE Jon Van Diest, TE Jared Poplawski, DE Jacob Callier, QB Tyler Lytle, RB Maurice Bell.
Remaining Class: OL Casey Roddick, DE Dante Sparaco, OL Will Sherman, TE Sebastian Olver, DE Chris Mulumba, RB Alex Fontenot, LB Nate Landman, CB Dante Wigley, OL Heston Paige, LB Chase Newman, CB Kevin George, S Isaiah Lewis, DE Carson Wells, DT Jalen Sami
Among offseason plans for the Buffs will be developing an offense around experienced quarterback Steven Montez. A majority of the offense will still be in place for Montez with Phillip Lindsay, Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo all returning. Polley and Moretti might be the only offensive recruits to be in the rotation as freshmen due to nine returning starters.
The biggest challenge on the defensive side will be replacing one of the best secondaries on the nation, with outgoing seniors Ahkello Witherspoon, Chidobe Awuzie and Tedric Thompson headed to the NFL. Newly hired defensive coordinator DJ Eliot could utilize Miller’s readiness to play corner as a true freshman, joining Nick Fisher, Ryan Moeller and Afolabi Laguda in the secondary.
As for the defensive interior, JUCO transfers Edwards and Hamilton contributing next season along with returning players Derek McCartney, Rick Gamboa and Addison Gillam.
This is by far the best class for National Coach of the Year Mike MacIntyre and his staff. Colorado recruited the most players among conference teams (27), ranking 19th overall in the nation. Washington State tallied the second most in the Pac-12 with 25 players.
USC Trojans (23 Recruits) 10-3, 7-2 Pac-12 Last game: Rose Bowl vs. Penn State (52-49, W) Next meeting: Saturday, Nov. 11 in Boulder
Key additions: WR Joseph Lewis, RB Stephen Carr, OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT Austin Jackson
Watch List: TE Josh Falo, QB Jack Sears, DE Hunter Echols, ATH Greg Johnson, LB Levi Jones, DT Marion Tuipulotu, OL Andrew Vorhees
USC’s approach to this year’s recruiting class was quality over quantity with a total of seventeen player (10 four-star commits). The Trojans lose offensive linemen Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner, with the Jackson and Vera-Tucker likely taking the majority of starting reps in the spring. Losing premiere play making receivers Juju Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers means Lewis will see a lot of playing time early. A total of six offensive starters will be returning for the Trojans, including quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones.
USC’s defense will be the story of the future with Jones, Echols and Tuipulotu being some of the best at their positions. Johnson could be replacing Adoree Jackson in the secondary and spilt time as a two-way option. He will have upperclassman Iman Marshall to help guide his transition to the next level.
Southern Cal ranks No. 3 in the nation for this year’s class, despite being tied for least amount of players among Pac-12 teams.
Washington Huskies (19 Recruits) 12-2, 8-1 Pac-12 Last game: CFB Playoff Semifinal vs. Alabama (24-7, L) Next meeting: Saturday, Sept. 23 in Boulder
Key additions: RB Salvon Ahmed, WR Terrell Bynum, CB Elijah Molden, OT Henry Bainivalu, TE Hunter Bryant
Watch List: S Brandon McKinney, DE Joe Tryon, WR Alex Cook
After coming up short in last year’s Peach Bowl, Washington will have to restock after losing a majority of starters on the defense. Secondary specialists Budda Baker, Kevin King and Sidney Jones could be tough to replace for the next couple seasons.
On the other side, don’t expect the same offensive output in coach Chris Petersen’s fourth season at the helm. Early Heisman hopeful quarterback Jake Browning returns without his star wide receiver John Ross, who will be replaced by Bynum. The four-star recruit enters the mix of receivers with returning star Dante Pettis. The trio will be joined by Ahmed in the backfield and Bryant as a valuable option to balance out Washington’s offense.
Time will tell if a smaller class will pay off for Petersen and Huskies, who rank seventh in the nation.
Stanford Cardinal (14 Recruits) 10-3, 6-3 Pac-12 Last game: Sun Bowl vs. North Carolina (25-23, W) Next meeting: 2018
Key Additions: OT Foster Sarell, TE Colby Parkinson, OT Walker Little, QB Davis Mills
Watch List: WR Salid Adebo, DT Dalyn Wade-Perry, DE Ryan Johnson, FB Sione Heimuli- Lund
Stanford (like USC) didn’t stock up at all positions in this year’s recruiting class, but came through in a major way. A reconstructed offensive line that allowed Christian McCaffrey to find success will have the additions of Sarell (top five overall prospect) and Little (a four-star recruit). Coach David Shaw will have a transition year ahead of him in search of a replacement for starting quarterback Keller Chryst, who will miss half the season with a torn ACL.
The Cardinal defense loses one of the best pass rushing defensive ends in Solomon Thomas, but will continue to get better with the potential of Adebo and Wade-Perry playing next season. Both will be added in with nine starters returning on a defense that finished No. 32 in the nation in 2016.
Washington State Cougars (25 Recruits) 8-5, 7-2 Pac-12 Last game: Holiday Bowl vs. Minnesota (17-12, L) Next meeting: Saturday, Oct. 21 at Pullman, Wash
Key Additions: QB/DT Connor Neville, WR Anthony White Jr., DE Preston Hendry
Watch List: S Josh Talbott, OT Robert Valencia, WR Jamire Calvin, WR Davontavean Martin, WR Easop Winston
Coach Mike Leach might have secured his best recruiting class since arriving at WSU in 2012. He’ll be piecing together a total of 18 starters with a top 25 recruiting class that includes four JUCO transfers. Quarterback Luke Falk returns as the starter after throwing back-to-back 4,000 yard seasons with plenty of targets. White, Calvin and Martin should get a lot of playing time after the Cougars lost receivers Gabe Marks, John Thompson and River Cracraft.
Washington State didn’t have many needs of the defensive side with nine returning starters, but did address the need for impact pass rusher with Hendry.
Oregon Ducks (24 Recruits) 4-8, 2-7 Pac-12 Last game: Civil War vs. Oregon State (34-24, L) Next meeting: 2018
Key Additions: CB Thomas Graham Jr., CB Deommodore Lenoir, ATH Bruce Judson, ATH Jaylon Reed, LB Issac Slade-Matautia, OL Alex Forsyth
Watch List: RB C.J. Verdell, DT Rutger Reitmaier, OT George Moore
Coach Willie Taggart’s first recruiting class at Oregon turned out to be a Top 25 class without being on campus more than two months. The addition of new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt hasn’t helped much for recruiting, thus far, but the results should show on the field with his 3-4 scheme going impacting next year’s class.
Oregon’s defense allowed 41.4 points per game last season as one of the worst in the nation. Leavitt aims to fix that with two of the nation’s top defensive backs in Graham and Lenoir. A true change of culture in Eugene is underway, shifting away from being a offensive powerhouse to establishing a dominating defense. Big moves demand results for Taggart after one of the Ducks’ worst seasons in nearly two decades.
Arizona State Sun Devils (18 Recruits) 5-7, 2-7 Pac-12 Last game: at Arizona (56-35, L) Next meeting: Saturday, Nov. 4 at Tempe, Ariz
Key Additions: QB Blake Barnett, CB Alex Perry, RB Eno Benjamin, DE Dougladson Subtyl
Watch List: QB Ryan Kelley, ATH Tyler Johnson, CB Langston Frederick, S Evan Fields
A down year in Tempe with the Sun Devils finishing dead last in the nation for pass defense meant coach Todd Graham need to find an answer. Newly hired defensive coordinator Phil Bennett did just that with a class focused around need positions. A strong secondary was the key with Perry, Frederick and Fields brought aboard to boost ASU’s defense.
The quarterback position might be wide open going into spring ball. Barnett, who made the transfer from Alabama will be competing with Kelley, Manny Wilkins and Dillon Sterling-Cole. The four-star quarterbacks give a strong foundations for ASU’s future, but one (or more) may not end their college career(s) with the Sun Devils.
Utah Utes (19 Recruits) 9-4, 5-4 Pac-12 Last Game: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Indiana (26-24, W) Next meeting: Saturday, Nov. 25 at Salt Lake City, Utah
Key additions: OL Jordan Agasiva, WR Tyquez Hampton, CB Javelin Guidry, CB Jaylon Johnson
Watch List: DT John Penisini, WR Bryan Thompson
The Utes did marginal with this year’s class, even though it was arguably the highest rated for coach Kyle Whittingham. In the long run Utah’s failure to address weaknesses in the defensive interior could present problems, especially at linebacker. The pass rush get a much needed boost with Johnson and Guidry to deal with strong quarterback play of the Pac-12.
New offensive coordinator Troy Taylor will help Utah’s struggles on offense with Hampton and Thompson replacing recently departed receiver Tim Patrick. Perhaps the Utes most complex situation will be replacing the offensive production of dual-threat quarterback Joe Williams, who accounted for a total of 4,164 yards and 25 touchdowns. Next season could be a down year for the Utes in conference play.
UCLA Bruins (18 Recruits) 4-8, 2-7 Pac-12 Last game: at Cal (36-10, L) Next meeting: Saturday, Sept. 30 at Pasadena, Cali
Key Additions: LB Jaelan Phillips, CB Darnay Holmes, DT Greg Rodgers, TE Jimmy Jaggers, OT Stephan Zabie
Watch List: C Kanan Ray, CB Elijah Gates, DT Martin Andrus
What started out as a slow recruiting year for coach Jim Mora ended with a strong finish. The Bruins have a good class that’s a borderline top 25 with Phillips as the No. 1 linebacker in the country. He’s joined by a pair of four-star corners in Holmes and Gates, along with the strong force of Andrus and Rodgers in the core of the defense line.
Mora addressed the need for depth along the offensive line with Zabie as a great option to replace departing left tackle Conor McCermott.
Arizona Wildcats (23 Recruits) 3-9, 1-8 Pac-12 Last game: vs. Arizona State (56-35, W) Next meeting: Saturday, Oct. 7 in Boulder
Key Additions: DE Jalen Harris, RB Nathan Tilford
Watch List: LB Tony Fields, DT Kurtis Brown, WR Brian Casteel
Arizona’s 2017 class is filled with a lot of unknowns and that’s not a good sign after one of the worst seasons in Coach Rich Rodriguez’s tenure. The 23 players that signed could be joined by several more walk-ons in the coming weeks, according to Rodriguez.
Fixing the defense was a top priority this offseason. It’s expected that Harris, Fields and Brown will compete for starting positions right away. As for the offense, the Wildcats got a huge boost with Tilford’s commitment to replace the void left by Samajie Grant.
Oregon State Beavers (25 Recruits) 4-8, 3-6 Pac-12 Last game: Civil War at Oregon (34-24, W) Next meeting: Saturday, Oct. 14 at Corvallis, Ore
Key Additions: WR Kolby Taylor, WR Quantino Allen, QB Jake Luton
Watch List: S. Trajon Cotton, WR Aaron Short, OT Justin Sattelmaier
A top 50 recruiting class might be an accomplishment for some teams, but it’s a setback when that equals second to last among conference teams. The Beavers had one more recruit compared to the 2016 class with very little national attention.
Coach Gary Anderson might need a couple more years to set some roots in the area for better recruits— only three players on the incoming class are from Oregon. Luton, a JUCO transfer, will compete with Darell Garretson for the staring quarterback position this spring. Oregon State targeted Taylor Short and Cotton to fill the losses at wide receiver and in the secondary.
Out of the 25 players, OSU signed seven defensive backs and five receivers. The Beavers have improved since Anderson took over in 2015 and should continue to trend upward.
California Golden Bears (14 Recruits) 5-7, 3-6 Pac-12 Last Game: vs. UCLA (36-10, W) Next meeting: Saturday, Oct 28 in Boulder
Key Additions: QB Chase Garbers, WR Taariq Johnson
Watch List: ATH Jeremiah Hawkins, CB Elijah Hicks, CB Branden Smith
Overall, Cal comes away tied with the least amount of recruits among teams in a “Power 5” conference, ranking last in the Pac-12. Coach Justin Wilcox has been on campus less than a month and so far hasn’t been successful in starting to turn around the program. The total number of 14 players is nearly half from last year’s class of 27, dropping not only in size, but quality from Top 25 to No. 76 nationally.
The saving grace for the Bears out of this class could be Garbers, who has tremendous athletic talents as a pro-style QB. The true freshman is bound to replace Texas Tech graduate transfer Davis Webb. Adding Johnson into the mix of receivers with Chad Hansen departing to the NFL will pay off for the Bears offense that will still be loaded going into next season.
What might be troublesome in the years to come is Cal’s lack of a defensive recruiting. Out of the 65 total players in last three classes, only 23 played defense and just six from the 2017 recruits.