This is part two in a series of conference profiles that looks at some of the current recruits for the respective schools. National Signing Day is Wednesday, February 3. As of now, these are verbal commitments, which are non-binding. The order of the teams reflects the strength of the class based on the points system applied by Rivals.com, which gives a certain amount of points to five-star, four-star, three-star prospects, etc.
USC: As always, the Trojans are in the news. This year, Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron are in charge of keeping as many of Pete Carroll’s key recruits as possible — and adding in some of their own, particularly the ones they were fighting Florida’s Urban Meyer for when Kiffin was still in Knoxville. Kiffin immediately displayed his prowess, maintaining a likely top-10 class headlined by five-star WRs Kyle Prater and Robert Woods, who are amongst the Trojans’ 8 ESPNU 150 prospects. Woods is so athletic and strong that he may even develop into a future starting safety. The state of California’s single-season record-holder for TDs, Dillon Baxter, stayed on board, while the country’s best TE Xavier Grimble and RB D.J. Morgan give young Matt Barkley potentially even more options on offense. Speaking of Barkley, Kiffin may have landed his future successor in Under Armour All-American Jesse Scroggins. What else can Kiffin have in store in the next few days?
UCLA: Don’t count out Rick Neuheisel and the Bruins in the revamped Los Angeles rivalry with USC. While the class doesn’t rank with ‘SC’s, it’s shaping up to be a nice top-20 class. Under Armour All-American RB Jordon James is one of two in-state backs committed to the Bruins, along with Malcolm Jones. Both are top-10 national backs, with James likely to see action early in his career. ATH Anthony Barr could also see time at RB or on defense, as he possesses enough size, speed and versatility to pull it off. LB Aramide Olaniyan, DT Julious Moore and DT Cassius Marsh bring added talent to the front seven.
Oregon: On the heels of their Rose Bowl berth, Chip Kelly and the Ducks hope to hold onto its current top-25 class. Losing Under Armour All-American game MVP Dominique Easley hurts, but CB Dior Mathis should help ease the loss of the DT, especially in the high-scoring Pac-10. RB Dontae Williams should succeed because they know how to recruit backs in Eugene, and homegrown Curtis White helps ease the loss of Ed Dickson at TE. Kelly may have depth at the position, but it’s one that is crucial to the effectiveness of his spread offense. Will Kelly be able to snag Oregon native Owamagbe Odighizuwa, one of the best DE’s in the nation?
Stanford: Well, Jim Harbaugh is still at Stanford and not in Oakland coaching the Raiders — at least for now. All kidding aside, the highly sought head coach has compiled a large and solid list of commits nationally, including S Devon Carrington, who is tough and athletic, and can effectively play the run and pass. Can four-star RB Anthony Wilkerson make fans forget about Heisman finalist Toby Gerhart? Perhaps eventually, as he’s a productive, bruising back. TE Davis Dudchock should hold his own both blocking and as a receiving threat, and QB Brett Nottingham decided to become a Cardinal rather than a Bruin. LB Jordan Zumwalt, DE Blake Lueders and OL Dillon Bonnell are four-star prospects who help comprise a nice class.
California: Jeff Tedford’s class may be small, but it includes some intriguing prospects, as the Golden Bears look to put behind a disappointing 2009 campaign. DE/OLB Chris Martin and OLB Cecil Whiteside should fit nicely into their 3-4 defense, and Chris Adcock and Alex Crosthwaite are highly rated G prospects who should help the interior of the offense. QB Austin Hinder is a four-star recruit who may be Tedford’s next project, while RB Trajuan Briggs hopes to continue down the path of productive Bears backs. LB Nick Forbes may be able to see the field early in 2010.
Washington: Steve Sarkisian definitely raided California like a good USC disciple would, currently boasting 17 of 29 recruits from the state. This class needed to be big to improve overall team speed on both sides of the ball, and that mission looks to have been accomplished, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. ATH Melvin Davis, RB Deontae Cooper, WR Jamaal Kearse and ATH Kevin Smith are four-star prospects who could eventually make the Huskies look like the Trojans offensively on Saturdays. Kearse could see the field early and be big in the red zone for UW. DT Sione Potoa’e leads a solid defensive line upgrade.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils not only look lackadaisical on the football field but also in the recruiting game. Dennis Erickson was able to get TE Josh Fulton, which is huge in that the tight end position is a big part of the offense run in Tempe. Two juco prospects will join Kevin Anderson in trying to shore up a weak WR core. RB Deantre Lewis also looks like a good pickup, but did they do enough on defense?
Arizona: The Wildcats are clearly going in the right direction under Mike Stoops. Top-25 DT Kirifi Taula should be a disruptive force inside sooner rather than later, and LB Kyle Benson could develop into one of the Wildcats’ signature standout linebackers. And don’t sleep on Willie Mobley as a DT talent. The Cats did well in grabbing help on the offensive line, including T Trent Spurgeon. ATH Marquis Flowers is one of the best prospects in the state of Arizona, which is a nice get over ASU. Big receivers Dexter Ransom and Austin Hill will help in the passing game.
Oregon State: Mike Riley may not get headline talent from California, but he brings in his type of players to the Beavers program every year. In addition, there are not too many coaches better at developing talent. QB Sean Mannion and C Roman Sapolu may be the future anchors of the team’s offense, as Mannion looks to possess the necessary size, arm strength and accuracy to be a proficient Pac-10 QB. It wouldn’t be shocking to see OLB Shaydon Akunawho sign with the Beavers before all is said and done, in addition to other late signees who may be swayed to come to Corvallis. Four-star DTs Thomas Molesi and Happy Iona will help on the interior.
Washington State: Plain and simply, the Cougars need players — and lots of them. Head coach Paul Wulff enters year three with just three victories in Pullman, but compiled a class that has some nice three-star prospects in it. TE Asante Cleveland is a four-star player who is one of 16 California products currently in Wulff’s 2010 class. He is a better blocker but can also be effective in the short passing game. But, will a school make a late pitch to him and decommit? WR Bobby Ratliff should see a good amount of playing time in 2010, as could WR Robert Jiles.
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