247Sports brings you some of the standout classes out of the Pac-12 with our Pac-12 Signing Day superlatives:
Tahaan Goodman was part of UCLA's fantastic stretch run.
Best class at filling needs: UCLA
UCLA needed two things desperately in the class of 2013: defensive backs and offensive linemen. Those two areas couldn’t have been addressed in much better fashion than what the Bruins brought in. Among the defensive backs, UCLA has added Top100 prospects Tahaan Goodman and Priest Willis as well as four-stars Tyler Foreman and John Johnson.
On the offensive line, UCLA brought in no less than seven big bodies to provide that instant depth that the Bruins are looking for. Among those, we think Alex Redmond has a chance to be an early contributor and a multi-year starter for the Bruins.
Biggest surprise class: Washington
2013 could be remembered as the year Washington became a major program to reckon with on the recruiting trail. Washington being able to recruit at a high level is nothing new but to be contending for tops in the Pac-12 and among the top ten in the nation is noteworthy.
With this 2013 class, Steve Sarkisian has let it be known that the state of California will be split three ways, with UCLA, USC and now the Huskies divvying up the top prospects. Quarterback Troy Williams, wide receivers Darrell Daniels and Demorea Stringfellow, defensive tackle Elijah Qualls and cornerback Jermaine Kelly are all four-stars from California that were highly sought-after prospects nationwide. But they’re heading to Seattle and you can expect that to be the norm under this staff moving forward.
Best recruiting battle won: Nico Falah to USC
There were numerous Pac-12 signees that were more highly touted and highly ranked than Falah but his decision to stick with USC on national signing day was big in that it stopped the bleeding from what had become a disastrous couple of days for the Trojans.
Ultimately the four-star offensive lineman chose USC despite strong UCLA family ties and a furious Washington push late in the game. In a small class with plenty of star power, the 6-5, 270-pounder is the only offensive tackle that inked with coach Lane Kiffin.
Best down the stretch: UCLA
The Bruins look posed to stake their claim among the best recruiting programs in the country in 2014, particularly if their late close for 2013 is any indication. How’s this for a finish? Six of UCLA’s top seven signees committed to head coach Jim Mora since Jan. 20. In just three weeks, UCLA was able to land almost all of its most highly sought after prospects.
Those names include Top100 defensive backs Priest Willis (yet to sign) and Tahaan Goodman, Top247 DL and former USC commit Kylie Fitts, Top100 linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea and the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country in Asianti Woulard.
Most significant flip: Torrodney Prevot, from USC to Oregon
There was no secret that Prevot, a four-star defensive end out of Texas, was shaky in his commitment to USC heading towards national signing day but most saw the biggest threat to steal him away as Texas A&M. Instead it was the Pac-12 rival Oregon Ducks that were able to lure Prevot to Eugene.
Prevot stung a USC program that was reeling from class defections late in the process but he also gave a good boost to an Oregon class that had a quietly strong close under new head coach Mark Helfrich.
Biggest obstacle overcome: Oregon
Plenty of programs around the country dealt with coaching changes but Oregon had some unique obstacles to overcome in the coaching change that it was faced with. In Chip Kelly, Oregon had developed an offensive brand almost as recognizable as the Nike jerseys the program dons. With Kelly’s departure, the program was faced with reassuring recruits that the brand would stay strong and the program was in good hands and the timing couldn’t have been worse.
Kelly departed just three weeks before national signing day and most classes would have gone into a tail spin. But unlike the approach that most programs take, Oregon just pulled the next man up in Mark Helfrich and once again kept one of the most stable coaching staffs largely in place. What resulted was a strong finish and a top 20 recruiting class.
Top impact recruit: Su’a Cravens, USC
USC’s defense was nothing to be proud of in 2012 and there will be plenty of opportunity for freshmen to step in and make their mark early on within that defense in 2013. Perhaps none is more equipped to make that mark than Cravens. The top safety in the country, Cravens is already on campus at USC and is the kind of instinctual, playmaking defender that will waste no time getting into the rotation.
Top impact sleeper: Takkarist McKinley, Cal
McKinley has all the makings of a super sleeper. At 6-4, 230 pounds, the defensive end runs the 100 meters in under 10.6 seconds. He’s also only been playing football for two years and he’s already becoming a force. In the Cal-State All-Star game McKinley made a strong statement as to the kind of player that he is and assuming he gets qualified, we expect you’ll hear his name a lot on the next level.
Biggest disappointment (Team): USC
Most schools that finish at No. 14 in the 247Composite team rankings would have nothing to be disappointed about but USC holds itself to a higher standard and when you compare Kiffin’s final list of signees to the group he had committed over the summer, it’s startling to think about what could have been.
Among the players that were once committed to USC only to end up elsewhere are 247Composite five-star Jalen Ramsey, five-star Eddie Vanderdoes, Top100 safety Max Redfield, Top247 defensive lineman Kylie Fitts, 247composite four-star Jason Hatcher and four-star defender Torrodney Prevot.
Class that could surprise: Stanford
In 2013, Stanford was all about quality over quantity and with only 12 signees, the group is easy to overlook. But when you examine the group player-by-player, it is an impressive list. Ryan Burns is an elite national quarterback and there are several more typical Stanford big bodies on the line of scrimmage like TE Eric Cotton, and defenders Austin Hooper and Mike Tyler. Despite the low ranking, Stanford’s haul should keep them near the top of the Pac-12 on the field.
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