The Pac-12 does not get the respect it deserves from the national spotlight. The conference is viewed as a pass-happy league whose teams are soft and only play in sunshine. However, USC has had dominant defenses in the past, and Stanford plays a rugged style of football.
Playing in the Pac-12 is a great honor, and although the conference as a whole is not having its best recruiting cycle, its schools will still likely sign good classes. Several recruits appear to be locks to join the Pac-12, as programs such as USC, Stanford and Oregon can recruit anywhere in the country.
A speedy athlete in Washington will likely stay close to home, a solid tight end prospect will do the same, and a pair of high school teammates will stick together and sign with a Pac-12 school.
Andrew Mike is one the best blockers out west. He is a 6'7", 270-pound offensive tackle who has solid quickness, fires out of his stance and plays big at the point of attack.
An Arizona native, Mike could be a good starting right tackle in the Pac-12. He has the potential to be a key cog in a program's rushing attack.
Three of Mike's top four schools are Pac-12 programs, per 247Sports. His choice will likely come down to Arizona and Washington.
Defensive ends who can stand up over tight ends, disrupt their releases off the line and anchor against running plays are always great to have. Malik Dorton fits that mold, as he has great strength at the point of attack.
Although Dorton is only 6'3" and 230 pounds, he plays bigger than his listed size. He could be a real menace to Pac-12 offenses in a few seasons.
Dorton, who is from southern California, has several Pac-12 programs high on his list, says 247Sports. Look for him to sign with USC or UCLA.
At 6'4" and 240 pounds, Garrett Dickerson can play defensive end or tight end for a team. He is a solid athlete, flashes good speed and is agile for a player his size.
In fact, Dickerson could also develop into an H-back, fullback or outside linebacker in college, which—according to the staff at 247Sports—will be Stanford. Dickerson's versatility will serve him well in David Shaw's program.
The state of Arizona has gradually grown into one of the top upcoming recruiting hotbeds for football talent. Offensive guard Natrell Curtis is a native of the state, and he is one of the top offensive linemen west of the Mississippi.
Curtis, who is 6'3" and 285 pounds, has easy movement in tight spaces for an offensive lineman. He has great agility, loose hips and quick feet. Curtis shows the ability to get to linebackers on the second level, while also flashing the athleticism to hit moving targets.
He is expected to sign with Arizona or Washington, according to the analysts at 247Sports.
St. Bonaventure in Ventura is one of the best high school football programs in California. Former players from the school include running back Lorenzo Booker (Florida State) and receiver Whitney Lewis (USC/Northern Iowa), among many others.
The 2013 team will feature 6'4", 220-pound tight end Bryce Dixon. A receiver trapped in a tight end's body, Dixon has outstanding ball skills to go along with great speed.
He is expected to stay close to home, as USC and UCLA appear to be his leaders, according to 247Sports.
Bishop Mora Salesian in Los Angeles is home to Jamardre Cobb and Marquis Ware. The duo form perhaps the best linebacker combination in the country, as they both are athletic, big, strong and fast.
Cobb is 6'2", 230 pounds and has the ability to punish running backs inside or outside the box. Ware is a versatile player who can play on the flanks as an outside linebacker, or be used as a multithreat offensive weapon.
Ainuu Taua is a 5'11.5", 287-pound defensive tackle who uses his lack of height to his advantage. He fires off the ball low, wins leverage battles and has solid quickness to get around bigger blockers.
Taua also has solid strength, as he is a tough defensive tackle who doesn't shy away from contact. He is an underrated player who is going to make a college coach happy in a few seasons.
Jim Mora and Steve Sarkisian are the top two coaches who have the best chance to land Taua, as he is expected to decide between UCLA and Washington, per the experts at 247Sports.
Adarius Pickett is a slightly underrated cover corner with great skills. He is 5'11", 175 pounds and can equally and effectively play man and zone coverage.
Pickett shows great recovery speed, as he can take a chance at the bottom of a route and still get back to his man in time to make a play on the ball. He flashes outstanding range and can be responsible for a third of the field.
He is a smarter player who will be a starting cornerback in the Pac-12. The California cornerback is expected to sign with either USC or UCLA, according to 247Sports.
When looking at Dalton Schultz's 6'5", 215-pound frame, one would be quick to think that he's a big receiver who will need to learn how to play tight end. However, that is not the case after watching tape on Schultz.
He has shocking strength as a blocker, and this part of his game may be his greatest asset. Schultz can maul defenders to help his running backs carve up defenses. In the passing game, he displays wonderful hands, as he has the ability to pluck balls all around his frame.
The Utah native could choose to play for the Utes, although 247Sports says Stanford will be his pick.
Most lists show Nifae Lealao as a defensive end, but he will be a defensive tackle in college. If he chooses Stanford, Lealao will play end, but the Cardinal defense is a base 3-4 alignment, where ends are essentially defensive tackles.
He is 6'5" and 282 pounds, and he possesses great strength in the trenches. Lealao has solid quickness at the snap, can slip a gap or two and has no issues when it comes to anchoring versus running plays. He could be a monster in college.
It would be shocking if he did not sign with Stanford. However, in the event that he does not opt to play in Palo Alto, the northern California native will likely sign with Cal.
Damien Mama is one of the best run-blocking offensive linemen in the country. The 6'4", 370-pound guard can be overwhelming to defensive tackles, as he easily moves them off their spots, clears alleys and punishes his opponents.
Mama plays in southern California, and his family is made up of USC fans, says ESPNU (subscription required). He will be careful with his recruitment, but look for Mama to sign with the Trojans—if they have a solid 2013 season.
UCLA and Alabama could be threats to Lane Kiffin if he doesn't resurrect the Trojans.
Budda Baker belongs in the Pac-12, as his athletic, quick and speedy style of play fit the overall mold of the conference. The 5'9", 174-pound athlete could be a great safety, receiver or scatback.
Baker has great agility, plays with good instincts and has a high ceiling as a returner. Four of his top five schools are Pac-12 programs, with Oregon seemingly being the favorite, per 247Sports.
He could be the next De'Anthony Thomas in Eugene, but don't count out Baker wanting to play defensive back in college.
A good running back prospect, Joe Mixon could be a solid receiver if he chose to focus solely on the position. He's 6'2", 195 pounds and has great speed, hands and natural receiving skills.
However, Mixon also has good quickness through holes, vision and is a straight-line athlete. He is from northern California and could be a good fit in Cal's offense under new coach Sonny Dykes.
However, according to the analysts at 247Sports, USC is the favorite. Mixon could become one of the better receiving running backs in the Pac-12 before he leaves school.