Pac-12 Football Early Enrollees You Need to Know More About
National Signing Day marks an important milestone in the college football season, but some recruits choose not to wait until then to get started.
Early enrollment is an opportunity for collegiate newcomers to acclimate to campus and integrate into the lineup during spring practices.
A few potential instant-impact recruits are enrolling at their chosen Pac-12 universities in the coming weeks. Look for them to make a splash in the offseason.
Star ratings are via 247Sports.com composite rankings.
LB Zach Whitley, UCLA
UCLA is living up to that Linebacker U. declaration. Like Arizona with Tabor, the Bruins beat Alabama for a highly coveted 4-star recruit, inside linebacker Zach Whitley.
Whitley is bringing his Texas-bred game to Westwood, Calif., joining linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich's elite corps that returns Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Myles Jack on the outside and leading tackler Eric Kendricks on the interior.
Whitley will compete with freshmen Ryan Hofmeister and Isaako Savaiinaea for the other inside linebacker position hard-hitting Jordan Zumwalt vacates.
OG Toa Lobendahn, USC
Toa Lobendahn, a local product from La Habra (Calif.) and starting right guard in the U.S. Army All-American Game, joins a line that returns starters Aundrey Walker, Max Tuerk and Chad Wheeler.
Many of USC's offensive woes in the early part of the 2013 season could be attributed to woes on the offensive line. A young group matured over the course of the campaign and became a strength down the stretch.
That doesn't mean the Trojans couldn't use another immediate contributor, though. With center Marcus Martin leaving early for the NFL, USC will need support on the interior of the line. The 4-star Lobendahn can play center as well as guard, and spring practice is a prime opportunity for him to find his role within the unit.
WR Kaelin Clay, Utah
JUCO transfer Kaelin Clay has only one season of eligibility remaining, so the wide receiver has to make up for lost time quickly. Good thing quick describes his game.
Clay was originally a Cal commit and won the Golden Bears' scout team player of the year honors in 2010, but he spent the last two years at Mt. San Antonio College in Southern California.
Clay led Mt. San Antonio in receiving and all-purpose yards, doubling both as a wideout and kick returner per UtahUtes.com. His skill set is similar to that of junior Dres Anderson. The two could combine to spread out opposing defenses.
DE Claudeson Pelon, USC
The Florida recruiting pipeline has been good to USC, bringing in such current Trojans stars as Leonard Williams. USC could have another Sunshine State gem in 4-star junior college transfer and defensive end Claudeson Pelon.
Pelon told B/R USC lead writer Trenise Ferreira Williams helped in the decision-making process.
"Knowing Leonard and having a relationship with him made [coming cross-country to USC] even easier," he said.
George Uko's early departure for the NFL opens a spot along the Trojans defensive line, so Pelon could work his way into a prominent position with a strong spring.
WR Lee Walker, Colorado
Originally an Arizona commit along with San Diego James Madison teammate Pierre Cormier, Lee Walker did not qualify. He will get to play in the Pac-12, however, committing to Colorado in December.
The 3-star prospect Walker was a multifaceted playmaker for Madison's California Interscholastic Federation championship-winning team in 2012, scoring 16 touchdowns. His 4.4 40-yard dash time makes him a potentially explosive playmaker in a vein similar to departing Buffaloes wide receiver Paul Richardson.