USC vs. UCLA: Which Pac-12 Power Will Finish with Better 2014 Recruiting Class

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJanuary 16, 2014

USC vs. UCLA: Which Pac-12 Power Will Finish with Better 2014 Recruiting Class

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Things are different in Los Angeles these days. As USC is undergoing changes, UCLA is as confident as ever.

    Steve Sarkisian is the now head coach in Troy, but the Trojans are still expected to recruit at a high level under his guidance. However, the Bruins and head coach Jim Mora are not conceding anything to USC. This dynamic has led to an intense arms race on the recruiting trail between the pair of Pac-12 powers.

    With National Signing Day rapidly approaching, it's time to see which Los Angeles program will finish with the better recruiting class.

    All recruiting totals are based on 247Sports

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

2014 USC Recruiting Capsule

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Head coach Steve Sarkisian should do just fine recruiting at USC for several reasons.

    First, Sarksian was one of former head coach Pete Carroll's best recruiters when he was an assistant at USC. Secondly, Sarkisian routinely raided California for prospects to bring to Seattle when he was the head coach at Washington.

    Finally, USC has a brand that sells itself.

    The Trojans have 17 commitments, although several pledges could end up at other schools due to USC wanting to assure itself of having room for the recruits it truly wants to sign due to scholarship limitations. California leads the way with 14 commitments, while Arizona, Texas and Idaho are also represented.

    The class is broken down into nine players on offense and eight on defense. 

2014 UCLA Recruiting Capsule

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    While head coach Jim Mora certainly has the charisma to charm recruits, he also has a staff of assistant coaches who love to attack the recruiting trail. UCLA has signed two impressive classes since Mora's arrival in Westwood.

    The Bruins have 17 commitments, with 11 being from California. However, UCLA has expanded its national reach, as evidenced by plucking two players from Texas. States such as Alabama, Indiana, Colorado and Florida are also represented among the group.

    Mora's recruiting focus has been on defense, as 11 recruits play on that side of the ball. The offense will likely receive seven prospects. 

USC's Top 2014 Commitments

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    The Trojans' class is led by nasty 4-star guard Viane Talamaivao. At 6'3" and 310 pounds, Talamaivao has the strength to contribute early in Troy. Toa Lobendahn is a 4-star guard who is not far behind.

    Bryce Dixon is a speedy 4-star tight end who has the potential to be dynamic in the passing game. Claudeson Pelon is a 4-star JUCO defensive lineman who can play end and tackle. Instinctive 4-star cornerback Jonathan Lockett could help the thin Trojan secondary early in his career, while Rahshead Johnson is a 4-star receiver who can also play cornerback.

    John Plattenburg Jr. is a gritty defensive back, as the 3-star prospect played his senior year of high school football in Texas. Linebacker Olajuwon Tucker is a sleeper 3-star prospect with huge upside, plus the Trojans boast a pledge from solid 4-star offensive lineman Chris Brown.

    Another player to keep an eye on is talented 3-star defensive end Don Hill, while 3-star quarterback Jalen Greene has the athleticism to play almost anywhere. 


UCLA's Top 2014 Commitments

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    The top player in UCLA's class is 4-star cornerback Adarius Pickett. Talented in man and zone coverage, Pickett is a 5'11", 175-pound California native who will become a solid starter in Westwood.

    Zach Whitley is an impressive 4-star linebacker from Texas, while 4-star safety Jaleel Wadood was one of the best all-around football players in California this past season. Dwight Williams is a 4-star outside linebacker who could be the best cover linebacker in the country.

    The Bruins also have a pledge from 4-star athlete Nathan Starks, who will likely play running back at UCLA. Austin Roberts is another 4-star athlete in the class who will likely play on offense for the Bruins, as receiver is his likely destination.

    Although he's short at 5'11.5" for his position, 4-star defensive tackle Ainuu Taua can play with anyone. Also, keep an eye on 6'4" 4-star receiver Alex Van Dyke

USC's Top Remaining 2014 Recruiting Targets

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    The remaining recruits on the Trojans' wish list are centered around a trio of 5-star prospects.

    USC is doing all it can to land athlete John Smith, cornerback Adoree' Jackson and offensive lineman Damien Mama.

    Those three players are the prime focus of USC's recruiting efforts right now. However, recruits such as 4-star athlete Michiah Quick, 3-star receiver/athlete Charles Nelson, 3-star cornerback Lamont Simmons, 3-star JUCO defensive tackle Lance McDowdell and 2-star cornerback Davonte Nunnery remain on the radar.


UCLA's Top Remaining 2014 Recruiting Targets

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    Like their rivals, the Bruins are trying to sign 5-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson, 5-star offensive lineman Damien Mama and 5-star athlete John Smith.

    Rashaan Evans, a 5-star linebacker/defensive end from Alabama, remains a big target.

    UCLA is also in the hunt for 4-star athlete Michiah Quick, 3-star athlete Cornelius Sturghill, 3-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao and 3-star offensive linemen Nick Gates and Morgan Richey.

    They're also eyeing 5-star receiver Malachi Dupre, plus his high school teammate Kenny Young, who is a 4-star linebacker. 

Who Will Finish with the Better Class?

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    It's a close race between the two schools right now, as UCLA's class is No. 18 and USC is No. 19 in the 247Sports recruiting rankings.

    However, the Trojans likely will sign two of the three 5-star targets on their wish list, which should push them past UCLA in the final recruiting rankings. The Bruins will land a couple of more solid recruits, but it will not be enough to keep USC from finishing with a better class. 

2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map

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    The Bruins and Trojans both have several recruits and recruiting targets who can be found on the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map!

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.