Power Ranking 2014 Pac-12 Recruiting Classes
Pac-12 programs finished national signing day with a flourish, particularly Stanford and USC.
The Cardinal and Trojans swept their final group of targets to secure top-20 national rankings per 247Sports.com.
USC overcame the pinch of NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations, going 3-for-3 in signing heralded local prospects Adoree' Jackson, John "JuJu" Smith and Damien Mama. The trio gives USC a strong claim to best class in the conference.
There's plenty of talent coming into programs around the Pac-12 though, including at USC rival UCLA. The Bruins were one of five Pac-12 teams to finish ranked No. 26 or better.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. Recruiting information obtained via 247Sports.com unless otherwise noted. Individual player ratings complied from 247Sports.com composite scores. Team rankings compiled from 247Sports.com data. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
12. Colorado Buffaloes
247Sports.com National Rank: 78
Total No. of Recruits: 21
Star Recruit: Shay Fields, 3-star wide receiver from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Some services rank Shay Fields as a 4-star prospect, which makes him the first such recruit in MacIntyre's coaching history as Kyle Ringo of BuffZone.com tweeted.
Fields was a star for Southern California powerhouse St. John Bosco, catching 82 passes for 1,617 yards and 17 touchdowns per MaxPreps.com.
Fields could be a threat in much the same vein as departing Buff standout Paul Richardson.
Underrated Player: Lee Walker, 3-star athlete from San Diego James Madison
Lee Walker was an Arizona commit in 2013, but failed to qualify. He'll get his shot in the Pac-12 at Colorado, and he has plenty to offer.
Walker was a two-way standout for San Diego James Madison's Sectional championship in 2012.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre's uphill climb in reestablishing Colorado on the college football scene starts on the recruiting trail. The Buffs are in the same tenuous position in the Pac-12 as the Big 12, trying to broach the talent pools local to conference counterparts.
In the Big 12, it was Texas; in the Pac-12, it's California.
Twelve of the 21 new Buffs signed from high schools and junior colleges in the Golden State. Breaking into an area already so competitively recruited by the rest of the conference means mining for hidden gems.
MacIntyre has a history of unlocking under-the-radar talent's potential.
San Jose State quarterback David Fales wasn't a Div. I prospect out of high school and is now headed to the NFL. Linebacker Addison Gillam originally committed to MacIntyre at San Jose State, and became a Freshman All-American at Colorado.
MacIntyre will need to polish the hidden gems in this class to make Colorado competitive in the deep Pac-12.
11. Utah Utes
247Sports.com National Rank: 67
Total No. of Recruits: 19
Star Recruit: Jackson Barton, offensive tackle from Salt Lake City Brighton
Rated as highly as 4-stars, Jackson Barton is a significant addition to Utah's 2014 recruiting class. He was a target of numerous power-conference programs, and opting to stay home to play for the Utes is a major win.
Underrated Player: Pita Tonga, defensive end from Salt Lake City Highland
Utah is notable for featuring some of the conference's premier defensive line talent in recent years, and local prospect Pita Tonga fits the mold to continue that tradition.
The next step for the Utes to be truly competitive as they enter the fourth year of their conference membership is establishing depth, and this class is central to that mission.
The skill position players are the ones to watch, as that's been the most questionable area for Utah since transition to the Pac-12. Quarterback Donovan Isom headlines this group, which also includes five different wide receivers.
10. Oregon State Beavers
247Sports.com National Rank: 56
Total No. of Recruits: 29
Star Recruit: Datrin Guyton, wide receiver from Manor (Tex.)
Oregon State's potent passing attack has thrived with big-time playmakers like Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks at wide receiver, and Datrin Guyton could be the next player in that line.
Underrated Player: Ryan Nall, linebacker from Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic
Local prospect Ryan Nall flew under the radar during the recruitment process, but he offers the Beavers good size at 6'3", 235 pounds, and played both offense and defense at the high school level.
There exists an exception to every rule. Consider Mike Riley the exception to the rule that recruiting rankings are often accurate predictions of a program's future success.
Oregon State's classes with Riley as head coach are typically not the most heralded, but he has a knack for developing high school prospects into productive Pac-12 players.
Quarterback Sean Mannion set the conference's single-season passing record last year and was only a 3-star recruit. The same is true for Cooks.
That's not to say the Beavers' class is lacking in standouts. Offensive lineman Kammy Delp's switch from Arizona State to Oregon State was a considerable coup for Riley.
9. California Golden Bears
247Sports.com National Rank: 51
Total No. of Recruits: 22
Star Recruit: Erik Brown, wide receiver from Fontana (Calif.) Summit
Erik Brown is the most highly rated of the 2014 Cal signees, and perhaps the best suited to immediately contribute. Head coach Sonny Dykes' "bear raid" offense requires multiple playmakers at wide receiver, and high turnover in the program meant he could not be shy about giving newcomers opportunities.
Brown could step in as a primary target in his first year a la Kenny Lawler.
Underrated Player: Devonte Downs, linebacker from Mountlake Terrace (Wash.)
Cal had the most porous scoring defense among BCS conference teams a season ago and needs immediate help in all phases. Dykes scored a coup in landing Devonte Downs, a target of several other Pac-12 teams and U.S. Army All-American.
There may not be a head coach in the Pac-12 who needs an immediate splash from his 2014 signing class than Cal's Dykes. The Golden Bears are coming off a trying 1-11 campaign and have numerous holes to fill up and down the roster.
Fortunately for Dykes, he landed a solid recruiting class replete with talent on both sides of the ball, like running back Tre Watson.
His highlight reel includes an electrifying run that may be one of the more jaw-dropping clips from this year's signing class.
8. Washington State Cougars
247Sports.com National Rank: 50
Total No. of Recruits: 19
Star Recruit: Barry Ware, wide receiver from Corona (Calif.) Centennial
Meet the newest weapon in head coach Mike Leach's air-raid arsenal.
Barry Ware caught for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns last season at Corona Centennial, including four in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section playoffs against St. John Bosco per MaxPreps.com.
At 6'3", Ware has the size to become a big target for the Cougars right away.
Underrated Player: Kevin Griffin, cornerback from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle
The Cougars suffer some major losses from the secondary in Deone Bucannon and Damante Horton, which means immediate need for playmakers at defensive back. Griffin intercepted three passes in 2013 for Northern California prep powerhouse Concord De La Salle per Maxpreps.com.
The potent passing attack Leach popularized at Texas Tech is showing life on the Palouse, and the influx of new talent could be a catalyst for igniting the Cougars' offense further in the coming years.
Washington State missed out on some line help, including tackle Marcus Griffin, who ended up at Arizona. The Cougars are adding three offensive lineman and three defensive ends in this class. Otherwise, Leach netted a solid class at No. 50 in the nation.
7. Washington Huskies
247Sports.com National Rank: 37
Total No. of Recruits: 23
Star Recruit: Budda Baker, athlete from Bellevue (Wash.)
Budda Baker's flip from Oregon was the biggest win of Washington's 2014 recruiting cycle. The local product can star on both offense and defense, giving new head coach Chris Petersen options.
Underrated Player: Brayden Lenius, wide receiver from West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
Brayden Lenius is an intriguing, big addition to the Washington wide receiver corps. At 6'5", he's taller than the majority of returners in a deep group.
What do you do when you have a late start in the recruiting process as new Washington head coach Chris Petersen faced upon his Dec. 9 hire? The answer for Petersen was to start flipping.
He has yet to lead a Pac-12 team on the field, but Petersen scored a few victories over his new rivals by signing former Oregon commit Budda Baker, a multi-talented talent from nearby Bellevue (Wash.). The Huskies also landed former Arizona commit and cornerback Naijiel Hale.
With four 4-star prospects, Petersen is working with more highly rated prospects in this class than his entire tenure at Boise State.
6. Arizona Wildcats
247Sports.com National Rank: 32
Total No. of Recruits: 28
Star Recruit: Cameron Denson, cornerback from Tucson Salpointe Catholic
Arizona scored a big-time local get with the addition of Cameron Denson. Denson should be able to step into defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 stack defense immediately and flourish with his ball-hawking ability and quickness.
Underrated Player: Layth Friekh, offensive tackle from Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial
Another in-state prospect, Layth Friekh, adds to a signing class heavy in offensive line support. Solid line play is the foundation of Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez's potent spread offense, and Friekh was a standout at Peoria Centennial.
Rodriguez emphasizes signing what he calls "OKG," or "Our Kinda Guys," players he believes are committed to the program's system.
His first two recruiting classes supplemented the program's existing talent from signing classes landed by predecessor Mike Stoops, but in 2014 Arizona will look to closely represent Rodriguez's vision for the program.
This particular signing class will get opportunities at several positions. Look for running back Jonathan Haden to be one of the players jockeying to replace Ka'Deem Carey, along with Nick Wilson.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils
247Sports.com National Rank: 26
Total No. of Recruits: 28
Star Recruit: Derik Calhoun, linebacker from El Cerriot (Calif.)
The loss of eight starters from the Sun Devils' Pac-12 South-winning defense opens some immediate opportunities for first-year players, and linebacker Derik Calhoun is an All-American with the ability to play a multidimensional style akin to All-Conference Sun Devil Carl Bradford.
Underrated Player: Renell Wren, defensive end from St. Louis Lutheran North
At 6'5", 245 pounds, Renell Wren is a big addition at defensive end.
His size gives Arizona State the kind of disruptive pass-rusher head coach Todd Graham and defensive coordinator Paul Randolph like to bring off the edges in their multiple blitz packages.
Head coach Todd Graham emphasized three recruiting regions for his program: Arizona, California and Texas.
Those states account for 18 of the Sun Devils' 28 additions in the 2014 recruiting class, including five of the seven 4-star additions.
4. Oregon Ducks
247Sports.com National Rank: 22
Total No. of Recruits: 18
Star Recruit: Royce Freeman, running back from Imperial (Calif.)
The powerful Royce Freeman adds a new dimension to the prolific Oregon run game. The Ducks have been known for their speed and focus on spreading out defenses, but Freeman is the kind of running back who can overpower and move the ball.
That's all Oregon needs; more weapons.
Underrated Player: Braden Eggert, offensive tackle from Napa (Calif.)
Oregon has had some stellar offensive lines during the program's current run of success, and this class looks to continue that run.
There are more highly rated additions along the line than Braden Eggert, but he has a 4-star nod from 247Sports.com data, and at 6'7", 305 pounds, offers some college-ready size.
Head coach Mark Helfrich has a solid crop of top-tier prospects committed in his 2014 class, and they're coming to Eugene, Ore., from numerous pipelines. The Ducks have prospects from Louisiana, Florida and Texas, in addition to the nine from California.
Oregon's outside additions are especially noteworthy because safety Mattrell McGraw (Louisiana), linebacker Jimmie Swain (Kansas) and cornerback Arrion Springs (Texas) are among the class' most highly touted prospects.
3. UCLA Bruins
247Sports.com National Rank: 21
Total No. of Recruits: 18
Star Recruit: Zach Whitley, linebacker from Houston North Shore
The highly touted All-American Zach Whitley spurned powerhouse Alabama when he declared his commitment to UCLA, and Whitley promises to continue the tradition of standout linebackers UCLA has established in recent years.
Underrated Player: Kolton Miller, offensive lineman from Roseville (Calif.)
In addition to linebacker, UCLA has recruited well along the offensive line. That made a huge difference in 2013, when three true freshmen started along the front five. Kolton Miller is a 4-star prospect by 247Sports.com's data and will add depth at tackle.
UCLA added to its national recruiting presence on signing day with the addition of 4-star linebacker Kenny Young from New Orleans John Curtis, an addition that lends further credence to a Linebacker U. tweet sent last June.
Young and Houston North Shore's Zach Whitley headline another strong recruiting class for head coach Jim Mora, who has kept the Bruins in the top 25 of recruiting rankings all three years since taking over at UCLA.
2. Stanford Cardinal
247Sports.com National Rank: 15
Total No. of Recruits: 22
Star Recruit: Solomon Thomas, defensive end from Coppell (Tex.)
The grand finale of Stanford's 2014 signing class was the addition of coveted Texas prospect Solomon Thomas. A dynamic pass rusher, Thomas can man the line but also blitz off the edge in a similar fashion to 2013 Cardinal All-American Trent Murphy.
Underrated Player: Alijah Holder, defensive back from Oceanside (Calif.)
Alijah Holder was a standout at San Diego-area powerhouse Oceanside this season, intercepting two passes and defending another nine according to MaxPreps.com. At 6'1", Holder has good size for matching up with bigger wide receivers, a quality that Stanford has typically had success with in recent years.
Stanford's place among college football's elite programs is rather unique in that the university's rigorous academic standards means the program must recruit nationally.
"If we're going after a kid from Georgia, we're up against Georgia," head coach David Shaw said at last July's Pac-12 media day.
Indeed, there are challenges for recruiting players into Stanford, but former head coach Jim Harbaugh and his predecessor Shaw have turned those challenges into advantages.
This particular recruiting is a great example, as the Cardinal added prospects from all six states with Pac-12 programs, but also brought in prospects from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska and Texas.
This is a truly national collection continuing the Cardinal's recent success on the recruiting trail.
1. USC Trojans
247Sports.com National Rank: 13
Total No. of Recruits: 19
Star Recruit: Adoree' Jackson, cornerback from Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra
Landing 5-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson was the cherry on top of a great signing class for first-year USC head coach Steve Sarkisian.
The talented Jackson is a local product and dynamic playmaker, capable of filling the Trojans' need in the secondary right away as well as taking on other responsibilities.
Underrated Player: John Plattenburg Jr., cornerback from Houston Lamar
John Plattenburg Jr. had a host of offers from around the nation, but lands with USC. He's another talented addition to the secondary who could add much-needed depth on defense.
Trojans fans were concerned about recruiting, but USC is going to be just fine on that front.
Sarkisian's first class as the new Trojans head coach took some time to come together, but he proved resoundingly on national signing day that how one finishes matters more than how one starts.
Sarkisian and his staff landed all three of the big-time targets on their wish list coming into national signing day: Jackson, athlete John "JuJu" Smith and offensive lineman Damien Mama. Combine their letters of intent with the eight 4-star prospects already committed to the Trojans, and USC finishes this recruiting cycle where it has so many before it: atop the Pac-12.
Top 5 Overall Classes
Compare how the Pac-12 fared against the top five recruiting classes of 2014.