Pac-12 Football Recruiting: Key to Every Team's 2014 Class
The Pac-12 was one of the most competitive leagues in college football last season, and now it is time for each program to bring in the recruits that will keep them in contention.
Two days before signing day, the conference boasts several impressive classes, led by the Stanford Cardinal, UCLA Bruins and Oregon Ducks—and the USC Trojans could be right up there after signing day.
We'll break down all 12 of the league's recruiting classes, highlighting the key players reeled in by each program.
Note: All recruit and class rankings based on the 247Sports Composite ratings, unless otherwise noted. All class rankings pre-signing day.
Pac-12 Rank: 12
Key: 3-star WR Shay Fields
Colorado was in need of a new playmaker on the outside after the departure of star receiver Paul Richardson.
Richardson amassed 1,343 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in an incredible junior campaign and will now ride that momentum into the NFL draft.
The Buffaloes are young on both sides of the ball, so experience will prove more valuable that recruiting for this team.
Oregon State Beavers
Pac-12 Rank: 11
Key: 4-star WR Datrin Guyton
Oregon State will be moving on next season without its best playmaker, Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks, making the commitment of 4-star receiver Datrin Guyton a necessity.
A composite 3-star and a 4-star according to 247Sports, Guyton chose the Beavers over TCU and Arkansas State. He's the highest rated player in Oregon State's class.
In a pass-happy spread attack like that of OSU, a team can never have too many playmakers on the outside. In addition to Guyton, the Beavers have two 3-star receiver commits, Xavier Hawkins and Javon Williams.
Washington State Cougars
Pac-12 Rank: 10
Washington State made two clear priorities in its 2014 class: playmakers and defense.
However, the biggest additions were made on defense. Wazzu added 3-star Greg Hoyd III at linebacker, as well as several defensive backs to a group that finished 11th in the league against the pass.
Pac-12 Rank: 9
Key: Offensive playmakers
Utah finished 11th in the conference in total offense last year with only one major playmaker, receiver Dres Anderson.
Five 3-star receivers in total joined, also joining 3-star quarterback Donovan Isom.
Pac-12 Rank: 8
Key: 4-star QB K.J. Carta-Samuels
K.J. Carta-Samuels was supposed to be the quarterback of the future for Vanderbilt, but once James Franklin departed for Penn State, plans changed.
It just so happened that Washington was going through similar turmoil with its coaching class after Steve Sarkisian left for USC.
New head coach Chris Petersen lured the 4-star to Seattle, and he is the undoubted headliner of the class. UW has a solid young quarterback in Cyler Miles, but Carta-Samuels could challenge him immediately.
California Golden Bears
Pac-12 Rank: 7
California's 2014 class is heavy on defense, which is just what Sonny Dykes' team needs after finishing last in the league in total and scoring defense.
The Bears boast five early enrollees, all on defense. That group is led by All-American linebacker Devante Downs, who is a 4-star according to 247Sports. He is joined by four JUCO defenders who will vie for early playing time.
In total, Cal has claimed verbals from full complement of 11 defenders.
Pac-12 Rank: 6
Key: Running back, cornerback
Arizona had two clear goals in its class: refill its backfield after the departure of Ka'Deem Carey and reload at cornerback.
They addressed the other with several top prospects, including 5-star Jalen Tabor and 4-star Naijiel Hale, but both decommitted. Arizona still brought in 4-star corner Cam Denson, as well as three 3-stars at the position.
Pac-12 Rank: 5
Key: 5-star CB Adoree' Jackson
USC hasn't acquired its key yet, but there's no doubt that Adoree' Jackson, the No. 7 overall prospect in the 2014 class, is the one the Trojans want.
If he does indeed commit to USC, he'll not only be the top prospect in his class, he'll be the highest rated player in the Pac-12.
Steve Sarkisian has done an excellent job in this class already, and it is poised to improve on singing day.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Pac-12 Rank: 4
Key: 4-star LB Derik Calhoun
Arizona State will lose several top defenders from 2014, including linebacker Carl Bradford and several others.
To that end, the Sun Devils reloaded on defense, starting with All-American 4-star linebacker Derik Calhoun—one of three 4-star defenders in the class.
ASU also added three 4-star receivers, including No. 3 JUCO receiver Eric Lauderdale. The Sun Devils had just one receiver with more than 500 yards last season.
As great as those receivers might be, shoring up the defense behind Calhoun was priority No. 1.
Pac-12 Rank: 3
Key: 5-star RB Royce Freeman
Oregon has several big-time players coming in its 2014 class, but none bigger than Royce Freeman, a 5-star running back according to 247Sports.
At 5'11", 215 pounds, Freeman will be the power back that Oregon hasn't had in recent years. The Ducks will also have some open carries in their backfield after the departure of De'Anthony Thomas.
Pac-12 Rank: 2
Key: 4-star LB Zach Whitley
The No. 5 linebacker in the nation, Zach Whitley will be the most highly anticipated addition for UCLA.
The Bruins lost two of their top linebackers, Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt, so Whitley could compete for time immediately, just as Myles Jack did as a freshman last year.
UCLA stocked up on both sides of the ball, but the defensive addition of Whitley could be the biggest.
Pac-12 Rank: 1
Key: 4-star QB Keller Chryst
Stanford has achieved sustained success in its program, but this season it lacked the offensive firepower to take it to the next level.
The Cardinal offense hasn't been the same since Andrew Luck departed. While Kevin Hogan has been solid, Keller Chryst looks like the quarterback of the future.
With the addition of Chryst, and the reloading of its stingy defense, Stanford will remain competitive in the Pac-12.
The Cardinal added several 4-star defenders as well.