Pac-12 Football

Pac-12 Football Recruiting: Key to Every Team's 2014 Class

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIFebruary 3, 2014

Pac-12 Football Recruiting: Key to Every Team's 2014 Class

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    UCLA LB commit Zach Whitley
    UCLA LB commit Zach WhitleyCredit: 247Sports

    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.

Colorado Buffaloes

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    Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 74

    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

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    Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 61

    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

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    3-star JUCO CB Joseph Turner is one of several key defensive additions in Wazzu's 2014 class.
    3-star JUCO CB Joseph Turner is one of several key defensive additions in Wazzu's 2014 class.Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 60

    Pac-12 Rank: 10

    Key: Defense

     

    Washington State made two clear priorities in its 2014 class: playmakers and defense.

    The Cougars brought in several 3-star offensive skill players, including all-purpose back Calvin Green and receiver Barry Ware.

    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.

    Several of those new DBs could contribute early, including 3-star JUCO corner Joseph Turner and 3-star corner Kevin Griffin.

     

Utah Utes

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    JUCO WR Brandon Snell is one of several players added to Utah's depth on the outside.
    JUCO WR Brandon Snell is one of several players added to Utah's depth on the outside.Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 56

    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.

    The Utes attended to that problem by landing several prospects at receiver, including junior college 3-stars Kaelin Clay and Brandon Snell.

    Five 3-star receivers in total joined, also joining 3-star quarterback Donovan Isom.

Washington Huskies

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    Washington has its QB of the future in K.J. Carta-Samuels
    Washington has its QB of the future in K.J. Carta-SamuelsCredit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 49

    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.

    Outside of Carta-Samuels, the Huskies have one other 4-star: cornerback Naijiel Hale. They are also targeting 4-star athlete Budda Baker.

California Golden Bears

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    All-American LB Devante Downs headlines a solid class of defenders for Cal.
    All-American LB Devante Downs headlines a solid class of defenders for Cal.Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 46

    Pac-12 Rank: 7

    Key: Defense

     

    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.

Arizona Wildcats

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    Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 29

    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.

    The Wildcats accomplished the first goal by reeling in 4-star running back Nick Wilson and 3-star all-purpose back Jonathan Haden, an early enrollee.

    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.

USC Trojans

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    5-star CB Adoree' Jackson could become the crown jewel of USC's 2014 class.
    5-star CB Adoree' Jackson could become the crown jewel of USC's 2014 class.Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 28

    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.

    The Trojans are hoping for his name in ink on signing day, as well as 5-star safety John "Juju" Smith and 4-star guard Damien Mama.

    Steve Sarkisian has done an excellent job in this class already, and it is poised to improve on singing day.

Arizona State Sun Devils

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    All-American linebacker Derik Calhoun headlines a strong ASU class.
    All-American linebacker Derik Calhoun headlines a strong ASU class.Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 22

    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.

Oregon Ducks

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    5-star RB Royce Freeman could add a different dimension to the Oregon offense.
    5-star RB Royce Freeman could add a different dimension to the Oregon offense.Eric Gay/Associated Press

    National Rank: 19

    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.

    Other key players in this class include 4-star corner Arrion Springs and 4-star dual-threat quarterback Morgan Mahalak.

UCLA Bruins

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    All-American LB Zach Whitley will fit right in on the UCLA defense.
    All-American LB Zach Whitley will fit right in on the UCLA defense.Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 17

    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.

    Several All-Americans highlight the UCLA class, including Whitley, safety Jaleel Wadood and receiver Austin Roberts.

    UCLA stocked up on both sides of the ball, but the defensive addition of Whitley could be the biggest.

Stanford Cardinal

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    Could QB Keller Chryst be Stanford's next Andrew Luck?
    Could QB Keller Chryst be Stanford's next Andrew Luck?Credit: 247Sports

    National Rank: 14

    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.

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