Most Pac-12 fans will have to wait through a redshirt season before seeing the latest crop of players contribute to their teams of choice. However, more and more freshmen come into the college game each year better prepared for its rigors.
Three Pac-12 programs in particular could lean on more incoming players than the rest of the conference.
By landing a number of junior college prospects, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez may have the Pac-12's recruiting class most adequately prepared to contribute right away.
Six JUCO transfers jump into the fray during spring practice, including four on defense, where coordinator Jeff Casteel could certainly use the depth.
A more experienced and significantly deeper defense saw Arizona shave more than 11 points per game off its yield from 2012 to 2013. Starting linebackers Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers, defensive linemen Sione Tuihalamaka and Tevin Hood and defensive back Shaquille Richardson are all on the way out.
Offensively, in Jordan Poland and Layth Friekh, Rodriguez landed two big-time line additions capable of adding depth to a veteran unit, and running backs Jonathan Haden and Nick Wilson will compete to earn some of the more than 300 carries All-American Ka'Deem Carey takes with him to the NFL.
Head coach Sonny Dykes needs his Golden Bears to be much more competitive in his second year at the helm, and to that end the 2014 recruiting class is rife with "guys we expect to be playing in the fall," as Dykes described in his national signing day press conference.
Dykes was not bashful about using first-year players in overhauling the offense last season, so don't be surprised if numerous recruits are playing prominent roles on the opposite side of the ball this season as first-year defensive coordinator Art Kaufman tries to overhaul the Golden Bears defense.
The offense also has some additions that could work into contributing roles right away. Wide receiver Erik Brown could factor into the pass-happy Bear-Raid attack, and running back Tre Watson earned lofty praise from Dykes, per the Golden Bear Report.
No team in the conference needs as much of an immediate impact from its incoming class as USC, which lost five early departures to the NFL draft to compound the depth issues with which the Trojans dealt throughout the 2013 campaign.
New head coach Steve Sarkisian addressed one of the thinner units in the lineup particularly well with this recruiting cycle, signing a stacked offensive line class with 4-star prospects Damien Mama, Chris Brown, Viane Talamaivao and early enrollee Toa Lobendahn.
Also Keep an Eye On:
- UCLA linebacker Zach Whitley: Capable run-stuffer who could find an immediate role in new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich's scheme.
- Oregon State wide receiver Datrin Guyton: A rangy pass-catcher at 6'3" joining an offense that featured the Pac-12's single-season passing record-setter in quarterback Sean Mannion.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. Recruiting rankings culled from 247Sports.com.
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