The Pac-12 conference's first National Signing Day has come and gone with a lot of fanfare and two traditional powerhouse recruiting schools. While the Washington States, UCLAs, and Utahs of the world were having quiet days, the Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans were in the thick of the news all day long with potential signings.
Surprises, both welcome and undesired, befell the Trojans and Ducks on a busy day. Some players who the schools thought were locks decided to sign elsewhere, while late commitments augmented both school's classes. Such is the way of college football recruiting.
With USC's pending scholarship sanctions and Oregon's quest to remain in the national spotlight as an elite program, this signing day had a lot at stake for the conference's two top teams.
Here are 10 developments from National Signing Day that have a big impact on the league going forward.
Sarkisian recruited well this year, which is something he learned while at USC with current Trojan coach Lane Kiffin.
The University of Washington added a couple key signings from their own backyard yesterday.
Four-star running back Bishop Sankey from Gonzaga Prep helped push Washington's class to 23rd for the year, and filled out the depth at running back behind Chris Polk.
Wide receiver Kasen Williams from Skyline High also chose to stay close to home as the #2 player in the state. As the Huskies' top recruit and Parade National Player of the Year, Williams should be able to make an impact on the field almost immediately.
Another key close-to-home signing is Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a 6'7" tight end from Gig Harbor. He is the #1 player in the state and second at tight end nationally, which is a huge boon for the Huskies on offense as Jake Locker exits.
Another top player that Steve Sarkisian roped is giant-sized defensive tackle Danny Shelton. The 6'3" 300 pounder comes from the top 10 D-tackles in the class and is the third-ranked player overall from the state.
Give Sarkisian credit for making the most of what is available to him in the state of Washington. He signed the five best prospects from Washington on his way to significantly improving his offensive talent and big-play ability on the defensive line.
It looks like the Huskies could come out of Jake Locker's departures just fine based on this class.
Torian White made one of the biggest headlines in West Coast recruiting on Wednesday. The 6'6", 275-pound offensive tackle from Lakewood High had his mind set on signing with UCLA. However, it was reported that USC made a lot of ground up in the last week as White visited campus, then even more so in the 24 hours leading up to his signing.
The end result: he spurned UCLA, went back on his verbal commitment, and parlayed his late rise in rankings to sign with USC and its thin offensive line.
The funniest part of this unfolding is that no one seemed to know what the truth was amidst rumor. Even this morning, Rivals.com has him as part of UCLA's class with a signed LOI, while ESPN rightly has him with USC.
A bizarre turn of events that just adds fuel to the bonfire in this crosstown rivalry.
Many thought this 6'2", 195-pound wideout was headed east to The U. However, he shocked Miami and put the rest of the Pac-12 on notice by joining Mike Stoops' high-powered attack at Arizona.
Onwuasor is not among the highly-touted prospects, but his 4.5 speed and height could make him one of the best receivers in the country playing in Stoops' system. This could be the classic diamond in the rough recruit that works out beautifully.
Also, what does this say about how far Miami has fallen and how far Arizona has come, that a skill player would choose the Cats over the Canes?
Quietly, Tedford put together one of the more underrated classes, especially on defense.
This from ESPN's analysis of Cal's day on the signing trail: "The wins are not adding up in Berkeley, but the Bears are recruiting like a top-25 program. They closed well down the stretch and loaded up on system-fitting defensive line talent, including some of the better in-state prospects."
That defensive line talent goes by the name of Todd Barr, a defensive end from Lakewood High and the 16th-ranked player in all of California. The Bears already know how to get to the quarterback, finishing second in the conference in sacks last season.
Barr, four-stars linebacker Jason Gibson, tackles Mustafa Jalil and Viliami Moala, and defensive end Brennan Scarlett will only make the Cal defense stronger in the next few years.
Overall, Cal had an impressive class as Jeff Tedford picked up whatever talent was left by Oregon and USC. His 17th-ranked class flew under the radar, and ensures that Cal will rise soon in the new Pac-12.
The 6'2", 269-pound defensive tackle from San Diego was thought to be favoring Oregon and his hometown San Diego State, but had been very quiet on his thoughts in the days before Signing Day.
In the first of a few surprise tug-of-wars with Oregon, the Trojans picked up Heyward's commitment, adding depth to a defensive line that is losing star tackle Jurrell Casey to the NFL Draft.
Grouped with stud defensive line recruits Antwaun Woods and Greg Townsend, Heyward will help USC return to its typically dominance on the defensive line after a few down years.
On the heels of losing coach Jim Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers, Stanford held its ground on Wednesday with a national recruiting effort worthy of praise.
Rivals ranks Stanford's class as the 23rd best, and ESPN says that a few key defections hurt a little, but that most of the class is intact. The class was never designed to be built on stars anyway, but was meant to bolster the depth of a 12-1, BCS roster.
Overall, Stanford signed 19 players from 13 states, seven of which are four-star recruits. This shows that new head coach David Shaw's program has gained considerable clout on the national scale and that the program might be stronger than its architect, Harbaugh.
Let's be real honest here: the news that is bigger than any signed recruit is that quarterback Andrew Luck opted to stay in school and lead the Cardinals for one more year. It doesn't matter how good the recruiting class is after Luck's decision because that is the biggest plus that Shaw can find.
Lee, the #4 player in California, was a real wild card on Wednesday, until announcing his decision to accompany teammate George Farmer to USC.
Many thought that Oregon would snatch him out of SC's backyard, but the Trojans got him in the end, adding superior athleticism to whatever position Lane Kiffin designates for Lee.
At just 6'1" and 187 pounds, Lee has a lot of muscle to add to his lean frame, which could make him a serious weapon for the Trojans when combined with his speed and smooth running motion. He probably projects as a wide receiver, with the outside chance of playing defense down the road.
Dawson, an outside linebacker, was signed, sealed and delivered to his hometown Kentucky Wildcats. Turns out that the signing part was exaggerated.
Dawson comes to the Trojans at a position where they desperately need consistent playmakers who can make tackles. Many scouts think he can step in and play right away because of his playmaking ability and athleticism.
Dawson was a huge surprise for the Trojans on a day when many things went right for the program.
Ooooh, this was the one that the Trojans really wanted. On a day when just about everything went right, this is the one that got away. Worse, he got away to USC's biggest competitor: Oregon.
Thomas, who was committed to his hometown Trojans, unexpectedly took an official visit to Eugene last week, which vaulted Oregon above USC on his list. Still, when Signing Day rolled around, no one was sure exactly who he would choose.
His announcement was set for 6 PM local time in Crenshaw High's auditorium. Chip Kelly and Lane Kiffin were on pins and needles as their long day approached its end, but was far from over because Thomas was still at large.
As the recent buzz predicted, Thomas went with Oregon, opting for Kelly's frenetic, high-speed attack. The #2 player in California slipped right out of Kiffin's fingers into the fold of his biggest recruiting rival.
This signing is the one that vaulted Oregon into the top 15 of all classes, and without it, they would have ended up around 20th. Many say that had Thomas chosen USC, the Trojans would have jumped from #4 to #1, just to give you an idea of how much sway that Thomas' commitment has on the rankings.
Oregon lost all but one of its recruiting battles with USC on this day, but they won the biggest victory with Thomas.
Kiffin's specialty has always been recruiting, and he showed why on Wednesday.
The most impactful development of Signing Day on the Pac-12 is that USC showed it still owns the conference in recruiting, in spite of Oregon's BCS title game chops. USC made a statement that it won't letting pending sanctions deter it from being the best team in the Pac-12.
Here is a comparison of the recruiting classes for the Pac-12's top dogs:
USC: #4 class (ESPN), one five-star, 13 four-star, 29 total commits
Oregon: #14 class, zero five-star, 10 four-star, eight three-star, 23 total commits
USC didn't just break even with Oregon. It beat them noticeably in both top-end talent and overall depth.
With so few players currently on scholarship, expect many of these incomers to take the field for significant playing time in the Fall, while Chip Kelly's still-loaded offense allows his new studs to develop and learn before being tested.