National Signing Day 2012: Power Ranking the Pac-12 Recruiting Classes

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2012

National Signing Day 2012: Power Ranking the Pac-12 Recruiting Classes

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    National Signing Day is drawing to a close for the majority of schools and prospects as the first Wednesday in February fades away. The day was full of suspense. Numerous commitments switched their choices and others let their intentions be known for the first time.

    In the past decade, the Pac-12 has built a talented conference and made multiple national title game appearances. With a wealth of playmakers, the conference stands as tall as any in college football.

    Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Pac-12 has closed this season strong on the recruiting trail. The conference has five teams that landed in the Rivals.com top 25.

    After the whirlwind that was the 2012 signing day, here are the Pac-12 rankings by recruiting class.

Washington State Cougars: No. 12

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    Washington State put together a decent class this season that was headlined by wide receiver Gabriel Marks. The Cougars fall outside of the Rivals.com top 50, but they still were able to meet the needs for their roster.

    Skill players and offensive linemen were abundant in this class. That will be important as Mike Leach looks to build a strong offense in Pullman. For Leach, this class could determine his success or failure at Washington State.

    The Cougars finish with the No. 12  class in the Pac-12 for 2012.

Arizona Wildcats: No. 11

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    The Wildcats are bouncing back after the midseason departure of their head coach, Mike Stoops. The recent hiring of Rich Rodriguez has brought new life to the program.

    This year, they looked to piece together a class that would be able to contribute at key positions immediately. Their class was ranked No. 46 according to Rivals.com.

    Rodriguez has had success both on the field and on the recruiting trail and looks to continue that at Arizona. This season, the Wildcats were able to pull in two big-named recruits in Zach Hemmila and Kyle Kelley.

    Arizona didn’t close as strongly as they would have liked to, but for the first round of signees under Rodriguez, the Wildcats shouldn’t be too upset.

    The Wildcats efforts land them at No. 11 spot in the Pac-12.

Oregon State Beavers: No. 10

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    Oregon State finished the 2012 signing day with the No. 37 best class in the country according to Rivals.com. The Beavers are looking to build success from this class since the past year was not what they were looking for.

    This class brings in headliners like Caleb Smith and Brent VanderVeen—also a host of offensive linemen and defensive backs looking to fill holes on roster.

    Overall, it was good day for the Beavers on the recruiting front.

    The effort of the Beavers lands them with the No. 10 class in the Pac-12.

Colorado Buffaloes: No. 9

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    Colorado finished their first season as a Pac-12 school with the No. 33 recruiting class in the country according to Rivals.com. Yuri Wright and Kenneth Crawley are two stud defensive backs that headline this Buffaloes' class for 2012.

    The Buffaloes used this class to fill a lot of needs at skill positions like running back and receiver. They also took five defensive ends in hopes of landing their next big pass-rusher.

    The Buffaloes built a solid class that filled the majority of their roster needs. They finish as the No. 9 class in the Pac-12 for 2012.

Arizona State Sun Devils: No. 8

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    Arizona State saw a change in coaches this season, but the Sun Devils were still able to pull down the No. 31 class in the country according to Rivals.com.

    The Sun Devils hired Todd Graham this offseason to take over the reins, and his past success proved to be a big help in reeling in talent for this year’s class.

    This class is headlined by running backs Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. Grice is a JUCO transfer and is hoping to make an instant impact for the Sun Devils this season.

    The Sun Devils also have a wealth of defensive line prospects—signing four defensive linemen—two of which are JUCO guys. Mike Pennel and Jake Sheffield are looking for time immediately and should fit a need for the Sun Devils.

    The Sun Devils are able to finish with the No. 8 class in the Pac-12 for 2012.

California Golden Bears: No. 7

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    Cal currently lists as the No. 29 class in the country according to Rivals.com.

    The Golden Bears lost lead recruiter Tosh Lupoi to the Washington Huskies late in the process which hurt their ability to close as strong as most predicted.

    Cal’s class is headlined by Zach Kline, one of the best quarterback recruits in the country.

    Michael Barton will look to come in and make an impact at the linebacker position for the Bears. Darius Powe is also a guy that should be able to make an instant impact.

    The Bears lost a lot of steam after the departure of Lupoi. They were the rumored favorites for Arik Armstead before he left. Regardless, the Bears finish moderately well with this class. They have filled needs at offensive line, but they still have a lot of talent that was missed this year.

    Cal finishes with the No. 7 class in the Pac-12.

Utah Utes: No. 6

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    Utah finished with the No. 27 class in the country according to Rivals.com. The Utes are headlined by two very talented JUCO transfers in Kelvin York and Visesio Salt. York looks to make an impact at running back while Salt is a run-stopping defensive tackle.

    The Utes also brought in a wealth of defensive ends, signing five in this class. The Utes are looking to compete in the Pac-12 for championships—not just survive.

    Classes like this are a good start for Utah to contend with the rest of the conference.

    The efforts of the Utes lands the No. 6 class in the Pac-12.

Washington Huskies: No 5

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    The Huskies finished this class extremely strong.

    They brought in the No. 22 class according to Rivals.com. The Huskies picked up a huge signature when Shaq Thompson made his commitment to the Huskies. He is one of the best defensive backs in the 2012 class.

    The Huskies were also able to add Jeff Lindquist, a big-bodied quarterback that could fit in to the scheme that Steve Sarkisian likes to run.

    The Huskies were able to pull the second most surprising class on signing day this season (just behind UCLA). Washington is making a case to become a staple contender in the Pac-12 for years to come with classes like this one.

    Washington finishes with the No. 5 class in the Pac-12 for 2012.

Oregon Ducks: No. 4

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    Oregon faced some uncertainty at the top as Chip Kelly was rumored to be hired away to the Tampa Bay job just a week before signing day.

    When the rumors subsided, and the Buccaneers went in another direction, Oregon’s class settled and has finished strong.

    The Ducks have reeled in the No. 15 class according to Rivals.com, landing a wealth of talent offensively, as well as a good class on the defensive side of the ball.

    The premier signature that was received by the Ducks on Wednesday was undoubtedly Arik Armstead.

    Armstead’s recruitment campaign included visits to Notre Dame and Auburn, as well as teams scattered throughout the Pac-12. His older brother Armond was in the mix to transfer from USC as a package deal, but when that fell through Armstead felt most comfortable in Eugene.

    Oregon will be able to build on this class this season, especially in the defensive secondary. The Ducks landed a solid class and finish as the No. 4 in the Pac-12.

UCLA Bruins: No. 3

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    UCLA has been a big surprise this recruiting season. Jim Mora took over the team in the wake of a very under-performing season. They recruit in a tough area (they share a city with USC), but they still managed the No. 12 class in the country according to Rivals.com.

    UCLA’s class is headlined by Ellis McCarthy, a five-star defensive tackle out of Monrovia High School in Monrovia, California. The Bruins were in need of defensive linemen in this class, and they were able to fill the need with four linemen including McCarthy.

    One steal for this class was quarterback T.J. Millweard.

    He is only ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals, but he has the live arm to be special for UCLA well into the future. He was previously committed to Virginia Tech and Arizona State before finally settling on the Bruins.

    The Bruins' efforts find them landing in the No. 3 class in the Pac-12.

Stanford Cardinal: No. 2

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    Stanford has become one of the strongest draws to the west coast.

    The Cardinal has rigorous academic standards that are at times difficult for the recruits to meet. But the staff has done a great job finding the right fits. Stanford sits at No. 10 on the Rivals.com team rankings.

    Stanford’s class is headlined by offensive tackle Andrus Peat and finishes with another five offensive linemen. Graham Shuler from Brentwood, Tennessee has the chance to be a special player as well.

    The Cardinal also landed Barry Sanders Jr., the son of former NFL great Barry Sanders. The Cardinal also added four defensive linemen that look to add skill and strength to the front four. New head coach David Shaw has done a great job with his first class at Stanford.

    Stanford’s solid numbers and growth in talent across the board has them pulling in the No. 2 class in the Pac-12.

Southern Cal Trojans: No. 1

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    Southern Cal is facing scholarship limitations to this year’s class that are stemming from the NCAA investigation that surrounded Reggie Bush. The Trojans have to make each player count, and they did that today.

    The Trojans landed the No. 7 class according to Rivals.com, bringing in three five-star players from the Rivals rankings. The Trojans picked up a large diversity of talent from defensive ends to wide receiver and really rounded out a strong class for its small size.

    USC only signed 15 today, but it is one of the most athletic groups in the country.

    The Trojans have secured a good pursuit for the Pac-12 title in the near future with the talent that Lane Kiffin and his staff landed today.

    After a big national signing day, the Trojans find their limited but overwhelmingly talented class to be the No. 1 class in the Pac-12.