Commentary

USC tops the Pac-12 despite sanctions

Originally Published: February 3, 2010
By ESPN Recruiting | ESPN.com

Here's a look at the top 2011 recruiting classes in the Pac-12.

Grade

1. USC Trojans

Top prospect: George Farmer (Gardena, Calif./Serra) is a tall and gifted receiver, who ended up as the premier prospect at his position, for good reason: the supreme blend of size, speed, hands and athleticism he displays as a pass-catcher.
Name to remember: Amir Carlisle (Sunnyvale, Calif./The King's Academy), one of the better overall athletes in a deep and talented Trojans class, could play running back and receiver and contribute in the return game early in his career.
Breakdown: NCAA sanctions did not affect this top-five class, which is deep and filled with excellent talent and immediate-impact players. The class is highlighted by Farmer, the No. 1 receiver prospect in the ESPNU 150. He has rare size and speed, and should step right into a role on offense. Max Wittek (Corona Del Mar, Calif./Mater Dei) moved up to the No. 3 quarterback position with the same polish and efficiency we saw from his high school and college predecessor, Matt Barkley. Defensively, we feel 300-pound DT Antwaun Woods (Woodland Hills, Calif./Woodland Hills-Taft) has the ability to be a disruptive force against the run and pass. Defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills) might take some time to anchor the run, but the Trojans are getting a polished pass-rusher. Top-rated guard Cyrus Hobbi (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) fills a need up front on offense.

Grade

2. Oregon Ducks

Top prospect: DeAnthony Thomas (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw), one of the most explosive athletes in the country, could play running back or corner.
Namer to remember: RB Tra Carson (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty Eylau), a national sleeper, has the size, power and deceptive elusiveness to remind Oregon fans of Jonathan Stewart, but he lacks the former Duck's top-end speed.
Breakdown: Coach Chip Kelly keeps collecting key pieces for his explosive offense, and the Ducks' national prominence certainly has helped in this 2011 recruiting class. Top-five ATH Devon Blackmon (Fontana, Calif./Summit) likely will end up at receiver and should fit right in with the Ducks' fast-paced, high-powered offense. Oregon reached into Florida for two of the best players at their positions in the fertile Sunshine State. Tacoi Sumler (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus) should quickly emerge as a weapon upon his arrival in Eugene. He might lack ideal size (he's only 5-foot-7, 157 pounds), but there aren't many quicker, faster or better-in-space players in the country. Four-star QB Jerrard Randall (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) possesses all the tools to shine in Kelly's zone-read offense and is a huge pickup for the program, which was in need of a QB in this class. Top-10 offensive tackle Andre Yruretagoyena (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) needs to add some bulk but is agile and can block in space, which are ideal attributes for the system he is joining. ATH DeAnthony Thomas (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw) is one of the most explosive athletes Oregon has recruited in the past five years and could play running back or corner.

Grade

3. California Bears

Top prospect: Todd Barr (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood) is a quick but undersized defensive tackle who is a good fit at the end position in the Golden Bears' three-man front.
Name to remember: If it weren't for a few knee injuries, RB Brendon Bigelow (Fresno, Calif./Central East) would be considered one of the best backs in the country.
Breakdown: 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. Quick and explosive DT Barr and four-star DT Viliami Moala (Sacramento, Calif./Grant) -- a physical presence in the heart of the trenches -- are a big reason Cal signed a successful class. The Bears filled needs in their back seven defensively as well. Safety Avery Walls (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing Christian Academy) is one of the more explosive and productive safeties in the country, and is instinctive enough to see early playing time. Outside linebacker Jason Gibson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) can rush the passer and fits well into Cal's 3-4 defensive scheme. Offensively, ESPNU 150 WR Maurice Harris (Greensboro, N.C./Northern Guilford) is a big and physical prospect who might be a bit different than what Cal has been playing with out wide. Bigelow is one of the top backs in country but must bounce back from a few knee injuries.

Grade

4. Stanford Cardinal

Top prospect: James Vaughters (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), one of the top overall linebackers in the country, can play inside or out and blow up the run between the tackles or chase it down to the sideline.
Name to remember: Patrick Skov (Lawrenceville, N.J./Lawrenceville), a 240-pound linebacker/fullback prospect, might not be as athletic as his brother and current Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov, but he is not that far behind.
Breakdown: The loss of Jim Harbaugh left a mark on this class with a few key defections, but overall it stayed intact. This class was never built on big names; it was built on depth and quality football players -- and it still has that. It's led by a pair of ESPNU 150 prospects in Vaughters, the No. 2 inside linebacker in the country, and top-seven safety Wayne Lyons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard). Lyons fills a need at DB and is a hard-hitting, physical defensive back with all the tools to develop into a great strong safety. Four-star wide receiver Ty Montgomery (Dallas/St. Mark's) isn't a game-breaker but is a well-rounded wideout and brings depth to a position of need. The Cardinal addressed needs at defensive end by adding two solid three-stars in Charlie Hopkins (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga Prep) and Kevin Anderson (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto). Athlete Jordan Richards (Folsom, Calif.) could be one of the more valuable signings in this class, as the speedster could contribute at a number of skill positions.

Grade

5. Washington Huskies

Top prospect: Kasen Williams (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline), a tall and physical big-catch receiver, should provide good intermediate-to-deep production for the Huskies.
Name to remember: Bishop Sankey (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga) was a great late addition for the Huskies because the under-the-radar prospect is a quick-cutting back with very good quickness, burst and a zone-cutback skill set.
Breakdown: Washington signed a solid class, and it's a great sign that coach Steve Sarkisian and the Huskies retained the state's top two prospects -- Williams and OT Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Gig Harbor, Wash./Gig Harbor). Williams, a four-star wide receiver, has size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), good speed and very quick hands. Seferian-Jenkins is a talented TE, but he might have bigger upside at OT (we rank him the No. 10 OT in the nation). Three-star WR Josh Perkins (Cerritos, Calif./Gahr) is a big, physically imposing outside receiving threat who has a terrific combination of size and strength. Quarterback was a top need, and Derrick Brown (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) has a powerful arm and the athleticism to make plays with his feet.

Grade

6. Oregon State Beavers

Top prospect: Darryl Jackson (Lakewood, Calif./Mayfair) has coveted quickness and agility for a 6-7, 300-pound offensive tackle.
Name to remember: Tyrequek Zimmerman (Laton, Okla./Laton) is not elite in one area but is a very versatile receiver who can play inside out and does a lot of things well to help move the chains.
Breakdown: The Beavers finished in the top half of the Pac-12 by restocking up front and at receiver with their top three prospects, all out of California. On the defensive line, DE Dylan Wynn (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) plays with a motor and can get after the quarterback. Oregon State really loaded up at defensive end, which was a need. Aside from Wynn, it signed several prep and juco prospects.

Grade

7. Arizona Wildcats

Top prospect: ILB Rob Hankins (Dallas/Parish Episcopal) can stack the inside run with great power and chase down backs sideline to sideline.
Name to remember: RB Jared Baker (Los Angeles/Loyola), a good land out of California, can break through linebackers and run past defensive backs.
Breakdown: This class is on par with Arizona State's in terms of talent, and coach Mike Stoops filled needs at linebacker. The Wildcats' top two prospects are at LB, No. 10-rated inside linebacker Hankins and No. 27 OLB Hank Hobson (Bakersfield, Calif./Stocksdale). Arizona has a pair of three-star safeties and defensive ends headed its way, too. The latter was a need, and it was met solidly. On offense, we like the signings at running back with two explosive prospects in Baker and Ka'Deem Carey (Oro Valley, Ariz./Canyon Del Oro).

Grade

8. Utah Utes

Top prospect: WR Quinton Pedroza (Chino, Calif./Chino) is a great sleeper with the size and speed combination and jump-ball skills to make an early impact for the Utes.
Name to remember: Utah went into Louisiana for WR Charles Henderson (New Orleans, La./McDonogh 35), a quick and elusive slot receiver with an ideal skill set for the Utes' offense.
Breakdown: Utah will need to step up its recruiting to contend in the Pac-12. However, this class is solid and filled needs at running back and receiver, and has good overall speed and athleticism. RB Harvey Langi (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) can carry the load, and fellow RB Jarrell Oliver (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles) is smaller but strong and explosive. Henderson is an ultra-quick inside slot, and 6-3 Nate Fakahafua (Salt lake City, Utah/Highland) is a tall, rangy outside target who can get downfield. Aside from addressing the skill positions, Daniel Kristensen (Salt Lake City, Utah/Cottonwood) is athletic and has great upside at the offensive tackle position.

Grade

9. Arizona State Sun Devils

Top prospect: Mo Latu (Gilbert, Ariz./Perry), the No. 5 center, also can play guard and potential reps on the defensive line, which is invaluable.
Name to remember: DE Sean O'Grady (Las Flores, Calif./Tesoro) is not a real flashy player but comes off the ball hard and quick. Overall, he is a physical player we think will be a solid player.
Breakdown: Not a very deep class, but ASU still met some needs, bringing in some speed at the skills positions and adding quality depth at receiver. WR Gary Chambers (Glendale, Ariz./Ironwood) is a tall and physical outside receiver who can run. The Sun Devils also addressed the interior of their offensive line with Latu and offensive guard Devin Goodman (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland). Both players are tough, explosive blockers who play until the whistle.

Grade

10. Washington State Cougars

Top prospect: Logan Mayes (Eugene, Ore./Marist) likely will need some time to polish his technique and develop before he can fully contribute on defense, but he has an excellent motor. With some development, he could be a productive defender for the Cougars. He could help on special teams in the early going.
Name to remember: ATH Rahmel Dockery (University Place, Wash./Curtis Senior) can line up almost anywhere and produce. The two-star prospect is a good football player with more intangibles than great measurables.
Breakdown: A good-sized class for the Cougars. They brought in some prospects to try to address needs on the defensive line and at running back. They lost Brandon Tuliaupupu (Claremont, Calif./Claremont), their only three-star defensive line prospect up front, to UCLA, but David Davis (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Palos Verdes) is a high-two-star recruit who is undersized but active. Washington State also lost its top running back prospect to in-state rival Washington, which was a blow, but the Cougars landed Dominique Williams (Pomona, Calif./Garey), a three-star wide receiver with big-play ability.

Grade

11. UCLA Bruins

Top prospect: The Bruins might have a class near the bottom of the conference, but despite a down year, they did get a big pickup with Brett Hundley (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler). The four-star quarterback possesses terrific size and tremendous upside as a passer, and can run. He is already on campus and has the potential to aid an offense that ranked No. 100 nationally this past season.
Name to remember: Defensive line can be considered an area of need, and Sam Tai (Henderson, Nev./Liberty) is one player who could help address that need. He split some time between quarterback and defensive end in high school but has tools to work with. With focus on defense, he could develop into a productive player for the Bruins.
Breakdown: Some thought the sanctions the Bruins' crosstown rivals were facing would help give them the opportunity to close the gap on the Trojans, but they finished behind USC in the standings and way behind it in the class rankings this year. Hundley was a huge pickup, the Bruins did land a pair of three-star guards to help address needs on the offensive line and Tai has potential up front on defense. Overall, there is still not a lot of apparent splash in the 2011 class for UCLA.

Grade

12. Colorado Buffaloes

Top prospect: The Buffaloes lost a key member of their O-line with Nate Solder moving on, and Marc Mustoe (Arvada, Colo./West), a high three-star and former UCLA commit, will try to fill his shoes. He might need some time to fill out his frame and refine his technique, but he displays the size and athleticism to play the tackle position well.
Name to remember: Rashad Hall (Forest, Va./Oak Ridge Military Academy) is a bit of a sleeper at the running back position and could aid the Buffaloes' ground attack. He needs to add bulk but is a back with a well-rounded skill set.
Breakdown: Colorado is truly starting a new era as it enters a new conference with a new coach. Jon Embree didn't have much to work with when he took over the Buffaloes' class but did a commendable job signing Mustoe and retaining three-star center Alex Kelley (Vista, Calif./Vista). With some need at wide receiver, he did get three-star Nelson Spruce (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake). He also addressed depth at DB by landing three-star CB Sherrard Harrington (Washington, DC / Woodson). Colorado will need to start showing some success on the field before it sees major improvement on the recruiting trail.