Reaction to the National Signing Day news and results from the 2021-22 recruiting season in general …
— Data referenced below is based on the 247Sports ratings.
– Transfer classes not included; our focus here is on high school recruiting
– On Wednesday, we examined the top-rated signees for each Pac-12 team this century.
The Wildcats didn’t compile the top-rated class in the conference — that honor went to Stanford — and they weren’t close to the best on a ratings-per-player basis (i.e., quality, not quantity). But for what could have been reasonably expected given the on-field performance, Arizona blew the doors off the competition.
In fact, Jedd Fisch’s 24th-ranked class might be the most impressive in the country after a 1-11 season. It’s understandably heavy on skill-position talent and includes four four-star prospects.
Receiver Tetairoa McMillan is the highest-rated signee in program history.
Falling: Arizona State
The ongoing NCAA investigation that has cost five assistants their jobs walloped ASU’s recruiting efforts, as expected.
The ’22 class is historically bad for a program that typically lands in the upper half of the conference. It’s low on quantity (nine signees) and short on quality (one four-star player) and is ranked No. 105 nationally, between Connecticut and Air Force.
Coach Herm Edwards has made quality use of the transfer portal to mitigate the roster damage, but the scandal has impacted the balance of power in the South and in the state, with Arizona signing players who might otherwise have chosen ASU.
Coach David Shaw’s program was in dire need of a top-tier class and hit the mark. It drew a No. 17 national ranking from 247Sports on the strength of seven four-star prospects, including the top edge rusher in the Pac-12 footprint, David Bailey from prep powerhouse Mater Dei.
But the Cardinal will need to replicate its recruiting success through traditional means for years to come. Unlike so many other programs, it has precious few options with the transfer portal because of the academic requirements.
Many Pac-12 teams have six or eight (or more) transfers locked up for the 2022 season. Stanford has but one.
Falling: State of Arizona
Once again, the Pac-12 whiffed on the top players in its second-deepest talent pool.
The Grand Canyon State produced five players with four-star ratings in the class of 2022, and none of them signed with the conference.
Over the past five recruiting cycles, Pac-12 teams have signed just 11 of the 27 four-star recruits in Arizona (and missed on all three five-star players). Within those 11 signees, the Arizona schools landed … zero.
For all the talk about the Pac-12 failing to keep the top California kids at home, the situation is dire in Arizona, as well.
The Ducks emerged from the early-signing period with a new coach and small recruiting class.
Not surprisingly, they made up lost ground during the late window — to the point that coach Dan Lanning now has the No. 25 class in the country.
The haul includes one of the top offensive line signees in the conference, Dave Iuli of Seattle, and two four-star cornerbacks from San Diego, Jalil Tucker and Jahlil Florence.
Put another way: Had you told the Ducks on the day Mario Cristobal stepped down that they would end the recruiting cycle in this position, they assuredly would have been delighted.
Falling: Elite talent
The 247Sports database assigned five-star ratings to 34 players in the high school class of 2022. As of today, only one is headed to the Pac-12: USC-bound cornerback Domani Jackson of Mater Dei. Meanwhile, the Big Ten signed six five-star prospects (distributed across three schools) and the SEC signed 18 (across five schools).
Within this data point, there is both good and bad news for the Pac-12.
The good: It hasn’t lost any five-star recruits to other conferences this winter.
The bad: There were only two five-star players in the conference footprint this year.
In addition to Jackson, offensive lineman Josh Conerly Jr. of Seattle received the highest grade. He has yet to make a decision.
Rising: Oregon State
The Beavers were quiet in the late signing period, but that doesn’t detract from their overall success in the aftermath of a breakthrough season: The No. 6 ranking within the Pac-12 is their highest since the conference expanded.
And the class is strong at key positions, starting with edge rusher Mathias Malaki-Donaldson, who committed last summer but nonetheless received a scholarship offer from USC during the season.
Of note: Seven of OSU’s 16 signees are linemen.
The Pac-12’s talent haul leans to the perimeter, with running backs and receivers, outside linebackers and defensive backs.
In yet another ominous sign for its ability to compete with the best of the SEC in a playoff scenario, the collective missed badly in the trenches.
Of the 43 offensive linemen assigned four-star ratings, the Pac-12 signed three. And of the 69 defensive linemen given four-star ratings, it signed two.
Four of the five are heading to Stanford, which itself struggles to sign elite perimeter talent. The fifth, Iuli, is Oregon-bound.
(Note: Conerly, the five-star prospect, is considering Washington, Oregon and USC.)
The Utes finished with the No. 4 class in the conference, their highest ranking since joining the Pac-12 more than a decade ago — an ascent undoubtedly fueled by their inspired championship run.
The incoming class includes the top quarterback recruit to enter the league in the 2022 recruiting cycle, Nate Johnson (No. 16 nationally).
We’ve seen Kyle Whittingham’s program mold collections of second-tier recruits into first-rate teams.
Apply that same development to next-level talents, and the Utes should have no trouble hanging with USC atop the South for years to come.
The Huskies have crossed their collective fingers that Kalen DeBoer’s first recruiting class is sneaky-good. We’ll believe it when we see it, frankly.
For now, UW’s recruiting class doesn’t appear good enough — not nearly good enough — to support future success. Nor does it compare in quality to those of USC and Oregon, which also underwent coaching changes.
In our view, the Huskies have a damaged brand, both within Washington and across the Pac-12 footprint.
The speed of the salvage operation will determine the success of the DeBoer era once it matures in Years Three and Four.
Rising: Pac-12 opportunity
No excuses for the conference next year. The programs with the best chance to sign top-25 classes (USC, Oregon, Washington and Stanford) should all have stable coaching situations, and the talent pool within the footprint looks favorable.
Yes, the player rankings will evolve over time, but the 247Sports database currently lists seven recruits with five-star ratings inside the Pac-12 footprint — five more than the class of 2022.
(Of the seven, three have already committed to USC.)
What’s more, there are a plethora of elite defensive linemen. The Pac-12 has a little over 10 months to close the deal.
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