The Pac-12 is one of the most entertaining conferences in the country, showcasing a wide range of offensive styles, from Oregon’s fast pace to Stanford’s downhill power run game. The variety in talent the 2014 recruiting class has to offer should align well with the Pac-12 mold. Let’s take a look at where these potential giants of the game are heading this season.
With one of the top-ranked recruiting classes in the Pac-12 this year, Arizona State pulls in 6-foot-1, 187-lb. receiver Tyler Whiley, who received offers from five other Pac-12 schools. Fresno native and defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood joins defensive end Connor Humphreys out of Portland to fill some holes in the Sun Devils defensive line left by a handful of departures after the 2013 season.
Stanford is also looking to reload on the defensive side after losing players from two solid seasons in 2012 (12-2) and 2013 (11-3). The Cardinal recruiting class doesn’t disappoint, adding several All-American defenders, including 6-foot-1, 182-lb. safety Brandon Simmons, who committed to Stanford over Ohio State, Notre Dame, and USC.
One of the highest sought after recruits in the Pac-12 is quarterback commit Keller Chryst. Chryst threw for 2,672 yards and 28 touchdowns at Palo Alto High in California, and looks to take over the future of the Cardinal offense.
Another big quarterback commit in the Pac-12 is 6-foot-4, 207-lb. K.J. Carta-Samuels, who’s signing his way onto the Huskies’ roster for 2014. Carta-Samuels was planning on heading to Vanderbilt before James Franklin was named head coach at Penn State. Washington managed to reel the quarterback in after the shake up, adding to the young talent they already have at under center.
One of the most anticipated signing day decisions comes from 5-foot-10, 172-lb. cornerback Adoree’ Jackson out of Gardena, Calif., who chose USC over UCLA, LSU and Florida. On top of that, USC received commitments from several highly ranked athletes, including offensive guard Viane Talamaivao, whom the Trojans lured away from Alabama.
Oregon was on the other end of some flipping this year, when safety Budda Baker decommitted in favor of Washington. However, the Ducks should be fine as they add to their notoriously explosive offense with star running backs Tony James (Gainesville, Fla.) and Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif.). Freeman scored three touchdowns in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and received offers from Alabama, Florida State, Stanford, and UCLA.
Although Freeman chose Oregon, UCLA was able to land Englewood, Colo., native Nathan Starks at the running back position, along with several other top prospects on both sides of the ball. The Bruins’ biggest addition, however, will be 6-foot-2, 223-lb. linebacker Zach Whitley. After losing a couple of key defenders last year, Whitley has a legitimate chance to see playing time this fall.
The first game of the 2014 college football season is still six months away, but the decisions made by these athletes will define the Pac-12 over the next several years. Check out what’s in store for the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC, and ACC to see how the Pacific Coast stacks up.