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The Gekko Files: Checking in on PAC 12 South Recruiting

With Signing Day behind us, we thought it would be worth a look to see who did what across the PAC. We start with South.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

We know how much Husky fans love their 'crootin' news.  One of the more difficult aspects of following recruiting is keeping up with all of the names of all the players that are floating around on the boards of all the different teams that you have a rooting or a competitive interest in.  There are just so many of them.

At the Gekko Files, we understand that your time is a precious commodity that cannot be squandered with notorious time-sucks such as typing a URL of a sister SB Nation website into a web browser (speaking of which, why don't modern keyboards simply have a ".com" button on them?).  To provide you with what you need to know in just the way you need to receive it, we are pulling together a quick two-part review of the Signing Day performance of the programs of the PAC.

We start as we always do ... with the South.

1. UCLA Bruins

Class Size:  29

247 Avg Blended Rating:  88.5

In-state Ratio:  79%

The Bruins absolutely killed it on the recruiting trail once again.  The addition of the 2015 Recruiter of the Year in Marques Tuiasosopo and the turnover of key position groups created a fortunate congruence of factors that helped to accelerate the accomplishments of a program that was already on the rise in the world of recruiting.  The headliners are 5* LB Mique Jaurez, 4* DT Boss Tagaloa, and 4* RB Damian Alloway.

The story for the Bruins was their pure dominance of the state of California.  23 of their 29 recruits are "local" in that regard.  Jim Mora and Crew did a great job of locking down the state and winning key battles.  This included last second wins for Juarez, Tagaloa and CB Keyon Riley not to mention key flips on certain guys including 4* WR Theo Howard who, at one point, was the highest rated player in Oregon's recruiting class.

Don't Sleep On: OL Michael Alves --> The 3* OL prospect out of San Diego is already a grown man at 6'5" and 320 lbs.  He will be offered the opportunity to play early on an O-Line in the midst of upheaval.  Don't be shocked if he gets meaningful time as a true frosh.


2.  USC Trojans

Class Size:  20

247 Avg Blended Rating:  91.1

In-state Ratio:  55%

After having the #1 class in nation - probably the zenith of Sark's USC career - the Trojans fell back to earth with this class.  Much of it is attributable to the fact that USC had a smaller class and, as one might imagine, was hampered by the rotating in of a number of new coaches.  Still, USC had some big wins on signing day and, on a "pound for pound" basis, may still have signed the best overall class in the PAC.

The two 5* guys in the class, 2-way athlete Jack Jones and DL Oluwule Betiku, certainly rank among the top 5 of all PAC 12 recruits both in terms of athletic skill and ability to make an impact as true freshmen.  WR Michael Pittman, WR Tyler Vaughns, QB Matt Fink, DL Connor Murphy and S  CJ Pollard all are noteworthy additions to this class. The flippling of 4* RB Vavae Malepeai from Oregon on Signing Day was a nice capper.

If there is a critique here it is based on how little balance there was overall.  Six of the 20 signees are WRs on a team that has depth issues everywhere.  However, USC has already enrolled seven players overall, including two of the WRs, into school and will count them against the 2015 class.  Thus, with just 13 players overall technically in this cycle,  it will be hard to get a full accounting for how this class looks until we get a chance to see how the next one shapes up.

Don't Sleep On:  OL E.J. Price --> Already measuring 6'6" and 310 lbs, the athletic Price was plucked right out of the middle of SEC country (Lawrenceville, GA to be precise).  He'll be a factor on an offensive line by 2017 and an outright starter by 2018.  He has all-PAC 12 potential on a team that already has an O-Line to rival Stanford's.


3.  Arizona Wildcats

Class Size:  20

247 Avg Blended Rating:  84.0

In-state Ratio:  13.7%

Arizona fans are probably a bit disappointed in the 2016 class when held up to the standard that Rich Rodriguez established a season ago.   Only two 4* guys are included in this class and the headliner might well be former UW PSA Michael Eletise.  Offensive guards never rate too high on the "sizzle factor" metric.

Still, this is a pretty well-balanced class overall.  There are some good looking prospects who should be able to plug into the middle of that battered Arizona defense sooner rather than later.  There are also some guys, such as ATH Kahlil Tate, who could become stars in the PAC.  If there were one glaring hole it would be the lack of a QB in the class.  RichRod doesn't have the luxury of depth on his roster to be missing out on QB prospects.

Don't Sleep On: DE Josh Allen --> Allen is a 6'4" 240 lb JUCO defensive end prospect who will get a chance to play early and to help back fill some of the backfield penetration being left behind with Scooby Wright's departure.


4. Utah Utes

Class Size:  24

247 Avg Blended Rating:  83.9

In-state Ratio:  20.7%

Diversity is the name of the game for Kyle Whittingham and his Utah Utes.  Among his signed class are seven kids from California, six from Utah, five from Florida (five!!!) and a few plucked from Hawaii, Arizona, Washington and Texas.  Also included in this diverse mix are six players from JC - including the top overall JC offensive lineman in Garret Snow - and six players who are already enrolled in school.  Of note for Husky fans is that former QB Troy Williams is part of this class and is the heavy favorite to start at Utah next season.

Utah is notorious for leaning heavily on transfers and JC kids in maintaining the overall physical readiness of their program.  If there were a watch-out for this program it would be that Whitthingham seems to continue to lean on that  formula, despite having been a member school for several years.  At some point, one would expect Utah to wade deeper into the prospect waters and focus more on the four year scholarship athlete pool.

Don't Sleep On: P Mitch Wishnowsky -->  This isn't a disparagement of the rest of the Utah class. Rather it is a sign of respect to a team that values special teams at a very high level. Wishnowsky is a boomer who might actually be better than the all PAC 12 punter - Australian Tom Hackett - who he is replacing.


5.  Arizona State Sun Devils

Class Size:  18

247 Avg Blended Rating:  87.1

In-state Ratio:  22%

ASU has a long history of making the JUCO transfer strategy work for them.  Standouts such as Chris Young, Jaelen Strong, Antonio Longino, Vontaze Burfict and Tim White have all come to Tempe via that route.  Todd Graham continued to demonstrate his aggressive mind set by landing a class that had a whopping eight out of 18 recruits come from the JC ranks.

The thing about this strategy is that it has yet to really payoff for Graham and his Sun Devils.  They've certainly been able to to win a few games and be better-than-average in a competitive PAC 12 South.  But Graham has landed somewhere north of 30 JC recruits in his short time as the ASU coach with no real signature accomplishments to show for that strategy.

Regardless, there is some talent coming on board.  Local players N'Keal Harry (a UW target) and Chase Lucas are two of the brightest stars in the class.  QB Dillon Sterling-Cole is a Texas kid who the UW staff also coveted and is a player who could be in the mix for the vacant QB position despite not starting with the program until this fall.  I'd also keep an eye trained on a couple of those JUCO transfers.  LB Doug Subtyl looks like a favorite for the ASU version of the BUCK position while OL Tyson Rising will surely get a chance on an offensive line that has four open positions.

Don't Sleep On: CB Jamarcus Rhodes --> ASU is replacing three cornerbacks in 2016.  Enter Rhodes.  The 6'2" transfer is considered one of the top DBs in the country and will certainly get a chance to be the featured "big corner" in Todd Graham's defense.


6.  Colorado Buffaloes

Class Size:  16

247 Avg Blended Rating:  83.9

In-state Ratio:  12.5%

Though it has yet to turn into results, Mike MacIntyre continues to do good things on the recruiting trail.  When you are program that has had the misfortunes of Colorado, what you need to focus on is getting committed players with physical upside and cashing in on opportunities when they present themselves.

One such example would be LB/RB Beau Bisharat.  Once a Stanford commit, Bisharat got squeezed out of Stanford late in the process.  With other options like UW and Oregon already being full, Bisharat became focused on Colorado as a fallback option.  MacIntytre cashed in on signing day.

Bisharat will be a perfect "big back" complement for a team that is looking to build its program inside out.  He joins a few playmakers in this class including 6-3", 175 lb WR Michael Ento and 6'3" 205 lb receiver Juwann Winfree.  Factor in Texas Tech transfer QB Davis Webb, who is the likely starter going into next year with Sefo Liufau's injury, and you can't help but to be intrigued with what Colorado is doing.

If there is a gap, you need to look no further than the defensive line.  Colorado didn't land a single player projected as either a tackle or end.  This creates a significant gap in team balance and dilutes what, on paper, looks like an otherwise solid effort.

Don't Sleep on:  LB Drew Lewis --> The one-time Husky appears to be over the injury issues that have plagued him since high school and projects as a versatile speed-backer in a Colorado defense that will be playing a a ton of zone and 3-3-5 in 2016.