* The Pac-12 Hotline newsletter is published each Monday-Wednesday-Friday during the college sports season (and twice-a-week in the summer). This edition, from June 18, has been made available in archived form.
Pac-12 recruiting, reassessed
Thanks to an unusual circumstance in Gainesville, homesickness in Austin and the omnipresent transfer portal, the Pac-12 salvaged some credibility from the 2019 recruiting cycle.
Some credibility, and a load of talent.
Decisions by cornerback Chris Steele and athlete Bru McCoy to join the USC program after a few months with Florida and Texas, respectively, provided a 10-star boost to the conference’s incoming freshman class.
Perhaps more significantly, the twin developments could show future recruits from the massive Southern California talent pool that leaving home isn’t always the best move.
The Pac-12 is struggling to keep top west coast prospects at home (as we’ve reported) in the face of heightened interest in the region by the likes of Alabama and Clemson.
But with Steele and McCoy back in the conference, an update on the class of 2019 seems appropriate.
Here’s the final tally for the top-10 recruits from the Pac-12 footprint (national ranking taken from 247sports composite):
No. 2: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Thousand Oaks): OregonNo. 9: ATH Bru McCoy (Santa Ana): USCNo. 11: QB Spencer Rattler (Phoenix): OklahomaNo. 35: QB Jayden Daniels (Cajon): Arizona StateNo. 38: WR Kyle Ford (Orange): USCNo. 41: CB Mykael Wright (Lancaster): OregonNo. 42: CB Chris Steele (Bellflower): USCNo. 44: OLB Henry To’oto’o (Concord): TennesseeNo. 46: RB Zach Charbonnet (Westlake Village): MichiganNo. 49: WR Jake Smith (Scottsdale): Texas
Six out of 10 isn’t ideal — and metropolitan Phoenix is a huge problem — but it’s better than four out of 10.
Whatever momentum generated by USC specifically and the Pac-12 generally from the Steele and McCoy reversals must continue.
The west coast class of 2020 is loaded, and the early returns aren’t promising for the Pac-12.
Here are the top-10 prospects in the west (national ranking) with current lean/commitment taken from 247sports:
No. 3: ILB Justin Flowe (Upland): USCNo. 4: OLB Sav’ell Smalls (Burien): AlabamaNo. 9: CB Kelee Ringo (Scottsdale): TexasNo. 11: ATH Darnell Washington (Las Vegas): AlabamaNo. 13: QB DJ Uiagalelei (Bellflower): Clemson commitNo. 16: CB Elias Ricks (Santa Ana): LSU commitNo. 21: RB Kendall Milton (Clovis): no leaderNo. 22: RB Bijan Robinson (Tucson): UCLANo. 25: WR Johnny Wilson (Calabasas): OregonNo. 37: QB Bryce Young (Santa Ana): USC commit
We’ll monitor through the summer and fall, then lock in once the early-signing window opens.
But if this year is any indication, the complete picture won’t be known until next spring, at least. — Jon Wilner.
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Hot off the Hotline
• Michael Smith of the SportsBusiness Journal repeatedly has broken news about the Pac-12’s exploration of an equity sale of its media rights. Smith kindly agreed to lend his perspective, via a Q&A with the Hotline, and indicated commissioner Larry Scott and the presidents/chancellors believes the process has been a success regardless of the outcome.
• ICYMI: The Friday newsletter focused on a ranking of Pac-12 football coaches from CBS Sports, and why we don’t engaged in such exercises (but are willing to comment upon the work of others). Previous editions of the newsletter are available in archived form.
Why we need your support: Like so many other providers of local journalism across the country, the Hotline’s parent website, mercurynews.com, recently moved to a subscription model. A few Hotline stories will remain free each month (as will this newsletter), but for access to all content, you’ll need to subscribe at a rate of just 12 cents per day for 12 months. And thanks for your loyalty.
State of Affairs
Perspective on the conference from beyond its borders.
• Not since Florida won the title in 1996 has college football produced a first-time champion. The best bet to duplicate that feat in 2019, writes CBS Sports columnist Barrett Sallee, is Oregon: “If (Mario) Cristobal and Co. could figure out the recipe, that title could — could — happen as early as this year. Even if it doesn’t, his philosophy fits perfectly in a conference that’s more winnable than any in the country. Why? He has paired a dynamic offense with a strong, deep and physical offensive and defensive lines.”
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• What can Auburn’s offense, with a new quarterback, expect from Oregon’s revamped defense in the hotly-anticipated season opener? Tigers coach Gus Malzahn weighs in, via the Oregonian’s James Crepea.
• Washington State has added needed depth at tailback. Deon McIntosh, who played for Notre Dame in 2017 (and averaged 5.7 yards per carry) is headed to Pullman, although not directly. McIntosh was dismissed by the Irish and spent a year in junior college.
• Colorado’s do-it-all receiver Laviska Shenault is No. 2 on USA Today’s list of the top pass catchers in the country. And he’s not the Pac-12’s only representative.
• Cody Shear grew up in Eugene and played for Oregon but has transferred to Arizona State. Why? The Sun Devils are a better fit for the offensive lineman’s skill set.
• Utah won’t have transfer quarterback Cameron Rising available for 2019. The NCAA denied his request for immediate eligibility. The Utes must look elsewhere for a third-stringer this fall.
• Colorado athletic director Rick George has a new contract (five years, base salary of $850,000), although it wasn’t unanimously approved. Two regents opposed, citing concerns over the money spent on athletics. That’s a misguided view: Nothing generates resources for the academic side like a successful football program. We’ve seen examples of that time and again, but the regents are too busy grandstanding to look, it seems.
• Washington added to its 2020 class with a commitment from Roger Rosengarten, a 4-star offensive tackle from Colorado. The Huskies beat Oregon, among others, for his services.
• Arizona State landed a commitment from defensive back D.J. Taylor, from Tampa. The Devils are loading up on the back line.
• Cal’s recruiting class grew by three prospects last week, pushing the Bears’ total of rising seniors to 10. The latest to pledge allegiance is tight end Jake Muller. (We still can’t get used to Cal recruiting tight ends.)
• Speaking of tight ends … Colorado nabbed one: Caleb Fauria, the son of CU great Christian Fauria, committed to the Buffaloes, along with JC cornerback Alton Julina.
• Oregon isn’t shy about making scholarship offers, and that includes dangling them in front of 290-pound seventh graders.
On the Hardwood
• Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley has a new contract and a finalized roster, which includes six newcomers. “I knew we had a good core of players coming back … and I am confident that those players are going to take their game to the next level.”
• The five most important players in the Pac-12 next season, per Andy Katz. (It’s a good list.)
• Colorado’s schedule for 2019-20 just got tougher with the addition of UC Irvine, which won 31 games last season and should be a tournament-caliber team again.
• Arizona State hasn’t produced a draft pick since 2013 (Carrick Felix). One-and-done guard Lu Dort will end that drought on Thursday night — he’s slotted for the late first or early second — and big man Zylan Cheatham just might do the same.
• Whether USC wing Kevin Porter Jr. is picked in the Lottery or later, his thoughts will undoubtedly be with his late father, Kevin Sr., writes the L.A. Times’ J. Brady McCollough in a riveting look at father and son. “His dad was never around to tell him, ‘I’m proud of you.’”
• Porter is projected to be the first Pac-12 player selected in the latest mock draft from CBS Sports, which pegs him for the Lottery.
• Sports Illustrated slots Oregon big man Bol Bol, one of the draft’s great mysteries — in part because of his injury — for the early-20s.
• No Pac-12 players are included in the Lottery portion of NBA.com’s consensus mock, which identifies the most-common selection for each team across a variety of media outlets.
Content on Pac-12 Olympic sports …
• For UCLA athletics, it was the Year of the Women, from gymnast Katelyn Ohashi to softball star Rachel Garcia (and many more).
• New baseball coaches were introduced late last week on the Oregon Trail. The Register-Guard’s Austin Meek writes: “If you’re a fan of either school, there’s no doubt some fresh energy and intrigue surrounding the new hires. There’s also some trepidation …”
• USC’s new baseball coach, Jason Gill, comes from Loyola Marymount.
• Utah has made student-athlete mental health as much of a priority as physical health. “There is no need to be fearful, to hold back on what you’re thinking. Let us help,” athletic director Mark Harlan says.
What’s coming on the Pac-12 Hotline:
• Our early look at the 2019 football season continues with assessments of each team’s strongest and weakest units headed into training camp (broken down by division).
• With the NBA Draft set for Thursday, we’ll examine the event’s past and present from the Pac-12’s perspective.
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