February 6, 2008

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Pac-10

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Rivals.com breaks down every class and takes a look at the headliners and sleepers each school signed in the special Signing Day edition of the Pac-10 Blitz.

Arizona | Arizona State | California | Oregon | Oregon State
Southern California | Stanford | UCLA | Washington | Washington State

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Pac-10
1. USC

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Headliner: Offensive tackle Matt Kalil from Anaheim (Calif.) Servite already has an older brother in the NFL, and he should be on the same track because he's a franchise line prospect.
Sleeper: Torrance (Calif.) West all-purpose back Brian Baucham emerged late in his senior season and projects as a corner for the Trojans.
Overview: Much like Ohio State's class, USC's group is highlighted by two stud five-star offensive tackles. The Trojans will build their line of the future around Kalil and Tyron Smith. Throw in Armond Armstead at defensive tackle and Blake Ayles at tight end, and this class is another solid all-around effort for Pete Carroll and staff. USC needed to add depth along the offensive and defensive line, and it did a tremendous job. Wes Horton could be a star at defensive end and athlete D.J. Shoemate could see the field in a number of different ways.

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Headliner: Compton (Calif.) Dominguez cornerback Aaron Hester has all the tools to be a great one. He's tall, can turn and run, and he has amazing athletic ability.
Sleeper: Tight end Cory Harkey could project on both sides of the ball, but the Bruins love him at tight end.
Overview: Rick Neuheisel's hire at UCLA was one of the biggest offseason headlines. His hiring helped UCLA keep in place almost all of the top players already committed. There were some defections, but for the most part the class No. 1 in the nation at one point early in the process stayed intact. USC has had its claws in most of the top talent in Los Angeles for years now, but it should be interesting now that Neuheisel is in L.A. again. He was able to keep top guys such as Hester, four-star safety Rahim Moore and four-star athlete Johnathan Franklin committed despite pushes from other schools.
3. Oregon

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Headliner: Justin Thompson should help the Ducks carry on their great tradition of defensive tackles. He's tough, aggressive and already dominated on the highest level of junior college football.
Sleeper: Napa (Calif.) High three-star safety John Boyett dominated as a senior and was one of the most impressive players in northern California.
Overview: The Ducks had a ton of success nationally this season. They recruited well in California, and they recruited well in other parts of the country. They went into Kansas to pull in Chris Harper and went into Texas to get stud running back LaMichael James. They even dipped into the junior college ranks to grab running back LaGarrette Blount and defensive tackle Blake Ferras. The Ducks also grabbed four-star quarterback Chris Harper, which immediately adds quality depth. And offensive lineman Nick Cody will be a vocal leader on and off the field.
4. Arizona State

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Headliner: The Sun Devils got a major commitment from in-state stud Gerell Robinson when he announced for ASU on national TV. Robinson, a four-star athlete, could be used in a number of ways.
Sleeper: Linebacker Shelly Lyons was overshadowed by several of his highly recruited teammates, but Lyons a 6-foot-1, 212-pounder can hit like a load of bricks.
Overview: The Sun Devils did a tremendous job on the field this season, then followed that up on the recruiting front. Dennis Erickson complemented his high school class with a talent-laden junior college class. The biggest gets, though, are from in-state high school stars such as Robinson and Jarrell Barbour. Getting Ryan Bass from rival Arizona also had to feel really good. The Devils knew they needed to add depth along the defensive line, and they scored high marks in that area.
5. Washington

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Headliner:Tight end or defensive end? That's the biggest question for four-star prospect Kavario Middleton. There is no questioning his talent, though. Middleton, a 6-6, 250-pounder, is a rare athletic specimen, and he's the Huskies top prospect in the 2009 class.
Sleeper: Chandler (Ariz.) High linebacker Kurt Mangum worked hard his senior season, and his hard work paid off with a Pac 10 offer. He's going to excel on the next level because of that work ethic.
Overview: Tyrone Willingham got it done on the recruiting front this season. U-Dub rivals Minnesota as the biggest surprise nationally this season, but it shouldn't be a true surprise because the Huskies have some recruiting advantages major urban area, great facilities, good tradition, great fan base. The Huskies did most of their damage this season in the Northwest with the additions of stars such as Middleton, Everrette Thompson and Alameda Ta'amu. But stealing Chris Polk away from USC also had to be exciting for the Huskies' coaches.
6. California

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Headliner: Chandler (Ariz.) High four-star cornerback Marc Anthony is the top gem in a class full of studs. Anthony, a 6-foot, 182-pounder, was the star of the Palo Alto NIKE Camp, and he continued to dominate on the field as a senior. He has the talent to make an immediate impact for the Bears.
Sleeper: He might only be a two-star player, but Houston Klein Forest cornerback Josh Hill became a hot target down the stretch. He picked Cal over an offer from Oklahoma, and at 6-1 and 180 pounds, Hill has the size to match up with taller and more physical receivers.
Overview: California loaded up with some high profile skill players, including four-star wide receivers Marvin Jones and Jarrett Sparks and four-star tight end Spencer Ladner. Overall, it looks as if receiver is the strength of this class, as five new receivers are on their way to Berkeley. There's also a solid group of defensive backs coming in to complement Anthony. Hill and Kameron Yancy have shots at being good. And don't forget about a good O-line group led by Tyler Rigsbee and Dominic Galas.
7. Arizona

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Headliner: Cornerback Robert Golden should carry on Mike Stoops' tradition of producing NFL-quality defensive backs. Golden is one of the best cover men in the nation, and he proved it at the U.S. Army All-America Game.
Sleeper: The Wildcats need an explosive all-purpose back to make their spread offense to work, and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman three-star back Keola Antolin fills that role perfectly.
Overview: It was an up-and-down recruiting season for the Wildcats. Things started off great when the Wildcats snagged commits from Rivals100 prospects Gerell Robinson and Ryan Bass, but both later signed with Arizona State. Along with Golden, look for Solomon Koehler and Vuna Tuihalmaka to make an early impact for the Wildcats' defense.
8. Stanford

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Headliner: Quarterback Andrew Luck is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. He should be able to make things interesting at the quarterback spot from day one. He's that good.
Sleeper: Receiver Harold Bernard has a ton of athletic ability, and he showed at the NIKE Camp that he also has great hands and runs great routes.
Overview: While the Stanford class might not make any headlines, there is no question Pac-10 coaches are paying attention. The Cardinal did a tremendous job of pulling in some high-quality prospects. Gone are the days of landing two stars nobody had heard about. Stanford beat out several high-quality BCS programs for talent this year, and there is definitely more help on the way. It should be fun to watch Luck hook up with four-star receiver Christopher Owusu in the future.
9. Oregon State

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Headliner: The Beavers landed the nation's No. 1 junior college player in Simi Kuli, a 6-4, 270-pound five-star prospect who was courted by many of the nation's top programs. In the end, he decided to stay on the West Coast and play in an environment in which he felt comfortable.
Sleeper:Jacquizz Rodgers might not be tall, but he's big on talent. Rodgers, a 5-6, 180-pounder, shattered rushing records in Texas and should be a terror for Pac 10 defenses.
Overview: Any class that has the No. 1 anything in it is going to be special, and that's the case for the Beavers. And when you dig deeper than Kuli, it's a talented group. Quarterback Ryan Katz is a major steal from Los Angeles, and Keynan Parker from Canada also flew way too low on the national radar. The Beavers did a solid job of adding depth on offense in what will go down as a relatively small class.
10. Washington State

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Headliner: Las Flores (Calif.) Tesoro three-star guard Tim Hodgdon is the type of lineman you want. He's mean, nasty, physical and also intelligent. He committed early and stuck with his pledge through the coaching change.
Sleeper: The Cougars won a big late-season recruiting victory over Washington by signing Cory Mackay from Sammamish (Wash.) Eastlake. Mackay, a 6-4, 215-pounder, is a pass-rush specialist with a big upside.
Overview: The Cougars' new staff made up a lot of ground rather quickly. While the class ranks at the bottom of the Pac-10, Washington State made some tremendous strides late and closed as strong as anybody in the conference. When the new staff, arrived there were only a handful of commitments. But by National Signing Day, Washington State had racked up a solid core of three-star prospects. The Cougars went hard and heavy after defensive players, and ends such as Bernard Wolfgramm and Jesse Sanchez could help right away.

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