With recruiting classes around the country beginning to fill out, now is a great time to look at how the Pac-12 is faring heading into the home stretch of the 2024 cycle. Here are some of Adam Gorney‘s thoughts for the Pac-12’s 2024 recruiting rankings.
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PROJECTED LEAGUE CHAMPION: Oregon
Coach Dan Lanning has taken the recruiting torch from former coach Mario Cristobal and kept the Ducks atop the team recruiting rankings in the Pac-12 before a big move to the Big Ten.
There are no five-star commitments across the entire Pac-12 right now, but Oregon leads the conference with 15 four-star pledges, led by linebacker Dylan Williams, a former USC commit out of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, along with QB Michael Van Buren, WRs Jordan Anderson and Dillon Gresham, DT Tionne Gray and DBs Dakoda Fields and Ify Obidegwu.
What’s even more impressive is that only a handful of Oregon’s 23 commitments are from the Pacific Northwest as Lanning and his staff have targeted California heavily with seven commits from there, while also going nationally for others.
DON’T COUNT OUT: USC
Only one of the top 11 players in the California state rankings (Ryan Pellum) is committed to USC, and none of the top prospects from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, which has been sort of a feeder school to USC over the years, are pledged to the Trojans. Meanwhile, Alabama has landed three of the top nine recruits, including the top two.
Still, with no conference teams currently having any five-star commitments, one or two by signing day could propel the Trojans to the top of the team recruiting rankings. And don’t forget just how successful coach Lincoln Riley has been in utilizing the transfer portal.
When it’s all said and done and the comprehensive class rankings are configured with both the high school and transfer recruiting rankings together, the Trojans should be in very solid shape.
BIGGEST OVERACHIEVER: Stanford
Other than going 4-2 during the COVID year of 2020, Stanford has had three straight losing seasons, including back-to-back-3-9 campaigns that forced David Shaw to resign.
So there’s a new coach in place with Troy Taylor, a completely new offensive system, conference realignment that has brought tremendous amounts of uncertainty and Stanford is currently playing in a Pac-12 Conference that’s crumbling. It also got whacked by USC 56-10 Saturday night in a game that could have been much worse if the Trojans tried in the second half.
Yet, the Cardinal still have the second-best class in the Pac-12, led by seven four-stars, including QB Elijah Brown and defensive ends Dylan Stephenson and Benedict Umeh. It’s an impressive start on the recruiting trail for Taylor as he looks to revamp a football program backed by elite academics.
SURPRISINGLY STRUGGLING: Colorado
Colorado is the toast of the college football world right now. Coach Deion Sanders deserves a ton of credit for transforming the program already, ESPN’s College GameDay is coming to Boulder this weekend and there is an unprecedented amount of excitement around the program.
So why does Colorado have only nine commitments (the fewest in the Pac-12) and why do the Buffaloes rank No. 72 nationally in the team recruiting rankings?
Two theories: One is that Colorado is getting some big dogs on campus with its success to start the season, so instead of taking anybody – and a lot of prospects would commit on the spot – Sanders and his staff are being more selective and keeping spots for elite players. The second theory is that Sanders utilized the portal so well last offseason to totally reconstruct his roster, maybe he’s not focused on high school as much as what could become available in the portal.
Either way, it’s working so far.
BIGGEST BATTLE: Oregon vs. the field for Brandon Baker
The expectation is that the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle visits Nebraska this weekend on his final trip, and then is ready to make his commitment in the coming days. I don’t think the Huskers’ early-season struggles have helped them at all, but a great visit to Lincoln might change things.
This is boiling down to a Texas-Oregon battle and it looks like all the momentum is on the Longhorns’ side. The Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei standout has a bunch of connections to the Ducks as well, so it could go that way, but the chatter in recent weeks is that Texas will be tough to beat.