Pac-12 Networks put together a football-signing conference call Monday with football analysts Rick Neuheisel and Yogi Roth. Roth used to work as an aide on Pete Carroll’s staff at USC, and Neuheisel, well, he doesn’t need a lot of introduction.
Much of the conversation was about what appears to be an incursion by UCLA into USC turf. Rivals.com has USC ranked No. 7 nationally, with UCLA at No. 9, while Scout.com puts the Bruins at No. 6 and USC 11th. (Washington is third-rated behind those two among Pac-12 schools.)
Neuheisel noted that “this probably would be the year you could catch ’em (the Trojans). It wasn’t a banner year by USC standards, and there’s some unrest among those that follow that program carefully, with respect to how that thing ended up, and also because of their numbers (limiting scholarships to 15).”
USC has commitments from six five-star recruits, but because of its Reggie Bush-related sanctions, has only 13 commitments. Six of the 13 are from either the Eastern or Central time zone, and Neuheisel said that can be a red flag.
“That’s a lot of time spent far away from campus,” he said. “And that always worries me.” He said some recruits from a long distance away may see USC as a glamorous place, with Hollywood and the beach nearby, but the chance of difficulties with those prospects can be increased “if it doesn’t start off well” and if they’re there for the wrong reasons.
Roth said he senses the “energy is shifting” in Los Angeles, in part because of the USC scholarship limitations and the momentum UCLA built with a nine-win season, and he also sounded cautious about USC’s emphasis on long-distance recruits.
“Where UCLA has really taken advantage (is the scholarship numbers issue),” he said. “When I was on the USC staff, we’d go recruit guys just so we wouldn’t have to play against them. Sometimes they’d be the fourth, fifth or sixth receiver on the depth chart.”
It’s a four-star quarterback from a long way away, though, that could inch UCLA’s class up farther. Asiantii Woulard of Winter Park, Fla. is seriously considering the Bruins, where he could be the successor to Brett Hundley.
Neuheisel says now that UCLA has proven it can recruit at the highest level, the next step will be “if they can take the young players and develop them.”
Stanford is ranked low on the 2013 lists, partly because it is signing fewer players. The school has only 12 commitments, eight of them ranked three-stars.
Washington State ranks respectably, compared to recent classes, despite the cloud of abuse allegations leveled by wide receiver Marquess Wilson, something that wasn’t cleared up by the Pac-12 investigation until January.
“I talked to Mike (Leach) during the recruiting process,” Neuheisel said, “and he seemed to think things were going terrifically well.”
Neuheisel said he was interested to see how Sonny Dykes, fresh from the head coaching job at Louisiana Tech, will fare recruiting at Cal.
“You’ve taken a guy with a cowboy hat and put him in a place in the world where you’re going to have to recruit a lot of different kids from in and around the Berkeley area,” Neuheisel said. “Jeff Tedford (ex-Cal coach) did a wonderful job keeping the Marshawn Lynches at home. Sonny is going to have to circle the fences and not let everybody poach California.”
The two offered some thoughts on Washington, but I won’t poach Bob Condotta, who was also on the call. Check out his blog, as always for all the latest on UW football.
31, Arizona State
38, Oregon State
49, Washington State
26, Arizona State
36, Oregon State
41, Washington State