Pac-10 Recruiting Review

Now that the dust has settled, it's time to review how each Pac-10 team did in recruiting for 2005...

Arizona (#3 in the Pac-10, #14 nationally) – On paper, this is the best recruiting class in Tucson in a very long time. Mike Stoops and staff did a sensational job in their first full recruiting cycle. The first thing they did was go into California and land one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in William Tuitama of Stockton St. Mary's. He is a player that will get looks as a starter as soon as he steps on campus. The four star signal caller will have a tremendous backfield to work with as the Cats landed the two highest rated running backs in AZ with four stars Terry Longbons from Peoria Centennial and Tucson's own Xavier Smith from Sunnyside. UA also made another major coup in their own backyard by landing four star offensive lineman Daniel Borg from Ironwood Ridge High in Tucson. Arizona's offensive line will be getting another huge boost as they added one of the three best offensive linemen in California with four star Eben Britton from Burbank Burroughs. The Cats also scoured the JC ranks and picked up some gems in four star safety Michael Johnson from Tyler JC in Texas, four star offensive lineman Adam Hawes from Yuba College in Wheatland, CA, and four star receiver B.J. Vickers from Santa Monica, CA. UA may have received its best news at the last minute as four star linebacker Adrian McCovey of Lakewood, CA, said he would sign with the Wildcats. McCovey has the skills to be something special at the next level. Arizona landed a four star player at almost every position across the board and if they continue to add classes like this year's and last year's they will be in the thick of the Pac Ten race in the very near future.

Immediate Impact - offense: B.J. Vickers/Willie Tuitama/Adam Hawes
Immediate Impact - defense: Adrian McCovey/Michael Johnson/Byron Smith
Biggest Sleeper: Garrett Fields
Biggest Shoes to fill: Brandyn McCall (Steve Fleming)
One that Got away: Luthur Brown (USC)

Arizona State (#7 in the Pac-10, #41 nationally) – The Sun Devils landed one of the most complete classes you will see. They landed the no.12 quarterback in the nation, four star Derek Shaw from Oceanside, CA. The Devils actually pulled Shaw away from his commitment to Miami. He will have a couple of great receivers to throw to in Brandon Smith of Bakersfield West, CA, and Chris McGaha of Phoenix Moon Valley, AZ. Keegan Herring from Peoria, AZ is a player that could be a stud running back for the Devils, or a blazing fast receiver. Herring is considered as one of the fastest players in the nation as he can run a consistent 40 in the legit 4.3 range. ASU went into Colorado and landed what are arguably the two best players in the state. They got the Colorado Springs Player of the Year, RB Shaun Dewitty from Doherty, and four star Denver CB Grant Crunkleton from Mullen. Dewitty could also be a terrific safety if the Devils opt to use his skills on defense. ASU landed a ton of talent in the trenches as they went into California and signed arguably the best center prospect in the state in Thomas Altieri from Vista, CA, and they also signed the best offensive lineman in the Phoenix-metro area in Richard Tuitu'u from Gilbert Highland. In all, ASU signed eight linemen between the high school and JC ranks; four on offense and four on defense.

Immediate Impact - offense: Shaun Dewitty/Keegan Herring
Immediate Impact - defense: Beau Manutai/Will Kofe/Zach Catanese
Biggest Sleeper: Jovon Williams
Biggest Shoes to fill: Beau Manutai (Justin Burks)
One that Got away: Mickey Pimentel (California)

California (#2 in the Pac-10, #9 nationally) - Head Coach Jeff Tedford went all-out to make sure the Golden Bears capitalized on an excellent 2004 campaign, and they did just that. A top-ten team recruiting ranking attests to the balance and quality of Cal's class. They lose QB Aaron Rodgers and immediately replace him with the nation's top JUCO QB in Joseph Ayoob. Gone is Geoff McArthur, Chase Lyman, Burl Toler and Jonathan Makonnen; Lavelle Hawkins, DeSean Jackson and Jesse Canada are more than ready to step in and help pick up the slack. 2004 also saw the graduations of Wendell Hunter, Joe Maningo and Brian Tremblay from a talented linebacking corps. What does Tedford do? He grabs two of the top JUCO linebackers in the country in Mickey Pimentel and Desmond Bishop, as well as top prep LB Anthony Felder from Seattle. Pulling Jackson away from USC was a major coup and shows how far the Cal program has come since their 1-10 campaign in 2001.

Immediate Impact - offense: DeSean Jackson/Joseph Ayoob/Lavelle Hawkins
Immediate Impact - defense: Mickey Pimentel/Desmond Bishop
Biggest Sleeper: Tad Smith
Biggest Shoes to fill: Joseph Ayoob (Aaron Rodgers)
One that Got away: Will Powers (Stanford)

Oregon (#5 in the Pac-10, #30 nationally) - The Ducks, bolstered by an advertising campaign initiated years ago to enhance the program's visibility, is reaping the rewards of their broad sweep. UO landed 23 signees from as far away as Georgia and Alabama to the east and American Samoa to the west. But their biggest recruit was landed just to the north of Eugene, Oregon - Lacey, Washington, to be exact.'s number-one running back prospect, Jonathan Stewart, was the crown jewel; Stewart picked the Ducks over Washington State in a heated effort that went nearly to the wire. Of interest, Head Coach Mike Bellotti did not sign a quarterback, which should bode well for 2004 walk-on Kyle Bennett. Bellotti needed to get Duck starting QB Kellen Clemens some weapons; besides Stewart he also landed two highly rated receivers. James Finley was a Duck signee three years ago but because of eligibility issues went back to Los Angeles. He's earned his AA from Compton College and is now currently enrolled at UO and ready to play. Derrick Jones, a member of the 2004 Hot 100 and a former USC signee, also signed with the Ducks.

Immediate Impact - offense: Jonathan Stewart/James Finley/Derrick Jones
Immediate Impact - defense: Jason Turner/Blair Phillips
Biggest Sleeper: Simi Toeaina
Biggest Shoes to fill: Paulani Ma Sun/Pat So'oalo (Michael DeLaGrange/Robin Knebel/Adam Snyder)
One that Got away: Rey Maualuga (USC)

Oregon State (#9 in the Pac-10, #51 in the country) - Oregon State Head Coach has to be pleased with how his 2005 class shaped up, at least on offense. Former UCLA QB Matt Moore and prep prospect Sean Canfield will be immediately thrown into the mix as Riley looks for a replacement for the departed Derek Anderson. With the recent departure of running back Ryan Cole, Nate Wright and Markel Devorce were added and should compete for immediate playing time. Riley also addressed needs at offensive line, signing four high school players. Defensively it's a little thinner, but Riley did an exceptional job in picking up JUCO DB studs Edorian McCullough and Aaron Miller. McCullough, a former Texas player, has legit Olympic sprinter speed, and Miller is a former Oklahoma signee. Those two should compete from the get-go this fall. Add to those two Oregon prep standout Kevin Maher, as well as Patrick Henderson from California and Al Afalava from the storied Kahuku program in Hawaii. Riley was also able to steal a couple of late commits - Afalava from BYU, as well as Moses Lake DT Wilson Holman from Washington State.

Immediate Impact - offense: Matt Moore/Nate Wright/Jason Vandiver
Immediate Impact - defense: Edorian McCullough/Aaron Miller
Biggest Sleeper: Markel Devorce
Biggest Shoes to fill: Matt Moore (Derek Anderson)
One that Got away: Gardner McKay II (Colorado)

Stanford (#6 in the Pac-10, #38 nationally) - The Cardinal, with their high admissions standards, did what they always do, despite the relative late arrival of new Head Coach Walt Harris. They culled the top student-athletes from all parts of the country; 16 signees from 12 states. This class should be known in the years to come by it's defensive standouts - DT's Ekom Udofia and James McGillicuddy, DE's Ben Ladner and Matt Kopa, linebackers Will Powers, Clinton Snyder and Tom McAndrew and DB's Kris Evans and Blaise Johnson. But the offense didn't get short shrift; QB Tavita Pritchard was arguably the top signal-caller in the entire northwest. Add to that OL Chris Marinelli and TE James Dray, and you have a group of players that addressed need and did so with excellent results despite a limited time-frame.

Immediate Impact - offense: James Dray
Immediate Impact - defense: Ekom Udofia/Will Powers
Biggest Sleeper: Bo McNally
Biggest Shoes to fill: James Dray (Alex Smith)
One that Got away: Aleksey Lanis (UCLA)

UCLA (#4 in the Pac-10, #24 nationally) – UCLA signed a complete class with players at every position, except the kicking game. There is no question that this class is centered around five star quarterback Ben Olson of Thousand Oaks, CA. Olson was the no.1 quarterback in the nation a couple years back before going on his Mormon mission, and has now returned. He opted for Westwood over Provo this time, and plans to lead UCLA to the promised-land. He will compete for the starting job immediately and will have three of the better TE's in the nation to throw the ball to as the Bruins landed Adam Heater of Snohomish, WA, Ryan Moya of El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge, CA, and four star Logan Paulsen of West Hills Chaminade, CA. The Bruins fended off many schools for what could be the best offensive lineman on the west coast in Aleksey Lanis from Crenshaw, CA. Lanis will enroll early at UCLA and figures to compete for a starting job immediately. The team will enjoy a huge boost to their secondary with the additions of four star players Aaron Ware of Westlake Village Oaks Christian and Shawn Oatis of Chino, CA. Ware is a top running back and corner but figures to see his first action on defense while Oatis could see early playing time at safety. The Bruins also landed one of the most underrated players on the west coast in safety/receiver Bret Lockett from Diamond Bar, CA.

Immediate Impact - offense: Ben Olson/Aleksey Lanis
Immediate Impact - defense: Aaron Ware/Shawn Oatis
Biggest Sleeper: Jamil Turner
Biggest Shoes to fill: Kahlil Bell (Manuel White)
One that Got away: Adrian McCovey (Arizona)

USC (#1 in Pac-10, #3 nationally) – The Trojans have landed what is arguably the number one class in the nation. Signing Day had its ups and downs for ‘SC fans. The ups were the commitments of five star linebackers Brian Cushing of New Jersey Bergen Catholic and Luthur Brown of California Lakewood. Add these two to California Eureka's Rey Maualuga and the Trojans have landed the best group of linebackers anyone has seen in years. Another late signing day addition was local star CB Cary Harris from powerhouse Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Harris is a four star player and one of nine in the class. There were seven five star players signed including the nation's no.2 defensive end Averell Spicer of California's Rancho Cucamonga, the nation's no.1 WR Patrick Turner of Tennessee's Goodpasture, and the crown jewel of the class, the no.1 player in the nation overall, QB Mark Sanchez of California's Mission Viejo. The only glaring loss was five star receiver DeSean Jackson of California's Long Beach Poly when he chose Cal over ‘SC on signing day night. How much of a loss it was will be seen in the near future as Jackson may opt for a pro baseball career instead of college football. Jackson's decision to go to Cal is the only negative you can pin on this recruiting cycle as a class like this will assure USC of competing for many more national championships in the future.

Immediate Impact - offense: Patrick Turner
Immediate Impact - defense: Rey Maualuga/Luthur Brown/Brian Cushing
Biggest Sleeper: Kevin Ellison
Biggest Shoes to fill: Rey Maualuga (Lofa Tatupu)
One that Got away: DeSean Jackson (California)

Washington (#10 in the Pac-10, #55 in the country) - With limited time and half a staff, it's pretty surprising how new Head Coach Tyrone Willingham fared. He had to keep Bellevue studs E.J. Savannah and J.R. Hasty home, and that's just what he did. He also added some much-needed help in the secondary. Pasadena (Calif.) City College's Qwenton Freeman and Nevada transfer Chris Handy will compete for immediate playing time now that both Derrick Johnson and Sam Cunningham have graduated. The Huskies, desperately looking for an answer at quarterback, may have found an answer in former Oregon signal-caller Johnny DuRocher. Freeman's teammate at Pasadena, Marlon Wood - son of former three-time All-American Richard 'Batman' wood - gives DuRocher an immediate deep threat like the Huskies haven't seen in some time.

Immediate Impact - offense: Marlon Wood
Immediate Impact - defense: Qwenton Freeman/Chris Handy
Biggest Sleeper: Daniel Te'o Nesheim
Biggest Shoes to fill: Ben Ossai (Khalif Barnes)
One that Got away: Ismail Abdunafi (Illinois)

Washington State (#8 in the Pac-10, #47 in the country) - The Cougars went well out of their normal territory to grab some serious studs that fell through the cracks and came up gold in the late rounds. No less than five players from Louisiana and Texas will be putting on the crimson and gray as a result of WSU's recruiting efforts - due in large part to the efforts of linebackers coach Leon Burtnett. They also went six-for-six in their final recruiting weekend to finish things off with a bang. It should be no surprise then that two of those players - Jason Stripling from Tyler and Greg Trent from Keller - are also linebackers. The Cougars went a little lighter in-state than they normally would, but the three prospects they did get are very good. Seattle Rainier Beach CB Shelton Danzy, Puyallup Rogers WR Brandon Gibson and Gig Harbor OL Kenny Alfred are all potential stars down the road. State also picks up some stragglers from the year before that either delayed enrollment or became eligible - the biggest name from that group is Tacoma Lincoln safety Michael Willis, considered an instant-impact player.

Immediate Impact - offense: Lorenzo Bursey
Immediate Impact - defense: Bryant Tarkington/Michael Willis
Biggest Sleeper: Greg Trent/Courtney Williams
Biggest Shoes to fill: DeWayne Patterson (Jeremy Bohannon)
One that Got away: Jonathan Stewart (Oregon)

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