Growing up, the time around Christmas is the usually the best time of the year for all kids. As students get time off to sit at home playing video games, watc TV and to try to figure out what they are getting for Christmas. This is immediately followed by getting to enjoy all of the toys that they got for a full week before they have to go back to grind of school lunches, recess and story problems.
For adults, at least ones that are obsessed with college football recruiting like myself, the anticipation, emotions and joy that used to occur around Christmas time has now shifted to National Signing Day in early-February. Actually, Christmas is one of the toughest times for recruiting fans, as it is a two-week dead period smack dab in the middle of the action of official visits as the day to sign on the dotted line approaches.
Since little to no news on the recruiting front breaks during these weeks, fans are limited to just thinking about what gifts might be waiting for them under the tree come national signing day. With that in mind, let's take a look at which recruits for the Class of 2013 are at the very top of Pac-12 fans' lists this holiday season.
DT Eddie Vanderdoes 6'3.5 303 Auburn, CA
Husky fans are hoping that they can pull off another miracle in January the way that they did with Shaq Thompson last year and steal away Vanderdoes from his commitment to USC. In a very weak year for lineman, both offensive and defensive, on the West Coast, Vanderdoes is far and away the best "big" prospect on the West Coast and he would make an immediate impact on an improving Husky defense.
DE Paulo Lepua 6'3 265 Harbor City, CA
The Cougars are well stocked on offense with an outstanding fleet of young receivers already on the team and one of the West's best quarterbacks already committed in Tyler Bruggman from Phoenix so they will likely be looking to add more talent on defense with the Class of 2013. Lepua is the kind of defensive lineman who can play anywhere along the line and the Cougars are battling to get the big man to come to Pullman as opposed to Tempe as he will be visiting both locations in January.
RB Derrick Green 5'11 220 Richmond, VA
The Ducks already have Thomas Tyner from Beaverton, Oregon, one of the top-rated running backs in the nation committed, but Green might be even more heralded and could be devastating in the Oregon offense if paired with Tyner. Green is one of those guys who already looks like an NFL running back in high school with his size and power. He had an official visit to Eugene scheduled in November, but it was pushed back and the Ducks have to hoping to get him in late and steal him away from Auburn, Michigan and Tennessee.
G Brayden Kearsley 6'4 298 Beaverton, OR
Kearsley decommitted from BYU earlier in the year and the Beavers have thought to be the favorite to land him ever since. One of the top guards on the West Coast this year, Kearsley is a tough, interior lineman who likes to get after it and has helped pave the way for the aforementioned Tyner who put up video game numbers this year. The Beavers still look to be in the driver's seat for Kearsley, but Washington has been making a big run after him, getting him up on an official visit and he is LDS, so recommitting to BYU is always a possibility.
G Cameron Hunt 6'4 255 Corona, CA
Signing recruiting classes during a coaching change is one of the most difficult things there is in college football, so the Sonny Dykes and his staff are likely putting a huge focus on hanging onto the commits that they already have and none may be more highly regarded than Hunt. It sounds like Hunt is giving Dykes a good chance to hang onto him, but it also sounds like Michigan and Oregon are going to get visits from him.
LB Peter Kalambayi 6'2 235 Matthews, NC
Kalambayi committed to Stanford all the way back in June, but took a visit to Oregon in November and is assuredly still getting pitches from the Ducks along with national powers like Florida, Oklahoma and Ohio State so they will have their hands full keeping him committed until signing day. One of the most highly-rated inside linebackers in the Class of 2013, Kalambayi is already big enough to play in the Pac-12 and will could make an instant impact in Palo Alto with Chase Thomas, Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy all graduating.
LB Isaac Savaiinaea 6'3 230 Honolulu, HI
Savaiinaea is without a doubt the top prospect form the islands this year as he is one of the most touted inside linebackers in the country and is known for his motor and hitting ability. Savaiinaea was originally committed to Stanford early in the process, but has since decommitted and narrowed his choices down to the Bruins and Texas A&M. With his size, toughness and intensity, Savaiinaea could be the perfect linebacker in Jim Mora's system and they will find out whether or not they are getting him when he announces at the Under Armour All-American Bowl.
LB Matthew Thomas 6'4 210 Miami, FL
It is going to be a very, very interesting and probably stressful end to the recruiting season for the Trojans. They probably have the most impressive list of commits in the nation at the moment but they are also limited on scholarships and coming off a very disappointing season, both of which have led to other schools attempting to poach pretty much every guy on their commitment list.
Thomas hasn't committed yet and is probably the best uncommitted guy that the Trojans have a shot at pulling in. Heis raw, but fits the mold of one of those long, athletic, fast outside linebackers that every team wants. The Trojans will have to fight Alabama, Florida State, Georgia and Miami to get him out of the South, but they have had great success stealing players from Florida for years now.
RB Pierre Cormier 5'11 180 San Diego, CA
The Wildcats aren't seriously in on any marquee recruits this year, but Cormier is one of the more highly-rated running backs on the West Coast and has been committed to the Wildcats for a while now. Like current star running back Ka'Deem Carey, Cormier isn't huge or incredibly fast, but puts up monster numbers and could be perfect in Rich Rodriguez' up-tempo system. He visited Washington during the season, but the Huskies don't appear to be a big player for his signature. However, a visit he has scheduled to UCLA in January could be troublesome for Wildcat fans.
CB Priest Willis 6'2 190 Tempe, AZ
The Sun Devils would love nothing more than to keep the hometown product and best player from the state of Arizona this year to stay home, but it will not be easy. Willis is huge for a cornerback and that combined with his physical play and speed makes him one of the most coveted cornerbacks in the nation this year. The Sun Devils will have to duke it out with some serious programs to keep him in town though as he is heavily considering LSU, Florida State, Notre Dame and Nebraska.
DT Lowell Lotulelei 6'2 300 South Jordan, UT
The younger brother of Star Lotulelei, Lowell isn't a five-star level recruit, but neither was Star and Lowell has a lot of the same skills as his All-American older brother. Lowell isn't a sackmaster, but is big, strong and mean up front and could develop into a terror in the run game at the next level. He has favored Utah for a long time, but has yet to commit and took a visit to Washington in November. It seems like the Utes have Lowell in the bag, but it isn't quite a sure thing just yet.
LB George Frazier 6'3 235 Monrovia, CA
The Buffs were already having trouble recruiting before they fired their coach so they will now have a very hard time signing a class at all. The good news is that they already had a decent amount of players committed early in the process so Mike MacIntyre might want to put a lot of his efforts into simply holding onto the guys that they already have in the fold.
Unfortunately for Colorado, the guys they already have committed aren't the most highly-rated players in the country, but Frazier is the most coveted of the group and would be the most important to hang onto. Frazier is big enough that he could come in right away and contribute for the Buffs on defense.