We move to California in the next part of looking at the best recruits to come out of the Pac-12 states during the Internet recruiting coverage era and the Golden State gets a little tricky. Putting together the Top 10 recruits to ever come out of California would be a very impressive list, but since the state is so large in both geography and population, we have broken it up into five major regions/cities - greater Sacramento, Bay Area, Central Valley, greater Los Angeles and greater San Diego.
We are starting with Los Angeles, and I know (Especially as someone who lives in LA) that we are using gigantic parameters, but we are considering the LA area as Ventura and anything South, San Bernadino/Riverside and anything West and North of the Southern Orange County border. It's not perfect, but also much easier than trying to split up the 30 different areas that exist in the LA area.
1. Jimmy Clausen - Class of 2007 - QB - Westlake Village - Oaks Christian - Notre Dame
Clausen may not have been the most popular guy in the country at any point of his high school or college career, but he was regularly considered the top recruit in the Class of 2007 at any position and was considered by some to be one of the best West Coast quarterback recruits in recent history. He never lost a game as a starter for powerhouse Notre Dame and was named offensive player of the year by USA Today as a senior.
Clausen was seen as the perfect package, with size, savvy, strength and polish and he ended up signing with Notre Dame. Clausen got more attention for his brash attitude and unpopularity than he did his actual playing at Notre Dame, but had a good career and ended up being a second round draft pick by Carolina after his junior season.
2. Mark Sanchez - Class of 2005 - QB - Mission Viejo - USC
Sanchez was seen as a perfect quarterback prospect when he came out of high school from powerhouse Mission Viejo and was widely considered to be the best prospect at any position in the Class of 2005. Sanchez had it all and was a polished product who had great coaching in high school and was expected to step in right away wherever he signed for college. Sanchez signed with USC and was seen as the next Heisman-worthy quarterback for the Trojans. Sanchez had a very good career at USC before leaving after his junior season and being taken by the Jets in the first round.
3. Matt Barkley - Class of 2009 QB - Santa Ana, CA - Mater Dei - USC
Southern California and Orange County in particularly seem to produce more college-ready, hyped quarterback recruits than any other area in the country and Barkley was as well regarded as any has ever been when he came out in 2009. Barkley was seen as a can't miss, polished prospect that was the top-rated quarterback in the Class of 2009 and committed to USC very early in the process. Barkley started from the beginning at USC and had an up and down career that ended with a frustrating senior year and a huge drop in the NFL Draft.
4. De'Anthony Thomas - Class of 2011 CB - Los Angeles - Crenshaw - Oregon
The "Black Mamba" was as electrifying of a playmaker as anyone has ever seen coming out of high school on the West Coast in a long time. Thomas was lightning quick, one of the top-rated prospects in the Class of 2011 and had world-class speed. Thomas committed to USC early but had probably the most shocking move in the history of Pac-12 recruiting, when he switched to Oregon just before signing day despite having anyone know that he had even visited Eugene outside of inner circles. Thomas instantly became one of the most exciting players in college football as a true freshman and is a Heisman candidate going into his junior season.
5. Whitney Lewis - Class of 2003 WR - Ventura - St. Bonaventure - USC
Lewis was one of the most exciting and interesting pure athletes to ever come out of the LA area as he was 6'1 210, but ran a 4.3 40 and was expected to be a star at whichever position he was pegged at in college. Lewis was regarded as the best athlete in the Class of 2003 and was seen as a perfect prospect that would be a huge star in college. Lewis entertained a number of elite programs, but signed with nearby USC and was expected to be the Trojans' next elite perimeter playmaker. Lewis showed up at USC but wasn't there long and never really made an impact before leaving and bouncing around various colleges.
6. Lorenzo Booker - Class of 2002 RB - Ventura - St. Bonaventure - Florida State
Another St. Bonaventure star prospect, Booker was one of the top players in the Class of 2002 and arguably the best prospect on the entire West Coast. Booker was seen as a full-package back that could do a little bit of everything. Booker had a drawn out recruitment that went down to the wire, where he eventually chose Florida State. Booker had a solid career with the Seminoles, but was never quite a star, though he did end up being a third round draft pick.
7. Robert Woods - Class of 2010 WR - Gardena - Junipero Serra - USC
Tall, fast and unbelievably smooth, Woods was the top-rated receiver in the Class of 2010 and one an unbelievably prolific playmaker. Woods was also a standout track athlete but was a pure football player and might have been the best skill position player in his class. Woods signed with USC with hopes of being the next great Trojan receiver and that's exactly what he did, as an All-American candidate in each of his three years there before heading to the NFL a year early.
8. George Farmer - Class of 2011 WR - Gardena - Junipero Serra - USC
It seemed crazy, but Junipero Serra produced arguably the nation's top receiver for the second year in a row with Farmer. Farmer was bigger than Woods at 6'5 210 and maybe even faster with a 4.3 40 time and was maybe the most coveted skill position prospect in the nation for his class. Farmer visited Oregon and Miami but followed Woods to USC to reform what was expected to be a deadly duo. Farmer has only played sparingly thus far in his college career and tore ligaments in his knee in the Spring of 2013 and will miss the 2013 season.
9. Ronald Powell - Class of 2010 DE - Moreno Valley - Rancho Verde - Florida
Powell played linebacker in high school and was an All-American, but he projected as a rangy defensive end at the next level and was arguably the top-rated defensive end in the Class of 2010. Powell was an elite edge athlete that was a sack machine and coveted by just about every team in the country. Powell left Pac-12 country and headed to Florida on signing day. Powell showed a ton of promise as a sophomore but missed all of 2012 with an injury and now hopes to come back in 2013 at full strength.
10. Su'a Cravens - Class of 2013 S - Murrieta - Vista - USC
Cravens was the leader of powerhouse Vista Murrieta as a game changing safety and the top-rated defensive back in the Class of 2013. Cravens looked like he could be the next Troy Polamalu at Vista and like Polamalu signed with USC. Cravens looked good as an early enrollee playing Spring football at USC just a few months ago, but went down with an injury.
Allen Bradford - Class of 2006 LB - Colton - USC
Vontaze Burfict - Class of 2009 LB - Corona - Centennial - Arizona State
Chris Galippo - Class of 2007 LB - Anaheim - Servite - USC
Ben Olson - Class of 2002/2003 QB - Thousand Oaks - BYU/UCLA
Darrell Scott - Class of 2008 RB - Ventura - St. Bonaventure - Colorado