Every year, a handful of highly-touted high school football prospects in Pac-12 country will head out to another part of the country to play college football, or an under-the-radar prospect in Pac-12 country ends up going to a smaller school and becoming a star. Since recruiting became a thing that a good portion of Pac-12 fans started following and recruiting databases started archiving (say 2002, so we went with past 15 years), there have been more than a few that have been hard to Pac-12 fans to watch, knowing they could have played in the conference.
Here are the most painful ones since the dawning of the Internet recruiting era.
DE Jared Allen - Los Gatos, CA - Idaho State
One of the most entertaining sackmasters in recent NFL history ended up playing his college ball in Pocatello, Idaho as he slipped past not only the Pac-12, but ever FBS program out West. This was before there was much recruiting coverage, but I have heard that Allen was on some teams' radar as a lower-level recruit, but then got into some off-the-field trouble and fell off, ending up an FCS recruit.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Oregon State - The Beavers have made a living developing under-the-radars defensive ends into stars under Mike Riley and Allen would be a perfect fit in Corvallis.
CB Prince Amukamara - Glendale, AZ - Class of 2007 - Nebraska
A physical, All-American cornerback that shut down receivers throughout his career, Amukumara was only actually lightly recruited coming out of high school and Nebraska was surprisingly kind of a big offer since he reportedly was not offered by Arizona or Arizona State.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Arizona State - With his size, athleticism and how decorated he was in the local media, the Sun Devils should have recruited Amukamara harder and kept him home.
WR Nate Burleson - Seattle, WA - Class of 2000 - Nevada
Burleson was an All-American and record-breaking receiver at Nevada and has gone on to be a solid pass-catcher in the NFL for years. Despite being a decorated high school star with good blood lines, Burleson didn't receive a Pac-12 scholarship and ended up at Nevada.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Washington - Burleson's father and brother played for the Huskies and really wanted an offer, but Rick Neuheisel didn't extend one and he really should have.
QB David Carr - Bakersfield, CA - Class of 1999 - Fresno State
Carr had a big high school career, but I don't know much about his high school recruitment, other than that I am assuming that he didn't have any Pac-12 offers and ended up playing locally for Fresno State where he was a stud and eventually a first overall draft pick.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Oregon State -Carr probably didn't have a good enough high school pedigree to go realistically get an offer from USC or UCLA, but I feel like the Beavers could have plucked him out of the Central Valley as an under-the-radar star.
QB Derek Carr - Bakersfield, CA - Fresno State
It's kind of surprising that David's younger brother didn't get more BCS offers since he likely got attention from his older brother, but his only other listed offer is Utah. Regardless, Derek ended up at Fresno State like his brother and just finished a great career and is about to be a first round draft pick.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? UCLA -Carr wasn't a big splash prospect coming out of high school, but he was probably better physically than the guy who the Bruins took, Richard Brehaut and had a great pedigree because of his brother.
T Ryan Clady - Rialto, CA - Boise State
Clady was a very under-the-radar recruit out of Rialto who had a very quiet recruitment and committed to Boise State back before they were a national brand. Clady went on to become an All-American at Boise State and a standout in the NFL.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? UCLA - Clady was a very raw and under-the-radar recruit, but he came out of an area where UCLA has traditionally recruited really well and maybe could have seen him as a diamond in the rough.
QB Ken Dorsey - Orinda, CA - Miami
The first player here who wasn't a diamond in the rough, Dorsey went to Miami because he could where he led some of the greatest teams in college football history.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? None - You can't really blame Pac-12 schools for losing Dorsey to Miami and you can't blame him for going there.
G Mike Iupati - Anaheim, CA - Idaho
Iupati was born in Samoa and was probably headed towards the Pac-12, but schools backed off due to poor academics because of a language barrier. He ended up at a junior college and was eventually plucked by Idaho.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Arizona - The Wildcats extended him an offer in high school before discovering how bad his academics were but they should have kept track of him and offered him at the JC level.
RB Ian Johnson - La Verne, CA
The man best known for proposing to his girlfriend after winning the Fiesta Bowl was a star in the San Gabriel Valley in high school, but didn't earn an offer from a Pac-12 school and headed to the WAC for up and coming Boise State. Johnson ended up shattering records and being an All-American at Boise State before going to the NFL.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? UCLA - As I mentioned with Clady, UCLA has historically recruited the San Gabriel Valley well and they definitely missed out on Clady and Johnson to the the Broncos' gain. They could have taken a chance on Johnson, considering the only running back they signed in his class was Chris Markey from New Orleans.
QB Colin Kaepernick - Turlock, CA - Nevada
The 49ers star was a big time baseball prospect that many thought was too skinny to play college football coming out of the Central Valley area and only received an offer from Nevada, where he would end up signing. Kaepernick would turn the Wolfpack into a very good non-BCS team and go on to become a standout in the NFL.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Oregon - The Ducks were not yet running the Chip Kelly spread/hurry-up, but would have been in the heart of Kaepernick's career and while he was a major project, the Ducks did have him in their camp and took three quarterbacks in his class, none of whom were slam dunk prospects either.
QB Kellen Moore - Prosser, WA - Boise State
Another Boise State star that failed to get recruited by Pac-12 schools? The Broncos made a killing with these kinds of prospects. Moore was a national record setter at state champion Prosser, but was very small at 6'1 185 and the instate Pac-12 schools didn't recruit him, sending him over to Boise where he ended up being a Heisman candidate and national record setter.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Washington State - Concerns over Moore's size were legitimate, but the Cougars have made a living with guys like him for years and were more than capable of taking a risk at the time he was available.
WR Taylor Stubblefield - Yakima, WA - Purdue
Coming out of Yakima, Washington, Stubblefield was an under the radar recruit that didn't get offered by the Pac-12 in-state schools, but caught the attention of Purdue and garnered a scholarship. Stubblefield ended up going to Purdue, where he was a consistent force that ended up breaking a number of Big Ten records.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Washington State - I believe that Washington signed the two top national receiver recruits in Stubblefield's class (not 100% sure on this though) so they get a bit of a pass on not offering him, but the Cougars should have been able to sniff out this diamond in the rough.
DT Ndamukong Suh - Portland, OR - Nebraska
Suh was a big time prospect coming out of Portland's Grant High School and had offers from all around the country. Suh choose Nebraska after taking visits to Cal, Miami, Mississippi State and Oregon State and ended up being one of the best players in the history of college football and a serious Heisman candidate even though he was a defensive tackle.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Oregon - I don't know if I can think of a more painful recruiting loss for a program in recent Pac-12 history and I can't really find much about why the Ducks weren't able to get Suh, but I do know that he has said positive things about the program since finishing his college career. Losing Suh has to be particularly painful since the Ducks generally do a great job of keeping to in-state talent home and their late 2000s teams could have been nearly unbeatable with him added into the fold.
LB Manti Te'o - Honolulu, HI - Notre Dame
Te'o was arguably the nation's top linebacker recruit and the best recruit to ever come out of the state of Hawaii when his hard fought recruiting battle ended with him choosing Notre Dame over USC. Te'o would become an All-American and Heisman candidate at Notre Dame and a national celebrity due to the dreaded Lenay Kekua controversy which may be the single greatest sports story in the history of the world.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? USC - Many thought Te'o was headed to LA until he signed with the Irish and the Trojans may have lost him due to rumblings about impending sanctions.
TE Kellen Winslow Jr. - San Diego, CA - Miami
Winslow Jr. was one of the nation's top tight end recruits and was on a Fox Sports TV show ready to commit to Washington when his father stopped him. His dad reportedly said it was because Washington didn't have any African-American coaches on their staff, but I have heard that it was actually because he didn't like Rick Neuheisel, so who knows? Regardless, Winslow went to Miami and was one of the most impressive tight ends to ever play college football before going to the NFL.
Which Pac-12 school should have got him? Washington - It truly sounded like Winslow wanted to go to Washington and would have been deadly teamed with Reggie Williams, but it sounded like his dad simply wouldn't let that happen.
- Honorable mention
QB Colt Brennan - Santa Ana, CA and then Saddleback College - Hawaii
Brennan is hard to put properly on this list as he did start out at Colorado, but was a walk-on (so technically he wasn't a true recruit) and eventually got kicked off the team before going on to Hawaii.