We have hit the dreaded dead period right in the heat of the recruiting where teams prepare/play bowl games and recruits hope get some quiet time for the holidays. The second half of December can be torturous for recruiting junkies as they mostly blindly have to imagine which big time recruits will sign with their schools with little to no information for a couple of weeks.
Here are the top prospects that recruiting fans of each school are hoping will under their respective schools' Christmas trees come national signing day.
Arizona - Joseph Wicker DE Long Beach, CA (Poly)
Biggest competitor - UCLA
The Wildcats have already loaded up on a ton of big time commitments, so they don't have as many big uncommitted fish still on their board, but the undecided Wicker is definitely a big fish that the Wildcats are still trying to reel in. Wicker has as wide open of a recruitment as you will really ever see this late in the game in modern recruiting, but his latest official visit was to Tucson, so the Wildcats are surely at the front of his mind during the quiet period. The Wildcats have long needed to add more big talent up front and the versatile, 6'2 265 Wicker would be the kind of prospect that could eventually reshape the Wildcat front.
Arizona State - Cassius Peat DE Tempe (Corona del Sol)
Biggest competitor - UCLA
The younger brother of Stanford star offensive tackle Andrus Peat, who will likely be a first round pick either in 2015 or 16, projects as a defensive end/outside linebacker at the next level and is one of the best prospects in that role out West this year. At 6'4 235, he plays a different style than his larger brother and his attacking pass-rush abilities could be perfect in Todd Graham's defense. Peat committed to UCLA earlier, but opened up his recruitment and the hometown Sun Devils have a great shot at keeping him in Tempe.
Cal - Lavan Alston WR Ventura, CA (St. Bonaventure)
Biggest competitor - Washington State
The Bears are obviously an attractive choice to receivers looking for action with Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid and the 6'0 175 Alston is the best out there that the Bears still have a great shot at landing. A speedster with great hands, Alston could be a great immediately compliment to Kenny Lawler, Bryce Treggs, Chris Harper and the gang and eventually become a star and right now the Bears are likely the leader for his signature.
Colorado - Mika Tafua DE Honolulu, HI (Kamehameha)
Biggest competitor - USC
Recruiting is still an uphill battle at Colorado, but they are making strides under Mike MacIntyre and have had quite a bit of success out in Hawaii in recent history, where the 6'4 230 Tafua is one of the best defensive line prospects in the Class of 2015. The big presence on the defensive edge committed to BYU very early on, but has seen his stock explode since then and opened up his recruitment, garnering offers from big times programs like Oregon and USC. Prying Tafua away from the likes of USC will be tough, but they recently brought him in for a visit and he has two cousins that may sign with the Buffs and help pull Tafua to Boulder.
Oregon - Rasheem Green DE Gardena, CA (Junipero Serra)
Biggest competitor - USC
The Ducks have a chance to once again close very strong in recruiting and no recruit that they have a major shot at would help do that than the 6'5 290 Green. He looks a bit like USC's Leonard Williams as a guy who plays around 300 pounds, but can really move and play anywhere along the line at an elite level. USC has made a living pulling players like Green out of Junipero Serra so he will be hard to get away from the Trojans, but the Ducks will have a shot, especially if they can pull off a national championship.
Oregon State - Matt Snyder TE San Ramon, CA (California)
Biggest competitor - Nebraska
Transition years can be very tough in recruiting so the Beavers do not have a ton of top prospects left on their board and now their biggest task might be fighting off Mike Riley from poaching Beaver commits. The 6'5 235 Snyder is one of the first players that Riley has tried to pull with him to Lincoln and it is going to be a tough fight for the Beavers to keep him on board, but it has to be one of their top priorities as Snyder was one of the most-talented commits they had in the fold.
Stanford - Trent Irwin WR Newhall, CA (Hart)
Biggest competitor - Arizona State
The 6'2 195 Irwin is an already ultra-polished prospect with soft hands that could help the Cardinal recruiting corps right away. Stanford is not in heavy contention for a wealth of elite prospects down the stretch, but Irwin is definitely a must-have prospect that they hope to close with in the next few weeks.
UCLA - Soso Jamobo RB Plano, TX (West)
Biggest competitor - Baylor
A big, complete back, Scout has the 6'3 205 Texas prospect as the Class of 2015's top running back prospects. The Bruins have an excellent shot at getting a massive score with Jamobo, but will have to duke it out with some heavy Midwest and southern powers to bring him to Westwood, but Jim Mora has shown the ability to do that before.
USC - Rasheem Green DE Gardena, CA (Junipero Serra)
Biggest competitor - Oregon
I already outlined why Green is so coveted in Oregon's section and because of that, he is USC's top target on a loaded list of prospects. The Trojans have a huge history of success of pulling players like Green out of Junipero Serra, so I have to think their chances of landing Green are pretty good.
Utah - Christian Folau LB Salt Lake City, UT (East)
Biggest competitor - Oklahoma State
A 6'1 240-pound physical presence with excellent toughness, Folau would fit in perfectly on Utah's physical defense. The good news for the Utes is that it looks like it may only be a matter of time before he officially declares to stay home and chooses Utah over Oklahoma State and Wisconsin.
Washington - Chris Warren RB Rockwall, TX
Biggest competitor - Texas
It seems strange that the Huskies are in on one of the nation's top running back prospects that is from Texas, but Warren's father is a Seahawk great that shares his name and apparently he has family in the Seattle area that could draw him to the northwest. The Huskies are going to have to fight off his in-state power to bring him all the way up to Seattle, but they have a decent shot at doing that and getting a massive non-West Coast score.
Washington State - Lio Lafaele T Riverside, CA (JC)
Biggest competitor - Texas Tech
The Cougars have a chance to pull in one of the best junior college tackles in the nation and help shore up their offensive line in 2015 and beyond. Lafaele is a versatile physical presence up front that could maybe help the Cougars improve in their lightly-used running game, but they are going to have to fight off the school he used to be committed to in Texas Tech.