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Ranking the Pac-12 recruiting classes for the Class of 2014: Sarkisian and Trojans pull away from the Pac on signing day

USC pushed themselves past the rest of the conference on signing day.

Stephen Dunn

1. USC

Star: CB Adoree Jackson Sleeper: DE Don Hill

Strength: Defensive back Weakness: Defensive line

The Trojans closed as strong as anyone in the country, locking in three five star players (Jackson, S Juju Smith & G Damien Mama) on signing day. This wasn't quite a Pete Carroll class, or even one of Lane Kiffin's very best classes, but it is a great transition class for Steve Sarkisian and he won some very key local battles with UCLA that could turn the tide in the battle for Los Angeles.

2. Stanford

Star: DE Solomon Thomas Sleeper: FB Daniel Marx

Strength: Offensive line Weakness: Receiver

The Cardinal have landed more highly-rated classes under David Shaw, but maybe none that more overall fit their needs and scheme than this one. They loaded up on quality players on both lines and linebacker along with getting the nation's top tight end in Dalton Schultz and California's best quarterback in Keller Chryst.


Star: LB Zach Whitley Sleeper: QB Aaron Sharp

Strength: Linebacker Weakness: Quarterback

The Bruins were in on enough top prospects till the end that this class, even though it still ended up being highly-rated, is a little bit disappointing, especially considering how poorly they faced in head-to-head battles with the Trojans. Still, almost every team in the Pac-12 would love to have the class that Jim Mora reeled in and they landed some legitimate stars, most importantly at receiver in Austin Roberts and Alex Van Dyke.

4. Arizona State

Star: DT Tashon Smallwood Sleeper: RB Kalen Ballage

Strength: Receiver Weakness: Cornerback

Todd Graham really needed to reload with how much talent the Sun Devils lost to graduation after 2013 and he did just that, pulling in a legitimate Top 25 class that is one of the most balanced in the nation. They scored some solid junior college recruits that can help right away, but most importantly they landed some four-star level high school players like QB Manny Wilkins, RB Demario Richard, WR Tyler Whiley and Smallwood who could be their next generation of stars.

5. Oregon

Star: RB Royce Freeman Sleeper: DT Jalen Jenks

Strength: Running back Weakness: Defensive tackle

The Ducks put together another good class under Mark Helfrich, once again headlined by some elite playmakers, especially at running back, where five-star monster Royce Freeman looks like their big back of the future. The Ducks reloaded in the speed department, and up front on the offensive line, along with getting a quarterback in Morgan Mahalek who emerged as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country as a senior and who looks like he could be the heir apparent to Marcus Mariota.

6. Arizona

Star: WR Cameron Denson Sleeper: JC QB Jerrard Randall

Strength: Linebacker Weakness: Defensive end

The Wildcats landed a massive class and got a ton of early commitments held onto them for one of their best classes in a long time and one that could eventually get them over the mid-level hump in the South. Their biggest scores were getting two of the best linebackers in the LA area to come out in Marquis Ware and Jamardre Cobb and future skill position stars in RB Nick Wilson and Denson.

7. Washington

Star: S Budda Baker Sleeper: DE Jaylen Johnson

Strength: Safety Weakness: Running back

Chris Peterson and his staff made an incredible turnaround in recruiting for the Huskies since they were hired in early-December as the loss of Sarkisian left them with very few commits, but they hustled down the stretch and loaded up on solid recruits, sprinkled in one with some studs like Baker. The Huskies particularly did well in-state (Something Sarkisian really struggled with) as they landed Baker and elite Tacoma tackle prospect Kaleb McGary to finish the class with a major exclamation mark.

8. Cal

Star: WR Erik Brown Sleeper: JC DE Jonathan Johnson

Strength: Linebacker Weakness: Cornerback

The Bears did really well considering how poorly they played in 2013, but Berkeley is still a very appealing place to go to school and they can offer a ton of early playing time with their attrition and injury problems. They particularly recruited well up front on defense and took some JC players who could help right away.

9. Oregon State

Star: G Kammy Delp Sleeper: JC DE Luke Hollingsworth

Strength: Defensive end Weakness: Defensive tackle

The Beavers are never known for taking highly-rated classes, more about fitting their needs and it was probably overall an average class for the Beavers with that mindset. They loaded up on the lines well, signing a number of players who could help fill the void left by Scott Crichton and two good guards in Delp and Drew Clarkson who could help shore up the run game along with two solid quarterback of the future candidates in Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion.

10. Washington State

Star: RB Squally Canada Sleeper: Deion Singleton

Strength: Defensive end Weakness: Safety

Like the Beavers, the Cougars are less about stars and more about getting the guys that fit their system and scheme and I think they didn't have a great class, but took another step in the right direction this year, pulling in another improved class when compared to their dark days of the Paul Wulff years. They reloaded with some really good defensive end prospects along with playmakers like Canada and another quarterback that could play sooner rather than later in Peyton Bender from Florida.

11. Utah

Star: T Jackson Barton Sleeper: CB Travonne Hobbs

Strength: Receiver Weakness: Linebacker

The Utes got some really good prospects at receiver and along the lines on both sides and recruited really hard within the state of Utah. Overall, I think it was an average class for them, but if they ever want to take the step towards the middle of the conference, they are going to have to start recruiting better outside of their own borders.

12. Colorado

Star: WR Shay Fields Sleeper: DE Sam Bennion

Strength: Receiver Weakness: Defensive tackle

Even though it is still at the bottom of the Pac-12, I think the Buffaloes improved with this class and I almost put them over Utah. Pulling Shay Fields away from USC and some other big schools reminds me of when Washington pulled Chris Polk away from USC and it ended up doing wonders for their program.