The 2015 recruiting cycle was not a great year for pass catchers on the west coast. When there isn't a lot of quality or quantity at a position on the west coast, that usually means bad news for programs in the Pac-12.
Stanford signee Trent Irwin ended up being the only wide receiver from California ranked in the top fifteen in the 247Sports composite rankings at the position and the other two west coast receivers that were ranked in top twenty both ended up heading to schools outside of the Pac-12. Stud Arizona receiver Christian Kirk heading to the SEC didn't help matters either.
There was a dearth of dynamic playmakers on the outside out west and that forced schools like Oregon (Alex Ofodile) and Cal (Carlos Strickland) to look elsewhere for their top talent at the position and even for USC to go the JUCO route because the regular southern California talent was not there like it usually is.
Fortunately, this year is a lot better for receivers out west and programs in the Pac-12 have to be a lot happier. There are currently seven recruits in the top thirteen of the 247Sports composite rankings at the wide receiver position that hale from California. That's a ridiculous number even by California standards and all of them have the potential to become difference makers at the college level.
Collin Johnson is the only one that is currently committed (he pledged to Texas), but that leaves six other top level prospects for Pac-12 programs to fight over. Most of the six will likely be competing at The Opening regional camp in Los Angeles this weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if all of them eventually earned an invite to the national event in July.
Here's a breakdown of what each player brings to the table and what schools are after them:
Vaughns is ranked as the number one receiver in the nation by Scout.com and it's not hard to see why. He is a dominant player in jump ball situations that does a great job of high pointing the football. Even when he is covered, he's never really covered. Everything about him screams number one receiver potential.
Pac-12 schools after him: USC appears the heavy favorite to land him, but also has offers from just about every other program in the conference with Oregon being the exception.
Other offers of note: Georgia, Michigan, and Notre Dame
Crawford recently transferred to Santa Margarita to play with the top quarterback in California, KJ Costello. Great news for Costello, bad news for everyone on Santa Margarita's schedule this year. Crawford competes extremely hard and has great burst. He has a running back mentality after he catches the football. There may be some better pure athletes at wide receiver than him, but he's a better football player than a lot of players who can run a bit faster or jump a bit higher.
Pac-12 schools after him: Again, it seems like everybody but Oregon has offered Crawford in the conference. USC was his childhood favorite and they are recruiting him really hard as well Washington, Stanford, and Cal ($).
Other offers of note: Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Notre Dame
Sidney is a player I personally like a bit more as a corner, but he definitely has awesome potential at the receiver position as well. He plays much bigger than his size (5'11" 165) would suggest and could play on the outside or in the slot.
Pac-12 schools after him: USC, Washington, and UCLA
Other offers of note: Notre Dame, Michigan, and Miami
McKnight has an extremely high ceiling, but must become more consistent catching the football. He made a ton of splash plays as a sophomore and the sky is limit as to how good he can become once he physically matures.
Pac-12 schools after him: USC, UCLA, ASU, Cal, and Washington
Other offers of note: Michigan and Notre Dame
Yup, another stud athlete out of Long Beach Poly. Jones is a natural slot receiver with explosive traits after the catch. He can turn short throws into six points and is phenomenal in the open field.
Pac-12 schools after him: UCLA, ASU, Colorado, and Wazzu, but he also offers from virtually every other program in the conference
Other offers of note: Notre Dame, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma
McKinley is the lowest rated out of this group (although 13th in the nation should never really be considered low) although I would have him higher up on my list than others. To me, he is one of the most physically impressive receiver prospects in the nation and is a beast after the catch. He has all of the tools to be an immediate contributor at the college level.
Pac-12 schools after him: All of them
Other offers of note: Tennessee and Notre Dame