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The good, the bad and the unknown: 2017 Pac-12 recruiting

USC pulled well ahead of the rest of the Pac-12 on signing day, but Oregon, UCLA, Stanford and Washington pull together outstanding classes.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Good

USC’s signature close & class overall - National Letter of Intent Day has become national USC celebration day out West in recent years and this year was no difference. The Trojans rocketed up recruiting ranking boards by loading up on elite, five-star talent on the last day of recruiting. This year’s final day haul was as good as I can ever remember for USC.

The huge close really bolstered an already strong USC class and took it to an elite level rarely produced by anyone out West other than the Trojans.

USC’s balance - A lot of times you see great classes, but they are heavy on one kind of athlete. That is not the case with USC. They got a stud quarterback, running back and receiver but also loaded up big time on both lines and at linebacker. This is a complete class.

Stanford’s top half - The Cardinal put together a small, but amazingly star-studded class. The Cardinal roped in arguably the nation’s two top tackles in Foster Sarell and Walker Little along with arguably the nation’s top quarterback in Davis Mills. All three players were also listed in the Top 10 players in the nation by Scout at any position. They were able to accent them with some nice blue chip recruits like the nation’s top tight end in Colby Parkinson, as well.

Washington’s class depth - The Huskies capitalized on their Playoff run and put together one of the best classes they ever have brought in during the Internet era. The Huskies signed double digit players ranked as four stars by Scout for the first time ever I believe and put together outside of USC, maybe the deepest, but also at the same time, most-talented class in the conference.

Willie Taggart’s first class - Taggart and his well-built staff went to work and made sure Oregon didn’t just avoid the dreaded transition year class, but put together a class which is as good as any in the Pac-12 outside of USC’s. Taggart’s first class is huge in numbers and huge in stars. It is also very strong at positions Oregon has struggled with lately such as cornerback.

UCLA’s top-level talent - This isn’t UCLA’s best class under Jim Mora, but it has serious gems. They brought in the nation’s top defensive end prospect in Jaelan Phillips who has the size, skills and polish to be an All-Pac-12 player as a freshman along with the nation’s top cornerback in Darnay Holmes who could be an Adoree’ Jackson style player for them right away.

Colorado’s rise - Mike MacIntyre and the Buffs’ rise on the field continued in the recruiting as they had their best class in quite some time and one that is in the top half of the Pac-12. The highlight of the class if flipping in-state, blue chip tackle Jake Moretti from Ohio State and pulling two elite athletes out of Texas in Levishka Shenault Jr. and KD Nixon.

Utah’s JC haul - No Pac-12 program is as good at recruiting the junior college ranks than Utah. they loaded up this year on some of the JC ranks’ best defensive backs and grabbed a linebacker and a tackle who could all make an impact in 2017.

Cornerbacks - This is as good of a class of cornerbacks signed by the Pac-12 as I can ever remember. It’s fitting because I think this year’s Pac-12 class of graduating and declaring early cornerbacks is the best the conference has ever seen.

The Bad

USC’s class for the rest of the Pac-12 - Clay Helton and the Trojans’ monster class coming on the heels of their Rose Bowl win is bad news for the rest of the conference. The table is set for the Trojans to start dominating the Pac-12 again as long as they can fulfill their potential.

Najee Harris to Alabama - Always sad to see the nation’s overall top recruit hail from the West Coast and then head to the South. Would have loved to see Harris play in the Pac-12.

Washington’s close - I think many thought the Huskies might put together a class which reached the great heights of their Playoff run this year after they built up an astounding base of four-star players heading into December and were still in it for some major prospects like Foster Sarell, but it didn’t pan out. Instead, the Huskies had their top recruit in Marlon Tuipulotu poached by USC, lost in-state commitment Connor Wedington to North rival Stanford and then saw Sarell commit to Stanford while not pulling another four or five-star prospect down the stretch. A great class by the Huskies, but a rough close.

Commitments - Another year and another recruiting cycle where commitments didn’t seem to mean much. It seems to work for and against teams at the same time, but getting a commitment from a prospect doesn’t seem to mean much until they sign on NLOI day.

The Unknown

Can USC become “USC?” Another Top 5/10 national class for the Trojans doesn’t seem like much. Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian could do that too, but coming off a long winning streak and Rose Bowl win makes this USC class feel “different.” Can the Trojans inject these players, start to win big consistently and stack up a class next year which is even better than this one?

Can Washington become “elite?” The Huskies pulled in a very nice class, but they still appeared to be just short of becoming the elite program that could win a national championship that they hope to become under Chris Petersen. Can the Huskies build on their 2016 success and put together an even better class in 2017?

Did Stanford add three day one starters? Davis Mills, Foster Sarell and Walker Little have the potential to step in right away and improve a Stanford offense that was really sluggish at times in 2016. Can David Shaw’s big three recruits provide an instant spark?

Is this UCLA’s last run? The Bruins have been stacking blue chip classes under Jim Mora, and while this one was some really nice talent and could easily be the best in the conference after USC, it lacks a little bit of the momentum the Bruins had in recent seasons. Are the Bruins’ best recruiting days under Mora behind them?