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The good, the bad and the unknown: 2018 Pac-12 recruiting: USC finishes strong and Washington puts it all together

Breaking down the Pac-12 2018 recruiting classes.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

USC brings in another USC class - It’s just business as usual again for USC with a class of nothing but blue chip recruits. The Trojans got a few of the best players at any position in the country, including a unique grab in J.T. Daniels, who was a blue chipper in the Class of 2019, who graduated a year early and will compete for the 2018 starting job.

USC five-stars - It was a quiet year for five stars out West, but USC brought in the conference’s two best. Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is polished enough to contribute right away and linebacker Palaie Gaoteote already has NFL size and skills.

USC’s close out - Once again, the Trojans showed they are the best in the biz when it comes to closing. They rocketed nearly 10 spots up national recruiting rankings on the last day of recruiting season.

Chris Petersen putting it together at Washington - The Huskies have recruited very well under Petersen the past few years, but this feels like the class where it really all came together for the Huskies. The Huskies put together a balanced class, loaded with just about as many four star recruits as they had in a long time and two Top 100 QBs, in the same class.

Washington’s QB haul - The Huskies managed to pull in three quarterbacks for the future. In-state four-star Jacob Sirmon has the size and arm strength of an NFL QB and endless potential, four-star Idaho prospect Colson Yankoff has home run speed coupled with solid passing skills and it looks like the Huskies will bring home former five-star prospect from Lake Stevens, Washington and former Georgia true freshman starter Jacob Eason. One of the best quarterback classes ever put together by a Pac-12 team, if not any team in the nation.

Oregon’s class - The Ducks fought through losing Willie Taggart in the middle of recruiting and still put together one of the conference’s best class, which is also ranked nationally. The Ducks loaded up with double-digit four-stars, with a good number on the defensive side.

UCLA’s skill position class - The Bruins are bringing in top-flight prospects who can plug into Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense rather quickly. They’re bringing in talented receivers, but the most-important part is probably QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, out of Las Vegas. He’s one of the top dual-threat QBs in the nation and just what Kelly needs to get his offense going again in the Pac-12.

The early signing period - The early signing period is one of the best additions to college football recruiting in a long time. We all loved the former excitement of January and the countdown to National LOI day, but I think this is better for the kids and reduces the amount of poaching and last-minute pleads from coaches that turn recruiting into utter chaos.

The Bad

Lack of excitement - For all the good the early signing period brought, it still killed the late excitement of recruiting. College football media may have to find a way to make the early signing period signing day and February signing day to coexist and keep the excitement up.

Willie Taggart’s exit - Taggart had Oregon ranked as high as the Top 5 by some recruiting sites before he bailed for Florida State. The Ducks recovered well under Mario Cristobal, but Duck fans will still assuredly wonder what could have been had they been able to hang onto Taggart for at least one more year.

Stanford’s class - The Cardinal put together a deadly class year that was as strong at the very top as any in the nation, but this year, they are going a little more under the radar. Most services have Stanford’s class ranked in the bottom half of the Pac-12, despite the Cardinal being one of the best programs in the conference right now.

*Have to make a correction here. I had Arizona State’s class listed here prior to signing day, but they closed exceptionally well.

The Unknown

More changes to come? The early signing day has completely changed college football recruiting. Are more changes to come rules wise? A summer signing period seems like it could be a possibility?

Can recruiting ever get the excitement back? Signing Day and January really just felt far less energetic than it used to. Will things change to improve the excitement around the final month, and day, of recruiting, or is this format here to stay?

Is J.T. Daniels the next USC quarterback? One of the best players in USC’s class is a junior in high school skipping his entire senior year to enroll next year at USC ala John David Booty. Will the talented youngster be able to beat out the competition and replace Sam Darnold in 2018?

Has Chris Petersen reached optimal recruiting operation? The Huskies put together a (realistically) near-perfect class for their future after reaching back-to-back NY6, or better bowls. It feels like the Huskies might be able to keep putting together these borderline-Top 10 classes as long as they keep winning 10 games with Petersen in Seattle.

Is this the next step in Oregon’s renaissance? The Ducks put together an excellent class for a team that has won just 11 games the past two seasons. Is this the class that officially turns it around for the Ducks after their brief success nap?

Does this class matter for Stanford? Stanford put together a poorly-ranked class for how well they have done on the field for nearly 10 years now, David Shaw’s abilities and compared to other recent classes. The Cardinal tend to do this though - take smaller, less-highly-rated classes. Does this have to do with their occasional down years? Or is it just part of their plan?