Early signing period storylines around the Pac-12
The first-ever early signing period for college football is in the books, so let’s take a look at some of the top storylines throughout the Conference of Champions. All team and player recruiting rankings from this point on are according to 247Sports, unless otherwise noted:
- Washington is the Pac-12 early signing day champion
When you put together back-to-back 10-win seasons, chances are you’re going to pique the interest of some high-level 17-year-olds. This current batch of OKGs feature nine 4-star prospects, good enough for the 11th-best class in the country and tops in the Pac-12. It’s the first top-20 class for Chris Petersen on Montlake and is highlighted by wide receiver Marquis Spiker, the No. 51 overall recruit in the country (I also had a chance to watch 3-star wide receiver Devin Culp play in a game this year, and that’s a big dude who looked like he could have played college football this year). Sure looks like the Dawgs will also be competing for Pac-12 titles for years to come.
- The bottom didn’t fall off for Oregon
That was a chief concern for Ducks fans, that Oregon’s highly-touted class (at one point ranked tops in the nation according to Scout) would fall apart with Willie Taggart taking off for Florida State. And sure, while there were some defections, losing a 4-star defensive end in Malcolm Lamar chief among them, the Ducks still was able to sign 14 recruits, seven of which are 4-star guys. That haul is good for 13th in the country and second in the Pac-12, just behind Pac-12 North rival Washington. The program is in good hands with Justin Herbert for the time being, but the future looks bright with Tyler Shough — the No. 5-rated pro-style quarterback in the class of 2018 — en route to Eugene.
- Does Utah have its quarterback of the future?
Anybody who has been following the Utes for the last handful of years knows that quarterback play has been an issue in one form or another more often than it hasn’t. While Tyler Huntley certainly had his moments this year before his injury, Kyle Whittingham might have found his answer for years to come with Jack Tuttle. As a 4-star talent and the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in his class, Tuttle is the highest-rated recruit to sign with Utah in program history and chose the Utes over programs like USC, Alabama and LSU. The Utes only signed six guys in the early signing period, but Tuttle is a big get.
- Local flavor for Justin Wilcox’s first real class at Cal
Last year, Wilcox had fewer three weeks to piece together a 14-player class. Now, with an impressive 5-7 season under his belt, Wilcox didn’t have to go far to put together an impressive early signing class for 2018. As Rusty Simmons points out, a ton of the early signees are from Northern California (I count nine from Northern California). That's something Wilcox noted he wanted to do when he took the job. It’s also a pretty bulky class, as Wilcox has signed nine linemen (four offensive). Put all that together, and the Golden Bears are currently looking at a top-40 class.
- Who has the most work to do before February comes?
The early signs point to Utah, UCLA and USC. All three of those schools have fewer than 10 recruits signed for 2018. One would also expect first-year head coaches Mario Cristobal and Jonathan Smith to be able to churn out a few more impressive LOIs with more time to really work the recruiting trail in Eugene and Corvallis, respectively. And, with just 10 players currently signed and a recent history of churning out high-level classes, you can expect the Cardinal to lock up some big-time recruits on Feb. 7. USC has seemingly made some headway already and will likely use February to make a bigger splash.