2018 football early signing period: 5 storylines to follow in the Pac-12
The early signing period for college football recruits to ink National Letters of Intent begins Wednesday, so here’s a look at five storylines to follow around the Pac-12.
- Colorado’s first class under Mel Tucker
One of Mel Tucker’s first tasks at the helm of Colorado football – along with assembling his staff – is to keep together a class that was recruited by his predecessor, Mike MacIntyre. Tucker took the job two weeks before the early signing period begins, so there isn’t a whole lot he can do to leave his imprint on the Class of 2019, but the more commits he can hold on to, one would think, the better.
As of now, the Buffs have a middle-of-the-pack recruiting class nationally, ranked 63rd in the country and 10th in the Pac-12. The 12 “hard commits,” as classified by 247 Sports, featuring a four-star wide receiver and 11 three-star prospects. Will they all stay Buffaloes come Dec. 19?
- All aboard the New Leadership Model hype train
Many people smirked or outright laughed at Herm Edwards’ introductory press conference last year when he took over the reins of Arizona State, but the job he did in Year 1 as the CEO of Sun Devil football is nothing to joke about. The Sun Devils reached a bowl game and finished 7-6, including wins over Michigan State, Pac-12 South champion Utah and rival Arizona, while all five of their losses came by a single score.
High-schoolers have taken notice of the job Edwards is doing in Tempe, and the Sun Devils recently got a commit from the second-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country. Overall, Arizona State’s recruiting class is currently ranked 31st in the country – up six spots from last season – and fifth in the Pac-12 (the Sun Devils brought in the No. 6 recruiting class in the Pac-12 for the Class of 2018). The future is even brighter, as Arizona State’s current 2020 recruiting class is nationally ranked and pushing for a top spot in the conference. Let’s see if Herm and crew can close in the early signing period and keep the good vibes rollin’.
- The Pac-12 is in play for some high-level undecided dudes
While many of the nation’s top prospects have pretty much made up their minds by this point, there are still plenty of high-level guys that are undecided. In fact, six of the top-10 overall recruits have yet to commit. Overall, Pac-12 schools are in the mix for three top-30 recruits and out of the 20 uncommitted guys in the top 100, at least one Pac-12 school has a shot at five of them.
Can Pac-12 schools bolster their recruiting classes with some late adds? Dec. 19 should give us some answers.
- Replacing departing firepower
At least 23 first- or second-team All-Pac-12 guys from the 2018 season are seniors or will be entering the NFL Draft, so one thing to monitor on Wednesday is how good of a job schools are doing at replacing the guys that are exhausting their eligibility.
The results in many cases won’t be immediately clear (unless you get yourself a gem of a true freshman like Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson), but is there a guy in the 2019 class that could be Arizona State’s next N’Keal Harry in a couple of years? The Sun Devils do have commits from three receivers. How about a long-term replacement at running back on Montlake for Myles Gaskin? The Huskies do have a commit from a four-star running back.
You can find storylines like those for every team in the Pac-12, so who is filling their holes the best?
- Who will be crowned Pac-12 recruiting champion?
Right now, Oregon is in the driver’s seat with the No. 5 class in the country on the strength of 11 four-star recruits and one five-star recruit. Washington is 15th in the country and second in the Pac-12 in large thanks to 11 four-star talents, while Stanford gives the Pac-12 a third top-25 nationally-ranked recruiting class (currently 22nd) with the help of seven four-star studs.
Can the Ducks hold off their Pac-12 North rivals and snatch the throne from 2018 Pac-12 recruiting champion USC?