Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Taking stock of the day in the Pac-12:
USC : Maybe you can't explain it, but you can't deny it, either: Lane Kiffin is a phenomenon on the recruiting trail. Whether it was pulling linebacker Lamar Dawson out of Kentucky, Ohio tackle Aundrey Walker (pictured) out of the clutches of Ohio State, or defensive lineman Christian Heyward from down the road in San Diego, the Trojans were every bit as everywhere on Signing Day as they were in their Pete Carroll heyday. Recruits like athlete Marqise Lee (likely the next USC stud safety) and Jan 28. guard commitment Cyrus Hobbi should be cornerstones for Kiffin for years to come ... not to mention longtime Trojan commitments like receiver George Farmer (the nation's No. 20 player) who signed on the dotted line as expected. Losing De'anthony Thomas to the current Pac-12 overlords in Eugene stings, no doubt, but it doesn't change the fact that no team in the country helped themselves more on Signing Day than Kiffin's. NCAA sanctions, schmenCAA schmanctions.
Oregon: The Ducks struck both early and late on Signing Day. They started at just after 8 a.m. EST by plucking Traverse City offensive lineman Jake Fisher out of northern Michigan, a player Chip Kelly would later say compares to any lineman in the country. Things got even better some 14 hours later when Thomas -- the nation's No. 15 player and a beyond-perfect fit for Kelly's light-speed offense and the open spaces it creates -- became the highest-profile Signing Day switch in the country. Inbetween those two highs the Ducks missed out on a handful of California prospects (like Heyward and Lee), but after signing what's likely the strongest class in school history and gleefully robbing Kiffin of his highest-ranked recruit, no one's going to complain.
Washington: As nice as the Duck haul was, before the Thomas news our Maxpreps team rankings still had the Huskies as the No. 2 class in the Pac-12 and the No. 15 class nationally. Steve Sarkisian didn't bring in any surprise last-minute signings -- in fact, their Signing Day might have been a net negative with tailback Kameron Jackson's flip to Cal balancing the addition of Ventura (Ca.) JUCO quarterback Antavius Sims -- but it was a day of celebration all the same after U-Dub dominated the state of Washington. Following last week's conversion of Washington State- committed tailback Bishop Sankey of Spokane, all five of the Seattle Times "Blue Chip" selections for the state wound up Huskies. They'll likely have to cast their net a little wider in the future, but locking down top-notch in-state talent like five-star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Maxpreps' No. 27 player overall) is a excellent way to build on the momentum of the Huskies' Holiday Bowl win.
Utah: We mentioned in our Pac-12 Signing Day preview that the Utes would likely need to sign both Moreno Valley (Calif.) teammates Ryan Anderson -- a defensive back and Ute commit -- and Junior Pomee, a coveted wide receiver, to make a splash in their new conference digs. Instead, Kiffin and USC stole away both players. The Utes still signed several nice players (most notably running back Harvey Langi), but on paper this isn't the sort of class that announces the Utes as a major West Coast player.
Arizona State: When you lose a blue-chip hometown prospect on Signing Day because he just so happened to see a license plate from the state representing your competition , it has officially been a bad day. At least the Sun Devils kept quarterback Michael Eubanks from deserting to Utah ... but then again, they couldn't do the same with Chino (Calif.) athlete Quinton Pedroza, who flipped to the Utes. With only 13 players, the Sun Devil class appears to have neither quantity nor a particularly high level of quality.
UCLA: Signing Day wasn't actually all that bad for the Bruins; landing Washington D.C. defensive tackle Kevin McReynolds was arguably the biggest pickup of Rick Neuheisel's entire class, and the Bruins avoided any high-profile decommitments from players like California lineman Torian White (who'd had a serious flirtation with USC) or top receiving recruit Devin Lucien. But the glaring contrast between the hole UCLA had already dug for themselves on the recruiting trail and Kiffin's smashing Signing Day successes meant that the Bruins were going to end up looking like L.A. losers no matter what they did Wednesday.
CBS College Sports' Aaron Taylor breaks down the state of Pac-12 recruiting: