With the spring evaluation period set to begin on April 15, every Pac-12 program holds at least one verbal commitment from a 2017 prospect, though the conference is off to its usual deliberate pace compared to the rest of the country. Sixteen programs hold more commitments than UCLA, which leads the Pac-12 with six commitments. Here is a look at where the Pac-12 South programs stand at this point in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
A recent rush of commitments gives the Wildcats five verbal pledges as ESPN Junior 300 athlete Greg Johnson and quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, the son of Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, were joined earlier this week by defensive tackle Kurtis Brown, defensive end Kylan Wilborn and tight end Bryce Wolma. Johnson is a significant recruiting win, as he is an elite California prospect and attends a high school loaded with prospects in this class and future classes. He also is an example of the kinds of recruits new defensive coaches Marcel Yates and Donte Williams are capable of delivering in this class. Arizona lost a commitment from ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Braxton Burmeister in this class, but the Wildcats should put together a class that ranks much higher than the 2016 group, which was the nation’s No. 47 class.
The defensive side of the ball has all three commitments thus far, as ESPN Junior 300 cornerback Jermani Brown joins linebacker Loren Mondy and safety Ashton Logan. Both Mondy and Logan are Texas prospects, as Arizona State looks to continue making a big impact both in Texas and Louisiana. After doing very well in state last year, it’s disappointing to see two in-state ESPN Junior 300 prospects already committed to programs out of state, but the Sun Devils will still push for offensive tackle Austin Jackson, athlete Tyler Johnson, safety K.J. Jarrell and athlete Isaiah Pola-Mao.
The Buffaloes have been one of the slower Pac-12 programs to add commitments in recent years, but the Buffs are off to a good start in the 2017 class, especially in state, as athlete Dante Sparaco and defensive end Jon Van Diest john offensive lineman Hunter Vaughn, who was part of the 2016 class but greyshirted and will head to Colorado as a member of the 2017 class. Those three in-state prospects are joined by wide receiver Jaylon Jackson, a Texas prospect who committed to Colorado over offers from Arizona State, Houston, Missouri, Texas Tech and Washington State. It is important for Colorado to lock up its home state and then do well in both California and Texas. It will also be interesting to see if the Buffaloes can start winning multiple hotly contested recruiting battles, in addition to closing well with in-state prospects such as safety Isiahia Banks, cornerback Christian Cumber and running back Marcus McElroy.
UCLA’s six verbal commitments lead the Pac-12, as three are ESPN Junior 300 prospects and others could eventually join them. Defensive ends Javaris Steward and Hunter Echols and linebacker Rahyme Johnson are athletic prospects that could fill a number of roles in the front seven. Will Farrar and Kanan Ray are big additions along the offensive line, while cornerback Rhedi Short continues UCLA’s recruiting success in the defensive backfield. The Bruins are looking to make noise with California’s top two prospects, Alabama running back commit Najee Harris and cornerback Darnay Holmes. The bruins are also looking to make national splashes with the nation’s No. 1 athlete, Dylan Moses, as well as wide receiver Tarik Black and linebacker Will Ignont, among other standouts.
The Trojans hold three commitments, as local ESPN Junior 300 standout running back Stephen Carr leads the way. Safety Bubba Bolden and wide receiver Marlon Williams have also made early commitments. It’s a big year for big men out west and the Trojans – along with a number of other Pac-12 programs – will be battling for many of them. That includes offensive linemen Austin Jackson, Wyatt Davis and Henry Bainivalu and defensive linemen Martin Andrus, Greg Rogers, Marlon Tuipulotu and Jaelan Phillips, among many others. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receivers Tyjon Lindsey and Joseph Lewis highlight some of the skill position targets. USC recently lost a commitment from ESPN Junior 300 cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., so the Trojans might need to grab back some recruiting momentum in the coming weeks.
After such a great season in 2016, it’s a bit surprising that the Utes have just one commitment, from junior college defensive tackle John Penisini. It’s not surprising, however, that the Utes would start building a class along the defensive line. After generating some momentum last season, recruiting might get a big more difficult for the Utes, as the BYU coaching staff will have more time to attack the 2017 class and could make thing interesting in state. Defensive tackle Jay Tufele, safety Chaz Ah You, quarterback Taylor Katoa, running back Levani Damuni, wide receiver Taniela Pututau, offensive tackle Michael Richardson and defensive tackle Alden Tofa are several in-state prospects with Utah offers.