Pac-12 recruiting report: Oregon dominates with stellar close, penetrating score Utah, Colorado dominates top former recruits

The biggest news from the early signing window was the way Oregon State closed out.

Even though the Ducks lost five-star safety Peyton Bowen, who was committed to Notre Dame, then flipped to Oregon on Wednesday morning, then flipped to Oklahoma on Thursday, they still had a massive week.

What impressed Oregon State the most were the 32 commitments. Of those, two were five-stars and 19 were four-stars — so 66 percent of the signers are excellent prospects.

But all anyone wants to talk about is signing five-star daredevil Matayo Oyagalele.

*** Longtime five-star wide receiver Jourion Dickey certainly helped, and the recent loss of five-star quarterback Dante Moore (to UCLA) sure hurts. But the duck closes with great force.

Behind the scenes, they knew Moore was pulling away from commitment, and they prepared for it. They had four-star quarterback Austin Novosad, who is from Dripping Springs, Texas, and paid a state visit this past weekend.

What’s key for Novosad is that he’s committed to Baylor, but has received scholarships from Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, and Texas A&M. But the Ducks’ freshman offensive coordinator, Will Stein, used his connections in Texas to land Novosad.

***Anyone who was worried about Oregon coach Dan Lanning after losing two of his last three games and after losing Moore, I think you don’t have to worry anymore.

There is some salutation on social media about how Oregon State got to this point, but it doesn’t really matter. The ducks have exhausted everyone.

And the icing on the cake was tipping four-star tailback Jayden Lemar (of Notre Dame), then holding four-star cornerback Blake Buy, Colorado’s MVP. When he didn’t sign the purchase on Wednesday, there was a lot of word that Deion Sanders might have reached out. But instead, he signed with the Ducks.

*** Let’s take a moment to defend the two-time conference champions.

What Utah did this year is exactly what fans hoped when the Utes moved to the Pac-12 a decade ago.

The first objective was to compete for division titles and they did.

Then it was winning conference championships, and they did.

Now, the top 25 is recruiting, and they’ve done it with the No. 22 class in 247Sports’ composite rankings.

They recruit, reside, and work out of schools and were able to turn around two commitments: four-star tight end Hunter Clegg of Stanford and four-star offensive tackle Spencer Fano of Brigham Young University.

This is what fans have dreamed of—and what Pac-12 coaches have always feared:

What would happen if Kyle Whittingham started picking up elite talent?

*** We thought new Sanders would be a hit in Colorado but not necessarily in recruiting – we thought he’d be in the transfer gate.

And on Wednesday night, after all the excitement from signing day had died down, Sanders added Jackson State linebacker Travis Hunter, the former No. 1 recruit in the country.

And he added his son, quarterback Shader Sanders, as everyone expected.

Savion Washington added the huge offense following new offensive coordinator Sean Lewis from Kent State to Boulder. Washington will be a plug-and-play factor.

Buffalo only have eight commitments from the transfer window, but I expect a large number to come in the next few weeks. With so many Power Five teams playing to their bowls, there will be another wave. This is where Sanders will really benefit, just as USC head coach Lincoln Riley did last year.

Don’t be surprised to see Colorado’s number go from eight to 20 or more.

The Buffaloes have had success in the high school ranks—for example, turning four-star tailback Dylan Edwards (of Notre Dame) two weeks ago. That was great. But this class will make its money in the gate.

*** It was unusual to see UCLA as I did head coach Chip Kelly with the highest recruit rating of his tenure in five-star quarterback Dante Moore.

So you think, “Maybe Kelly doesn’t just rely on the gate” — except for the fact that the Bruins have six commitments from the gate.

That group includes Colin Schley, a quarterback from Kent State. Does this mean that Shelley is a believer in case Moore doesn’t win the job? we do not know.

***Finally, we should note that if all of USC’s five-star signings (quarterback Malachy Nelson, receiver Zacharias Branch and athlete Mackay Lemon) had announced their decisions on December 22, instead of December 21, there would have been a lot more buzz about the Trojans in signature day.

It’s a top 15 class that didn’t get a top 15 entry due to lack of drama.

But losing Uiagalelei was a blow—they wanted to keep an elite defender in SoCal—and, honestly, I think this season left a little meat in the bones.


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