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Pac-12 Spotlight: How teams are addressing recruiting needs

Prophet Brown
Prophet Brown

The recruiting cycle for the class of 2021 continues to churn on, despite in-person recruiting being banned for more than six months. Within the Pac-12, some programs have fared better than others when it comes to meeting their needs.

Here is a look at all 12 programs and how well each has addressed their most pressing positional needs.

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RELATED: How each Big Ten team is addressing biggest recruiting need | SEC | ACC

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

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ARIZONA

Biggest recruiting need: Inside linebacker

Progress: Arizona has only three scholarship players at the position with one being a senior and the Wildcats are trying to run a 3-4 defense, so linebackers are going to be important for this recruiting cycle and ones moving forward. Kevin Sumlin and his staff have addressed this well with commitments from three-stars Mojo Weerts and DJ Fryar, who picked Arizona over Washington State and others. The Wildcats might be done at linebacker for this recruiting class, but one or two others might not be a bad idea, either.

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ARIZONA STATE

Biggest recruiting need: Offensive line

Progress: Loading up on offensive linemen in this recruiting class is a major priority for the Sun Devils’ coaching staff and it’s been met with success so far. Arizona State already has commitments from four offensive linemen in four-star Ezra Dotson-Oyetade and then three-stars Austin Barry, Isaia Glass and Isaiah World, all from the West region. The Sun Devils might not be done yet as they’re still pursuing Brooklyn (N.Y.) Erasmus Hall’s Armon Bethea and local prospect Zereoue Williams, also a basketball player who at 6-foot-8 and 253 pounds is a really intriguing prospect.

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CAL

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive line

Progress: Justin Wilcox and his staff focused on the need for defensive linemen in Cal’s 2021 recruiting class and then aggressively pursued top in-state prospects to fill those positions. The Golden Bears had tremendous success as they received commitments from local recruit Akili Calhoun, Jr., and then Southern California prospects Myles Williams and Derek Wilkins. Clackamas (Ore.) Westview three-star athlete Patrick Hisatake is expected to start at linebacker but he might grow into a defensive end and then Cal recently landed a pledge from another local recruit in three-star Kaleb Elarms-Orr, who could be used similarly as a linebacker or defensive end.

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COLORADO

Biggest recruiting need: Offensive line

Progress: Colorado has missed on some offensive line targets in this recruiting class and at this point in the cycle has one pledge from two-star Jackson Anderson out of Texas. That means first-year coach Karl Dorrell and position coach Mitch Rodrigue are putting a bigger focus on landing more offensive linemen with former Kansas commit Edgar Amaya being one of the top targets. There will be others as the Buffaloes try to shore up the offensive line in Dorrell’s first recruiting class.

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OREGON

Biggest recruiting need: Wide receiver

Progress: Two senior wide receivers will be gone after this season and so Mario Cristobal and his staff set off in this recruiting class to restock the position - and the Ducks have done extraordinarily well. In recent days, Oregon landed a commitment from Baltimore (Md.) Mount St. Joseph’s Dont’e Thornton, Jr., and already had pledges from four-stars Isaiah Brevard, Troy Franklin and Kyron Ware-Hudson and then Seven McGee could be used at a variety of positions. The Ducks have also received commitments from two four-star tight ends in Terrance Ferguson and Moliki Matavao.

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OREGON STATE

Biggest recruiting need: Offensive line

Progress: The Beavers have a conference-low eight commitments, so there is still ample room to fill out the class and a focus will be on the offensive line. So far, Oregon State has landed one commitment from an offensive lineman in Hood River (Ore.) Hood River Valley’s Henry Buckles, but there are at least two other names the Beavers are focused on. Marcus Mbow is a former Arizona State pledge that is high on Oregon State’s list and also watch out for Dylan Rollins out of Missoula (Mt.) Sentinel. There could be others as well since Oregon State is looking to load up across the line.

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STANFORD

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive line

Progress: Stanford needed to load up across the defensive line and the Cardinal has focused on that priority with their last two commitments from West region prospect Anthony Franklin and Zach Buckey, two undervalued recruits who could do very well in Stanford’s system. David Shaw and his staff might also not be done with defensive line recruiting since Wilkins, who’s committed to Cal, remains a priority as does Aaron Armitage, a four-star from New Jersey, among others.

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UCLA

Biggest recruiting need: Offensive line

Progress: UCLA has been playing catch-up rebuilding depth along the offensive line since the Bruins lost their entire 2017 OL recruiting class of five. The whole group was gone by medical retirements or transfers before the end of the 2018 season. In 2020, the Bruins were hurt on the line losing two starters Christaphany Murray to Oklahoma and Jake Burton to Baylor, via transfer portal. Offensive coordinator/OL coach Justin Frye has recruited four offensive linemen who have upside in Thomas Cole, Garrett DiGiorgio, Noah Pulealii and Benjamin Roy, Jr. They could use at least one more from this class.

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USC

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive backs

Progress: Defensive back recruiting was a massive priority for the Trojans, who will look to reload at the cornerback and safety positions and they’ve had tremendous success with six commits at defensive back so far. Beating Oklahoma and others for Prophet Brown was a big victory. USC flipped Philip Riley from Notre Dame. Jaylin Smith is a really talented player who could be the best of the bunch when all is said and done. Those three are big along with local prospects Calen Bullock, Xamarion Gordon and Anthony Beavers are all athletic and talented.

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UTAH

Biggest recruiting need: Linebacker

Progress: Utah has the third-fewest commits in the Pac-12 with 12 total but linebacker has been a keen focus for Kyle Whittingham and his staff - and the Utes have had a lot of success. Already, Utah has commitments from three three-stars in Trey Reynolds, Jonah Elliss and Mason Tufaga and a lot of people feel Elliss could be the sleeper of the group. There’s another major name out there and that’s four-star LB Ethan Calvert from Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian. He’s down to USC, UCLA and Utah and the Utes have a fighting chance in getting him on board.

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WASHINGTON

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive line

Progress: Washington has secured four defensive linemen in this years’ cycle after not signing any players at the position in the 2020 class. Kuao Peihopa was the first, and physically the biggest get of the class, in April. Two of the three other pledges, Voi Tunuufi and Maurice Heims, both fill needs at interior linemen and rush end, respectively. The fourth lineman, Siaosi Finau out of Renton, Wash., is considered a project but one worth taking a flyer on at 6-foot-4 and near 300-pounds. Tunuufi could be the superstar of the group but hasn’t done much on the national level yet.

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WASHINGTON STATE

Biggest recruiting need: Linebacker

Progress: Washington State is losing a number of linebackers after this season and so restocking the roster at that position is a priority for first-year coach Nick Rolovich and his staff. Missing on Fryar to Arizona was not ideal and some others picked other schools, but so far the Cougars have three linebacker commitments including one in recent days from Francisco Mauigoa from San Bernardino (Calif.) Aquinas. There aren’t many linebackers still on the board, but Washington State could be looking for one more to complete this class.

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