Pac-12 recruiting: Our National Signing Day preview finds Colorado, Oregon, USC and perhaps ASU in the spotlight
Jan. 31, 2023 Updated Tue., Jan. 31, 2023 at 7:43 p.m.
Even though the majority of the 2022-23 recruiting cycle was wrapped up during the early-signing period in December, there are still a few things to keep an eye on.
Let’s dive in.
1. A prime pairingColorado should have a strong close, largely because the Buffaloes have added five-star cornerback Cormani McClain to their incoming class. He probably will be the only high school player they lock up on Wednesday; everyone else signed in December or is headed to Boulder through the transfer portal.
McClain is the top cornerback in the country and the No. 13 player overall in the 247 Sports rankings. This is the second consecutive year coach Deion Sanders has landed the No. 1 cornerback. Last year, it was Travis Hunter, who signed with Jackson State and is following Sanders to Colorado. Now comes McClain.
In a passing-friendly conference, those are two huge pickups for Colorado, and it’s a precursor – over time, you’ll see Sanders add even more top prospects in the class of 2024.
2. Dual-sport starOver the weekend, Nyckoles Harbor, an edge rusher from Washington, D.C., who was rumored to have been at Colorado last week – but he was not actually there – took an official visit to Oregon.
That’s a big development because Harbor is an uncommitted, five-star prospect. Given that he’s a major track athlete, too, Oregon is well-positioned to land him.
He’s the highest-profile national recruit – someone east of the Rockies – still in play for the Pac-12. South Carolina and Michigan are waiting to see if they have a chance to sign Harbor, but Oregon’s track and football programs put the Ducks in a good spot.
3. Speaking of track …
The same could be said about four-star cornerback Rodrick Pleasant. The Southern California native is the highest-rated uncommitted player in California and named a top-five earlier this month of Cal, Boston College, Oregon, USC and UCLA.
The feeling has been that he’ll sign with either Oregon, USC or UCLA, with the Ducks and Trojans out in front.
Here again, Oregon is pushing the track angle for Pleasant, the reigning 100- and 200-meter champion in California.
He’ll announce a decision early Wednesday morning. Right now, I would say Oregon and USC have the best opportunities to land him, with track playing a factor.
4. Duce the ace
The top uncommitted player in the Pac-12 footprint is Phoenix tight end Duce Robinson, who has narrowed his options to Georgia, Texas and USC – although this has felt like a Georgia-USC battle for some time.
There’s also the baseball angle with Duce. He’s a potential high-round MLB draft pick: His father Dom played football and baseball at Florida State.
Also, he’s super tight with USC signees Malachi Nelson, Makai Lemon and Zachariah Branch – they are trying to pull him in. But right now, Georgia is out in front.
5. Heading overseas
Another highly rated uncommitted prospect at the tight end position is also one of the top players anywhere, period: Walker Lyons, the longtime Stanford commitment who opened his recruitment up the day after the resignation of coach David Shaw.
The four-star prospect is essentially down to USC, Utah, Stanford and Georgia.
Lyons, who attends Folsom High School near Sacramento, California, is leaving next week for his church mission to Norway for 18 months, so he counts as a member of the 2024 signing class. We expect an announcement from him before he leaves.
6. QB for ’24
Another Folsom prospect, four-star quarterback Austin Mack, is a member of the 2024 class but will announce his decision on Wednesday during the 247 Sports National Signing Day show.
He has named a final five of Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington.
Stanford coach Troy Taylor ran the Folsom program in the 2010s, so you’d think that Folsom-Taylor connection might play in Stanford’s favor. Washington is the 247 ‘crystal ball’ favorite to land Mack.
7. The waiting game
We should mention one marquee prospect whose recruitment has taken an unusual turn. Jaden Rashada, a four-star quarterback from the Bay Area, signed with Florida in December but has been released from his letter of intent after his NIL deal fell apart.
Rashada is seriously considering Arizona State; he visited TCU over the weekend; and there is speculation that he will visit Colorado, although that couldn’t happen until March because of the recruiting dead period.
Rashada might select a school this week or next. But because he won’t sign another letter of intent – instead, he’ll just enroll somewhere – there’s no rush.
TCU and ASU are semester schools, so he probably wouldn’t arrive on campus until the summer.
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