West Spotlight: Five big questions about the 2024 cycle national recruiting director Adam Gorney takes a look at some of the biggest questions surrounding Pac-12 programs and the 2024 recruiting cycle. That includes the recruitments of multiple five-star prospects and much more.

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1. Can USC keep elite players home?  

Ryan Pellum

Ryan Pellum

Second-year coach Lincoln Riley has done a lot of amazing things already at USC and one of them is putting together an offense largely through the transfer portal that at times feels nearly unstoppable.

The portal can be an incredibly useful tool in building a roster. But so must winning a lot of recruiting battles in Southern California, and in the 2024 cycle almost all of those elite players are headed elsewhere.

Here are the facts: The two five-stars in California, QB Julian Sayin and safety Peyton Woodyard, are committed to Alabama. Only one of the top 11 players in the state has committed to the Trojans: four-star receiver Ryan Pellum.

Riley has done a phenomenal job with Trojans, Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame notwithstanding, but winning recruiting battles at home with high school players has not been the path so far.



2. Can Arizona and ASU turn the tide on in-state players?  

Demond Williams

Demond Williams

For at least a decade, top prospects from the state of Arizona have almost always left the state, so much so that it’s more than a trend. It’s hard not to imagine what the programs would look like today if they convinced some of the elite players to stay home.

Last recruiting cycle, only one of the top 20 prospects in Arizona picked an in-state school. In the cycle before that, it was only one of 10.

That’s why Arizona coach Jedd Fisch has tried to make in-state recruiting more of a priority, and when Arizona State hired Kenny Dillingham he hired a ton of high school and other coaches with incredible connections to the top programs around Arizona.

There has been marginal success so far. Four-star defensive end Elijah Rushing, the state’s top player, was committed to Arizona but recently backed off that pledge. Only two of the other top 12 players in the state have chosen the Wildcats or Sun Devils: four-star QB Demond Williams and four-star ATH Dylan Tapley, respectively.

The coaching staffs in Tucson and Tempe have made in-state recruiting a top priority. Assistants have been brought in to focus on it. But it’s a major challenge to keep those players home, and maybe more winning has to come first.




3. Can Colorado capitalize with its recruiting class?  

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders (USA Today Sports Images)

First-year coach Deion Sanders has revolutionized Colorado football in such a short time. From being a doormat in recent seasons to having ESPN College GameDay there and elite recruits visiting almost every weekend – not to mention all the celebrities – the Buffaloes have turned the corner, at least from a public perception.

So it’s a little surprising that Colorado has the fewest commitments in the Pac-12 with only 10 commitments. The Buffaloes are sitting second-to-last in the conference rankings and No. 66 nationally, sandwiched between Southern Miss and Virginia.

Maybe Sanders wants to utilize the transfer portal again, especially since he completely rebooted the roster once by going there heading into this season. Or maybe some top prospects want to see how more of the season plays out before making their decisions. Either way, Colorado has some work to do in this recruiting class.



4. Will a Pac-12 team break into the top five nationally?  

Oregon recruit Dylan Williams

Oregon recruit Dylan Williams

In the last two recruiting cycles, no Pac-12 team has finished in the top five nationally in the team rankings, but a few teams have a chance in 2024, with Oregon leading the way as the Ducks currently sit ninth in the rankings.

Unless Stanford, USC or another team completely loads up in the closing months here it would be unlikely for another team to make that jump. The Cardinal sit at No. 22 nationally and USC is at No. 28 but has only 15 commitments, so there could be a chance.

What could help Oregon the most is not landing more commits but the possibility that some could achieve five-star status with two rankings cycles left. It’s not clear there is a surefire five-star in the class yet, but that could certainly change in the coming months.


5. What will 2025 West five-stars do?  

Early in the 2025 class there are two five-star prospects in Las Vegas Bishop Gorman offensive tackle Douglas Utu and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei RB Jordon Davison, and each has their own unpredictability in their recruitment so far.

For Davison, a top list of Texas, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Colorado and others has emerged, so there’s at least a top group that the five-star is working from. The Longhorns could have the slight edge right now. but many others are well within striking distance.

For Utu, the group is much more muddled. He has talked very highly of Oklahoma and USC in the past, but Oregon could also be a player. Playing with teammates SJ Alofaituli and Alai Kalaniuvalu could be a major consideration. We just don’t know a ton yet because Utu has not taken a laser focus to his recruitment yet. A lot could change, and that makes this all the more interesting.

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