2020 PAC-12 Recruiting Rankings Now And In The Future

There is still hope for a college football season.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the PAC-12 teams have been recruiting over the past four years and see if we can make some sense of it.  

The data we are using is the average rating of all players recruited over the past four years and it comes directly from 24/7 Sports.  Some analysts believe that using the total of all recruits is better, but we’ve found that averages give a clearer picture and more utility.

First, let’s take a look at how PAC-12 teams rank when it comes to recruiting success over the past four years.  Our first rankings give us an idea of how much talent each team has to work with. In the chart that comes after, we will get a better idea of whether teams and coaches are gaining or losing in their recruiting trends.

So, on to the rankings of PAC-12 teams and their effectiveness over the past four years:

#1  USC     90.47

Surprised?  If you are aware of USC’s recruiting woes, then Troy at #1 might seem bothersome.  But don’t worry, we’ll unmask the deception that comes with USC’s recruiting in the next section.        

#2  OREGON     89.31

It’s taken a while for Duck recruiting over a four-year cycle to get to this level, but UO appears to be here for the long haul and may make the national top 10 for four-year recruiting with its 2021 class.

#3  WASHINGTON   89.24

Chris Peterson made immediate talent upgrades through recruiting when he got to UW.  Now that he’s gone, how will things change?  We’ve got some clues coming up.

#4  STANFORD     88.98

Stanford has been missing out on elite stars lately, which is why the Cardinal will drop from the list of national top 20 four-year recruiting programs.  Stanford’s recruiting averages have dropped 4 ½ points in just three years and that is almost the greatest drop in the nation. With 15 players hitting the transfer portal in the off season, the Cardinal cannot afford another lackluster recruiting cycle. 

#5  UCLA       87.14

Second in the PAC-12 South in four-year recruiting yet not even close to second in conference standings or divisional standings. As we’ll see in a minute, the Bruins also have a recruiting momentum trend line that is drastically negative. 

#6  ARIZONA STATE    86.56

Of the top three PAC-12 South recruiters (USC and UCLA being the other two), Arizona State is in the strongest recruiting position and the Sun Devils’ momentum is gaining fast.

#7  UTAH     86.10

Utah is never among the leaders in recruiting but is always a threat to win the South as it did last year.  The Utes are one of those teams that plays well above its level of recruited talent.  We’ve talked about that before in this piece. 

The rest of the PAC-12 recruiting ratings . . .

#8   CALIFORNIA    85.25

#9   COLORADO      85.06

#10  ARIZONA        84.51


#12  OREGON STATE   84.17

Now that we’ve looked at the accumulation of talent for each team over the past four recruiting cycles, let’s get to the fun stuff— examining the recruiting momentum for each team.  

Our prediction system (Savvygameline.com) uses a detailed set of algorithms to determine momentum but in a generalized sense, it can be somewhat simulated by comparing the most-recent two recruiting years with the two years before and comparing the number of recruits that our system labels as “difference-makers.”  There is also an adjustment for national trends, which, in 2020, comes down to the fact that the national scene overall is rising.  Any teams that stay the same are, in fact, losing ground in the national scope.  Such is the case for most of the PAC-12 teams.   

Recruiting momentum will give us a partial idea of whether we should expect a team to rise or fall in the future, but even more, it can tell us which coaches are losing steam on the recruiting roads (think Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State) and those who have hired inadequate assistants (think Mike Leach formerly at WSU or Gary Anderson formerly at OSU), etc.  

So, let’s see how PAC-12 teams stack up when it comes to their recruiting momentum:  

#1   OREGON      (national momentum rank:  13th)

Oregon is 13th in the nation for momentum but it is essential to note that very few Power Five teams make the top 20 when it comes to momentum.  Smaller programs can move up pretty fast when they sign just one difference-maker while elite teams can sign two and not move as much.    No other PAC-12 team is in the national top 30 for momentum.  The Ducks are one of only four Power Five teams in the top 30.

#2   ARIZONA STATE     (national momentum rank:   35th)

Every season since Herm Edwards took over in Tempe, Sun Devil recruiting has been stronger than the season before.  According to analyses made by our system, before Edwards’ arrival, ASU recruiting was 17% below what it takes to make the national rankings.  Edwards has narrowed the gap to 7% in 2020 and at the rate he’s going now, he’ll wipe it out altogether with his 2021 class.

#3   OREGON STATE    (national momentum rank:  62nd)

Being third in recruiting momentum is not a joke; it’s a revelation. Although most everyone agrees that the Beavers have been unimpressive when it comes to recruiting high school talent, our system goes beyond high schools.  Savvy-analytics include transfers and the Beavers have done a fantastic job of luring four-star talent to Corvallis. Nonetheless, OSU must establish some kind of foothold in high school programs if it is to build a competitive program. 

#4   CALIFORNIA      (national momentum rank:  82nd)

We all like coach Justin Wilcox and he has done a great job of building the Bears. His program currently ranks fourth in the Conference for recruiting momentum. However, there’s a little more to the story that muddies things up a bit.  In the past three recruiting cycles, Cal has recruited at the level of the Mid Majors and Wilcox has not landed a single four or five star in either of the past two seasons.  Not one.  If he expects to make the leap from ordinary to contender, he is going to have to find a way to sign some high-level recruits.  

#5   UTAH       (national momentum rank:  101)

Utah has proved it doesn’t need to finish near the top of recruiting to deliver high-achieving results. Much of the reason for that is long-time head coach Kyle Whittingham who knows how to win with almost any level of talent.  That is what long-term experience will do for you.  But, it’s a mixed bag for the Utes.  Momentum trend lines are beginning to fail despite Utah recruiting more four-star players in recent years than in the years before.  All of that makes Utah a tough one to call at this time.  

#6  COLORADO       (national momentum rank:  104)

Despite the coaching circus in Boulder, the Buffs have somehow found a way to increase recruiting effectiveness the past two seasons. Colorado is a little better than California in overall talent recruitment, but the Buffs have a similar problem—they get plenty of three-star talent but shake their heads in frustration over the four and five stars.  They just can’t seem to convince the elites that buffaloes have feelings too. 

#7   WASHINGTON STATE   (national momentum rank:  107th)

Cougar recruiting was static under former head coach Mike Leach and, as we noted earlier, teams that stay the same are losing ground on a national scale. The good news is that new coach Nick Rolovich was gaining noticeable recruiting ground while he was at Hawai’i.

The other PAC-12 teams . . .

#8   ARIZONA     (national momentum rank:   113th)

#9   WASHINGTON   (national momentum rank:  117th)

UW hasn’t fallen because of a coaching change.  Negative trends were beginning to show late in the Petersen era, which is sometimes evidence that a coach is losing steam.  Overall, the 2020 class under new coach Jimmy Lake is significantly lower than 2019, but we need to also point out that the difference-makers under Lake rate higher in our system than at any time in the past three seasons.  Like Utah, Washington is currently a bit of a mixed bag.  

#10   UCLA     (national momentum rank:   126th)

#11   STANFORD   (national momentum rank:   129th)

#12   USC       (national momentum rank:   130th)

It is the junior and senior classes from three years ago and four years ago that will carry USC in 2020, but the past two recruiting cycles have been abominable and will begin to drop on-field performance levels in 2021 and 2022.  The most-recent two classes fall far below the levels of bowl teams and only slightly above Mid Majors.  Coach Helton will be fine in 2020, but he doesn’t have the background to overcome the talent drop that is on the 2021 horizon.  

*To read more about recruiting and to see all of our charts and data for all 130 FBS teams, please visit us here

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About Bobby Albrant 125 Articles
Bobby Albrant is a former journalism major at the University of Oregon, creator of Savvygameline.com for college football predictions and rankings, former analyst for Southern Mississippi football games, and twenty years coaching girls basketball for all ages through CIF high school. He has three grown children with his youngest daughter playing on the Ventura (Ca) High School basketball team that defeated Dom Lugo High School and was the last high school game ever played by Diana Taurasi. He can be reached at bobbywildcat@gmail.com.