Huffman on Pac-12 recruiting: Stanford shows signs of life; big weekend for UW; Oregon , SC keeps rolling

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The Hotline is delighted to provide Pac-12 fans with a weekly dive into the recruiting process through the eyes and ears of Brandon Huffman, the Seattle-based national recruiting editor for 247Sports.

The following report was provided to the Hotline on June 22 …

It has been a tremendous recruiting month for the usual suspects in the Pac-12: Oregon, USC … Stanford.

Stanford? Yep, Stanford.

The Cardinal picked up its fifth commitment of the week on Thursday when New Jersey defensive back Cam Richardson announced his pledge.

More incredibly, Richardson became Stanford’s 20th commitment in June alone.

That immense prospect haul is good enough to vault the program to No. 8 nationally — and No. 1 in the Pac-12 — in the latest 247Sports rankings for the 2023-24 recruiting cycle.

Granted, the Cardinal finished with the top class in the conference in 2022 and often compiled elite classes during the height of the David Shaw era. But the collection of talent finalized in February (i.e., current high school seniors) was uneven, with highs and lows on the heels of Shaw’s resignation.

And to be clear: One reason for Stanford’s current lofty position in the 247Sports rankings is the sheer number of commitments: 24. That’s the highest total for any Football Bowl Subdivision school in the country. (It’s eight more than Oregon and 12 more than USC, which are ranked second and third in the Pac-12, respectively).

But given the uncertainty of Stanford’s recruiting outlook when the 2023-24 cycle began — could it replicate the Shaw-era success with a head coach hired from the Big Sky (Troy Taylor) and the school’s stringent academic requirements — there is a lot of reason for optimism.

Sunday was especially good for the Cardinal, which went into Orange County to land two significant recruits, including Huntington Beach offensive lineman Justin Tauanuu, who visited UCLA last month and was expected to see USC this weekend.

But the biggest prize was Santa Ana (Calif.) quarterback Elijah Brown, the third-rated passer in the country and the No. 3 overall prospect in California. Brown is 28-1 as the starter for powerhouse Mater Dei High School since taking over for Bryce Young.

Brown chose the Cardinal over both UCLA and USC and instantly became the most notable commit for Taylor, who was hired in December.

And for good measure, Stanford went back to Orange County to secure another commitment, Santa Margarita (Calif.) receiver Emmett Mosley, a four-star prospect who picked the Cardinal over UCLA and Washington.

The week before was just as good from a defensive standpoint, with commitments from a pair of four-star edge rushers.

Remember during those peak Shaw years when the Cardinal’s success was based on the defensive front seven? It might be trending back that way with the defensive pickups. Atop the list is Miami (Fla.) edge Dylan Stephenson and, perhaps more importantly, Oakland edge Naki Tuakoi, one of the premier defensive prospects in Northern California.

While the Cardinal landed quarterback Justin Lamson from the transfer portal — he played for Syracuse but is originally from Sacramento — the program will lean on high school prospects for 95 percent of the roster reloading.

With 24 commitments, Stanford’s class is rounding into shape a little more than two months before Taylor coaches his first game with the Cardinal.

UW’s big weekend
Washington has just one commitment from the 2024 class: Hesperia (Calif.) offensive lineman Paki Finau, a four-star prospect. Meanwhile, the Huskies have watched three committed players decide to open up their recruitments.

But this weekend, UW could see the class grow exponentially, with a mammoth collection of visitors.

The Huskies will host more than 15 official visits this week alone, with Finau set for his trip to Seattle.

They also have the top prospect in Northern California coming to town, Fairfield (Calif.) defensive lineman Jericho Johnson, a four-star prospect. This will be the fourth trip to Montlake for Johnson in the last year but the first of the official variety.

Another key visitor is Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) quarterback Demaricus Davis, who has spent time at Arizona and Oregon State. But the Huskies have the last shot at him this weekend.

Trojans, Ducks keep rolling
USC has had nothing but recruiting momentum in 2024 and leads the nation in average rating per recruit. And the Trojans picked up a pair of four-star prospects this week.

They started out by landing Bellflower (Calif.) cornerback Marcelles Williams, the brother of current Trojan defensive back Max Williams, then continued the winning streak with four-star offensive tackle Jason Zandamela from Clearwater (Fla.).

The Ducks received a huge pickup of their own when Sacramento (Calif.) four-star safety Kingston Lopa committed on his official visit last weekend, canceling a scheduled trip to Washington.

USC and Oregon are going head-to-head for Long Beach (Calif.) receiver Ryan Pellum, a top-20 wideout nationally who will pick between the schools on Monday.

Elsewhere around the Pac-12
Stanford isn’t the only school with momentum.

— Arizona had quite a week with eight public commitments. One was Henderson (Nev.) receiver Landon Bell, who parted ways with Washington a week ago, then announced for the Wildcats this week. But the big one for coach Jedd Fisch was Tucson edge rusher Keona Wilhite, who picked Arizona over Oregon State, UCLA and Washington.

Within the state, Glendale running back Adam Mohammed pledged to the Wildcats, who added Pac-12 legacy recruit Kayo Patu as well.

Patu has long ties to the conference. The Sacramento safety has an older brother, Orin, playing for Arizona, while his other brother, Ari, is a quarterback at Stanford. And his father, Saul, is a former linebacker at Oregon. (His mother also played softball for the Ducks.)

— Arizona State landed a pair of commitments this week from the 2024 class but got its 2025 class started with a notable pickup: four-star quarterback Michael Tollefson, from San Juan Capistrano.

— Cal had a pair of prospects pledge as well: Houston defensive lineman Michael-Anthony Okwura became the third Lone Star State native to pick the Bears, who also reeled in their second Northern California commit in Lafayette receiver Trevor Rogers.

— Oregon State has hit the state of Florida frequently in the last few years and added a commitment from top-100 athlete Andrew Brinson IV out of Tampa.

— UCLA bounced back from the loss of Tauanuu, Mosley and Brown to Stanford by adding a pair of out-of-state commitments. One came from Lehi (Utah) offensive tackle Jensen Somerville, who was leaning toward Cal. The Bruins also flipped Waunakee (Wis.) tight end Rob Booker from his home-state school, Wisconsin.

Final official visit weekend
This is the final weekend for official visits this summer. The NCAA’s recruiting dead period begins next week and lasts until September.

Oregon is scheduled to host a stellar lineup of prospects: the No. 1 player in Washington, Brayden Platt; the No. 1 player in Hawaii, Preston Taumua; and the No. 1 player in California, Aydin Breland. Additionally, the Ducks will welcome a top-five player from Missouri in receiver Jeremiah McClellan.

Washington State will have some big targets in town, including running back Josh Joyner, edge rusher Camden DeGraw and cornerback Tyson Weaver.

Stanford will host the No. 1 prospect in Utah, offensive tackle Isaiah Garcia, an Under Armour All-American.

And Cal has a big weekend of its own with quarterback EJ Caminong and athlete Rahshawn Clark — they are teammates at Seattle’s Garfield High School — scheduled to visit.

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