Pac-12 football: Welcome to June, a vital month on the recruiting trail

Arizona Sports News online

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 May 31 …

June gloom has been taken over by June boon — the boon to the recruiting calendar.

Sure, December and February will always matter in college football recruiting with the early signing period and National Signing Day, respectively. But there isn’t a more crucial month than June.

With the traditional recruiting camps on college campuses, the rising of so-called mega camps, plus official visits and the sped-up calendar for verbal commitments, June is now the most crucial month in recruiting.

Mind you, it comes fresh off the six-week NCAA Spring Evaluation Period, which runs from the middle of April through the end of May. But with the added element of head coaches now able to watch recruits at the mega camps, which have sprung up everywhere, June is that much more important.

And there’s another reason the month has become so busy: The majority of a team’s incoming freshman class has arrived on campus, so coaches pack June with official visits from recruits.

It’s an odd twist considering the coaches didn’t like the introduction of official visits in the spring when the rule was implemented back in 2018. But with so many players now making their college choice before the fall and the desire for recruits to enroll early, more schools have shifted to hosting official visits in the spring.

That in itself keeps coaches busy. But then add the on-campus recruiting camps that most schools host in June and the mega camps held by a handful of schools — Sacramento State has the crown jewel of mega camps on the West Coast — and, well, it shows why June is so busy.

Sacramento State’s Rising Stars Mega Camp became the pre-eminent recruiting event in the West under the watch of former head coach Troy Taylor and his director of football operations, Garrett Wolfe.

Taylor and Wolfe are now at Stanford, but new Sacramento State head coach Andy Thompson and director of football operations Jeff Goldsmith know the value of the event, not just to the reigning Big Sky champions but to all of college football.

For example, every Pac-12 school sent a representative to the Rising Stars Mega Camp last spring, including six head coaches. Same with the Mountain West programs and a slew of other schools across multiple NCAA divisions.

(Fun fact: The only Pac-12 coaching staff that didn’t send multiple staff members last year was Stanford, which had only head coach David Shaw in attendance — and he was there to watch his son, Carter, participate. No assistants attended. Shaw resigned after the season and was replaced by Taylor.)

The other prominent mega camps that are sure to draw a slew of Pac-12 coaches include the Northwest Showcase at Western Oregon, the Redlands Camps, the PLU Showcase at Pacific Lutheran, the NAU Camps at Northern Arizona, the AveryStrong Showcase at the University of Puget Sound and the Gem State Showcase in Boise.

But don’t forget the traditional recruiting camps hosted by Pac-12 schools — those remain prevalent, although not to the degree they used to be.

The mega camps provide access to far more players and require far less work for Pac-12 coaches, who are already busy enough.

With schools hosting official visitors on the weekends, running the on-campus camps is that much more difficult.

And even with the recruiting calendar sped up — most of the prospects in the high school class of 2024 have already been offered scholarships — the on-campus and mega camps provide a better opportunity to evaluate recruits in the 2025 and 2026 classes.

For example, the top quarterback prospects at Sacramento State’s mega camp the past two years were rising juniors: Jaden Rashada in 2021 and Austin Mack in 2022.

Of course, there was still a chance for rising seniors to receive offers. Luke Duncan landed his UCLA scholarship after throwing at Sacramento State last year, even after he had thrown at the Bruins’ on-campus event earlier in the month.

But the mega camps now allow coaches to shift their focus to underclassmen, more so than the seniors-to-be. In that regard, they have become crucial.

With the ever-changing calendar, rules and regulations, June, once so quiet, has become a battleground month in recruiting.

June matters. Oh, does it matter.

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