College football: Pac-12 hauls in strong talent on signing day
That the Utes had one of their best signing days but still landed just in the middle of the Pac-12 rankings illustrates how well the conference did as a whole.
The Utes, once rarely part of the national recruiting picture, were rated as high as sixth and as low as eighth in the conference by a couple of the major recruiting services.
Such rankings are a good sign for the Utes, who just completed their first year in the Pac-12 with an 8-5 record.
UCLA, Oregon, Stanford and USC were the leaders in the conference rankings, although there was some disagreement among ranking services as to which of those schools had the best classes.
Nevertheless, the Pac-12 did very well as a conference, said Brandon Huffman, the West Regional Recruiting Manager for FOX Sports/Scout.com.
"Only the SEC, with its over-signing tendencies, stands atop the conference rankings," he said.
Scout.com has five teams from the Pac-12 in its Top 25 team rankings, and Rivals.com has six.
The biggest winner in many estimates was UCLA. New coach Jim Mora worked hard to strengthen the Bruins' class and did so well enough that most believe the Bruins went from being a top-50 class to top 15.
Among the big gets was Alexandru Ceachir, an offensive lineman out of Santa Monica College who committed to Utah but signed with the Bruins shortly after Norm Chow left for Hawaii.
Also going with the Bruins in somewhat surprising decisions were receivers Javon Williams and Jordan Payton.
Payton, out of Chandler, Ariz., provided some of signing day's biggest comedy material for Twitter lovers. He announced he'd be signing with USC, then also Cal then Washington before settling on the Bruins.
Apparently his routes are a little more decisive than his decision making. He was ranked the No. 15 receiver in the country according to Rivals.com.
Other winners, at least on paper, were Washington, Oregon and USC. The Trojans hauled in a solid class despite their NCAA sanctions, while Oregon netted Arik Armstead, a lineman considered to be one of the nation's top three prospects.
Washington had a strong finish, thanks in part to the hiring of Tosh Lupoi, who was Cal's defensive line coach and strong recruiter.
His presence helped net defensive tackle Pio Vatuvei, whom the Utes made a push for, as well as California cornerback Brandon Beaver.
Cal's stature slipped while Arizona couldn't make much of a dent on the national scene with the late hiring of Rich Rodriguez as coach.
Pac-12 rank (National rank)
1. Stanford (6)
2. UCLA (11)
3. Oregon (15)
4. USC (20)
5. Washington (22)
6. Colorado (29)
7. Utah (36)
8. California (42)
9. Arizona State (43)
10. Arizona (45)
11. Oregon State (46)
12. Washington State (60)
1. Stanford (5)
2. USC (7)
3. UCLA (12)
4. Oregon (15)
5. Washington (20)
6. Cal (25)
7. Utah (28)
8. Colorado (33)
9. Arizona State (36)
10. Oregon State (37)
11. Arizona (45)
12. Washington State