The 2014 All-Pac-12 recruits team: USC and Stanford lead the roster

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

We composed a team of the Pac-12's best incoming freshmen. The fight for talent in the Pac-12 is fierce.

The talent in the West was a bit down in the class of 2014 compared to some other years. And that made the battles between the excellent coaching staffs in the Pac-12 all the more interesting. A Pac-12 recruit team is a cool way to help visualize who got the top talent, and where the talent really is in the league from a position standpoint.

Receivers up, defensive linemen down

The Pac-12 reeled in quite a few good linebackers, like Zach Whitley (UCLA), and had an excellent day at receiver as well, with players like John "JuJu" Smith (USC) and Budda Baker (Washington) bringing firepower to the league.

But as has often been the case, the league lagged behind when it comes to signing elite defensive linemen. The entire Pac-12 signed four players at the position rated four- or five-stars. Some teams in other conferences matched that. The reality facing the Pac-12 is that elite defensive linemen, particularly on the interior, are not abundant at high schools west of the Rockies, and to get more of them, the conference must win more long-distance recruiting battles.

USC, Washington make big strides with new coaches

USC coach Steve Sarkisian had a huge first National Signing Day in Los Angeles, going three-for-three with his final targets, and landing far and away the best class in the Pac-12 despite still dealing with scholarship limitations.

And Chris Petersen did a tremendous job locking down the state of Washington in his few short weeks on the job. Landing Budda Baker was big.

Stanford also had an excellent close, securing Solomon Thomas and Terrence Alexander.

Bottom of the league not closing the talent gap

Utah, Colorado, Cal, Washington State and Oregon State combined for just two players on the team. While they may find some diamonds in the rough, it's pretty clear that they will have a hard time making big strides in the league if they do not close the talent gap some.

Note: Players are ranked according to the 247Sports Composite, an average of the four major recruiting services. Friday, we'll compare the conferences against one another and see how they stack up by talent and position.

Keller Chryst Palo Alto (Calif.) 4 Stanford
He’s already listed at 6’4, 220, and trails only Will Grier and Kyle Allen among 2014 pro-style quarterbacks.
Royce Freeman Imperial (Calif.) 4 Oregon
Freeman, who sports a college-ready frame, runs a reported 4.58 40 and has seen a late push up the leaderboards.
Christian McCaffrey Littleton (Colo.) Valor Christian 4 Stanford
The 6’0, 195-pound back selected Stanford out of 22 reported offers.
John "JuJu" Smith Long Beach (Calif.) Poly 5 USC
The Trojans got a massive commitment from Smith on Signing Day, as he opted to join them over Oregon and UCLA.
Budda Baker Bellevue (Wash.) 4 Washington
Baker decommited from Oregon in January and elected to stay home and play for Chris Petersen at Washington.
Jalen Brown Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe 4 Oregon
The Ducks look like they got a good one in Brown, who is rated as one of the top 15 wide receiver prospects in the country.
Tight End
Dalton Schultz South Jordan (Utah) Bingham 4 Stanford
Schultz is a great fit for Stanford in that he is an excellent blocker, but he'll need to continue working on his ability as a receiver.
Offensive Line
Damien Mama Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco 4 USC
The massive guard picked USC on Signing Day, and headlines what should be an outstanding OL class for the Trojans.
Casey Tucker Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton 4 Stanford
Tucker has an impressive combination of size, length and quick feet.
Viane Talamaivao Corona (Calif.) Centennial 4 USC
Formerly an Alabama commit, Talamaivao flipped over to the Trojans earlier this year.
Toa Lobendahn La Habra (Calif.) 4 USC
Lobendahn -- the ninth-ranked guard in the 2014 class, according to the 247Sports Composite -- is already enrolled on the USC campus.
Chris Brown Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola 4 USC
The third Brown on this team, offensive lineman Chris saw his stock rise after a strong senior season.
Defensive Line
Solomon Thomas Coppell (Texas) 5 Stanford
Thomas was a huge get for the Cardinal on National Signing Day.
Connor Humphreys Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic 4 Arizona State
The second-ranked prospect in Oregon, trailing only Stanford’s Joey Alfieri.
Ainuu Taua Lompoc (Calif.) 4 UCLA
Taua stands in at barely 6’0 – if that – but plays low and with tremendous quickness.
Tashon Smallwood Fresno (Calif.) Central East 4 Arizona State
With Will Sutton now heading to the NFL, Smallwood will be counted on to replace him before long.
Zach Whitley Houston (Texas) North Shore 4 UCLA
Whitley was a Crimson Tide commit until early January and is the highest rated of all the Pac-12 linebacker recruits.
Derik Calhoun El Cerrito (Calif.) 4 Arizona State
Ridiculously athletic and plays with a violence. Todd Graham will be all too glad to have him.
Kenny Young New Orleans (La.) John Curtis 4 UCLA
Young is an active linebacker with great athleticism and the size to play immediately as well.
Bobby Okereke Santa Ana (Calif.) Foothill 4 Stanford
The Cardinal could have the next in a growing line of productive outside linebackers in the 6'3, 215-pound Okereke.
Defensive back
Adoree' Jackson Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra 5 USC
USC had a big day on Signing Day, and the five-star Jackson was probably its biggest get.
Arrion Springs San Antonio (Texas) Roosevelt 4 Oregon
Springs runs a reported 4.48 40 already and could be versatile enough to play out of the nickel for the Ducks.
Adarius Pickett El Cerrito (Calif.) 4 UCLA
Fantastically quick in his reactions, Pickett rates out as the 14th-best cornerback in the 2014 class.
Jaleel Wadood Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco 4 UCLA
Pickett will be joined by Wadood, a former Cal and Arizona State commit who plays with great physicality and fluidity.
Cameron Denson Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe Catholic 4 Arizona
One of the most desirable traits for a cornerback is length, and the 6’1 Denson has that already under his belt.
2nd Team
K.J. Carta-Samuels San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep 4 Washington
A former Vanderbilt commit, Samuels has an excellent blend of throwing and scrambling ability.
Tony James Gainesville (Fla.) 4 Oregon
James possesses excellent speed and quickness.
Nick Wilson Fresno (Calif.) Central East 4 Arizona
Wilson doesn't have top-end speed, but he is balanced and creative in space.
Erik Brown Fontana (Calif.) Summit 4 California
Despite a 1-11 season, the Bears have managed to secure a commitment from the 6’1, 170-pound Brown.
Rahshead Johnson Long Beach (Calif.) Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo 4 USC
Johnson has the explosiveness to be a downfield threat.
Tyler Whiley Paradise Valley (Ariz.) Chaparral 4 Arizona State
Whiley is a versatile athlete, playing both wide receiver and cornerback for his high school team.
Tight End
Bryce Dixon Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure 4 USC
Dixon committed to the Trojans at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, giving Sarkisian arguably the nation’s top tight end.
Offensive Line
Jackson Barton Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton 4 Utah
Barton has a towering frame at 6'7, 285 pounds, and should be able to add a lot more mass.
Kaleb McGary Tacoma (Wash.) Fife 4 Washington
McGary stayed at home to go to Washington, picking the Huskies over Oregon State.
Jordan Poland La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day 3 Arizona
A former USC commit, the now Arizona-bound Poland is ranked as the No. 26 tackle in the 2014 class.
Reilly Gibbons St. Petersburg (Fla.) Catholic 3 Stanford
The Cardinal got a late flip from Gibbons, who decommited from Miami on Feb. 1 to head west.
Kolton Miller Roseville 3 UCLA
Kolton Miller is a promising offensive tackle recruit for the Bruins.
Defensive Line
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco 3 UCLA
Tuioti-Mariner elected to stay home and go to UCLA over heading to Wisconsin.
Malik Dorton Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco 3 USC
Dorton will head to the crosstown rival of his high school teammate Tuioti-Mariner.
Renell Wren St. Louis (Mo.) Lutheran North 3 Arizona State
Wren has a nice frame at 6'5, 245, and went with the Sun Devils over Purdue.
Matt Dickerson San Mateo (Calif.) Junipero Serra 3 UCLA
UCLA was able to flip Dickerson away from Notre Dame back in early January.
Marquis Ware Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian 4 Arizona
Ware edges out his high school teammate on the rankings boards, but only slightly. He’s ranked 16th among 2014 outside linebackers.
Jamardre Cobb Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian 4 Arizona
One spot below Ware is Cobb, at 17th. Cobb and Ware are another set of teammates on this list.
Jimmie Swain Olathe (Kan.) North 4 Oregon
Swain was a TCU commit until this past December, when the Ducks were able to pry him away and bring him out west.
Joey Alfieri Portland (Ore.) Jesuit 4 Stanford
Stanford was able to pluck the top player in the state of Oregon in Alfieri.
Defensive back
Jonathan Lockett Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei 4 USC
When Steve Sarkisian left Washington, Lockett followed, taking a top-20 cornerback talent with him.
Naijiel Hale Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco 4 Washington
Nate Dogg's son flipped from Arizona to Washington just before Signing Day.
Brandon Simmons Arlington (Texas) Mansfield Timberview 4 Stanford
Simmons is a well-rounded playmaker at the safety position, and should fit in well with the Stanford defense.
John Plattenburg Jr. Houston (Texas) Lamar 3 USC
Plattenburg isn't huge, but he has the speed and quickness to stay with anyone.
Mattrell McGraw New Orleans (La.) John Curtis 3 Oregon
McGraw may not be a classic burner, but he has very good ball skills he can rely on.
Team 1st Team 2nd Team Total
USC 6 5 11
Stanford 6 3 9
UCLA 5 3 8
Oregon 3 3 6
Arizona 1 4 5
Arizona State 3 2 5
Washington 1 3 4
California 0 1 1
Utah 0 1 1
Washington State 0 0 0
Oregon State 0 0 0
Colorado 0 0 0

More from SB Nation college football:

Consensus top 25 2014 recruiting classes

National Signing Day’s biggest winners and losers

Numbers show recruiting matters very, very, very much

Interactive map: exploring the SEC’s Signing Day

College football news | The SEC is taking over the country

Long CFB reads | The death of a college football player

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