Recruiting in the PAC-12: UCLA and USC Are Down

By: Tony Thomas

According to and their recruiting class rankings for 2020, both UCLA and USC are not listed in the TOP 25. Why are top recruits leaving the talent rich state of California? Is it because UCLA doesn’t pump alumni donations into its athletic facilities to attract and keep the in-state talent? In this regard, take a lesson from LSU with their recent unveiling of their new locker room/sleep pods and nutrition center. Can the coaching staff recruit? When Chip Kelly was head coach at Oregon, he was bringing in talented recruits from all over the country and winning at a pretty good clip. And, he was sending players to the NFL.

And whats with USC, a college football blue-blood? HC Clay Helton currently has a overall winning record of 32-17, a Rose Bowl win, and a PAC-12 title during his tenure with the Trojans. But he did lead USC to its first losing season in 20 years, placing him firmly on the hot seat to start this season.

This recruiting cycle, Oregon (Chip Kelly’s old team) raided California and got commitments from some ESPN 300 prospects, including a QB from Brentwood, CA, literally in the shadow of the UCLA campus, and a WR from Calabasas, CA, which is less than 30 miles from both UCLA and USC. And remember last year, the Ducks went and got the #1 recruit in DE Kavon Thibodeaux, also from California.

The 3 states known for producing high school talent in football are Florida, Texas, and California. Recruiting is a national endeavor, and and yes, schools are offering scholarships to the top out of state prospects. But at the very least, you need to lock up your own state to keep your in-state talent from leaving for other Top 25 programs.

Chip Kelly (the former Oregon coach, not the former Philadelphia Eagles coach) will make UCLA relevant. But if USC stumbles out of the gate early, then Helton may be on the way out and the “Urban Meyer to USC” watch will begin.

Thank you for reading.

Material for this article retrieved from:, and Athlon Sports College Football 2019, pages 1-304.

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