Pac-12 recruiting: Tough times for Oregon State, impact of Kelly’s return, Colorado’s defections and more

The Beavers are scrambling after coach Jonathan Smith’s exit

Brandon Huffman, the Seattle-based national recruiting editor for 247Sports, submitted the following report on Nov. 30 to the Pac-12 Hotline…

December (dates) to remember

The NCAA’s recruiting dead period ended at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday; the contact period will be in effect for the next 17 days.

This means that college coaches will be able to conduct in-home visits in addition to visiting high schools and attending games. More importantly, they can take photos with recruits in front of their Christmas trees and secure their recruiting classes for 2024.

Coaches are more likely to be looking at prospects in the 2025 and 2026 classes — and possibly the 2027 class as well. So much of the heavy lifting for ’24 has already been completed.

The following three weekends will be available for official visits. The dead period returns on December 18 and lasts until January 11.

OSU’s uncertain landscape

Following the departure of coach Jonathan Smith to Michigan State, Oregon State lost several three-star commitments:

— Offensive lineman Payton Stewart, a Washington native who switched to the Beavers after Northwestern fired Pat Fitzgerald, his first choice, has reopened his recruitment.

— Florida athlete Andrew Brinson announced his recruitment following the departure of OSU running backs coach Keith Bhonapha, who is joining Smith at Michigan State.

— The third blow came on Friday morning, when Hawaii edge rusher Kekai Burnett announced his decommitment; he was OSU’s third-highest rated commit in the class to that point.

As if the Beavers didn’t already have enough questions about their future and an uncertain conference situation, their top-rated 2024 pledge, Under Armour All-American offensive lineman Rustin Young, has said he may postpone his signing until February to allow the Beavers to hire a line coach.

Trent Bray’s promotion to head coach should answer some questions, and several key assistants are expected to remain in Corvallis. But the Beavers didn’t need any more problems looming over them.

UCLA: tense times ahead?

Whereas OSU is struggling to retain recruits following Smith’s departure, UCLA’s decision to keep Chip Kelly could help the Bruins keep their 2024 class together. However, Kelly being a lame duck next season will not help the Bruins with their 2025 class.

UCLA already recruits fewer high school players than any other Pac-12 school. With the Bruins being chastised for keeping Kelly, recruiting is unlikely to be successful in the coming year.

While Kelly prefers high school transfers, even that approach could be risky. The Bruins faltered in the final stretch, losing three of their final four games. Two of the losses came at home, in front of recruits, to opponents with a winning percentage of less than.500.

CU gains one, loses three

The darlings of September had a rough November.

Colorado was once the hottest team in college football. However, the 3-0 start turned into a 4-8 season, and the Buffaloes have lost three commitments from their recruiting classes of 2024 and 2025 in the last week.

Things appeared to be moving in the right direction when four-star Georgia prospect Kamron Mikell, the country’s No. 4 athlete in 2024, committed to the Buffaloes on Thanksgiving Day.

But, over the weekend, CU began to lose recruits, first Georgia quarterback Antwann Hill, the No. 5 passer in the 2025 class, and then three-star Florida running back Jamarice Wilder.To make matters worse, and more immediate, Danny O’Neil, CU’s three-star quarterback pledge in the 2024 class, decommitted from the Buffs.

Coach Deion Sanders may have to use the transfer portal to add depth behind quarterback Shedeur Sanders as a result.

Visits highlight the weekend

While Oregon and Washington are competing for the Pac-12 Championship and a possible berth in the College Football Playoff this weekend, the rest of the conference is free to host official visits.

The most intriguing prospect arriving this weekend is Seattle running back Jason Brown, a four-star prospect with offers from Michigan State, Oregon, and Washington.

However, the Sun Devils are bringing Brown to town and will make a strong push for the All-American Bowl and the Polynesian Bowl.

Four-star tight end Jayden Fortier, the No. 1 player in Oregon, will also be on campus for an official visit.

Fortier committed to the Sun Devils in June, but Oregon recently offered him a scholarship. The Ducks will be a factor, so Arizona State must hope that their decision to prioritize Fortier pays off.

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