Commentary on Pac-12’s recruitment on the first anniversary of name, image and likeness…
Rising: USC and Oregon Recruit
The top of the food chain for recruiting Pac-12 in the NIL era is much like before NIL, with two programs representing the majority of blue-chip players.
According to 247Sports’ recruiting database, so far, 23 prospects with four- or five-star ratings have committed to the Pac-12 in the 2022-23 cycle.
Of those, 13 are planning to sign with the Trojans of Ducks.
“USC and Oregon are playing a different game than everyone else — that’s what it looks like from a distance,” former Washington coach Chris Petersen recently told the Hotline during a discussion about NIL.
The schools have taken different approaches. Oregon’s efforts are supported by Division Street, a consortium of donors — Nike boss Phil Knight is heavily involved — while USC uses a third party, BLVD Studios.
Officially, the endorsement and promotion efforts allowed under NIL should not be confused with recruiting incentives, but prospects are naturally drawn to programs they believe have the greatest opportunity.
“Why do we even have collectives?” said Petersen. “Why was that not a problem from the start? Everything about NIL are things I’ve heard all my career that you weren’t capable of.”
Falling: common sense in the NIL era
Petersen believes a difficult situation for head coaches will only get worse after next season, as the collectives have been established and the transfer portal gives players the opportunity to seek out the most lucrative deals.
“When you have the portal and the NIL space, when you put them together, it’s like everything is on steroids,” he said.
“If it really explodes, it will be after next season. Some of the best players will walk into the coach’s office and say, ‘Sorry coach, but I have to do this for my family.’
“If the best player wants more than you can afford, just hug him and wish him the best of luck.”
Many within the recruiting industry fear that collectives will eventually give too much influence to boosters and local business leaders.
What’s stopping a deep-pocketed donor from threatening to withdraw funding for NIL efforts over a dispute over a favorite player’s on-field role?
There are no easy solutions for schools, conferences or NCAA. But removing the barrier between schools and the NIL dealers — such a move would add guardrails — seems like a smart start.
“The coaches are begging for enforcement,” said Petersen.
Rising: Recruitment in Washington
After a slow start under freshman coach Kalen DeBoer, the Huskies have momentum on the hiring path for the first time since the pre-COVID era.
The spark was four-star recipient Rashid Williams, whose union in mid-May seemed to show other prospects that a union with UW was cool again.
Right now, the Huskies are ranked No. 3 in the conference, a ranking fueled by both quantity (14 total pledges) and quality (three prospects with four-star ratings).
The uptick has seemingly satisfied voters frustrated by the perceived ineffectiveness of Montlake Futures, the donor collective that was supposed to be the UW’s version of Oregon’s Division Street.
When asked how Huskies fans are interacting with NIL, Petersen replied:
“They have a hard time wrapping their minds around it. Everyone is trying to understand the whole thing and what the rules are.”
(Petersen was initially involved with Montlake Futures, but said he is no longer affiliated with the organization.)
Fall: QB Options
Another blue chip quarterback is leaving the Pac-12 footprint for greener pastures.
Last week, Jaden Rashada, a four-star Bay Area prospect, announced that he would be signing with Miami for a group of finalists who had no Pac-12 programs: Florida, Mississippi, LSU and Texas A&M.
He was the last top strategist in the Pac-12 footprint to select a destination for the fall of ’23.
Of the six, only two stay at home (with 247Sports national ranking):
No. 2 Malachi Nelson (Los Alamitos): USC
No. 3 Nico Iamaleava (Long Beach): Tennessee
No. 7 Jaden Rashada (Pittsburgh): Miami
No. 10 Pierce Clarkson (Bellflower): Louisville
No. 15 Brayden Dorman (Colorado Springs): Arizona
No. 19 Gabarri Johnson (Tacoma): Missouri
The most concerning piece for the Pac-12?
None of the schools clear the bar like powerhouses.
It’s one thing to lose the top players in key position to Alabama or the state of Ohio, and it’s quite another to see them committed to the likes of Missouri, Louisville, and Tennessee.
NIL has made life on the recruiting path even more complicated for the Pac-12.
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