14 Feb 19
Orange County Register
* The Pac-12 Hotline newsletter is published each Monday-Wednesday-Friday during the college sports season (and twice-a-week in the summer). …
NFL Combine invitations: What the numbers tell us
If the NFL Draft is the ultimate judge of talent … raw, underwear-clad talent … then the Scouting Combine is a close second.
Last Thursday, the NFL released the list of 338 participants invited to Indianapolis later this month, and it’s a useful tool for reflective evaluation of college rosters.
For longtime Pac-12 watchers who were convinced of, or suspected, a decline in talent, the invite list provides a measure of proof.
The conference will send 39 players to the week-long event, the lowest total in years.
Not surprisingly, the SEC dominated the invite list, with more than twice as many participants as the Pac-12.
You read that right: More than twice as many.
Invitations by Power Five conference:
Big Ten: 53
Big 12: 33
Adjusting for the varying sizes of the conferences:
SEC: 6.4 (participants per team)
Big Ten: 3.8
Big 12: 3.3
The full list of Pac-12 participants is below, broken down by team, and I’ve included the number of recruiting stars (per Rivals) with each player, to provide a morsel of context.
It should come as no surprise given the history of the coaches, but Stanford, Utah and the Washington schools all turned a slew of two- and three-star prospects into Combine participants.
Could some of that be erroneous evaluation by the recruiting services? Sure. (How was Taylor Rapp not a four-star prospect, at least?) But those programs typically outperform on the player development side.
A few other notes:
• Cal was the big winner in the wins-per-participant sweepstakes: The Bears won seven games but received no Combine invitations. #coaching
• Meanwhile, USC won five games and has five participants.
• In addition to Cal, both Arizona and Oregon State were shut out.
• Kentucky had more invitees (eight) than USC (five) and UCLA (two) combined. (That’s wrong on so many levels.)
Here’s the Pac-12 list, with the Rivals rating:
Arizona: No players invited
Arizona State: WR N’Keal Harry (5 stars), DL Renell Wren (3)
Cal: No players invited
Colorado: S Evan Worthington (3)
Oregon: S Ugo Amadi (4), LB Justin Hollins (3), DL Jalen Jelks (3), WR Dillon Mitchell (4)
Oregon State: No players invited
Stanford: WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (3), K Jake Bailey (2), OL Nate Herbig (3), CB Alijah Holder (3), RB Bryce Love (4), LB Bobby Okereke (4), TE Kaden Smith (4)
UCLA: OL Andre James (4), TE Caleb Wilson (2)
USC: LB Cameron Smith (4), OL Chuma Edoga (4), LB Porter Gustin (5), CB Iman Marshall (5), S Marvell Tell (4)
Utah: OL Jackson Barton (4), LB Chase Hansen (4), LB Cody Barton (3), K Matt Gay, N/AS Marquise Blair (3), P Mitch Wishnowsky (2)
Washington: QB Jake Browning (4), LB Ben Burr-Kirven (3), DL Greg Gaines (3), RB Myles Gaskin (3), OL Kaleb McGary (4), CB Jordan Miller (3), CB Byron Murphy (4), TE Drew Sample (2), S Taylor Rapp (3)
Washington State: OT Andre Dillard (2), QB Gardner Minshew (0), RB James Williams (3)
The Combine starts the last week in February. The Hotline will assess the top storylines for Pac-12 prospects before the festivities begin. — Jon Wilner.
*** Sign-up here for a free subscription to the Hotline newsletter. Thanks for your support.
From the Hotline
• A special edition of the stock report, published last Thursday, took a deep dive into football recruiting with rising/falling ratings for every team.
• What might the media landscape look like when the Pac-12 renegotiates its contracts? The Hotline spoke to the man advising the conference on its strategy, and his vision is fascinating.
• Previous editions of the newsletter are available in archived form using the following hashtag: https://www.mercurynews.com/tag/pac-12-hotline-newsletter/
Why we need your support: Like so many other providers of local journalism across the country, the Hotline’s parent website, mercurynews.com, recently moved to a subscription model. A few Hotline stories will remain free each month (as will this newsletter), but for access to all content, you’ll need to subscribe at a rate of just 12 cents per day for 12 months. And thanks for your loyalty.
A section devoted to content on the basketball scandal.
• While not directly related to the corruption case playing out in New York City, the latest news from Tucson is indirectly related: Arizona has started dismissal proceedings with assistant Mark Phelps, reportedly for potential NCAA violations involving academic misconduct. The situation adds another layer of storm clouds to the Wildcats’ scandal-plagued program. Three former assistants under Sean Miller have been linked to improprieties. Meanwhile, the Board of Regents met and supported the decision to fire Phelps.
In the news
(Note: The Hotline newsletter includes links to sites that could require a subscription once the number of free views has been reached.)
• Arizona’s football program could use some energy after a disappointing first year under Kevin Sumlin. Maybe the new assistants will provide it.
• Chris Petersen is a master at turning three-star prospects into high-round NFL Draft picks, writes the Times’ Matt Calkins.
• Cal coach Justin Wilcox is dead set on upgrading the offense. The good news: It cannot be any worse.
• Good behind-the-scenes account of Utah’s successful close with 4-star running back Jordan Wilmore.
• UCLA’s season opener at Cincinnati has been moved up two days, which will give the Bruins more time to prepare for their daunting Week Two opponent: San Diego State.
• The good and bad with Washington State’s recruiting class (and the quarterback situation qualifies as both).
• Stanford center Brian Chaffin is headed to Rice to play for a familiar face as a grad transfer.
• USC coach Clay Helton plans to step away from the Xs and Os and “focus on what’s truly important for this team, which is the accountability, the discipline of the game …”
• The Hotline is a big fan of the Pac-12’s sustainability initiatives. Colorado won the “Zero Waste Challenge” for the football season.
State of Affairs
Perspective on the conference from beyond its borders.
• Three Pac-12 assistant coaches/coordinators were named top-25 recruiters by Rivals … Yahoo’s Pete Thamel plunges into the basketball coaching carousel and leads his latest column with a look at UCLA’s options … The AP weighs in on Pac-12 basketball and notes, accurately, that “it won’t get any easier” for at-large contenders as the bubble shrinks in the final weeks … Speaking of: The latest Bubble Watch from The Athletic simplifies the situation: ‘Blame the Pac-12.’
• Perhaps it’s not surprising coming from a former ESPN studio analyst, but ASU coach Herm Edwards has an open policy when it comes to assistant coaches and players talking to the media. “You have to develop their skills, not only on the field but off the field.” (Several coaches in the conference, including one 100 miles down the freeway, take a different view of the situation.)
A section devoted to content on Pac-12 Olympic sports.
• One reason for third-ranked Oregon’s success: Satou Sabally, the versatile Berlin transplant who’s averaging 17.7 points alongside that Ionescu phenomenon.
• Washington’s softball team is loaded. “The Huskies made it to nationals two years ago and to the championship game last year. It’s obvious what would be the final step in the progression,” according to the Times’ Larry Stone.
• No surprise: The Pac-12 is well-represented on the Golden Spikes preseason Watch List. Here are the names. All of ’em.
• Lastly, a behind-the-scenes video from the Pac-12 shows retiring UCLA legend Valorie Kondos Field doing what she does: Coaching.
On the Hardwood
• The Hotline is surprised by almost nothing. ASU losing at home to Washington State by 20? That shocked me.
• Ten wins down, eight wins to go for Washington.
• Orange County Register columnist Mark Whicker thinks Jarron Collins, the former Stanford star and current Warriors assistant, might fit at UCLA.
• I initially thought the headline to a Salt Lake Tribune said Utah freshman Riley Battin lived in a storage shed growing up, but I must have been hallucinating.
• Doubt, dread, disappointment — they were all palpable at McKale Center last night as Arizona struggles on and off the court, writes the Daily Star’s Greg Hansen.
Football Recruiting links
The Hotline recently announced an expansion of Pac-12 recruiting coverage, with an emphasis on the schools and conference-wide trends, not only the prospects themselves. (That space is capably filled by Rivals, 247sports, etc.) We’ll have bimonthly columns starting in the second half of February, but the unofficial roll-out began last month.
Links to previous columns:
• Alabama recruiters smell blood on the west coast as the Pac-12 struggles to keep pace on the field.
• Tosh Lupoi, the former Pac-12 player and assistant coach, became the conference’s chief recruiting nemesis when he joined the Crimson Tide staff. Now he’s in the NFL and o longer an obstacle.
• For a variety of reasons, high school football participation is shrinking faster in the Pac-12’s primary talent pool (California) than in those of the other Power Five conferences.
• A podcast with 247sports recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman, who breaks down the top Pac-12 story lines for NSD.
• As USC, UCLA struggle to hold their ground with elite in-state recruits, Oregon and Washington happily fill the void.
• Your anti-anxiety guide to National Signing Day, with recruiting ratings for every all-conference player over the past six seasons.
[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”]
What’s coming on the Pac-12 Hotline:
• Spring practice? Yes, spring practice.
The next newsletter is scheduled for Monday. Like it? Please forward this email to friends (sign up here). If you don’t, or have other feedback, let me know: email@example.com.
*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline
*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.