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November 23, 2012

West Mailbag: Make-or-break visit for USC?


MORE: Around the West

Rivals.com West analyst Adam Gorney address questions from readers in his weekly mailbag.

West for the weekend

Is Jalen Ramsey's visit to USC this weekend good or bad for the Trojans?
-- Gerald from Santa Ana, Calif.

It has to be considered good news for the Trojans. Ramsey is expected to watch fellow USC pledge Chris Hawkins in the big Rancho Cucamonga-Vista Murrieta game on Friday night and then head to the Coliseum on Saturday for the Notre Dame-USC matchup.

There has been rampant speculation that the Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy five-star defensive back is leaning toward staying closer to home with Alabama, Florida and Vanderbilt as three favorites, but another trip to Los Angeles could be a lot of help to the Trojans.

My impression is that there are some people trying to convince Ramsey to stay closer to home but that he still wants to play for USC. I've talked to some people who believe the Trojans still lead and that it could be tough to beat them. Others seem convinced he's going to begrudgingly end up closer to home. This weekend could be important in his final decision.

Holding steady ... for now

What is going to happen to Cal's recruiting class?
-- Mario from San Francisco, Calif.

Surprisingly, there seemed to be more movement last season when assistant Tosh Lupoi left for Washington than now when coach Jeff Tedford was fired.

That could speak to the importance of Lupoi or assistant coaches in general as the main recruiters, or the fact that Cal still has a lot of draw from an academic and social standpoint. Perhaps switching head coaches is an issue but not enough for players to de-commit.

Remember, there was some thought after Lupoi left last season that the entire Cal class would implode and the Golden Bears would be left reeling. The Tedford news just happened, so things can still change, but it doesn't look like many of the top guys are looking elsewhere.

Recruiting battle in the desert

Who's winning the recruiting battle of Arizona -- the Wildcats or the Sun Devils?
-- Michael from Chandler, Ariz

It's really close as Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham have done a solid job in their first seasons, but I'd give the edge to Arizona right now by the slimmest of margins. Quarterback Anu Solomon could be a star in the making, and four-star offensive lineman Logan Stott is tough as well. The Wildcats are currently fourth in the Pac-12 recruiting rankings, plus they've beaten USC this season along with Oklahoma State and they narrowly lost to Stanford.

On the other hand, Arizona State has a commitment from the state's top-ranked player in four-star linebacker Chans Cox. Graham has completely turned around the mentality of the program, and it's definitely going in the right direction.

Both teams have done a good job this season and there is still time left before National Signing Day, but I'd give the slight edge to Arizona right now.

Not so fast

Has there really been a change of guard in Los Angeles with UCLA beating USC?
-- Cliff from Orange, Calif.

I still think it's a little premature to crown the Bruins the top team in Los Angeles, but there is no question UCLA has done a tremendous job becoming relevant again.

USC is having a drastically disappointing season, and UCLA really looked like the better team last weekend jumping out to a big lead and then beating the Trojans.

From a recruiting perspective, though, USC's class is superior. Now the question will be how that talent will be utilized on the field. First-year coach Jim Mora and his staff have done a phenomenal job both on the field and in recruiting, and the wide gap that existed between both programs even last season has shrunk considerably.



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