In a major Pac-12 shift of power, Tosh Lupoi, the conference’s best recruiter has been pried out of Berekely and is heading to Washington. Lupoi was the main reason that Cal was able to recruit as soundly as they have, currently sporting a Top 10 recruiting class for 2012. But with Lupoi out of the mix for the Bears, it opens the Pac-12 recruiting battles wide open between the top three recruiting schools, Cal, Washington and USC.
Exactly who might the Trojans be able to scoop up from Cal’s now broken recruiting class? The most likely name has to be Ellis McCarthy, who chose Cal over USC despite considering USC to be a favorite for at the beginning of his recruiting campaign. Not only does Lupoi’s departure come as a crucial blow to Cal recruits in general, but as a defensive line coach, a defensive tackle like McCarthy becomes all the more likely to jump ship. USC put their own dream recruiting tandem of Ed Ogeron and Kennedy Polamalu on McCarthy before he committed, and you have to expect that Lane Kiffin was deploy a full court press on McCarthy and other possible Berkeley defects.
More breakdowns on Cal commits and targets after the jump.
- Next to consider is an uncommitted defensive lineman, Aziz Shittu. Since his December 9th official visit to Berkeley, he’s been linked more and more to Cal, getting a heavy dose of Lupoi along the way, despite Stanford gaining some ground. Now with Lupoi out of the mix, expect USC to get seriously involved. Shittu comes to Los Angeles on back to back weekends to close out the recruiting season, with official visits to USC this upcoming weekend, and UCLA next weekend. Gut instinct has to see this coming down to an all-California battle, and without Lupoi, the Bears will struggle to close the door on Shittu. Expect Shittu to choose between USC and Stanford.
- While Shaq Thompson technically considered USC, he was always going to Cal. Washington made a run at Thompson before he re-committed on January 7, following his brother Syd’Quan’s footsteps in going to Berkeley. But now that Lupoi is headed to Seattle, it’s not entirely out of the question that Thompson would at least listen to Lupoi and Sarkisian one more time. He’ll be a harder pry for Washington than McCarthy would be for USC, but if the Huskies were to land Thompson, Cal’s highly touted recruiting class would ultimately fall apart, as Thompson is one of two five star recruits, along with the aforementioned McCarthy.
- Word came out yesterday that Arik Armstead would decided today where he’d attend, which now with the departure of Lupoi, puts Cal’s bid for Armstead on life support. Not only did Pac-12 Officials determine that his brother Armond Armstead would have to sit out 2012 if he joined Arik in Berekely, but without Lupoi to coach Armstead on the defensive-line, there’s all the more reason for the Armstead brothers to seriously consider Auburn. There, they’ll be able to play together immediately, while avoiding the distraction of a departed Lupoi. Arik Armstead is already enrolled at Cal, Notre Dame and Auburn, and only becomes bound to one of the three schools once he attends a class.
- In addition to Armstead, Lupoi’s departure wrecks the chances that Cal pulls in Darius Hamilton, who told our coleaque Shaan Franchi last night that he was completely even in his selection process, between Cal, Rutgers and Florida. Have to imagine that the power swings back to Rutgers, a school that most have felt Hamilton has been a silent commit to all along.
- We spoke this morning about D.J. Foster and how he had a three team race between USC, Cal and Arizona State. Without Lupoi on the recruiting trail, you have to think that Cal gets pushed out a bit, especially with recruiting expert Greg Biggins maintaining that Arizona State has always been the school to overcome, given Foster’s home being just minutes from the Tempe campus.
- Another Cal recruit that may look towards Seattle is Cedric Dozier, an athlete from Lakewood, Washington. Lupoi sealed the deal on Dozier back in October, but given Dozier’s proximity to Seattle, you’d expect that Lupoi will lean heavily on Dozier as one of the top recruits he’d try to steal back from himself and Berkeley.
- Lastly, don’t expect the Bears to lose Bryce Treggs. Treggs, an elite receiver out of St. John Bosco, has been a devout Bear since he committed back in July. He’s arguably the ring leader of Lupoi’s brainchild, the #CalGang, and has been Cal’s biggest committed recruiter. He’ll be on the offensive to keep many of the Cal Gang intact, as offensively, the Bears shouldn’t feel as strong of a fallout.