Five-Star History: California checks in at No. 3
This week, Rivals.com is releasing a series looking at every high school five-star in company history dating back to 2002. Fourteen states have never produced a five-star. Following the release of the bottom 24 states on Monday and then the next 10 on Tuesday, California is the next state on the list, with the top two to be released on Thursday and Friday.
It’s important to note Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy recruits are categorized by their home state as to not give Florida a falsely inflated number.
BREAKING DOWN CALIFORNIA'S FIVE-STARS
USC (31): Su’a Cravens, Tyron Smith, Matt Kalil, Tyler Vaughns, Amon-Ra St. Brown, JT Daniels, Jordan Simmons, George Farmer, Dillon Baxter, Whitney Lewis, Chris Galippo, C.J. Gable, Jack Jones, Iman Marshall, Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, Thomas Herring, Stafon Johnson, Scott Ware, Reggie Bush, John Houston, Rasheem Green, John Smith, Marc Tyler, Allen Bradford, Olaijah Griffin, Isaac Taylor-Stuart, T.J. McDonald, Adoree’ Jackson, Jeff Schweiger, Jr., Patrick Hall
There has been a significant amount of criticism levied against USC recently, and it seems like the Trojans could be slipping with in-state recruiting since it didn’t land any of the four five-stars in the 2019 class. But the numbers speak to something else: USC still dominates recruiting elite talent in its home state.
Thirty-one of 78 five-star prospects in the Rivals era dating back to 2002 have picked the Trojans. The 2018 recruiting class was particularly fruitful for USC as it landed four of the top-five players in the state in Amon-Ra St. Brown, JT Daniels, Olaijah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart. In most years, the Trojans have owned in-state recruiting at the highest levels, although the 2019 class was a miss after they struggled on the field.
Next on the list is UCLA at nine. No other team has more than four, as Notre Dame and Stanford have landed four each in company history. That's one more than Oklahoma and Oregon as both major programs put in a tremendous amount of effort to recruit elite talent in California. Currently, there are as many uncommitted five-stars in the 2020 class in QB D.J. Uiagalelei, LB Justin Flowe, RB Kendall Milton and WR Johnny Wilson
There is a growing trend in the state of elite national powerhouses coming in and landing top recruits, whether it’s Florida with Chris Steele, Joe Ngata going to Clemson or the drama surrounding Bru McCoy last recruiting cycle when he enrolled at USC only to leave days later for Texas. Alabama has dipped in for Jonah Williams, who is expected to be one of the first offensive linemen taken in the NFL Draft, and Najee Harris, an elite running back who should get a bigger workload with the Crimson Tide this season.
Largely, though, national contenders have had limited success at the highest levels in California - although many elite recruits take visits to these schools throughout the recruiting cycle. Ohio State has signed only one five-star, same with Michigan and Tennessee. LSU has never signed a five-star from California, but it does have the commitment of five-star CB Elias Ricks.
If USC cannot find success on the field, the paradigm in California could shift - especially as No. 1 overall prospect D.J. Uiagalelei has Clemson and Oregon high on his list and other five-star recruits this cycle are taking a more national approach to their recruitment. But if things don’t change quickly at USC, the Trojans could be in the market for a big-time head coaching hire, which could intrigue prospects again in the program that has dominated five-star recruiting since 2002.
California has more five stars in company history than Texas, but remains behind the Lone Star State? That’s because there have been more busts that have come out of the state of California, in my opinion. Players like Kyle Wright, George Farmer and others were big-name players who failed to live up to expectations.
However, there is also plenty of talent that has been produced, including quarterbacks like Jimmy Clausen, Matt Barkley and Josh Rosen as well as great athletes like Adoree Jackson, JuJu Smith, D’Anthony Arnett and many others. As I’ve known for some time, most five-star California players decide to stay home, so it’s no shock to see USC and UCLA boast far and away the most five stars.
Schools like Notre Dame do a great job in the state and will continue to pull players, and powers like Alabama and especially Clemson are becoming a real threat. If USC can’t right the ship, and quickly, more and more five-stars will leave the state and the West Coast and the talent in the Pac-12 will suffer greatly.
A few of the most impressive players I’ve seen out of California, in addition to the names I’m mentioned, include Joe Mixon, DeSean Jackson and Ronald Powell. The state has been fun to follow, but for some reason not enough of the can’t-miss players end up hitting a home run in college.