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Pac-12 National Signing Day recap: USC surges late once again but don’t sleep on Stanford

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History repeated itself out West as USC once again proved to be among the elite programs when it comes to recruiting on National Signing Day. Echoing their strong surge to end the 2016 season, the Trojans added a string of high profile commitments on Wednesday to surge to yet another top five class.

As well as the Rose Bowl champions did though, they weren’t alone when it comes to putting together an impressive group of players. Stanford remained a force when it came to top-tier players, cleaning up with five-star offensive linemen while adding several future contributors all over the board. UCLA also made an impression by receiving pledges from a pair of five-stars and shook off that disastrous 2016 season to close with a top 20 class.

Even the Pacific Northwest schools did well, with Washington riding an appearance in the College Football Playoff to a top 25 class while rival Oregon managed to finish not far behind despite a wholesale staff change. So while things weren’t quite to the level of their SEC counterparts aside from a trio of California schools, it was nevertheless another strong Signing Day for the Pac-12.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 1 overall Jaelan Phillips (DE, UCLA), No. 5 overall Foster Sarell (OT, Stanford), No. 10 overall Walker Little (OT, Stanford), No. 15 overall Davis Mills (QB, Stanford), No. 20 overall Stephen Carr (RB, USC)

Top 25 classes: No. 4 USC, No. 14 Stanford, No. 19 UCLA, No. 21 Washington, No. 24 Oregon

Biggest storyline: Coffee is for closers… and USC recruiting

USC has always recruited well so it’s not exactly surprising to see them finish in the top five of the team rankings. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed by yet another incredible closing stretch for the Trojans, highlighted by the signatures of five-star tailback Stephen Carr, wideout Joseph Lewis and four-star athlete Greg JohnsonClay Helton basically mirrored his team’s season on the recruiting trail, starting out slower than expected before zooming up the rankings with an impressive amount of talent.

Biggest surprise: UCLA and Oregon pulled in quite a haul

There’s no other way of putting it but UCLA and Oregon were among the most disappointing teams in all of college football last season. Despite those on-field struggles, the two Pac-12 rivals still did a ton of work on the recruiting trail to land top 25 classes. The Bruins not only hauled in the top recruit in the country in Phillips, but also really beefed up in the trenches with some nice additions. The headlines out of Eugene have been anything but pretty for new coach Willie Taggart but the Ducks still plucked some speedy skill position talent and really got better defensively.

Don’t sleep on: Stanford, Utah

The Cardinal are a different type of recruiting machine given their academic restrictions and the fact that they have to go so far nationally but David Shaw assembled a very impressive class in 2017. Because most of the players were already in the fold, there wasn’t much buzz about Stanford on Wednesday but don’t let that fool you with five-star offensive tackles and a wealth of impact playmakers headed to the Farm. Utah’s small class size probably hurt them when it came to the team rankings but Kyle Whittingham and staff really did a nice job of filling out depth while landing a few potential freshman starters.

We’ll see about: Colorado, Arizona State, Cal

The Buffaloes best season in a decade didn’t result in a top 25 recruiting class but that is not too concerning given how well the staff in Boulder can develop players once they arrive on campus. The one concern though, might be the fact that there wasn’t as many high end secondary talent brought in as you would expect for CU. Arizona State received the best news earlier in the week when they learned Alabama transfer Blake Barnett would be eligible right away but the real question is if the 2017 class will be enough to close the rather significant gap in the Pac-12 South right away, especially on defense. Justin Wilcox did ok for Cal on such short notice but the Bears remain behind the 8-ball in the division and the league overall after Wednesday.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.