The Bruins didn't really capitalize on the success of their past two seasons -- or the coaching changes at USC -- and finished with a recruiting class ranked just outside the top 25 nationally. UCLA coach Jim Mora added some key signees on defense, including No. 11 outside linebacker Dwight Williams and No. 8 inside linebacker Zach Whitely Jr., who flipped from Alabama to the Bruins. No. 23 wide receiver Austin Roberts and running back Nathan Starks were two of the most important signees on offense. The Bruins lost a few head-to-head battles with crosstown rival USC, which seemed to be energized by the hiring of former Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. But with quarterback Brett Hundley returning for his junior season, along with seven other starters on both offense and defense, UCLA looks like the team to beat in the Pac-12 South this coming season.
As if the defending Big 12 champions weren't fast enough on offense, the Bears put together a top-25 recruiting class by signing what is arguably the fastest corps of receivers in the country. Bears coach Art Briles signed four of the country's top 50 receivers from Texas: K.D. Cannon of Mount Pleasant (No. 4), Davion Hall of Texarkana (No. 4 athlete), Ishmael Zamora of Houston (No. 32) and Chris Platt of Willis (No. 44). Terence Williams of Ennis, Texas, the No. 38 running back nationally, might help ease the loss of leading rusher Lache Seastrunk, who left for the NFL draft, and juco guard Jarell Broxton might get a chance to replace All-American Cyril Richardson. The Bears signed a slew of juco transfers to help on defense, including cornerbacks Chris Sanders and Tion Wright and linebacker Grant Campbell. Only four starters are coming back on defense, and the Bears will have to replace three starters in their secondary.
Stanford coach David Shaw continues to follow the same blueprint that helped him guide the Cardinal to back-to-back BCS bowl games, loading up on blue-chip linemen in another top-15 recruiting class. Stanford's prized recruit was No. 4 defensive end Solomon Thomas of Coppell, Texas, who chose the Cardinal over UCLA and Arkansas, among other schools. The Cardinal also added No. 5 offensive tackle Casey Tucker of Chandler, Ariz., and No. 15 tackle Reilly Gibbons of Saint Petersburg, Fla. Keller Chryst of Palo Alto, Calif., the son of San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, might be Stanford's quarterback of the future. Shaw had to revamp his coaching staff after defensive coordinator Derek Mason left to become Vanderbilt's new coach. Shaw promoted outside linebackers coach Lance Anderson to coordinator and hired Peter Hansen to replace inside linebackers coach David Kotulski, who joined Mason as Vanderbilt's defensive coordinator.