College Football Future: Top 5 PAC-12 recruits for 2020

At one point over the last three months, it appeared that the PAC-12 would be the conference with the least chance of football being played due to the coronavirus pandemic. With just 77 days until the start of the College Football season, it looks like we may well see “After Dark” football after all. To celebrate, the latest “College Football Future” dives into the Top 5 Pac-12 recruits for 2020.

Justin Flowe - LB - Oregon

top 5 pac-12 recruits
Photo Credit: David Chisholm/1550 Sports
  • High School: Upland; Upland, CA
  • National Ranking: 6
  • Positional Ranking: 1
  • Height: 6'2
  • Weight: 225lbs

Oregon have had comfortably the best recruiting class in the Pac-12 in 2020. Only Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia have had more 5* recruits in this cycle, and their trio of top ranked recruits is spear headed by Justin Flowe.

Flowe makes our list of the Top 5 Pac-12 recruits as the best linebacker in the nation coming out of high school. He turned down offers from notable heavy hitters like Alabama and Clemson. 

“Heavy hitters” is an appropriate term for Flowe. He has perfect size and weight, combined with good speed, to be a dominant force at the college level. 

His best football comes in getting into the opposition backfield, registering 30 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and five forced fumbles prior to his senior season at Upland.

Despite his impressive statistics as a pass rusher, he is also equally adept in coverage six pass break ups and an interception during the same time period. Throw in a total 311 tackles over three seasons and you get the idea of what Flowe brings to the table.

When you combine Flowe with Noah Sewell and Jackson LaDuke, the Ducks have a solid linebacking core for the next three years as they retool for another run at the Pac-12 Championship.

What he says:

“They feel like I can come in and make an instant impact. I’m just going to go in and be ready to work. I’m going to play hard.”

What they say:

“Noah Sewell, Justin Flowe, Jackson LaDuke. You’re looking at three elite guys. I’ve never been around a caliber of linebacking class like that. Incredible group of men, young men. They are intense competitors, great teammates, great leaders. They’re all physical. They’re explosive, instinctive. I mean, these guys are game changers. Again, as excited as can be that they’re with us.” – Mario Cristobal

Sav'ell Smalls - DE - Washington

Photo Credit: The Athletic
  • High School: Kennedy Catholic; Burien, WA
  • National Ranking: 29
  • Positional Ranking: 3
  • Height: 6'4
  • Weight: 244lbs

A Washington native, Sav’ell Smalls received offers from Alabama and Auburn in the SEC before deciding to stay at home and play for the Huskies. Smalls is a huge get for Washington and is their only 5* recruit in the second best PAC-12 class for 2020.

Smalls makes our Top 5 Pac-12 recruits as a pass rushing phenom who uses his quickness to win at the line of scrimmage.

He could conceivably play two positions for the Huskies. Smalls is listed as a weak side defensive end by 247 Sports, however he could make an impact either as a traditional defensive end or as a pass rushing outside linebacker. Although he is just starting out his college football career, that versatility will make him a valued commodity in the NFL in years to come.

Smalls is coming off a 12-1 season with Kennedy Catholic but showed his resilience and ability best in a difficult season at Garfield High School in 2018. Depsite a 3-7 record, Smalls accounted for 21 tackles for loss and seven sacks on his way to the Defensive MVP of the Metro League Moutain Division.

What he says:

“I want to see the field right away. I am going to work hard. I will handle business here. I never want to sit on the bench — I have never sat on the bench in any part of my life. I hope to make a big impact on the city.”

What they say:

“We knew Sav’ell was a high-academic, very smart, big-time football player, who we knew was going to be a great teammate in our locker room. We really felt like he fit this program to a T. Again, credit to our coaching staff, to just keep pounding away. We’re happy he signed with the Dawgs.” – Jimmy Lake

Gary Bryant Jr. - WR - USC

top 5 pac-12 recruits
Photo Credit: Terry Pierson (THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE/SCNG)
  • High School: Centennial; Corona, CA
  • National Ranking: 45
  • Positional Ranking: 7
  • Height: 5'10
  • Weight: 164lbs

USC’s 2020 recruiting class has received very little fanfare, and it is no wonder. Although they looked primed for success in the PAC-12 this year behind starting quarterback Kedon Slovis, the class ranks just 10th in the conference.

The bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming class is one of the Top 5 Pac-12 recruits for 2020, wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr.. 

Bryant comes out of Centennial, where new USC teammates Drake Jackson, Jayden Williams and Tuasivia Nomura also played their trade, with some impressive receiving statistics.

Over the past three years he has racked up 2,902 receiving yards, finally breaking the 1000 yard season marker in his senior season. More impressively, that yardage has been accumulated at a rate of 19.87 yards per reception. Bryant Jr. had double digit touchdown seasons in both his junior and senior campaigns at Centennial.

As alluded to in Clay Helton’s post signing day media calls, Bryant’s biggest asset is his speed and quickness although his route running and catch ability shouldn’t be overlooked.

With a stacked USC receiver room for competition, Byrant’s immediate contribution to the Trojans is likely to come on special teams. He returned two punts for 115 yards and two touchdowns in 2019.

What he says:

“I love the program. I love that Coach Helton stayed. They throw the ball most in the PAC 12.”

What they say:

“There’s fast and then there’s Gary. He’s a one on one matchup nightmare because of his speed. He also brings kick return ability.” – Clay Helton

Clark Phillips III - CB - Utah

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
  • High School: La Habra; La Habra, CA
  • National Ranking: 50
  • Positional Ranking: 5
  • Height: 5'10
  • Weight: 178lbs

The Utah Utes were one of the stories of the 2019 College Football season. Not only were they entertaining on offense with Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss but defensively they were brutal. They ranked in the Top 25 for most defensive metrics, including allowing the sixth least yards per completion.

Unfortunately for the Utes, they have lost a ton of defensive talent to the NFL Draft. Fortunately, they replace at least some of it with one of the Top 5 Pac-12 recruits in Clark Phillips III.

Not only is Phillips one of the Top 5 Pac-12 recruits but he’s also a Top 50 prospect in the nation as well as the fifth best cornerback in the 2020 class.

At 5’10, Phillips may not have the ideal size that many coaches covet in cornerbacks but he more than makes up for his lack of size with ball skills and a tenacity to his game.

His catch ability is well evidenced by playing both sides of the ball during his high school career at La Habra.

Through three seasons he has 13 interceptions and 32 pass break ups on defense, with another 84 catches for 1645 yards on offense.

With so much talent departed from the Utes secondary at the end of 2019, you can expect Clark Phillips III to make an instant impact as a Day One starter.

What he says:

“I really just wanted to find the best place for me. It’s not about the publicity or fame or anything like that. It’s been about deciding where I wanted to spend the next three to four years, which is the goal to graduate in two and a half years like Jaylon Johnson, who is a great Ute and going to the NFL.”

What they say:

“He’s the whole package corner-wise. He’s got speed, quickness, great ball skills. His hips are fluid. He’s ultra-competitive. He’s got the personality. There’s certain personality that those elite corners have and he’s got it.” – Kyle Whittingham

Myles Hinton - OT - Stanford

Photo Credit: Go Mighty Card
  • High School: Greater Atlanta Christian; Norcross, GA
  • National Ranking: 72
  • Positional Ranking: 6
  • Height: 6'6
  • Weight: 308lbs

If you think the surname of the final player in our Top 5 Pac-12 recruits for 2020 is familiar, you’d be right. Sporting excellence runs in the Hinton family and with Myles Hinton, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

His father, Chris Hinton was a standout offensive lineman at Northwestern and was the fourth overall pick of the 1983 NFL Draft. His brother, Chris Hinton, was 31st ranked player in the 2019 recruiting class, committing to Michigan. Away from the football field, his mother Mya was a basketball star at Northwestern.

Thankfully for Myles Hinton, he has broad shoulders to carry the weight of family responsibility. Very broad shoulders. At 6’6 and 308lbs, he already has the size to play the tackle position at the next level before he’s even taken a college snap.

Despite predominantly playing left tackle at Greater Atlanta Christian, Hinton will more likely provide an instant impact in 2020 at the right tackle before replacing Walker Little at left tackle when he leaves for the NFL Draft.

Using a combination of size, strength, and surprising athleticism, Hinton will provide solid pass protection for Davis Mills as the Cardinals look to bounce back from a lacklustre 2019.

What he says:

“The deciding factor was just a feeling. I went to visit this past fall, and I felt like I needed to be there.”

What they say:

“He is big, he is physical, but most importantly, he’s got great feet. I watched him play basketball two years ago. And to see a guy with that size move on a basketball court with that quickness and explosion – jumping for rebounds, starting a fast break – you can see that athleticism.” – David Shaw

Mock Draft

OLIVER HODGKINSON

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER

OLIVER HODGKINSON IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. HE ALSO WRITES ON THE NFL FOR THE PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK. YOU CAN HEAR HIS OPINIONS ON ALL THINGS COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.

You can check out a full Pac-12 conference preview, featuring former USC Trojan Jake Olson, on the College Chaps Podcast right here.