“What the heck?” Recruits react to UCLA and USC moving to Big Ten

Wyatt Becker, a sophomore at Sherman Oaks Oaks Notre Dame High with 16 college scholarship offers, said he learned the news about USC and UCLA leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten via Twitter.

“What the hell?” he said was his reaction.

High school athletic recruits from across California had similar shocked thoughts.

“I was really confused,” Simi Valley second quarterback Steele Pizzella said. “It’s surprising. I wouldn’t understand why they should go because they are in a good place, especially since Lincoln Riley is just arriving at USC and there is also something going on at UCLA.

The decision will change the recruiting landscape for USC and UCLA, as well as the other Pac-12 schools that have used Southern California as a recruiting hotbed. Without an annual visit to Los Angeles and rivalries ending as early as 2024, will the recruits still want to go to Oregon or Arizona for four years? And will the states of Michigan and Ohio, which have already begun recruiting heavily in Southern California, contribute to their newfound affinity for recruiting in the area?

“I think it’s very nice for schools from all over the country that are coming west,” Pizzella said. “That could change the perspective for future recruits. You can get the best of both worlds. I know a lot of people from California who are big fans of Midwestern coaches and teams. It could open up different avenues for recruits. Some may stick with the West, some may want a different culture shock.”

Pizzella, who has 11 scholarship offers, recently unofficially visited Michigan and the state of Michigan. He’s only 15 but he and his father Mark are trying to understand the recruitment process and the changes that are taking place.

“It’s a bit shocking, but the way things are going in college football, you have to recalibrate and adjust on the fly,” said Mark Pizzella.

Parents of California teens could face new obstacles as they travel to see their sons and daughters play against Big Ten schools. Rather than boarding a plane to Arizona, the Bay Area, or Oregon that same day, you’d have to leave on a Friday morning to get to Penn State on a Saturday afternoon, and travel costs are likely to skyrocket. The question would be, will USC and UCLA help subsidize the rising cost of travel for parents?

Female basketball players will be particularly affected by a move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, as the Pac-12 is considered a powerhouse with Stanford and Oregon among its members. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon has two players, Juju Watkins and MacKenly Randolph, who play for the USA Under-17 national team. Watkins, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2023, is being recruited by USC and would be a boon to the new conference. Randolph, a junior, is being courted by UCLA.

“As a woman, if it improves facilities and improves the quality of life, then that’s an advantage,” said Sierra Canyon girls basketball coach Alicia Komaki.

La Mirada second baseball player Aiden Aguayo announced his commitment to UCLA earlier this week. Now he’s trying to figure out who’s in the Big Ten.

“I’m pretty sure there will be a lot more travel,” he said.

One of the first schools Becker offered was Penn State. Now the school’s recruiters can tell Becker he’ll get a free trip to the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum if he becomes a Nittany Lion.

“It’s weird but cool,” Becker said of a day of amazing developments for recruits in California.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-06-30/high-school-recruits-react-ucla-usc-big-ten-pac-12 “What the heck?” Recruits react to UCLA and USC moving to Big Ten

Emma Bowman

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