UCLA football recruiting is in a peculiar situation.
Recruits are currently in complete wait-and-see mode with UCLA; how UCLA does with the recruiting class of 2012 is completely dependent on how the Bruins do on the field in 2011. If UCLA does well in 2011, it will attract a wave of recruits that you might not even find on a current UCLA recruiting list. If it doesn't do well, you can also probably expect UCLA's recruiting list to be vastly different by next February.
Usually at this time of year, in a normal year, we can pretty much nail down a list of recruits that are clearly targets for UCLA, but this year we recognize it's a bit more difficult to do so.
So, in the spirit of relentless optimism, we put together a list of 20 prospects we recognize UCLA will be seriously involved with if it does have a successful season on the field in 2011. Again, UCLA's recruiting list will drastically change if that's the case, but these are 20 guys UCLA has already offered, should offer, and probably will offer that they already have a chance to get or, in our opinion, will have a chance to get if they do, indeed, have a successful season.
A big key for UCLA will be trying to get many of these prospects not to commit elsewhere before UCLA can prove itself on the field in fall.
For the most part, it's a strong class in California and in the West in general, so this list is primarily focused on those prospects, as we feel UCLA has the best shot at them.
Alphonso Marsh, Cornerback
Another gifted cornerback from Dominguez, Marsh teams with Brandon Beaver to give the Dons the best corner tandem in the Southland. Like the other Dons' players, he's very open to the idea of playing with his four high school teammates, and UCLA has already offered him.
Aziz Shittu, Defensive Tackle
Atwater Buhach Colony
A talented two-way lineman from the SacJoaquin Section, this defensive tackle is also a top student. Stanford is where he's leaning and he'd like to make an early commitment, but UCLA is going to get him on to campus for the Spring Game and he's mentioned them prominently in his top schools.
Bart Houston, Quarterback
Concord De La Salle
In two years as a starter for the Spartans, Houston has won two CIF State Open Division titles, and 25 straight games against the toughest schedule in the West. The 6-3, 215-pounder has a strong arm and very good mobility. Oregon State has recruited DLS strong and they and UCLA are two of Houston's early leaders and he took an unofficial visit to UCLA last weekend, and came away impressed after meeting with Mike Johnson. He's got three offers right now, but expect that list to expand in the coming weeks.
Brandon Beaver, Cornerback
Could be the top cover corner in the Southland, Beaver had a wrist injury that is keeping him out of basketball but should have him ready for the spring camp circuit. UCLA, Washington and Arizona are some of his early leaders and Oregon and USC could offer. He was on campus for an unofficial visit late last month and left impressed. He's likely UCLA's top target in the secondary.
Bryce Treggs, Receiver
Bellflower St. John Bosco
Of all the receivers in the 2012 class, Treggs is probably the most fundamentally sound, running the most crisp and precise routes and with excellent hands. Cal, where his father starred, is the early, heavy leader but Stanford, Notre Dame and UCLA are also right there in the mix and he spent some time at UCLA last month with Mike Johnson.
Damion Turpin, Defensive Tackle
One of the better defensive linemen in the Southland, Turpin has a UCLA offer and was very impressed by the Bruins Meet & Greet and spoke highly of Inoke Breckterfield, UCLA's new defensive line coach. Has the versatility to play both tackle or end.
Davien Payne, Running Back
Perris Citrus Hill
UCLA was the first school to offer the power back from the Inland Empire, who ran for nearly 2,000 yards. He was thrilled with the offer, but Boise State is his favorite school. Still, UCLA is in it for him, as he's the lone in-state running back with an offer.
Derrick Woods, Receiver
Woods is one of the more electric players in the Southland- whether it's catching passes, returning kicks or punts. Half of the Pac-10 has offered him as well as some national schools. With a good season (and a healthy dose of Shaquille Evans, who also played at Inglewood), UCLA could become heavily involved with Woods, but right now he's favoring USC and some out-of-state schools.
Ellis McCarthy, Defensive Line
The top two-way lineman in Southern California, McCarthy has offers from USC and UCLA among others, as well as Florida and could play on either side of the ball in college. He's arguably UCLA's primary defensive target, and he grew up a UCLA fan. But USC has made a strong impression with him. He's another guy who, with a big year, UCLA could snag.
Erik Magnuson, Offensive Tackle
Encinitas La Costa Canyon
UCLA jumped on Magnuson last week and in good time, as more schools have gotten involved, including Michigan and Miami this week. He does like the Bruins and wants to stay on the West Coast.
Gabriel Marks, Receiver
Tore it up last spring and summer on the camp tour, including Los Angeles NFTC MVP honors and then earned all-state honors as a defensive back, showing his versatility. Marks has long been a UCLA fan, and an offer from the Bruins would make a big impression on him and could net a commitment from Marks. He doesn't have one yet, but with some of their other receiver targets focusing elsewhere, it could just be a matter of time.
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, Tight End
Moved from Palm Desert to the Sacramento area, but college coaches didn't lost touch of him and he has a handful of Pac-10 offers. Could play tight end, defensive end or the offensive line in college. UCLA had him on campus for the Meet & Greet and put the full-court press on him. He's arguably the best jumbo athlete in the state.
Jordan Simmons, Offensive Guard
Southern California's top offensive lineman, Simmons' offer sheet spreads the country and the Pac-10, especially the two Los Angeles schools, are paying him a lot of attention. Already selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, right now, Cal and USC have to be considered the leaders for him and UCLA will definitely have their work cut out for them if they're going to try and land Simmons.
Joshua Garnett, Offensive Guard
The top prospect in the Northwest in the 2012 class, UCLA offered Garnett when he was a freshman, and he's more than lived up to that early billing. His father played at Washington, and the Huskies are definitely a player, but his father is originally from Pasadena and his dad's family is throughout Southern California. UCLA will have Garnett at their camp this summer. Expect him to be UCLA's primary out-of-state target.
Kyle Murphy, Offensive Tackle
Big and athletic offensive tackle may be the best overall prospect in Orange County in the class of 2012, and also gets it done in the classroom. Murphy has offers spanning the country, and this may be a case where UCLA's tardiness in offering a player could cost them. USC, Oregon and Cal are standing out for him right now so UCLA has some ground to make up.
Lacy Westbrook, Offensive Tackle
Another skilled offensive lineman from Southern California, Westbrook has offers from much of the Pac-12, including UCLA and USC. He attended Junior Day at USC and the Bruins' Meet & Greet, and he's talked about playing with his three Dominguez teammates in college, and all have UCLA offers.
Michael Barton, Linebacker
Concord De La Salle
Barton doesn't yet have a UCLA offer, but it could just be a matter of time, and when we spoke to him at the U.S. Army Combine, UCLA was an offer he was very much hoping to get. So if the Bruins offer, despite some other Pac-12 schools and LSU having offered, they'll be right there in the mix for him. Barton took an unofficial visit to UCLA last weekend and enjoyed his time in Westwood.
Richard Smith, Receiver
Long Beach Poly
Not the biggest guy but one of the fastest receivers in the West, Smith got an early offer from UCLA and the Bruins have been one of his top schools for some time. He's similar to former UCLA receiver Terrence Austin and they're very much a leader for him.
Scott Starr, Linebacker
One of the best linebackers in the West, Starr likes the two Los Angeles schools the most, and UCLA got a jump by offering him. USC has hinted that they'd offer if he came to their camp, but he may not wait that long, so UCLA is in a good position for him. He's a very similar player to Jordan Zumwalt.
Troy Hinds, Defensive End
Kaysville (Utah) Davis
Utah's top prospect in the 2012 class and one of the premier pass-rushing ends in the West, UCLA has offered Hinds and he's another one of their primary out-of-state targets. UCLA also has a connection with Hinds as his father, David, played running back behind a quarterback named Rick Neuheisel in the late 1970's in Arizona.
Top 20 List of Potential Prospects
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