But, really, let's be candid: Whatever list we release now is pretty irrelevant. How UCLA does in recruiting on Signing Day 2012 is completely dependent on how UCLA does in its 2011 season. Whatever list of names we put out now is probably going to be drastically different than one next February 2012 – because either one of two scenarios will happen: 1) UCLA has an unsuccessful season, Rick Neuheisel probably loses his job and 2012 recruiting gets a boost from the new head coach, albeit very late in the recruiting season, or 2) Neuheisel has a successful 2011 season, recruits get inspired and jump on board and the list of names has changed almost entirely from what we released in February 2011.
If you want to look at it from an optimistic perspective, both are win-win recruiting scenarios, right? Even if scenario #1 might require a considerable process of pain during the season for Bruin fans, it still more than likely would result in an improved recruiting landscape for UCLA with the 2012 class than it is currently experiencing. And, of course, scenario #2 would be ideal (well, for most Bruin fans who want to see Neuheisel succeed) since, first and foremost, a successful 2011 season is the priority.
Last year at about this time, and throughout the spring, summer and fall, we asserted that 2011 recruits were in wait-and-see mode on UCLA, wanting to wait until the 2010 season to help them make their decision over the UCLA program. Well, we saw what an unsuccessful 2010 season did to the recruiting class. UCLA plainly lost a good amount of recruits you could easily assert it would have gotten had it been successful on the field in 2010. You could say, then, that 2012 recruits are in a very heightened level of wait-and-see mode with UCLA over the 2011 season.
As we've asserted before, if UCLA fans want to put a good spin on the unsuccessful 2010 season, here you go: If UCLA is going to be successful under Neuheisel, it was a season that had to happen, to lead to a purging of an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator that to be candid (again), weren't going to help UCLA win over the long term. We certainly have no idea if the new offensive coordinator, Mike Johnson, or the new defensive coordinator, Jim Tresey, will be an improvement, but we know that it was highly likely the last set wasn't going to get it done. We've said before that, if there was a time in terms of recruiting for this to happen, the 2011 class for UCLA was perhaps optimal. Neuheisel had sold recruits in the last few recruiting classes on the program's potential, and essentially loaded up with top ten national recruiting classes in doing it. The 2011 class was, then, always going to be a small one, without many rides to give, and if you look at UCLA's projected depth chart for the next couple of years, barring transfers, it looks pretty deep and talented.
UCLA will have anywhere from 15-18 scholarships to give in the 2012 class, and they have two commits so far, both on offense.
Here is a look at the realistic targets for UCLA in the class of 2012.
UCLA would like to take a quarterback in this class, but that may be tough with the prospect of Brett Hundley being a year ahead of the 2012 class quarterback, and their frankly is not a Hundley like talent in this class, and certainly not one that UCLA is recruiting. They've offered a few quarterbacks, but only three from California, and they all committed elsewhere (where the traffic isn't as great). They've also put offers out to a couple of national prospects. Then there is Jerry Neuheisel, who is greyshirting and will enroll in time for spring ball in 2012.
Devin Fuller, 6-0, 185, Old Tappan (N.J.). Fuller got one of his first offers from UCLA, in fact, he was the first quarterback UCLA in offered in the 2012 class. Now he's got nearly 30 offers that span the country. UCLA went to see him throw this spring, but he seems to be focusing on mostly Midwest and Eastern schools at this point. There is also the question if quarterback is his best position, projection-wise, in college. Offered.
Marc Evans, 6-3, 205, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. Evans will be camping at UCLA this summer in hopes of landing an offer from his favorite school. Evans would likely commit if offered, and he would be a nice passer to add to the mix. He comes from a good program, has good size and good mobility and is a winner.
Malik Watson, 6-2, 185, Pittsburg (Calif.). UCLA watched him throw this spring but will likely need him to come to camp to get a better look at home. He's not as experienced as some other quarterbacks, starting only from the midway point of last season, but he's got a lot of upside.
Mike Baker, 6-3, 195, Fresno (Calif.) Central. Baker has good size and a good arm, albeit a elongated throwing motion, but he's a guy who's best football is still ahead of him. He'll be camping at UCLA this summer as well and looking for his first offer.
Other Quarterbacks to watch:
Jameis Winston, 6-4, 190, Hueytown (Ala.)- Offered
Tommy Armstrong, 6-2, 205, Cibolo (Texas) Steele- Offered
Jeff Lockie, 6-2, 185, Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista
Brendan Keeney, 6-3, 215, Granite Bay (Calif.)
Myles Carr, 6-2, 205, Arcadia (Calif.)
UCLA signed one running back in 2011 and has commitments from two backs in this year's class, though one, Wooching, will likely play F-Back, while Lakalaka is more of the runner. But they've offered some others out West, in what may be one of the shallowest running back pools in recent memory.
Steven Lakalaka, 5-11, 185, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou. COMMITTED. Lakalaka was the first verbal to the Bruins, committing in the middle of May after Inoke Breckterfield made his way to the Islands. Lakalaka comes from one of the top programs on the Islands and is a good compact back. He's also teammates with a couple of other UCLA targets in DeForest Buckner and Luke Kaumatule and the hope is they can also land those two. Offered
Psalm Wooching, 6-3, 215, Kailua Kona (Hawaii) Kealakehe. COMMITTED. Wooching will likely end up playing the F-Back position for UCLA, but he could also play outside linebacker. He had a good junior year, albeit against a lower level of competition compared to Lakalaka. Offered
Byron Marshall, 5-11, 185, San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian. UCLA gave Marshall an offer not too long ago and he's the best back in the West in the class of 2012, but he's got a plum selection of schools. The feeling is that he won't leave the Bay Area, with offers from Cal and Stanford, and if he does, it will be to Arizona State, where his older brother, Cameron, is a running back. Still, UCLA will keep trying. Offered
Keivarie Russell, 5-11, 170, Everett (Wash.) Mariner. The top skill prospect in the Pacific Northwest, Russell has offers from nearly all of the Pac-12 plus a number of national offers. The feeling is that he'll stay in the Northwest, but if he leaves, Cal and Stanford are possible destinations. Offered.
D.J. Foster, 6-0, 185, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro. The top back in Arizona, Foster has a who's who of offers, and UCLA is one of them. He's mentioned them as a school of interest, and UCLA had decent success landing a skill player from Arizona a year ago, but they'll have work to do to get him. Offered.
Davien Payne, 6-0, 212, Perris (Calif.) Citrus Hill. One of the top backs in the Southland, Payne got an early offer from the Bruins, but he likes Washington and Boise State more right now, and UCLA is running third. Offered.
Robert Lewis, 5-8, 170, South Gate (Calif.) South East. A commit to SMU, Lewis has started to rack up offers from around the country, as a running back and as a slot receiver. UCLA is a school he's long been interested in, though, and if they offered, could catapult themselves right into the mix for him. He was the RB MVP of the Stanford NFTC. Offered.
Other Running Backs to watch:
Barry Sanders, 5-9, 185, Heritage (Okla.).- Offered
Jeffrey Coprich, 5-9, 195, Stevenson Ranch (Calif.) West Ranch
Shaun Wick, 5-11, 190, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
It's a good receiver class, and UCLA only signed one last year in Devin Lucien, so they need to get three or so in this class. The loss of Paul Richardson hurt their depth and they still haven't gotten great production out of the receiver position for some time, so a gamebreaker would be ideal. This is one of those key positions where UCLA's offense this fall will go a long way in determining who might sign. A year ago, they lost Brandin Cooks after he saw the Pistol and didn't think he was a good fit. So Johnson's offense this fall will need to show some life, particularly in the passing game, to really woo some top talent.
Bryce Treggs, 5-11, 175, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. Treggs is the #2 receiver in the West but is one of the more polished pass-catchers around. UCLA offered him early on and they're in his top five, but his father Brian is a former all-time receiving leader at Cal and the Bears are the likely pick for him. Still, Treggs is giving UCLA a chance. Offered
Gabriel Marks, 5-11, 175, Venice (Calif.). SMU made a big impression on Marks, who could also play cornerback, but the feeling is the farther away from his unofficial he gets, especially without committing, the better UCLA's chances are. And UCLA was his favorite school growing up and it will be tough for him to leave home. Like Lucien, he'll look at all of his options around the country, but the feeling is that he's still UCLA's to lose. Offered.
Davonte Neal, 5-9, 185, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral. The top athlete in Arizona, Neal, like Foster, has a who's who of offers, and UCLA is one of them. He's mentioned them as a school of interest, but with his list of schools, UCLA will have to do a lot of work for him. Offered.
Kori Whitfield, 6-3, 195, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. Whitfield, despite not mentioning UCLA in an interview earlier this week, is still very much considering the Bruins, and UCLA is one of the schools most heavily involved. There are plenty of Loyola connections for him, with two former teammates already on the team and another teammate, Jerry Neuheisel, greyshirting. Stanford, should they offer, will likely have a leg up, with his father Bob being an all-American there, but they have yet to. He's looking at all of his options now. Offered.
Jaydon Mickens, 5-11, 180, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey. A commit to USC, Mickens is keeping his options open and Mike Johnson has been by Dorsey and had Mickens on campus for an unofficial visit. The Bruins have yet to offer, but there is mutual interest between the two parties.
Darius Powe, 6-2, 185, Lakewood (Calif.). Powe is one half of the top 1-2 punch at receiver in the Southland, though between him and Gilmore, he's the only one with an offer. He's been to UCLA for an unofficial but he's saying he's wide open right now. Offered
Malik Gilmore, 6-3, 185, Lakewood (Calif.). The other half of the 1-2 combo, Gilmore has a host of offers from around the country, and is keeping his options open, but he's made no secret that he'd like an offer from the Bruins and he's good friends with UCLA signee Torian White. Offered
Kenny Lawler, 6-3, 185, Upland (Calif.). An early commit to Arizona State, almost from the day he committed, Lawler said he's been wide open and a soft verbal to the Sun Devils. The Bruins offered him and are very much interested in him and the interest is mutual. Offered
Chris Harper, 6-0, 180, Encino (Calif.) Crespi. Playing opposite Lucien last year, Harper benefited from teams trying to take away Lucien, and had a big junior season. He's really emerged as a prospect this spring as well and could end up with a late offer from UCLA after camping with them.
Other Receivers to watch:
Derrick Woods, 6-1, 180, Inglewood (Calif.)- Offered
Trent Sewell, 6-3, 205, Bothell (Wash.)- Offered
Jordan Payton, 6-2, 195, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian- Offered
Darreus Rogers, 6-3, 195, Carson (Calif.)- Offered
Richard Smith, 5-9, 170, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly- Offered
Kenneth Walker, 6-0, 175, Richmond (Calif.) Kennedy- Offered
Jake Maulhardt, 6-6, 190, Camarillo (Calif.)
Justin Johnson, 6-2, 185, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Sean Miller, 6-3, 205, Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley
Cameron Countryman, 5-10, 175, Beverly Hills (Calif.)
Josiah Blandin, 6-3, 185, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
UCLA needs to add at least one tight end to the mix, but would like to add two, one a pass-catching tight end and one a more all-around tight end. The loss of Morrell Presley to graduation has necessitated an addition, especially with Cory Harkey graduating after this season. So UCLA will only have John Young, who's had shoulder problems, and Raymond Nelson, who will likely play as a freshman, on the roster as scholarship players from the last two classes.
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, 6-5, 250, Rocklin (Calif.) Whitney. The first tight end UCLA offered in this class, the Bruin staff did so a year ago, and they continue to make Cope-Fitzpatrick their top target at the position. He's very interested in the Bruins, having made numerous stops in Westwood the past year. He's got a host of Pac-12 offers, so UCLA will have to work on him, but they're doing well with the top tight end in the West. Cope-Fitzpatrick fits the mold of the more pass-catching oriented tight end. Offered.
Ian Taubler, 6-6, 250, Fresno (Calif.) Bullard. Taubler fits the bill of the all-around tight end- he's a tremendous blocker and has great size, but he can also get out and catch the ball and run. UCLA was one of the schools he coveted an offer from and the only school that could really compete with the Bruins would be an offer from Cal. Offered.
Taylor McNamara, 6-5, 215, San Diego (Calif.) Westview. UCLA gave McNamara an offer, but he's not doing much more than mentioning them in passing. He's got an offer sheet that is quite impressive and seems to be enamored with many other schools besides UCLA. Offered
It's quite possibly the best offensive line haul in the West, ever, at least at this juncture. There are numerous elite linemen to be had. While most of the high-end guys are rarely mentioning UCLA, there are still plenty of second-tier guys, who would have been top tier guys in any other class, who are talking about UCLA. This is another position where guys want to see what the offense is like and how the team does, before dipping their feet in the water. UCLA needs lineman, they always do. And fortunately, there is some serious depth here. But they need to pull in quite a few of these guys.
Jordan Simmons, 6-5, 335, Encino (Calif.) Crespi. The top lineman in Southern California, Simmons has offers from all over, and has rarely mentioned UCLA, other than they have offered. But if UCLA can turn things around, there is always a chance, however long it may be. Still, UCLA isn't giving up with Simmons. Offered
Ronnie Stanley, 6-7, 295, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. The top prospect in the state of Nevada, Stanley came to UCLA's Spring Game, the only school he visited unofficially during that time, and UCLA has made him a top priority and is doing well with him. They'd like to continue that throughout and Stanley is very interested in the Bruins. He may be their top tackle target in this class. Offered.
Isaac Seumalo, 6-3, 275, Corvallis (Ore.). The son of Oregon State defensive line coach Joe Seumalo, Isaac is a versatile and nasty inside lineman, who likes defense more than offense, but knows where his future is. Stanford is doing very well with him, as is, obviously, Oregon State. But UCLA is also making an impression and he'll camp in Westwood this summer. Inoke Breckterfield is recruiting him and he and the Seumalo family are close. Offered.
Lacy Westbrook, 6-5, 295, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. One of a number of Dons with a UCLA offer, Westbrook may be the best prospect of them all. A top five guard nationally, Westbrook has offers from coast-to-coast, with Auburn recently offering, but he's likely to stay in the West, where both USC and UCLA have offered. UCLA has made a good impression on him so far. Offered.
Erik Magnuson, 6-6, 275, Encinitas (Calif.) La Costa Canyon. UCLA was one of Magnuson's earlier offers, but he's gotten big on a national scale, and they're in the next tier after Michigan, Oregon and Oklahoma. Still, UCLA is hoping he plays out his recruitment rather than making an early decision. Offered.
Jeremiah Poutasi, 6-5, 300, Las Vegas (Nev.) Desert Pines. Behind Stanley in Nevada, they give the state one of their best 1-2 punch of offensive line, arguably, ever. UCLA was one of the first schools to offer Poutasi before he blew up this spring. He's also cousins with freshman defensive lineman Sam Tai and the two are extremely close. Offered.
Paul Thurston, 6-5, 290, Arvada (Colo.) West. The top lineman in Colorado and the top prospect in this class, Thurston is expected to take an unofficial visit to UCLA this month and he'd like to make his college choice this summer. His teammate, Marc Mustoe, was a longtime commit to UCLA before he signed with Colorado, so UCLA is hoping for better success this time around. Offered.
Joey O'Connor, 6-5, 285, Windsor (Colo.). Another top prospect from Colorado, O'Connor has seen his stock explode this spring, with offers coming in from all corners. UCLA is one that has made an impression on him and he's planning to visit unofficially this spring. Offered.
Travis Averill, 6-6, 280, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite. An anchor for the Friars' offensive line the past two years, Averill can play both inside and outside, but probably projects better as a guard. He looks like a tight end and could use a little more weight, but he's extremely athletic and coming from Servite, you know he's well coached. Offered.
Walker Williams, 6-7, 331, Tacoma (Wash.) Tacoma Baptist. UCLA was the first school to offer Williams, a mammoth offensive lineman. We've seen Williams quite a bit the last year, and he has reshaped his body for the better, as before, he was big, but sloppy. He's spent time in the offseason working on that and now looks much better. The question for Williams is he plays against inferior competition and hasn't necessarily dominated at that level, but he's got size that makes coaches drool and is similar to the type of linemen Wisconsin (who has offered) get. And Bob Palcic is a former Wisconsin coach. Offered.
Nathan Dean, 6-5, 275, Kirkland (Wash.) Juanita. Dean is one of the more heavily recruited linemen in the Northwest and he's made an unofficial visit to UCLA already this spring and the Bruins are a school he's considering. Offered.
Matt Cochran, 6-3, 320, Atwater (Calif.) Buhach Colony. Cochran is the most recent offer recipient, getting it on Friday morning. He's the top pure center in the West and has offers from most of the Pac-12. Alabama is a school he's interested in and will be visiting this weekend. Offered.
Brandon Fanaika, 6-3, 295, Pleasant Grove (Utah). The top lineman in Utah, Fanaika has interest on both the offensive line and defensive line. Stanford is doing well with him, but if BYU offers, they may be tough to beat. Offered.
Colby Cyburt, 6-5, 270, Mission Viejo (Calif.). UCLA is one of Cyburt's most recent offers and he's just learning more about them, but the Bruins have put their name into the ring for him. Offered.
Kyree Oliver, 6-5, 295, Brentwood (Calif.) Heritage. The younger brother of UCLA signee Will Oliver, the younger brother has flown under the radar, backing up two D-I signees a year ago. He's got an offer from Colorado but he'll be a guy that UCLA will probably watch as a senior to see how he progresses.
Grant Bays, 6-3, 285, Oceanside (Calif.). The nephew of UCLA Hall of Famer Randy Cross, Bays has offers from half the Pac-12, but UCLA is one school he's long coveted one from. He'll be camping at UCLA this weekend.
Other Offensive Linemen to watch:
Arik Armstead, 6-8, 285, Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove- Offered
Zach Banner, 6-8, 295, Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes- Offered
Josh Garnett, 6-5, 295, Puyallup (Wash.)- Offered
Kyle Murphy, 6-7, 285, San Clemente (Calif.)- Offered
Freddie Tagaloa, 6-8, 300, Richmond (Calif.) Salesian- Offered
Garrett Weinreich, 6-5, 295, Arroyo Grande (Calif.)
Kwayde Miller, 6-6, 280, Ramona (Calif.)
Gavin Andrews, 6-6, 290, Granite Bay (Calif.)
Austin Maass, 6-4, 285, Mission Viejo (Calif.)
Eduardo Middleton, 6-5, 295, Oceanside (Calif.)