UCLA Prospects at The Opening

We break down each UCLA prospect who participated in Nike's "The Opening" last week, including defensive end DeForest Buckner, athlete Davonte Neal and receiver Kenny Lawler...

One of the most talent-laden camps ever saw elite prospects from all over the country trek to the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, for The Opening, presented by Nike Football.

Some of the top recruits in the 2012 class, from as far East as New York, as far South as Florida, as well as from Georgia and Texas, made their way to the Northwest.

There were also a number of top prospects from the West Coast, including some prospects that UCLA is heavily recruiting, and one that has given the Bruins a commit.

Here is a look at the top prospects that the Bruin staff is recruiting that attended The Opening.

Compton (Calif.) Dominguez CB Brandon Beaver. Beaver has been a long time target of the UCLA coaches- his first offer came from UCLA- but Washington has made a big push. It was the first major camp the four-star cornerback has participated in after nursing a wrist injury all spring. Beaver was solid in the drills on Thursday at the Nike Camp and was rarely tested in the secondary. He has good backpedal quickness and nice, smooth hips.

Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou DE DeForest Buckner. One of the most physically impressive kids there, Buckner still has room to grow, still a bit slight with his 6-7 frame. But he impressed, earning all-defensive line honors. Buckner is cat-quick off the line of scrimmage and does a good job getting past the tackles with spin moves. He's also adept at getting out of the grasp of the tackles. Another 20-30 pounds on Buckner and you've got the makings of an end who looks like a first-day pick. Buckner, who figures to move into the Scout 300 when it's are updated, said UCLA, Oregon and Cal were his top three.

Gardena (Calif.) Serra CB Raymond Ford. The lone Bruin commit at The Opening, it was a year ago in Beaverton we first saw Ford, playing for Serra. At that time, he showed the corner skills college coaches love, great footwork, great backpedal and closing speed and quick hands. He also showed some attributes that frustrate coaches, at times going half-speed and getting frustrated when Serra trailed. Fast forward a year and Ford looked like a different person. Physically, he's still very slight- he was the lightest player in the camp when they weighed them in at the SPARQ training- but then he tested very well, just missing the SPARQ championship round. In the drills and then in the competition, Ford kicked it up a notch, being one of the only corners who could stay with and lock up Offensive MVP Bryce Treggs. More importantly, he played at a high level all weekend, even when his Super Bad team trailed consistently in the championship round. The biggest concern with Ford is his size, but he played much, much bigger and with much more punch than we've seen from him over the last year.

Puyallup (Wash.) OG Joshua Garnett. The five-star guard, ranked number one at his position nationally, had a good day in the SPARQ testing, showing the agility and athleticism you want to see in a lineman. During the Nike Camp on Thursday, he was again one of the top performers. When they went to pads on Friday, he struggled a bit at tackle, particularly with the quicker defensive ends. But when he moved inside to guard, he showed why he's so highly regarded, not losing a one-on-one and playing with real good pad level and leverage against the defensive tackles. Garnett is a natural knee-bender and plays really low, allowing him to fire off the ball. The Bruins are in his top 11 and he's planning on an unofficial visit this summer.

Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou DE Luke Kaumatule- Like his teammate Buckner, Kaumatule still has a frame that could easily add 30-40 pounds in college. He's not as quick off the ball as Buckner, but he's more technically sound, doing a good job disengaging from offensive linemen and playing low. His get-off is still pretty good and he does a good job using his hands to ward off linemen. Kaumatule said that UCLA, Cal and Stanford were standing out for him.

Upland (Calif.) WR Kenny Lawler. The Arizona State commit, who has a UCLA offer, was wearing a "Bruin Den" shirt for much of the weekend. Lawler has made it no secret that UCLA is very much in the mix for him and that his commitment to the Sun Devils is very soft. In

Kenny Lawler in his Den t-shirt.
the competition, Lawler showed some of the great hands that he's been known for and above-average speed. But his route-running is sketchy at times, and he's inconsistent in his routes, pinching them off too soon and not always going all out. When Lawler wants to, he's as good as any receiver in the region. He just needs to be consistent.

Monrovia (Calif.) DT Ellis McCarthy. The West's top defensive tackle named a top five that didn't include UCLA but he also said that he took an unofficial visit to Westwood and it went well and he's not eliminated anyone. On Friday, the first day in pads, he didn't participate, nursing an ankle injury, but when he returned on Saturday, he showed why he's a five-star prospect. His quickness and strength off the ball are remarkable and he is a load to block for guards and centers. With the defensive linemen not able to bull rush, McCarthy showed some good technique in getting past offensive linemen.

Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral ATH Davonte' Neal. Neal has done an outstanding job of keeping things close to the vest in his recruitment, rarely ever naming any schools, let alone a leader. But on the field, he let everything out, playing primarily defensive back during the 7ON and then receiver during the Nike Camp. Neal has great burst and excellent hands as a receiver and looked even better on defense, breaking on the ball extremely well and locking down his receiver. He has excellent ball skills and any ball in the air he thinks is his. He's one of the premier athletes in the West in this class. And we're not branding him an athlete because it's uncertain which side of the ball he could play on; he could flourish on either side.

Encino (Calif.) Crespi OG Jordan Simmons. While UCLA is rarely mentioned with Simmons, they're still trying, hoping their success at Crespi in years past gives them somewhat of a chance. Simmons was hot and cold at times, doing well in one drill, then struggling in another. Quicker defensive tackles gave him trouble; he often times plays too high. But against the bigger and burlier defensive tackles, who don't have major quickness, he had much greater success. Simmons weighed in at 330 but looks like he's in much better shape than when we've seen him at other times. While Simmons plays right tackle for the Celts, he's most likely going to end up inside as a guard in college.

Atwater (Calif.) Buhach Colony DT Aziz Shittu. The five-star from Northern California listed UCLA in his final eight and may make an official visit to Westwood in the fall. Like Simmons, Shittu was hot and cold, struggling greatly the first day in pads, showing noticeable frustration in losing several one-on-ones, but came back stronger on Day Two. Shittu still could use some more weight to be a tackle in college; right now he's more likely to end up as an end at the next level.

Long Beach (Calif.) Poly WR Richard Smith. Another Arizona State commit, Smith is a smaller receiver but he absolutely flies. Like many small receivers, he makes up for it with his speed and precise route running and Smith gets serious separation, and does a great job in getting open. Smith said that UCLA is still a school he's considering despite his verbal to the Sun Devils.

Canoga Park (Calif.) WR Randy Uzoma. Much like UCLA freshman Devin Lucien, who turned a big spring into a big senior season, Uzoma is doing the same, having a strong spring and positioning him for a money senior year. Uzoma isn't as polished as Lucien was, but is faster, very fast. He's a natural 4.4 guy and showed he's not just about straight-ahead speed. He has very soft hands and, like Smith, gets good separation. He was the lone Californian to contribute to Alpha Talon's championship run. With a few mid-major offers, expect Uzoma, who comes from a program not really known for college recruits, to generate some BCS offers with what should be a big senior year.

Inglewood (Calif.) WR Derrick Woods. While some think that Woods is destined for the safety position, and it's not out of the realm of possibility, he played mostly receiver this weekend. His team's quarterback play was sketchy, but Woods was one of the lone bright spots. He's a good athlete, with good burst and very good hands and the willingness to get the ball in traffic. You could visibly see frustration on his part with his team's quarterback play, but as it improved, he kicked his effort into gear. While Woods has a UCLA offer, he's rarely mentioning them, but the Bruins are still trying.


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