The Craziness of UCLA Football Recruiting

With Jim Mora obviously putting a huge priority on recruiting -- and the new members of his staff -- and so much uncertain in terms of scholarships and prospects, it's a crazy time for UCLA football recruiting. Here's a rundown to help you get your mind around it...

UCLA football recruiting is, obviously, a bit crazy right now.

New Head Coach Jim Mora hasn't filled out his staff completely, and there are some holdovers from Rick Neuheisel's staff still working and recruiting. UCLA received a waiver from the NCAA for all of these coaches to be able to be designated to recruit. Then there is at least one assistant hire, Steve Broussard, that won't join the staff until Arizona State plays in its bowl game December 22nd. And while it hasn't yet been inked, the plan is for ASU offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to join the staff, and he wont' do so either until after the 22nd.

Throw in the uncertainty with UCLA's recruits, those verbally committed, the ones UCLA had been pursuing and the ones they are going to now pursue, and there is definitely some craziness.

It will undoubtedly sort it ltself out over the next month or so, but it's clearly difficult to get a handle on the situation completely.

The scholarship situation alone is one to make your head spin.

By recent count, UCLA currently has 18 scholarships to give to the 2012 class. But if you throw in Xavier Su'a-Filo, the former UCLA offensive lineman who intends to return to UCLA after the completion of his Mormon mission, it only has 17 to give.

That's a bit awkward since It currently has 18 verbal commitments.

Then, obviously, there are more recruits UCLA is pursuing.

So something has to give.

More than likely IUCLA will get more scholarships back from transfer and medical redshirts, while there will probably be some 2012 verbal commitments that won't qualify and others that probably will not ultimately come to UCLA (either by choice or by the new staff discouraging them from coming).

At this point, then, there is no way to estimate just how many scholarships UCLA will have, and it'd be just as foolish to try to guess how many they have left to give.

It's a good bet, however, that UCLA will make room for any elite prospect who wants to jump in the boat.

If you look at UCLA's projected roster, UCLA's biggest needs are pretty clear, with wide receiver probably being at the top of the list. UCLA's defensive backs are on the older side also, so stocking up there should be a priority. Of course, offensive line is always a need. UCLA looks surprisingly solid on the DL, but you can't ever pass up talented defensive linemen. UCLA should bring in at least one quarterback and a tailback.

With receiver being a priority, it will be interesting to see how Mazzone and his pass-happy offense will appeal to receiver recruits.

We have heard that not only has Mora been working the phones in recruiting, but he's now on the road. He and current assistant Angus McClure are in Northern California today, having in-home visits with Steven Moore, the OL from Elk Grove; Marcus Rios, the Consumnes cornerback; and the #1 recruit in the country, lineman Arik Armstead of Pleasant Grove.

Armstead's interest in UCLA, from what we've heard, has now perked up.

We've also heard Mora and McClure will also see the #1 safety in the nation, Shaquille Thompson, and Sheldon defensive end Nate Iese.

UCLA and Mora are now showing strong interest in Rocklin Whitney tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, a USC commitment, who is reciprocating the interest.

While in the area, too, Mora will have an in-home visit with UCLA-committed JC defensive end Morgan Breslin. from Pleasant Hill Diablo Valley JC.

Locally, in SoCal, UCLA now has new OL coach Adrian Klemm and defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin heading up the recruiting. Klemm and Martin have connections and have developed bonds with many elite SoCal prospects. Klemm had established a relationship with Encino Crespi's Jordan Simmons, who is committed to USC, and the word is that Klemm is now pursuing him. According to sources, Martin, a former defensive back at Pasadena Muir, is going strongly after current Muir cornerback prospect Kevon Seymour.

Martin also goes back a long way with the father of Upland receiver Kenny Lawler. One of the main reasons Lawler was interested in Washington was the connection to Martin, being UW's defensive backs coach. Here's a recruiting update on Lawler from today.

From what we've heard, the first recruiting call that Mora made after passing his NCAA recruiting certification was to Ellis McCarthy, the elite defensive tackle from Monrovia. McCarthy has always been looking for an excuse to come to UCLA despite its recent mediocrity, but now he might have a reason: Ellis' father, Ed McCarthy, and Martin have been friends since junior high school. Apparently, the phone conversation with Mora, too, went very well. USC and Cal were thought to be the teams to beat previously for McCarthy, but UCLA has a chance to make a legitmate run at him. McCarthy will be one of the recruits that Mora will host on campus Saturday (We'll try to put together another accurate list of the visitors today).

As we reported, Arizona's D.J. Foster, the #1 running back in the west, has a relationship with Broussard, and sources in Arizona believe that Foster will follow Broussard to UCLA. We know that UCLA is now very much a factor in his recruitment.

Mora has retained defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield, and he's the key recruiter for some UCLA commitments: OL Hiva Lutui, perhaps UCLA's most highly-rated prospect; Isaiah Folasa, the OL from Corona Santiago; and running back Steven Lakalaka, athlete Psalm Wooching, and kicker Ka'imi Fairbarn from Hawaii. It's thought that Breckterfield is a key element in retaining Lutui. Breckterfield is also the lead on many other Hawaiian prospects UCLA has been targeting, including defensive end DeForest Buckner and defensive end/tight end Luke Kaumatule, who are Lakalaka's teammates. The Hawaiians are expected to visit UCLA the weekend of January 15th/16th.

It's believe that once Klemm, who has a reputation as an excellent recruiter, begins to help recruit the likes of Armstead and Lutui it could definitely enhance UCLA's chances.

UCLA is trying to get in as much recruiting and permissible contacts with recruits before the Dead Period, which begins Sunday, December 19th, and goes thru January 3rd.

Mora will almost certainly have fleshed out his staff more when recruiting resumes after the Dead Period, and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone will then have finished his duties with Arizona State and be available.

It's believed, too, that Mora could be waiting until the end of the NFL season to fill out some of his defensive staff. The NFL regular season ends on Sunday, January 1st. Obviously, though, the NFL playoffs continue through January so if Mora did dip into the NFL well to fill out the staff it might be delayed a bit. With a DL coach and a defensive backs coach already on board, however, he might only be looking to hire a linebacker coach (and perhaps another secondary coach?) Of course, there is the defensive coordinator position, but Mora, being a defensive specialist, will almost certainly be able to sell recruits on his brand of defense and/or tell recruits who he has slated to be the defensive coordinator. He probably won't really have to get into that kind of detail until after the Dead Period, so it will be interesting to see if the defensive staff is completed by then.

UCLA will be shooting to conduct a considerable amount of official visits in January, with one big visit weekend already slated for the 15th/16th. We've heard from sources that Mora expects to have his staff completely in place by then.

So, the recruiting craziness is just beginning, with the next month and a half certainly being among the craziest -- and most exciting -- for UCLA football recruiting in recent memory.

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