2012 Recruiting Class Analysis

You have to give the new UCLA coaching staff a great deal of credit for salvaging the 2012 recruiting class in grand style. We break down the class and each individual signee...

It's hard to avoid using hyperbole when discussing UCLA's efforts in recruiting the 2012 class.

In early December UCLA's recruiting class was ranked 45th in the nation, and didn't have much potential for improving that number.

Jim Mora was hired, and if there was perhaps one thing that you might have thought would be a weakness, a Gap in Knowledge, for him it would be recruiting, since he had never really done it before.

But Mora was smart enough to retain On-Campus Recruiting Coordinator Pat Girardi and recruiting intern Matt Bernstein. They helped tremendously with the transition.

And then he went out and assembled one of the best recruiting staffs in the Pac-12. Among west coast recruiting experts, SMU's offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, and Washington's defensive back coach Demetrice Martin were among the best at recruiting in the west. Mora hired them immediately. He then added two very well accomplished recruiters in running backs coach Steve Broussard from Arizona State and wide receiver coach Eric Yarber from the Tamba Bay Buccaneers, who had earned a rep as a great recruiter with ASU. He signed up ASU offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who had some recruits on the hook, and whose offense was a powerful recruiting draw. He retained Angus McClure, who was easily the best recruiter on UCLA's previous staff. He added tight end coach Marques Tuiasosopo, defensive coordinator Lou Spanos, and special teams/linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich.

And Mora himself, from all reports, really took to recruiting. His assistants, and recruits' families, commented about how his personality lent itself to recruiting -- that he was a recruiting natural.

In about seven weeks, this staff took the recruiting class from 45th in the nation to 11th, and 2nd in the Pac-12. UCLA is the only program that had a losing record in 2011 whose recruiting class is in the national top 20 (The next closest is Texas Tech at #24). As we've maintained for 13 years, UCLA is a potential recruiting juggernaut; to an extent, it can recruit itself. But if you combine all of UCLA's recruiting advantages with a crack recruiting staff, like the one Mora assembled, you can get this type of stunning result.

Overall, the staff satisfied many needs. In December, UCLA was without a committed quarterback. That was a very grave recruiting situation, with UCLA potentially losing four quarterbacks after the 2012 season. This staff went out and signed two quarterbacks, the #3- and #31-ranked quarterback prospects in the nation. It was a particular recruiting coup, to not only get Millweard, who fits Mazzone's offense very well, but also a prospect with the potential of Fuller.

Perhaps UCLA's next biggest need offensively was at wide receiver, especially since Mazzone's offense commonly has 4 or 5 receivers in the pattern. The receiver class looked a bit skimpy there for a while, but the UCLA staff pulled out a very solid class, highlighted by getting the #15-ranked WR in the country in Payton on Signing Day.

It was an incredibly talented year for offensive linemen in the west, and given UCLA's situation coming off a fired head coach, you could say it pulled in a solid offensive line class. It also did solidly at tight end with Taubler.

It truly remains to be seen how UCLA did in recruiting at running back. In Mazzone's offense it's difficult to project exactly which one of the newly-signed recruits will end up at tailback. Perkins projects there the best, and we consider him highly under-rated. UCLA didn't, though, get a marquee running back in this class.

The defensive line recruiting has to be considered a success with UCLA getting the #2-ranked DT in the nation, Ellis McCarthy. This was coach Demetrice Martin's work, and it really took the UCLA recruiting class over the top. After McCarthy verbally committed, flipping from Cal, the UCLA recruiting class could have already been deemed a success. McCarthy has been compared to Detroit Lions' Ndamukong Suh.

Perhaps the position UCLA recruited the best was linebacker. It signed the #11 middle linebacker (Porter) and the #21 outside linebacker (Castro) in the country, while it also signed two very good athletes who probably project at linebacker in Iese and Orjioke.

UCLA had many defensive back recruits verbally committed when Mora took over, but he and his staff upgraded the talent significantly. Right now, UCLA has the #7 (Adams), #22 (Rios) and #25 (Goforth) cornerback prospects in the nation. Adams and Rios were particularly big commitments, with those two committing to Mora quickly really helping the profile and reputation of UCLA in recruiting the rest of the class.

Here's a breakdown of each player, and a very early and probably premature take on his impact in the program.


QUARTERBACK
 
Devin Fuller | Old Tappan (N.J.) Northern Valley Old Tappan
H/W: 6-1/190
Ranking:
#3 QB

Quick Take:
One of the most talented athletes in the country, with explosiveness and vision. He has the talent to be a quarterback, and he'll get his first shot there, or could be an impact wide receiver, or even a safety.


T.J. Millweard | Fort Worth (Tex.) All Saints' Episcopal
H/W: 6-5/205
Ranking:
#31 QB

Quick Take:
He jumped from ASU when OC Noel Mazzone did. A big, strong prospect with a strong arm, he fits Mazzone's system well.


RUNNING BACK

Paul Perkins | Chandler (Ariz.) High
H/W: 5-10/185
Ranking:
#85 WR

Quick Take:
Among the slot-type prospects in this class Perkins might project the best as a true tailback. He has speed and shake and had many programs on him after his senior season.


Fabian Moreau | Davie (Fla.) Western
H/W: 6-0/165
Ranking:
#122 WR

Quick Take:
A speed guy who probably projects at the slot in UCLA's new offense, but UCLA lists him as a running back, so we'll put him here. He had some late interest from Ohio State.


WIDE RECEIVER
 
Jordan Payton | Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
H/W:6-2/205
Ranking:
#15 WR

Quick Take:
His waffling and indecision on his commitment are legendary. He's a talented player -- not a burner, but good-sized and hard to handle physically. He'll have a chance at immediate playing time. Scout.com's Brandon Huffman said he could be one of the best wide receivers to come out of the west in recent years -- when he wants to be.


Javon Williams | Chandler (Ariz.)
H/W: 6-5/186
Ranking:
#53 WR

Quick Take:
Williams is a significant get for UCLA, filling the role of the big receiver in this class. He'll have to put on some weight and will probably redshirt. He was Brett Hundley's receiver in high school.


Kenny Walker | Richmond (Calif.) Kennedy
H/W: 6-0/180
Ranking:
#38 RB

Quick Take:
A former Cal commit that UCLA flipped, Walker is a great athlete who could play running back or wide receiver, slipping into the slot of Noel Mazzone's offense. He could have a chance to play next season with UCLA's thinness at receiver.

 
Randall Goforth Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
H/W: 6-0/175
Ranking:
#25 CB

Quick Take:
Goforth was the last to commit Wednesday and a signficant one. Scouts think he's under-rated, and one of the best cover corners in the west as well as a very good receiver prospect. Given UCLA's lack of depth at receiver and a need for many of them in fall, we think Goforth will plug in a receiver.


Ahmaad Harris | Suwanee (Georgia) Peachtree Ridge
H/W: 5-7/150
Ranking:
NR

Quick Take:
He took an official visit in January, but it was thought he wasn't offered a scholarship. Not much was known about Harris and still isn't, but the UCLA coaches raved about him on Signing Day, and they feel they got a slepper. He's Michael Vick's cousin.


TIGHT END

Ian Taubler | Fresno (Calif.) Bullard
H/W: 6-5/250
Ranking:
#25 TE

Quick Take:
Taubler committed to the previous staff and then re-committed to the new one. He's a big, physical player who might project as an athletic offensive lineman down the line, depending on how his body develops. UCLA is a bit thin at TE next season so he could play immediately.


OFFENSIVE LINE

Alexandru Ceachir | Santa Monica (Calif.) City College
H/W: 6-5/300
Ranking:
JC (Not ranked)

Quick Take:
Originally from Russia, Ceachir is a big, physical athlete who has only played football for a few years, and it's believed he'll be able to come in, as a JC transfer and compete to play next season. He'll enroll in spring in time for spring practice.


Carl Hulick | Anaheim (Calif.) Esperanza
H/W: 6-3/280
Ranking:
#15 C

Quick Take:
Hulick was committed to SMU and then switched when UCLA hired OL coach Adrian Klemm. He has a good motor and projects as a center, and Klemm loves him, particularly his toughness and attitude.


Lacy Westbrook | Compton (Calif.) Dominguez
H/W: 6-5/300
Ranking:
#18 OG

Quick Take:
Westbrook committed to the previous staff and remained committed through the coaching change. He has a ways to go in terms of his body, but has good quickness and feet.


Simon Goines | Keller (Tex.) Central
H/W: 6-8/295
Ranking:
#37 OT

Quick Take:
Had been committed to Missouri but UCLA OL coach Adrian Klemm flipped him. Huge and not sloppy physically, has great upside.


Colby Cyburt | Mission Viejo (Calif.) High
H/W: 6-5/270
Ranking:
#50 OT

Quick Take:
Very athletic, with very good quickness, and has great potential as a tackle. He'll just have to put on more weight and strength.


DEFENSIVE LINE

Ellis McCarthy | Monrovia (Calif.) High
H/W: 6-5/327
Ranking:
#2 DT

Quick Take:
A game-changer type, who could have the type of impact that Brian Price did at UCLA. He was tough to block at the U.S. Army game, going up against some of the best OL in the country.


Eli Ankou | Bear (Del.) Red Lion Christian Academy
H/W: 6-3/284
Ranking:
#140 DE

Quick Take:
Committed to the previous staff, but the new staff decided to hold on to him, which actually means quite a bit. He has a good frame and is already in the 280-pound range, so he projects as a defensive tackle. He'll almost certainly redshirt, given UCLA's existing depth at DT and McCarthy.


Nate Iese | Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon
H/W: 6-4/240
Ranking:
#61 DE

Quick Take:
Iese might be one of the best athletes in the 20112 class. He has the athleticism to probably play linebacker in a 3-4, but could really be devastating with his quickness playing with his hand down. He'll probably redshirt.


LINEBACKER

 
Aaron Porter | La Habra (Calif.) High
H/W: 6-2/230
Ranking:
#11 MLB

Quick Take:
Porter was a huge aspect of the class, having committed to the previous staff and then holding onto his Bruin commitment when Oklahoma was aggressively recruiting him. He projects as the heir apparent to the middle linebacker spot in a couple of years.


Jeremy Castro | Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta
H/W: 6-3/253
Ranking:
#21 OLB

Quick Take:
A defensive end/linebacker hybrid, he's quick off the ball and aggressive. He's like Iese, who could play both standing up and with his hand down, depending on the alignment.


Kenny Orjioke | Marietta (Georgia) Lassiter
H/W: 6-4/225
Ranking:
#53 OLB

Quick Take:
Perhaps has one of the biggest upsides of any prospect in the class, Orjioke is good-sized and a little bit on the skinny side at 6-4 and 225 -- and he's only 16 years old. He'll almost certainly redshirt, but the coaches are excited about where he'll be in a year.


CORNERBACK

Ishmael Adams | Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
H/W: 5-10/190
Ranking:
#7 CB

Quick Take:
A huge coup for the 2012 class, Adams was a lynchpin in it all coming together. He showed in the US Army game he can play at an elite level, and the coaches have told him to be prepared to come in and compete to play immediately.


Marcus Rios | Elk Grove (Calif.) Consumnes Oaks
H/W: 5-11/170
Ranking:
#22 CB

Quick Take:
Mora's first verbal commitment, he was key in getting the momentum of the class rolling. He has great length and is physical; he'll have to bulk up some and will probably redshirt, but has the talent to be a starter down the line.


Justin Combos | New Rochelle (NY) Iona Prep
H/W: 5-9/175
Ranking:
#133 CB

Quick Take:
The son of Diddy Combs, Justin was a key to the recruiting class, with him and his famous father helping to recruit. He's small, and projects as probably a back-up on the college level.


SAFETY

Taylor Lagace | Arcadia (Calif.) High
H/W: 6-1/200
Ranking:
#45 S

Quick Take:
Lagace is getting a bit overlooked in this class, but some experts think he's under-rated He projects as a strong safety, being a solid tackler that keeps the game in front of him well.


KICKER
 
Ka'imi Fairbairn | Honolulu (Haw.) Punahou
H/W: 6-0/1165
Ranking:
NR K

Quick Take:
He committed to the previous staff and the new staff held onto him, which was key since the placekicking job for next season is entirely up in the air. Fairbairn is reportedly very accurate within 45 yards, and that's just strength.



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