2013 Football Recruiting So Far

The new UCLA staff had a big finish to the 2012 class, and they've started off just as strong in recruiting the class of 2013...

We know what's really important is how you finish.

But with how good UCLA has done in recruiting the 2013 class so far, how you start bears noting.

Since Jim Mora and his staff were hired, their recruiting efforts have been out-and-out phenomenal.

In just 5 weeks after being hired, they secured the #12-ranked recruiting class in the country for 2012.

This is for a program that couldn't claim at all that any recruiting success stems from its play on the field, with UCLA recently going through the worst era in its football history.

And if you thought it was a matter of a recruiting honeymoon of sorts, that it was reserved for just the 2012 class and the initial impression the staff made with that class, you'd have to look at the results so far with the 2013 class and conclude that's incorrect.

Mora and his assistants are doing at least as good a job -- if not better -- so far with the 2013 class.

Now, of course, there is a bit of honeymoon here. Recruits in the 2012 and 2013 class are buying into the pitch of Mora and staff. We saw it with Rick Neuheisel, too, when he was first hired. When the team hits the field this fall is when the rubber will truly hit the road; the success, or non-success, on the field will almost completely determine if UCLA under Mora can sustain its recruiting success.

But until then it still needs to be appreciated what this staff has already done with the 2013 class.

Let's look at the 2013 class from a few different angles.

As of right now, given the players on the roster who are supposed to return for the 2013 season, UCLA only has 11 scholarships available to give to the 2013 high school class. As we said previously, though, that number will increase. By the time we get to Signing Day 2013, you can probably expect UCLA to have about 20 scholarships available, with players leaving the program between now and then.

In terms of needs by position, we did an early analysis in February. It's essentially the same now, but some things have changed a bit with UCLA now having five commitments in the 2013 class.

Quarterback (2)-- We still project UCLA will take two quarterbacks. It has a commitment from Eddie Printz, but it will continue to look aggressively at many quarterbacks since it's a long time until Signing Day and Printz, being from Georgia, could waiver.

Offensive Line (4) -- UCLA has a good start with the commitment of Erik Bunte, one of the premier tackle prospects on the west coast. With UCLA OL Coach Adrian Klemm proving to be an ace recruiter, UCLA is doing very well with many other elite OL prospects.

Tight End (1) -- The Bruins are looking for one good man to fill its "Y" receiver spot for 2013.

Running back (2) -- It's kind of the same situation at running back as it is at QB: Keyante Green, from Georgia, is a solid pick up, but UCLA is still aggressively looking at other prospects, not only because it's looking to take two but because it's a long way between now and Signing Day, and Green isn't exactly local. This is, though, a situation where, if UCLA is successful on the field, and Green, for whatever reason, shows interest elsewhere, UCLA could upgrade, and bring in two other prospects that are superior prospects. Running back recruits, if they see success at UCLA in 2012, will also see the opportunity for immediate playing time, with UCLA's two top tailbacks, Johnathan Franklin and Malcolm Jones, both graduating in the next two years.

Wide Receiver (3-4) -- So far, no commitment at wide receiver for 2013. It's perhaps UCLA's biggest need, with Noel Mazzone's offense demanding many bodies and UCLA's depth at the position being thin. It's pretty exciting, though, to think about a UCLA offense, for the first time in a very long time, being a system in 2012 that wide receiver prospects will recognize as one where they could really flourish, and how that could boost receiver recruiting for 2013.

Defensive End (2-3) -- With UCLA going to the 3-4 as its base, it will need more d-end types than DTs. It's tough to determine exactly how deep UCLA will be at the position at this point, since it's near impossible to project how UCLA's current roster will shake out in terms of positions by this fall.

Defensive Tackle (1-2) -- Probably closer to one, actually. With the 3-4 you need just one true tackle type, but he has to be a true defensive tackle, a nose tackle.

Linebacker (2-3) -- UCLA is off to a very good start having already gotten a commitment from Deon Hollins, the #16-ranked outside linebacker nationally in the class of 2013. Again, it's a bit tough to project depth since it's difficult to determine who will fill that outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid spot in the 3-4, but there definitely is a need for more LB-type bodies, so you could see UCLA ultimately taking three.

Cornerbacks (2) -- UCLA is already halfway there, having a commitment from the #8-ranked corner in the country, Dashon Hunt. Again, it's a long ways to Signing Day, but if UCLA keeps Hunt then it can be selective in finding its second corner.

Safety (2) -- Projecting UCLA's depth chart, it looks a bit thin at safety, so this will be a considerable position of need for 2013.

Punter (1) -- It's bad timing that, without a big number of scholarships to give, UCLA will need a punter because Jeff Locke graduates after this season.

Longsnapper (1) -- It's the same situation with longsnapper -- bad timing. But UCLA, having had Christian Yount and now Kevin McDermott for such a long time, greatly appreciates the value of a good longsnapper, and has already offered one (Cole Mazza) in the 2013 class.

To put UCLA's recruiting performance for the 2013 class so far in perspective, for lack of a better rating system, UCLA's early class is averaging a 3.4 in terms of its stars-per-recruit. The class it just signed for 2012 averaged 3.14. Clemson, who had 20 recruits in its 2012 class in the Scout.com rankings, averaged 3.4 stars-per-recruit, and that was good enough to get it ranked 17th in the nation. To put it further in perspective, if UCLA actually maintained this quality of 3.4 stars and brought in 25 recruits, it would be exactly the same as what Oklahoma did in 2012, and the Sooners' recruiting class finished 10th in the nation.

Now, this would all happen if UCLA just maintained the quality of recruit. Take into consideration this is the level it's established without having played a game under this staff. In other words, it's safe to say that if UCLA has even a modicum of success on the field in 2012, the gangbuster-recruiting staff now in place at UCLA will more than likely improve that quality-of-recruit quotient. If it's greatly successful, well, you can probably throw out any projection on the 2013 UCLA recruiting class, since there would undoubtedly be quite a few more elite prospects getting seriously interested in UCLA. If that is the case, the only thing that would hold back UCLA from perhaps getting a top-five level class would be the amount of scholarships it can give out. We would bet that, if UCLA is successful in 2012, and they are getting a wave of interest from elite prospects, there could very well be more scholarships become available.

Bottom line: The recruiting prowess that this staff has exhibited, in the 2012 class and so far with the 2013 class, combined with some success on the field in 2012, has a clear chance to be a recruiting juggernaut by Signing Day 2013.

If you look around the Pac-12, UCLA is definitely in the upper echelon in the conference for recruiting 2013 so far. Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State have yet to get a 2013 commitment. The four other programs besides UCLA that have started off 2013 recruiting well are Cal, Oregon, Stanford and USC. Cal has a four-star quarterback and solid running back; Oregon has a five-star running back; USC a five-star defensive tackle and Stanford probably comes closest to competing with UCLA in terms of quality and quantity, having three commitments, all rated #30 or better at their position nationally.

It's astounding, really, that UCLA, given its most recent history on the field, is in that company -- the four programs that have clearly had the most success in the conference over the last decade.

LIke we said, it's a testament to the recruiting ability of the new UCLA staff, but also -- like we've always maintained -- the recruiting potential of the UCLA football program.


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