It's absolute folly to predict UCLA's 2013 recruiting class in May.
There are just too many factors that will impact who will sign with the Bruins in February.
The 2012 season, for one. If UCLA has a successful season this fall, the recruiting lists that we recently provided (Defensive Reset, Offensive Reset) will look quite a bit different by late January. Elite names that aren't in any way currently associated with UCLA will be jumping into the fray that UCLA has a serious chance of getting.
Of course, it works the other way, too -- if UCLA has an unsuccessful season those lists will change also.
Heck, we don't even know how many scholarships UCLA is going to have by February. The word is that they'd like to sign upward of 18 to 22 for 2013, but that would mean UCLA would have to shed quite a few players who are slated to be on scholarship for the 2013 season.
So, even though it's preposterous to do this now, we thought we'd provide you a guesstimate of UCLA's 2013 Class. It's kind of a mix of who UCLA would get if Signing Day were, say, next week, and then also a purely speculative exercise in how this list could change by February if they have the season we expect (but that's a different story).
So here we go (rankings are nationally by position):
1. Eddie Printz, 6-2, 205, Marietta (Georgia) Lassiter. #47. Printz is a solid get. The reports are that he has some of the basic materials to become a Pac-12 level quarterback, but will need refining and seasoning. UCLA has clearly recognized him, though, as the guy they want and covet over many others -- that they'd probably have a chance of getting. Because of this UCLA has decided to forego taking a second quarterback in the 2013 class and has fully committed to Printz, and in return get Printz's full commitment. It's really the biggest gamble of the 2013 recruiting season, with the Bruin coaching staff putting all of their eggs in the Printz basket -- which means they believe he's good enough to warrant that and believe there isn't a chance he won't ever de-commit and go elsewhere, leaving UCLA without having recruited another quarterback. It's also a gamble in that many scouts aren't completely sold on Printz, and UCLA is taking him in a class in which you would think they could use a quarterback that is a bit more of a known quantity. On its roster beyond 2012 is Brett Hundley and then many question marks (Jerry Neuheisel, T.J. Millweard, Devin Fuller), and it'd be a little more re-assuring if the quarterback they took in 2013 was more of a sure thing. Only time will tell; perhaps it will prove out that Printz was an all-Pac-12 level QB and the UCLA staff did an excellent job of evaluating him as a high school prospect.
RUNNING BACK (2)
1. Keyante Green, 5-10, 194, McDonough (Georgia) Eagles Landing Christian Academy, #60. We feel that Green will stick with UCLA and sign in February. He's another "solid" guy, one that is good to have while they look for a second running back to take in this class.
2. Craig Lee, 6-0, 190, Redlands (Calif.), #23. We're going to guess that Lee is the second running back UCLA gets for 2013, based on a few factors. First, we know that UCLA highly covets him. He's the bigger type of back that they need to provide that role on a projected depth chart that is full of scatback types. He's from SoCal, and he's from the recruiting area (Inland Empire) of UCLA running back coach Steve Broussard. And we're hearing UCLA is doing well with him.
WIDE RECEIVER (3)
1. John Ross, 5-9, 175, Long Beach (Calif.) Jordan, #29. We know that UCLA loves Ross, and we're hearing that, even though he's getting hit hard by other programs, Ross still favors UCLA.
2. Sebastian LaRue, 5-11, 185, Santa Monica (Calif.) High, #7. It's going to be a tough recruitment, but we'll bet that Larue will ultimately be swayed by the hometown factors, Mazzone's offense and a crew of very persuasive UCLA recruiters, including wide receiver coach Eric Yarber.
3. Xavier Shepherd, 5-9, 165, Lakewood (Calif.), #84. If we had to pick right now, we'll go with Shepherd as the third, since he's the local kid with an offer who is leaning the most to UCLA.
This is a position, however, in which the target list could dramatically change after a 2012 season when UCLA's receivers, for the first time in as long as we all can remember, look good. Because of that, we think UCLA would wait to fill up on receivers; in other words, let's say two guys with offers wanted to jump on board right now, UCLA would probably hold a scholarship through the season to see if they could land a really big prospect.
Just a few weeks ago, we would have put Francis Owusu, the 6-3, 195-pounder from, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian (ranked #26) on this list. The indications were that Owusus was leaning toward carving out his own niche at UCLA and not following his brother's footsteps to Stanford. But just recently we're hearing it looks, indeed, like Stanford is his probable destination.
TIGHT END (1)
1. Thomas Duarte, 6-4, 225, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, #10. Everything points to the Bruins with Duarte: His mom went to UCLA; he's a great fit as the Y receiver in UCLA's offense and he'll watch in 2012 as possiblyJoseph Fauria has an all-Pac-12 season; and it's likely USC, who was his childhood favorite, won't offer him.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (5)
1. Erik Bunte, 6-7, 310, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita, #24. UCLA needs tackle types, and Bunte fills the bill, with a combo of great size and athleticism. His early commitment is a huge one for the Bruins, and is working positively to attract more OL recruits.
2. Sean Dowling, 6-6, 265, Fallbrook (Calif.), #30. Being already committed, Dowling joins Bunte as UCLA's potential tackle combo of the future, with Dowling's athleticism really standing out.
3. Nico Falah, 6-5, 270, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, #3. This is the big fish that's still out there, and every indication we're hearing is that he'll be a Bruin. He could, too, actually commit sooner rather than later. He comes from a UCLA family, he's very comfortable with the staff and the program, and he's talking with Bunte and Dowling.
4. Scott Quessenberry, 6-3, 265, Encinitas (Calif.) La Costa Canyon, #43. UCLA has clearly indicated it wants Quessenberry. He has visited some out-of-staters like Wisconsin and Nebraska, but we feel if UCLA continues to maintain its love for him Quessenberry will be a Bruin.
5. Cameron Hunt, 6-4, 255, Corona (Calif.) Centennial, #51. This is a bit of a stretch since UCLA hasn't even offered Hunt yet, but here's the rationale: Hunt was the MVP of the Oakland Nike Camp this last weekend and has been very impressive so far this spring; He might be a little under-sized at this point, but he has good athleticism and toughness, two things that UCLA OL coach Adrian Klemm prioritizes; Hunt's coming to UCLA's lineman camp; He's a very good student and has said previously that UCLA is his dream school.
We reserve the right to change this, particularly the last two spots, after Bunte, Dowling and Falah. And we could change it pretty quickly here, once UCLA gets a look at many of its OL recruits at its linemen camp June 9th. With such a good recruiter as your OL coach in Klemm, too, there is a good chance of a nationally elite wildcard name eventually getting thrown in here.
Because of all of the Hunt factors we think Hunt will edge out John Lopez, the 6-5, 305-pounder from Orange (Calif.) Orange Lutheran (ranked #12). While UCLA has been recruiting Lopez a long time (by the old and new staff), we think UCLA and Lopez will probably ultimately look elsewhere.
We'll also bet against Alex Redmond, the OL prospect who blew up at the SoCal Nike Camp, since he, as of now, isn't camping at UCLA. We bet that out-of-staters Christian Morris and Khaliel Rodgers will opt to stay closer to home. We think Brayden Kearsley, while UCLA will tempt him, will stick with his commitment to BYU. We also think that Kenny Lacy and UCLA won't be a Love Connection.
We do think, however, that two other good possibilities are Riley Sorenson, Bunte's teammate at Santa Margarita, and David Maka, the center prospect from Tustin. We're pretty certain if UCLA offered either of the two they'd commit.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (2)
1. Kenneth Clark, 6-2, 285, Rialto (Calif.) Carter, #26. Clark has UCLA among his short list of leaders, and it's thought that the Bruins lead for him. He's been a regular attendee at UCLA games, practices, etc.
2. Luca Bruno, 6-4, 282, Oak Park (Calif.), #43. We're going a little out of the box with this prediction, but it makes sense. The DL class in the west for 2013 is pretty thin, and some of the guys who are considered highly-rated look like they're either leaning elsewhere or won't qualify academically. Because of all of those factors, UCLA's list of DL possibilities isn't deep. So, Bruno steps into this, a kid whose father is former UCLA fullback Frank Bruno. He's a legit 6-4 and 280, and could probably play d-end in the 3-4 or, if he continues to get bigger, end up a nose tackle. He's a good student, from a good high school. He's coming to UCLA's linemen camp and it's entirely plausible he could get an offer from it, and perhaps commit.
1. Deon Hollins, 6-2, 222, Missouri City (Tex.) Marshall, #12. The issue with Hollins will be whether UCLA can hang on to him. Since his verbal commitment to the Bruins he's blown up a bit in camps and combines. He'll be at The Opening, which is an invitation-only event for top 150-type players in the nation. Being an elite kid, in Texas, you'd have to anticipate he's going to get inundated with recruiting attention from all over the country, and he's already said he's going to take visits to other schools. UCLA assistant Demetrice Martin was the recruiting star of the 2012 class, being responsible for bringing in both Ellis McCarthy and Jeremy Castro; we'll see if he can do some magic again and keep Hollins. It would really help out Martin if the Bruin defense has a good showing in 2012.
2. Cameron Judge, 6-2, 215, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian, #22. UCLA offered him at its Junior Day, and it's all been positive since. Being friends with incoming frosh Jordan Payton, we've been hearing that Judge is UCLA's to lose. Oregon could be a threat, since it's where his father played, but they haven't offered yet.
3A.) Myles Jack, 6-3, 230, Bellevue (Wash.), #14. Jack has ties to Jim Mora, knowing Mora's son, and UCLA is prioritizing him. The fact that he's in Washington and the hometown Huskies have better access to him will be a factor, but we're hearing he's a lean to UCLA at this point.
3B.)Kevin Palma, 6-2, 240, Tulare (Calif.) Mission Oak, #54. He's been probably the #1 breakout star this spring in the west. With a great performance at the Oakland Nike Camp this last weekend, we could see UCLA now offering Palma and, from what we hear, Palma likes the Bruins. He intends on attending UCLA's one-day camp in June and if it all goes well we could see it happening, especially since he's a very good student. Why we made Palma 3B is that, with another blow-up performance in Oakland, we could see many national programs getting involved and muddying the waters, even before Palma makes it to UCLA's camp in early June.
Three of those four would be a great recruiting linebacker class. If you're a rankings nut, you could also expect Palma to move up dramatically in his ranking, so it not only will be a highly-ranked crew and one that truly satisfies UCLA's needs at linebacker.
1. L.J. Moore, 6-1, 175, Fresno (Calif.) Central, #19. He's a talented kid, a potential pro, and we're hearing he's UCLA's to lose. We think this one is probably the surest thing amonh all the DBs on this list.
2. Derek Babiash, 6-1, 170, Poway (Calif.), #22. The recruitment as been a little curious so far, with some good programs having offered him but not UCLA. And, in fact, he's indicated that UCLA would be a favorite -- if not the favorite -- if they offered. He committed to Washington and then de-committed, and he's coming to UCLA's camp in early June. We could easily see a scenario where Babiash looks too good in that camp for the UCLA coaches not to strongly consider offering. The only reason why they still might not is because they could be thinking they need the room for a deep DB class in the west in 2013, and that they're doing very well with so many. But we think they ultimately don't get Johnson (see below), the Robinsons go elsewhere (below), and Babiash, being a good kid and a good student, and one of the best corner prospects the UCLA staff has seen, is going to be too hard to pass up.
This could be controversial, but we'll say that UCLA ultimately doesn't end up with Dashon Hunt, the 5-9, 175-pound prospect from Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake, the #9-ranked corner in the nation, who is verbally committed. It's based on some info, but some gut feeling, too, that neither side of this equation is going to feel the love from the other when it's all said and done.
One big wrench in this -- a good wrench, though -- would be Johnny Johnson, the elite corner prospect (ranked #4) who is teammates with Moore and Byrd. We know that USC, Cal and others are thought to be the favorites, but we're hearing UCLA has a good chance with him, and it can't hurt to have two teammates as potentially future Bruins.
1. Hatari Byrd, 6-2, 200, Fresno (Calif.) Central, #9. Being close with his teammate Moore, we've heard UCLA is also probably leading for Byrd. Getting Moore and Byrd would be a huge coup for UCLA, and really cement their DB recruiting class.
2. Tahaan Goodman, 6-2, 190, from Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.), #7. We're a little skeptical on this because we are always skeptical of package deals. But we're hearing UCLA is doing really well with him at this point and, as we said, UCLA looks like the one common denominator among the DB clique that is indication they want to go to school together. Just from gut feeling, this is the shakiest prediction on our list.
1. Priest Willis, 6-2, 190, Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos de Niza. #4. Willis is projected as a safety but only because of his size; he plays corner in high school, feels he's a natural corner and he very much has the talent and quickness to be a corner. It wouldn't be stretch to see UCLA get some good safeties in this class and be intrigued with Willis and his size at cornerback. We've talked about the package deal, but the fact that Willis is close with Goodman and Moore, and UCLA might be the one common potential destination that works for all of them, could only help UCLA.
Tyree Robinson and Tyrell Robinson, the 6-2, 190-pound athletes from San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln, we think are leaning toward Washington at this time. While UCLA has a good shot, we've heard that UDub's basketball coach Lorenzo Romar is doing a great job of recruiting them, and basketball is a huge factor in their decision.
1. Cole Mazza, Longsnapper
2. Punter. We really have no bead on who this will be. He'll probably emerge from the Chris Sailer kicking events this summer, and it could very well be a JC kicker.
2013 Class Prediction
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