Just so everyone gets this, we're not holding back this information just to tease you. The vast majority of the time it's because revealing the information at that moment would be detrimental to UCLA's recruiting effort. It could be that UCLA has secretly been recruiting a prospect who is committed elsewhere and if the information went public the program the recruit is committed to would put a huge amount of pressure on him as a result. We think that most BRO readers would rather not have their immediate need for knowledge satisfied if it were to sabotage UCLA's recruiting, right?
So, here were go. We're going to tell these stories without having to attribute each point to "sources." Just assume these stories came from a number of sources around the recruitments of all of these recruits.
The Back-and-Forth Story of Nico Falah
Last spring, UCLA coveted Nico Falah, the highly-ranked offensive line prospect from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. The UCLA coaches, especially OL coach Adrian Klemm, spent a great deal of time recruiting Falah – on the phone and in person. He would come by UCLA's campus for hours.
Falah told the staff repeatedly that he loved UCLA, having come from a UCLA family. But he was torn. USC was recruiting Falah hard, and it was confusing.
It's completely understandable. You can't imagine what it's like being a 17-year-old football recruit and having grown men, college coaches who are professional recruiters, trying to sell you to come to their program. No tactic is off the table. Mostly, college coaches are very good at endearing themselves to the recruit and then pulling on those emotional heart strings.
Falah was definitely pulled. Early on, it appeared UCLA was leading, and Falah intended to commit early. But then USC made a very strong push, and they had a great deal to sell, remember, at that time. They were ranked #1 in the country, didn't have many young offensive linemen, and could actually sell the NCAA sanctions and resulting limited scholarships by telling recruits they needed to jump on the scholarship offer soon because there just aren't that many to go around.
In June the situation escalated. Falah was telling UCLA he was going to be a Bruin, and was telling USC he was going to be a Trojan. He went back and forth, and sometimes in the same day, within an hour. Whether he was truly confused or using the situation for attention we won't speculate about. But it definitely manifested itself in a situation where both staffs had to question his sincerity.
It came to a head at UCLA's camp in June. The previous week or so it had been learned that Falah was probably leaning toward USC, but Falah showed up at UCLA's camp, not to participate, but to talk, and he spent hours there. He was seen talking to Klemm long after the camp was over. We later learned that, while we had heard he was leaning to USC, he was telling the UCLA coaches a different story. At this point, even if a prospect is legitimately torn, you can understand from a coach's perspective that some prospects' indecision can be excessive. Falah then verbally committed to USC in early July, which was good. It was early, and the feeling was that he, at least, after about a month of leading on both staffs, ended it.
But it didn't end.
Falah kept contacting UCLA's coaching staff. First, he did it initially soon after he verbally committed to USC. It's pretty well-documented that UCLA told him pretty much they weren't going to recruit him anymore. It wasn't a vindictive move; it was more a calculated decision that, given how much time and recruiting effort Falah had already taken up, it wasn't worth putting in any time to recruiting him going forward when UCLA needed to sign a big OL class and the amount of time and effort that would entail. UCLA told Falah they weren't going to recruit him, that it just wasn't practical for them.
But Falah continued to call UCLA's staff, and that was okay. UCLA, most of the time, didn't take his call.
Then Falah started to seriously reconsider his commitment to USC. If he weren't seriously considering other schools before, when he was still calling UCLA, he definitely was by November. Whether that was based on USC not having a good season, again, that's speculation. Falah opened up his recruitment a bit. He remained verbally committed to USC, but started to openly consider other programs, like Oregon and Washington.
Again, it's tough to know with some recruits if they are legitimately considering other schools rather than the one they're committed to, or if they're just trying to play the situation for attention and free official visits. In Falah's case, he had a history of taking up a great deal of the time of UCLA's staff, so when Falah told UCLA he was interested in officially visiting UCLA at about this time they turned him down. It was also, too, that UCLA was doing really well in offensive line recruiting, had a number of commitments from some standout prospects, and Falah was a little less coveted because of it. Falah's stock, too, had fallen a bit. He had been considered the #1 OL prospect in the west in spring, but by the end of his season he had slipped in his rankings. In other words, UCLA was pretty okay without Falah.
Falah visited Oregon in late November, and the word after that visit was that Oregon had a good chance to flip him. But it was difficult, from a reporter's standpoint, given Falah's history, how much was believable. He said at the time it was USC or Oregon.
Two weeks later he arranged an official visit to Washington.
Now, again, this isn't unusual. Plenty of recruits get hit hard by many coaching staffs and those college coaches can be pretty convincing. If a recruit, too, puts it out there that he's still not 100% committed somewhere, the recruiting attention he can get from other programs can be overwhelming.
UCLA, though, didn't recruit Falah. He called the UCLA offices, and they'd occasionally take his call, but that was about it.
Falah officially visited Washington in early December and, after that visit, it looked like Washington was a clear threat to overthrow USC. By January, Falah appeared torn between USC and Washington.
Behind the scenes, he continued to contact UCLA. UCLA maintained its stance with him.
A few days before Signing Day, Falah asked UCLA if they'd accept a National Letter of Intent from him.
At this point, it's not difficult to see UCLA's position on the Falah matter. They had spent a great deal of time getting commitments from 7 other offensive linemen, and spent a great deal more recruiting effort keeping all of those guys in the fold. If UCLA took a commitment from Falah it could jeopardize their standing with those seven committed linemen (If Falah's interest in UCLA, too, had been made public, it could have been misconstrued and jeopardized UCLA's standing with its commitments). But there was some uncertainty, leading up to NSD, if a few of UCLA's verbally committed OLs would stick with their commitment, namely Christian Morris and Kenny Lacy. If one, or both, of those recruits, or perhaps even any other OL commitment, flipped to another school, it would then be understandable if UCLA at the last minute took another OL, like Falah.
On NSD, Falah called UCLA and told him he wanted to commit. UCLA, at this point, was still uncertain about Morris. They sent Falah an NLI, and told him to rush his transcripts and test scores over so he could quickly get through admissions. The deadline was mid-afternoon. It leaked out on Twitter that Falah would sign with UCLA, not USC or Washington. It actually made it to the BRO Premium Football Message Board. Then, Morris signed his NLI to UCLA, and there were a number of snags in the admissions procedure for Falah. That ended the Falah last-minute, shock-the-world signing-with-UCLA scenario.
Falah signed an NLI with USC last Wednesday.
Falah, then, publicly said that UCLA had been recruiting him until the end but he, essentially, turned them down.