In 2012, UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora and his staff brought in the #12-ranked class, only a matter of days after coming on the job in Westwood.
In 2013, after the Bruins had a good season in 2012, and much was made of Mora turning around UCLA football, UCLA then signed the nation's #5-ranked class.
The 2014 UCLA class will be a little different, with UCLA probably not having the 25-27 scholarships to give like they did in 2012 and 2013, but probably more in the 17-20 range. Given that the Bruins have filled up on bodies for 2012 and 2013, and the smaller projected class, UCLA will almost certainly take a decidedly different tact with 2014, and be far more selective.
It might feel a bit different to all the BRO recruitniks, too; there will be recruits you would normally think that UCLA should be on in any other year, but they simply aren't in 2014.
It's March, so it's very early, and we know that any list of UCLA's top targets is going to look considerably different by next January. But with the smaller projected class, and UCLA being more selective, with its big board having far less names on it for 2014, it gives us a chance to perhaps get a better earlier handle on how the class might ultimately shape up.
The following list isn't at all comprehensive. It doesn't even have all of the prospects UCLA has offered on it. But, as of right now, in March, these are the guys that 1) UCLA has as a top target and 2) are doing really well with so far, and we think they'll have a legitimate chance to get and 3) we can see the scenario of how they'll end up at UCLA. So that means there are plenty of players, like say Michiah Quick, Nathan Starks or Malachi Dupre, that aren't on the list -- not because UCLA hasn't offered them or isn't recruiting them hard, but we just don't think they're prospects that UCLA ultimately will get.
In other words, this could be a far-premature but realistic guess (based on what we know at this time) at how UCLA's 2014 class might shake out.
WIDE RECEIVER: (2-3)
Others Most Likely:
Alex Van Dyke, 6-4, 200, Elk Grove (Calif.) Consumnes Oaks, #34 WR
Tyler Whiley, 6-1, 190, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral, #12 CB
Dallis Todd, La Mirada (Calif.), #22 WR
Erik Brown, 6-1, 175, Fontana (Calif.) Summit, #44 WR
Barry Ware, 6-3, 205, Corona (Calif.) Centennial, #87
Jalen Harvey, El Cerrito (Calif.), #57
We're going to be candid about UCLA's wide receiver recruiting: It didn't do well in it for the 2013 class, and it's not starting off recruiting the 2014 class well either. With the 2013 class, it was a particular position of need, and UCLA missed on many targets, salvaging the receiver class from almost complete disaster by pretty much backing into Eldridge Massington. It missed on many target because, bluntly, it got out-recruited for them.
Because it was a position of need for 2013 and UCLA signed just two WRs (Massington and Darren Andrews, who is the nephew of UCLA's wide receiver coach, Eric Yarber), it becomes perhaps the biggest position of need for 2014, and UCLA is still, even this early on, getting out-recruited so far. Two of the top wide receiver prospects in the west (Cameron Denson and Rahshead Johnson) have already committed elsewhere. Yeah, Denson committed to local Arizona, but Johnson is from Long Beach Jordan and has already committed to Washington. He comes from the same school as John Ross, the 2013 receiver prospect, who Washington also out-recruited UCLA to get. Ross was perhaps UCLA's #1 receiver target and the word is that UCLA wasn't close in showing him near as much attention as Washington. The #1 receiver in the west for 2013, Michiah Quick, doesn't have UCLA among his favorites, even though he attends the same school as 2013 UCLA-committed cornerback Johnny Johnson.
It doesn't end there. Among the six or so next best receivers in the west, UCLA hasn't offered four of them, and isn't recruiting them that hard, according to the recruits themselves. Smith is one they have offered, but he's blown up nationally and, while UCLA was the very early leader for him, it looks like that has changed. Smith very well could end up a safety anyway. Jalen Brown is the other one they've offered, and he recently took an unofficial visit to UCLA when he was in California for the L.A. Nike Camp, but there isn't any information that would lead us to believe that UCLA is among Brown's leaders.
The six guys we list under "Others Most Likely" are probably the rest of the best in the west, and they all have Pac-12 offers, but UCLA hasn't offered and hasn't shown much interest to date, at least compared to their conference brethren.
Ware has said he'd commit if UCLA offered, but we've heard there could be academic hang-ups.
UCLA has offered a handful of national prospects but we are skeptical they'll ultimately be seriously involved with any of them next February.
We're not going to get into why UCLA wide receiver recruiting isn't very good, but just going to stick with reporting the fact that it isn't. It will become even more glaring for 2014, since it now is a critical position of need, unless UCLA dramatically picks up its efforts.
TIGHT END/Y: (1)
UCLA's tight end recruiting is a bit better than its wide receiver recruiting, but mostly because it just needs one tight end for 2014 and one of the best is very local (Dixon). UCLA is leading for Dixon, and it would call it a day in tight end recruiting if Dixon jumped on board. UCLA, though, would take Andrews along with Dixon, since Andrews could very well plug into the X or Z wideout spots, too, in UCLA's offense. There has been talk that Andrews could be a package deal with his high school quarterback, Kyle Allen, UCLA's #1 QB target for 2014, but we're also hearing there's a decent chance they could split up for college. It's not as if UCLA has an advantage in having both of them as prime targets, since just about every school recruiting one of them has the other as a prime target.
This is where UCLA's tight end recruiting falls off a bit, after Dixon and Andrews. Shultz is the #1 tight end prospect in the nation, and UCLA is just beginning to recruit him aggressively. Helm is also a story of UCLA shuffling its feet a bit in recruiting; Helm is the #4-ranked TE in the nation, with offers from the likes of Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Tennessee, who is the son of two UCLA alumni, and the Bruins haven't shown him much love to date.
We didn't include Tyler Luatua, the nation's #2-ranked TE, on this list since we believe he's a bit over-rated, don't think UCLA is doing particularly well with him, and his older brother is at Alabama. UCLA has offered a few other tight end prospects from outside the west that we think they'd be a longshot to get.
More 2014 Recruiting Class Analysis Coming Soon...