But Bruin Report Online is in the business of making predictions and projections far prematurely. So, we thought we'd entertain ourselves, and you indirectly, by taking a far-too-early shot at predicting UCLA's 2014 recruiting class. We completely absolve ourselves from being held to this prediction since it is so premature. But there are some elements to the 2014 class that make an early prediction have a little more credibility:
-- UCLA isn't going to have a big – in numbers – class, probably in the 17-20 range, so that makes it easier to predict.
-- This early on, UCLA is doing well with a good number of elite prospects, moreso than at this time of year than in any recruiting season in recent memory.
The big variable here is the UCLA 2013 season. If UCLA has a hugely successful season – say, winning 11+ games – all bets are off. There will be recruits' names not even associated with UCLA yet suddenly showing interest in the Bruins. So, we're basing this prediction on a solidly successful season, not one poor enough that it would dissuade any recruits presently with an interest in UCLA to not go there, and not one so successful that five-star prospects from around the country are knocking down the doors.
We did the 2014 Recruiting Class Predictions: Offense, now here's the defense:
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 1
Ainuu Taua, 6-1/270 | Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
National Position Ranking: #8 |
The Word: Taua has long said UCLA was his favorite, and it's still holding up, even though he's now being hit with the spring recruiting crush. We think the only thing that could derail this is if UCLA really covets another defensive tackle more, or if someone of just about the same caliber decided to commit before Taua, and there are a few possibilities for both. Tashon Smallwood is committed to USC, but he's taken a couple of unofficial visits to UCLA and it's now getting fairly well-known that he really liked those experiences. UCLA definitely has a chance. We think once Sharif Williams gets in front of the UCLA coaches at the UCLA camp in June he'll open some eyes. There is also a bit of a possibility that Bryan Mone, the elite DT prospect from Utah, would reconsider his Michigan commitment.
DEFENSIVE END: 2
Kennedy Emesibe, 6-3.5/240 | Oak Hills (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: N/A |
To Be Determined
National Position Ranking: ?? |
The Word: This is easily the most wide open and uncertain position at this time in UCLA's recruiting for 2014. There are a number of prospects UCLA is doing fairly well with, but there isn't any one guy that you could say at this point UCLA is clearly leading for and it'd be easy to predict they'd get. And it's perhaps one of the few biggest positions of need for 2014. Defensive line coach Angus McClure has proven to be a big-time recruiter, but 2014 defensive end recruiting is going to be a challenge, since it's just not a deep year in the west and, as we said, a position of need for UCLA. If McClure can bring in top flight 2014 defensive ends it will be another huge recruiting notch for him. UCLA is still very involved with Solomon Thomas, but we just haven't heard anything that leads us to believe UCLA is out in front. It might very well be Stanford. UCLA and McClure have a very good shot at Connor Humpheys and Matt Dickerson but, again, we haven't heard UCLA is leading for either. It could be USC and Cal, respectively, for those two. We are tempted to slot Malik Dorton as a predicted get, since UCLA was a long-time leader and he came close to committing this spring. But now with the recent USC offer, the word is that he has both local schools as his co-leaders. If we had to slot a second prospect in right now it'd be Dorton. UCLA very well could end up with one or two of these four, but we're just not feeling it strongly at this point. Like we said in the tight end analysis, watch for Dylan Keeney, the 6-5, 215-pound athlete from Granite Bay. Keeney has the frame to end up 250+, and his athleticism is intriguing. McClure recently stopped by Granite Bay and saw him. Going out on a limb, we slotted Emesibe as a guy UCLA will get, and here's why: He's coming to UCLA's camp in June and we think, once UCLA and McClure see him do well in the camp setting, with the long arms and looking a bit like Datone Jones physically, we could envision UCLA getting enamored. Of course, he's also a good student and the younger brother of current UCLA walk-on running back Melvin Emesibe.
Kenny Young, 6-2/225 | River Ridge (Louisiana) John Curtis Christian
National Position Ranking: 9 |
Dwight Williams, 6-1/215 | Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: #6 |
To Be Determined
National Position Ranking: ?? |
The Word: If there's one Louisiana prospect we see UCLA getting it's Young, for a few reasons: We've heard he loves UCLA, was probably the Louisiana recruit who visited for the Spring Game who acted the most like he was coming (and that's saying something, because they all did); and he's gotten really close to UCLA linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich. It's fairly well-known that Williams has UCLA in the lead, and we think that will probably only get moreso, since he's close with his family and won't want to leave his hometown. It's uncertain if UCLA will, in fact, take a third linebacker. Very likely they will, and we could easily see that being D.J. Calhoun. UCLA was leading for Calhoun until USC offered, and we've heard that the reports of USC overtaking UCLA is a bit overblown. Ulbrich is a big draw, and we could see some national guys like Nyles Morgan seriously flirting with UCLA. We could see the scenario, though, where UCLA is targeting more middle-linebacker types and ends up offering Michael Lazarus, the #12-ranked middle linebacker in the nation, and Ulbrich having a very good chance of getting him. A key to watch here would be if Lazarus comes to UCLA's camp.
Budda Baker, 5-10/177 | Bellevue (Wash.)
National Position Ranking: 5 |
Adam Soesman, 6-2/180 | Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: #47 |
The Word: Right now, the position that is probably second most sketchy in terms of recruits leaning to UCLA is safety. It's okay, though, because, unlike defensive end, it's not a huge position of need, since this fall coming in is Tyler Foreman and Tahaan Goodman, and Priest Willis probably ends up a safety. We're going out on the limb a bit predicting Baker, but here's the theory: First off, the word is that it's between UCLA and Washington; He's close with teammate and 2013 UCLA commit Myles Jack; Jim Mora has made it his personal priority to get Baker, like Jack; and if Washington doesn't have a clearly successful year, Baker will almost certainly look elsewhere. Baker does have a great deal of pressure to stay home, but we think ultimately, like with Jack, he'll be a Bruin. The next best chance with an out-of-stater is with Mattrell McGraw, and we've actually been told that McGraw might be a UCLA lean. We were tempted to slot him in as a get, but then succumbed to the effect of the SEC presssure. But we want to point out that we know McGraw really liked UCLA on his unofficial visit for the Spring Game, and we think he could be the next most likely to come of the Louisiana kids next to Young. Jamal Adams is friends with Demetrius Knox, but we don't think he'll follow him to Westwood. We're taking a big leap of faith and logic here with Soesman, because at this point he doesn't even have a UCLA offer. We personally like him quite a bit, and we could completely see when he comes to UCLA's camp the UCLA coaches liking him, too, and offering him. We've heard Soesman would probably jump at a UCLA offer.
Adoree Jackson, 5-10/170 | Gardena (Louisiana) Serra
National Position Ranking: 2 |
Jonathan Lockett, 5-11/175 | Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: #26 |
The Word: Even though Adoree has been wearing USC socks, we think ultimately he goes to UCLA. The main two reasons? Demetrice Martin and Adrian Klemm. The two UCLA assistants are recruiting him – Martin since he's the DB coach, and Klemm, because he's taken over recruiting Gardena Serra. These two are probably two of the best recruiters in the west, and haven't lost out on too many recruits when they've gone after them hard. There are other reasons, too, we think Adoree ends up a Bruin, but having the two assistants teaming up to try to bring in Adoree, we think, will prove to be too much for Adoree to turn down. Lockett, from what we've heard, is a UCLA lean – and he's a UCLA type of kid that you could easily see in Westwood. We know that Adarius Pickett is also very high on UCLA's recruiting board, which means that Martin has been targeting him, and we could see the Bruins also getting Pickett. It's been said USC is the competition, but we think Stanford is going to ultimately be tough to beat, since Pickett is a good student. UCLA does have one angle on Pickett: He wants to enroll early and he can't do that at Stanford. The wild cards here are Denzel Fisher and John Plattenburg. Fisher was the DB MVP of the L.A. Nike Camp, and he's a UCLA fan and dead set on getting a UCLA offer. He was injured recently and has said he's shutting it down so he can be healthy for UCLA's camp in June. We could easily see Martin offering Fisher after the camp. Plattenburg is blowing up a bit, and did well at the high school showcase, in front of many coaches, including those from UCLA. He's teammates with UCLA-committed wide receiver Barry Ware, is a good student and might come to UCLA's camp.