UCLA is now into its most critical stretch of the season, having played Arizona last week, and now facing Washington, Arizona State and USC. You can make a very good case that, aside from Stanford, UCLA's biggest recruiting rivals, at least for this class, are their next three opponents.
Much has been made about UCLA's class so far, and it's fair, given the magnitude of many of their commits, or lack there of.
But the stretch run of the season will dictate UCLA's record, and of course, it's the same old axiom: if you win, they'll come. So the next three (and potentially four) games before the bowl could be huge for UCLA's recruiting efforts in the 2014 class.
In terms of numbers, UCLA has brought in some big classes in Jim Mora's first two recruiting classes, for 2012 and 2013. The 2014 class has that potential. It originally looked like it'd have about 18 scholarships available, but with transfer and attrition already, it's pretty easy to project it to be in the 22-25 range.
***As we've said on the message board in the past, with UCLA looking like it's a program on the rise, there have been prospects from around the country that are starting to show interest in UCLA. Some we can't share here, since they are committed elsewhere and it could disrupt their recruiting, and UCLA's chances with them. If UCLA continues to have a successful season there will undoubtedly be more viable prospects that show interest in UCLA.***
It's been uncertain at times if UCLA would take a quarterback in 2014, but with the transfer of T.J. Millweard it looks completely necessary. But to be candid, at this point UCLA's quarterback recruiting is in a precarious position, much like a year ago. There is likely not an Asiantii Woulard out there to fall in their lap. You can even make a case that's its more precarious because they even told elite 2015 quarterback Josh Rosen that if he commits to UCLA they wouldn't take a quarterback in the 2014 class (although that was earlier in the summer, and the terms of that are likely no longer there). In September, though, UCLA finally offered Brad Kaaya. Now they sit and wait to see if he'll flip.
Brad Kaaya, 6-4, 208, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
National Position Ranking: 17, UCLA Offer
-- Kaaya is a commit to Miami, and he made it clear after Kyle Allen's commitment that he was solid to the Canes. He also threw in the fact that at Miami he was a priority and doesn't think he's a good fit for UCLA's offense. But we'd heard for months, an offer from UCLA would make him seriously consider it. UCLA did so in September, but publicly at least, Kaaya hasn't wavered. In fact, he's even spoke positively about Miami's sanctions being light from the NCAA. And the sanctions not hitting Miami as hard probably ensure that Al Golden stays in Coral Gables, so there won't likely be the program uncertainty that could cause Kaaya to really second-guess his decision. USC has also offered Kaaya, but what we've heard is that if he flips from Miami, it will be to the Bruins, not USC. UCLA has offered a number of quarterbacks in the 2015 class, but for this class, they absolutely need another scholarship quarterback, especially if Brett Hundley were to leave early.
UCLA has slots for two running backs, with one already committed.
Marlon Mack, 5-11, 195, Sarasota (Fla.) Booker
National Position Ranking: 60 (S), UCLA Offer
-- Mack came out of nowhere to commit to UCLA earlier this month. Mack plays on both sides of the ball, and has been compared by Scout's Florida analysts favorably to former Florida two-way prospect Fabian Moreau, who came in as a running back and is now starting at corner for the Bruins. Mack has rushed for almost 500 yards in the past two games, and while he's ranked as a safety by Scout, UCLA will bring him in as a running back. He's not visited UCLA, and still plans to take some other official visits, so this will be one to watch.
Joe Mixon, 6-1, 205, Oakley (Calif.) Freedom
National Position Ranking: 5, UCLA Offer
-- UCLA's path with Mixon has been much discussed, but long story short, after pretty much being out of the mix for him, UCLA crept back in and Angus McClure and Steve Broussard went to see Mixon play in September. Mixon was hoping to get down to UCLA for the New Mexico State game, but couldn't make it, but said he will be down for a game unofficially. He was hoping to come to the Washington game, but Freedom snuck into the playoffs so he has a game. Now, it's looking like he'll try to get down to Southern California next weekend for the Arizona State game. Mixon has taken all five of his official visits, so the only thing left for him is unofficial visits, but he's made it clear UCLA will get one. When that is, though, remains to be seen. Mixon plans to announce his decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Bo Scarbrough, 6-2, 234, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG
National Position Ranking: 6, UCLA Offer
-- A commit to Alabama, Scarbrough said he remains solidly committed to the Tide, despite moving into Florida, but has also said he would take official visits and he did take one to UCLA. Once that visit ended, though, Scarbrough has essentially gone underground, not giving any interviews or tipping his hand anywhere. Scarbrough has also visited Ole Miss and Notre Dame, but we've heard it's still unlikely he leaves the Southeast.
Tre Watson, 6-0, 185, Corona (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: 50, UCLA Offer
-- Watson committed to Cal earlier this summer, after getting an offer from the Bears, his longtime favorite. But UCLA offered in June, and have made a big push for him. Watson said that he's hearing from UCLA running backs coach Steve Broussard all the time and isn't opposed to their pursuit. He said he remains solid to Cal, but he also has said that Cal is throwing the ball a little more than a running back might like. We've heard too, that his solid with Cal isn't quite so solid. He also visited Boise State in September and Utah in October (when the Bruins were playing the Utes), but the Bruins are making the biggest push for him.
UCLA receiver recruiting has been much discussed. They have five commits at the position and the approach has been interesting, seemingly taking commitments from some guys they didn't necesarily have to take commitments from so early. Also, when Roberts' committed, it somewhat came out of the blue. Their class has quite a few similar receivers, so we'll see how many actually stick with the Bruins, especially with a couple having some academic things to work through.
Austin Roberts, 6-2, 221, Carmel (Ind.)
National Position Ranking: 32, COMMIT
-- Roberts wasn't even on the Bruins' radar when July came around, but got an offer not too long after the month started and committed just a couple of weeks later. Roberts has plenty of connections to UCLA, from the sports information office to his dad coaching with Eric Yarber with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His commitment was a big boost for the Bruins, whose recruiting had been lagging before his verbal. Roberts could eventually grow into a Y down the line for UCLA. Adrian Klemm was in Indiana in September to watch Roberts play.
Alex Van Dyke, 6-4, 200, Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove
National Ranking: 38, COMMIT
-- The top skill player in the Sacramento area, Van Dyke has great bloodlines. His father was an all-American at Nevada before playing for several years with the New York Jets. Van Dyke was offered in March; he visited unofficially in February and had long coveted a Bruin offer. He then visited officially for the Cal game, and committed before he went back home. He played with cornerback Marcus Rios as a sophomore and is good friends with Rios, who spent time with him on his unofficial visit. Oregon offered him in May as the evaluation period and Oregon State and Cal were also in contention, but Van Dyke felt UCLA was the best place for him. He's having a monster senior season too and he more so than Roberts could move to Y at UCLA.
180, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: 73, COMMIT
-- Lasley was the only player to get an offer the night of UCLA's Elite Camp, and he jumped on his dream school's offer the next day. Lasley is a late-bloomer, transferring from Carson to Serra and playing in a backup role for his junior year. He blew up this offseason, and UCLA gave him an offer after the camp, before he had a chance to blow up more. He did camp at USC a week later, and the Trojans would offer him this fall, which could make somewhat of an impact so that will be a storyline to watch. Jim Mora was at a Serra game in September to watch Lasley and others.
Barry Ware, 6-3, 205, Corona (Calif.) Centennial
National Position Ranking: 81, COMMIT
-- Ware was UCLA's first commit in the 2014 class, committing just a few days after the Bruins offered him. UCLA was his first offer, a surprise considering his size, skill set, and junior film. A few more schools offered since he committed, but Ware, who was invited to UCLA's Junior Day in February, long favored the Bruins. Schools like Utah and Washington State are still recruiting, the Utes especially making a push for him, and there are still a lot of questions if Ware would make it academically into UCLA, so that's another key aspect to watch there.
Dionte Sykes, 6-2, 210, Chandler (Ariz.)
National Ranking: 98, COMMIT
-- Sykes has had an interesting recruitment with UCLA. Only recently have we heard enough to consider him a UCLA commit and one who UCLA would take, but we've also heard that he's got some work to do academically. He's a talented player, coming from Brett Hundley's alma mater, and UCLA would like to continue to bring in guys from Arizona.
Michiah Quick, 5-11, 175, Fresno (Calif.) Central East
National Position Ranking: 5, UCLA Offer
-- Quick is one of the top priorities in the 2014 class for UCLA, and for many programs around the country. UCLA obviously has good connections at Central, signing his teammate Johnny Johnson, and his coach has had numerous players go to UCLA. UCLA wasn't originally on his short list, but after a visit to one of UCLA's spring practices, the Bruins moved into his top five, and UCLA will continue to heavily pursue him. Oklahoma, who signed two of his teammates, is also very much in the mix for Quick. Where at one point we may have called this a two-horse race between Oklahoma and UCLA, visits to Notre Dame and Alabama have opened it up for him and now he may visit USC officially too.
Malachi Dupre, 6-3, 175, River Ridge (Louisiana) John Curtis Christian
National Position Ranking: 1, UCLA Offer
-- Dupre is a big target in the SEC, but likes UCLA and visited UCLA in February for the Bruins' Junior Day. He also returned to UCLA for the Spring Game and raved about the visit and his relationship with Eric Yarber, the Bruins' receivers coach. Dupre also visited UCLA in June for the B2G Elite Camp. That is three unofficial visits on his own, which certainly is an indicator of his interest in the Bruins. While he hasn't set a leaderboard yet, he told Scout earlier in September that Alabama, Florida State, LSU and UCLA are his top four schools. UCLA coaches Eric Yarber and Jeff Ulbrich were at his game in September. We've heard that UCLA feels very good about their chances with Dupre but as is always the case, when you have an elite prospect in the South, they're tough to get out of that region.
Erik Brown, 6-1, 175, Fontana (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: 18, UCLA Offer
-- A commit to Washington, Brown favored UCLA early on before he chose the Huskies in July. Having said that, he's officially visited Nebraska, Notre Dame, Cal and Oregon State and plans to visit Washington. He had said he may try to visit UCLA officially, but then he took the trip to Cal, so it's unlikely he'll visit UCLA for anything more than an unofficial.
UCLA is looking pretty good at the position with the current roster, but it will undoubtedly try bring in at least one Y. They're targeting Dixon, but if they don't get him, they could use Van Dyke, Sykes, Ware or Roberts at the Y spot.
Bryce Dixon, 6-4, 220, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
National Position Ranking: 3, UCLA Offer
-- Dixon has been on UCLA's radar for months, earning an offer from the Bruins back in the fall. He was at UCLA's select Junior Day in February and it's clear to him that he's coveted by the Bruin staff and is near the top of their board. Dixon has said that UCLA is certainly a school he's highly interested in, but he's got a handful of national offers, including Oregon, USC, Florida and Ohio State, so they'll still have to work to get him. He told Scout earlier this fall that his main three were Oregon, UCLA and USC, though he said he had a top five that included Miami and Florida. And he visited Oregon officially and raved about the trip. But everything we've heard is that it's still a SoCal battle, with UCLA and USC both trying to bring the local All-American in.
After taking 7 OLs for 2013, it was though the 2014 UCLA really only needed two, but with the class expanding its available scholarships and the injuries to the offensive line this season, that could become four. What looked like the strength of the Bruins' 2014 class early on, when Jermaine Eluemunor and Dominick Jackson were committed, has now become a point of concern, with both players flipping to SEC schools, leaving UCLA with only one OL commitment. And with injuries hurting UCLA this year, they've started three true freshmen on the offensive line, so depth continues to be an issue.Najee Toran, 6-3, 260, Galena Park (Texas) North Shore
National Position Ranking: 18 (C), COMMIT
-- Toran has been a recent riser and he's UCLA's most recent commitment too. He was committed to Oregon State, where Mike Cavanaugh has long been considered one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country. But Cavanaugh's prodigy Adrian Klemm (who he coached at Hawaii), flipped Toran after he visited officially for the Colorado game. Toran is ranked as a center, but he'll come to UCLA as an offensive guard.
Damien Mama, 6-5, 340, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
National Position Ranking: 1 (OG), UCLA Offer
-- UCLA seemed completely out of it for Mama for a while, but then, out of nowhere, took an unofficial visit to UCLA in June, spending a couple of hours on campus with Adrian Klemm. He was then back a couple of days later for the UCLA Elite Camp, not to work out, but to spend more time with Klemm on campus. Mama has had the Bruins on his short list with Alabama and USC and they're back in the running and Klemm is targeting him heavily. Mama is clearly UCLA's top offensive line target and he's been to a couple of UCLA's home games so far and getting plenty of attention from the Bruin coaches, particularly Klemm. Who USC hires, though, could make an impact with Mama. Notre Dame and Wisconsin are also hoping to get Mama in the mix, and Alabama blew him away on his trip, so it still looks like a Tide/Trojan/Bruin battle though UCLA could be slipping some, especially with Mama talking about potentially visiting USC officially.
Viane Talamaivao, 6-3, 285, Corona (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: 9 (OG), UCLA Offer
-- Talamaivao committed to Alabama this spring, but like Mama, he showed up in June for the UCLA Elite Camp, and spent a lot of time shadowing Klemm. UCLA was the first school to offer him, doing so after his freshman year, when Rick Neuheisel was the coach, and then Klemm offered him when he got to Westwood. The two sides seemed to cool, though, and then Talamaivao committed to Alabama. But with Jackson headed to Alabama, UCLA is now back on Talamaivao, and he and Mama are very close. He's said he's solid to Alabama, but UCLA will continue to work on him. Still, after his visit to Alabama, Talamaivao doesn't seem to be wavering, at least publicly.
Chris Brown, 6-6, 290, Los Angeles (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: 20 (OT), UCLA Offer
-- Brown has rewritten the book on the late-bloomer. Heading into his senior season, Brown had one offer, from San Diego State. Then his senior film trickled out and he was in double-digits in no time. Now, his offers include Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and UCLA among others and he'll visit Oregon this weekend after having visited Texas A&M last weekend. He'll visit UCLA officially for the Arizona State game and then visit USC the following weekend for the UCLA game. The Trojans are thought to be the leaders, with several former USC assistants on the Loyola coaching staff, but UCLA is hoping their history of success at Loyola helps them some.
Kammy Delp, 6-4, 305, Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch
National Position Ranking: 18 (OG), UCLA Offer
-- Delp got the much-hoped for offer from UCLA towards the end of summer and he then took an unofficial visit a couple of days later. While he didn't commit to the Bruins, they've definitely assumed the leader position in his recruitment, though Washington, Washington State and Oregon State are still pushing for him. But Delp made it clear how much his family wanted him to be close to home and how much an offer from UCLA meant to them. He's also very close with Mama and Talamaivao, so UCLA would love to bring him in as a commit and then have Mama and Talamaivao follow suit. Delp is planning to visit Arizona State in January and has already visited Washington State, but he's said he still plans to announce at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
Kenyon Frison, 6-5, 290, West Valley City (Utah) Granger
National Position Ranking: 31 (OT), UCLA Offer
-- Frison committed to hometown Utah early, almost instantly after the Utes offered. Then he went to the Oakland NFTC and was stellar and then Oklahoma and Washington offered. UCLA has recently gotten on board with him and is hoping to bring him out for an official visit and will try to flip him. He's got tremendous upside and has a chance to be a good player in college. UCLA is also playing up the fact that the last lineman they got from Utah has turned out pretty good. Academics, though, could derail those plans.
Morgan Richey, 6-5, 275, Bellevue (Wash.)
National Position Ranking: 49 (OG), UCLA Offer
-- A three-year starter on one of the best teams in the country, Richey was offered, as he said, out of the blue, in the middle of September. The Bruins also offered the tackle he lines up next to, 2015 four-star Henry Roberts and they're recruiting his other teammate Budda Baker, while having Myles Jack, another former teammate, on the roster. Richey said he wants to take an official visit to UCLA and that could happen later in the year. Richey visited UCLA unofficially last month for the Cal game.
Others to Watch:
Larry Allen, 6-3, 250, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle