The Bruin Buzz Word

It's the latest UCLA football inside recruiting buzz, with notes on Budda Baker, Bryce Dixon, Rashaan Evans and so many more prospects...

There is a new, very long, dead period that starts this year. It goes from December 16th through January 15th. It started yesterday, when the dead period traditionally started for JC transfers, and ends on the Wednesday during the coaches (AFCA) convention (Jan. 15th).

That changes recruiting this time of year quite a bit:

-- UCLA and all other programs won't be able to conduct in-homes or official visits until after January 15th (During a dead period, a coach can still call or write a prospect, but just can't see him in person). Many recruits used to take official visits during the next month, but they won't be able to now. If you might have noticed, many are saying they might not be able to take all five of their official visits. It's pretty clear that recruits now will prioritize the official visits of the schools they definitely are interested in to ensure they get in those visits. There are now only three weekends remaining when a recruit can take an official visit. Of course, they can take mid-week visits but those are difficult to pull off.

-- It disallows coaches from recruiting at the high school all-star games. Remember all the stories from the mass amount of coaches that had rooms in the hotel where the recruits were staying at the all-star games? How the coaches would wait in the lobby (and sometimes sneak down the street) to greet the players when they returned from the game, and then compel them to come up to their suite to recruit them? No longer allowed. Coaches can't recruit at the high school all-star games anymore.

-- A head coach has a limited amount of times he can visit each recruit in person, and Jim Mora used many of his opportunities in the last two weeks. This isn't saying it was a good or bad strategy, but UCLA clearly used the last two weeks before the dead period to get Mora in front of many recruits, and it might not leave too many in-person contacts for Mora with recruits in January.

-- It will probably hurt USC, Washington and other programs that hired coaches in the last few weeks, since they'll have far fewer chances to see their recruits and have them in for official visits.

The new dead period was the primary reason UCLA decided to use the last two weeks to conduct so many in-home and in-school visits.


• From Greg Biggins on Bryce Dixon: I just talked to someone very close to his recruitment who has been in on all of the home visits. It's still a UCLA-USC battle and has gone back and forth a few times. UCLA led until Lane Kiffin was fired, then USC inched ahead. It now appears UCLA is back in front after a very good HV last friday with both Mazzone's and Yarber. The key for Dixon and his family is for him to see how he'll be used in the offense and he loves what his role would be at UCLA. He's not a traditional TE and UCLA showed him on Friday how they used Joe Fauria and Thomas Duarte and that's how they envision him as well. USC ST coach John Baxter came over to his house the day Kiffin was fired but Bryce hasn't spoken to anyone on the new staff yet. He's planning to announce at the Army AA game next month.

• West Hills Chaminade safety Jojo McIntosh has fully de-committed from UCLA. It was a mutual decision by both McIntosh and UCLA. It's believed that McIntosh will end up at Washington, since his other favorite before committing to UCLA was Boise State, whose coaching staff is now at Washington.

• The #5-ranked defensive end in the country, Texas's Solomon Thomas, took an official visit to UCLA last weekend. There were rumors that he verbally committed but that's not the case. The word from the visit was that it went very well, with Thomas accompanied by his mother. The long-believed leader for Thomas has been Stanford, but Stanford has yet to admit the five-star prospect. The intention is to visit Stanford in late January, and Stanford many times waits until the official visit to inform the prospect he's been admitted, but there is a thought that he might not get past Stanford's admissions. He also plans to visit Arkansas and Ohio State, who is a late-comer to the party. With the new dead period, he'll have three weekends to take those three visits. As of now, it's believed that if anything falters with Stanford UCLA is in a very good place for Thomas.

• UCLA coaches visited West Hills Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya twice in the last couple of weeks -- once with Jim Mora and a full contingent of coaches, and then assistant Angus McClure did a second visit late last week. The word is that Kaaya plans to flip from Miami to UCLA, and could do so as soon as early January.

• Texas defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao, who is verbally committed to Texas but officially visited UCLA a couple of weeks ago, was just offered by Oregon. It's believed that Lealaimatafao will ultimately sign with Texas but is enjoying the process, and could very well officially visit Oregon.

• From Scout.com's Chad Simmons on Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans:

Over the weekend, a top linebacker target, Rashaan Evans, told a newspaper that UCLA "has a slight edge."

He really likes UCLA linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich at UCLA, and Ulbrich, along with Jim Mora, are two big reasons that Evans likes UCLA. When I talked to Evans on Monday, he said, "The biggest thing outside of Coach Ulbrich is how UCLA tells me I can play and make a difference right away."

He sees Anthony Barr, and UCLA, of course, is using his draft status to recruit Evans, telling him he can be that type of guy down the road.

Auburn is still going to be tough to beat here in the end, but UCLA has kep themselves in the game. He still has official visits to Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia to take in January.

On Sunday, he met with Georgia at lunch, Ole Miss in the afternoon, then multiple Auburn coaches Sunday night. He had a busy day.

UCLA has really recruited Evans and the parents well and the Bruins are constantly going through Evans' mind. He plans to slow down things and think a lot in the coming weeks.

"During the dead period, I am just going to sit back and think about things. I do not know what I am going to do right now. It is a lot tougher than I thought it would be," Evans said.

When I asked if UCLA was his leader, Evans said, "No sir, I do not have a leader. I just give them a slight edge right now."

• UCLA brought in American Samoa native Chris Manilla for an official visit over the weekend, a 2014 offensive lineman with the thought that he could land an offer from the Bruins. However, UCLA didn't offer Manilla and we've heard it's unlikely that they will offer him at any point.

• The other recruit to officially visit UCLA last weekend was Dwight Williams, the linebacker from Gardena Serra. We're hearing that UCLA might not accept a commitment from him at this point.

• Bellevue (Wash.) safety Budda Baker has set his UCLA official visit for January 24th, which will be the second of two big visit weekends for UCLA in the month of January (they will also host a big weekend for visitors the weekend before on 1/17). Baker set his final visit for the final weekend before Signing Day for hometown Washington. Baker is also likely to visit USC on January 17th. You can expect Washington to pull out all the stops on that last official visit to try to win over Baker, who recently had been leaning to UCLA.

• UCLA coaches went to see Marlon Mack, the UCLA-committed running back, in Florida last week. Mack is a guy UCLA clearly still wants and the relationship was re-solidified after UCLA replaced running back coach Steve Broussard. New UCLA running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu wasn't on the visit, but he has been in contact with Mack.

• Polamalu and assistant Adrian Klemm went to visit Joe Mixon, the big running back target in NorCal. The visit went very well, with Polamalu not only smoothing over any previous issues, but really impressing Mixon and his advisor. As of right now, it's believed that UCLA is leading for Mixon, but Mixon has been a bit fickle and that could obviously change before he makes his announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Game January 4th.

• Georgia running back C.J. Leggett recently said his two finalist were UCLA and Georgia Tech, but we've heard that UCLA isn't recruiting him and Leggett doesn't have a commitable offer from UCLA. Leggett was a Broussard recruit.

Chris Brown, a offensive tackle prospect UCLA had offered and was recruiting, verbally committed to USC after taking an official visit there this weekend.

• USC, in fact, even without an entire new staff in place yet, is competitive in recruiting with UCLA under Steve Sarkisian. They are recruiting UCLA committed defensive backs John Plattenburg and Denzel Fisher, and receiver Jordan Lasley, and are considered the primary competition for offensive lineman Damien Mama. It's long thought that offensive lineman Kammy Delp is leaning to UCLA, but a USC offer could change that.

Zach Whitley, the Texas linebacker who is verbally committed to Alabama but took an official visit to UCLA a couple of weeks ago, officially visited Alabama last weekend. Coming out of his UCLA visit it was thought the Bruins had a very good shot with Whitley, but Alabama, as you would expect, made a huge comeback with their official visit. Right now it's thought he'll ultimately opt for Alabama, but UCLA definitely has a chance. The word is his parents want him at Alabama but Whitley prefers UCLA. He'll be an early entrant so he could sign starting yesterday, and has only until early January to actually make the decision and enroll at the school of his choice.

• The Army game should be a big event for UCLA recruiting. UCLA should have at least 14 prospects it's recruiting participating in the game, including some already committed like receiver Austin Roberts, defensive back Jaleel Wadood, and defensive lineman Ainuu Taua. A good handful will make their announcements during the game, including Mixon, Dixon, and Williams.


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