|Recruits on official visits today.|
According to various sources, the official visits are going well, on many different fronts.
UCLA measures the recruits on their official visits, and Kolton Miller, the offensive tackle prospect from Northern California, reportedly measured 6-8.
The word is that it's going very well with Miller and the other non-committed official visitor, quarterback Aaron Sharp from Texas. One source close to Miller thought that he could verbally commit by the end of the weekend, and if it didn't happen by then it probably would soon after. Another source close to Sharp indicated that Sharp, so far on his visit, has been very impressed with UCLA and that "it would be surprising if he didn't go to UCLA." Sharp is supposed to visit Washington next weekend.
We've also heard that recently-committed Nathan Starks is loving his official visit, and he's a very impressive young man in person.
The big recruiting news of the last day was the de-commitment of Budda Baker, the talented athlete from Bellevue (Wash.), from Oregon. Baker and his mother, apparently, were very impressed with Oregon's facilities on their official visit there but, after that glow wore off, Baker wasn't happy with how Oregon intended to use him. UCLA had been the leader for Baker before he committed to Oregon, and UCLA-committed defensive back Jaleel Wadood has been talking with and working on Baker. There's also the secret weapon of Mora, who has known Baker since he was eight years old. Baker knows he can trust Mora, and when Mora tells him that he can play both ways, Mora also has the evidence to back up that UCLA uses players both ways. Baker wants to play defensive back with a chance to also play receiver, and UCLA will almost certainly accommodate him. There is much being made of Baker wanting to stay close to home because of his mother's illness, but from we heard that probably won't be a big factor. Right now it's definitely between UCLA and hometown Washington, and USC, with the former Washington coaches there now, is trying. Baker is visiting Washington this weekend, and he'll probably visit UCLA for its biggest recruiting weekend Jan. 31st. He might also visit USC next weekend.
UCLA is looking for a second running back, and it appears that the possibility of Joe Mixon flipping from Oklahoma to UCLA is dwindling. Mixon had reached out to UCLA after he committed to Oklahoma, but sources close to him think, while he's still thinking about UCLA, he's settling in with his commitment to the Sooners.
A possibility is Darrel Williams, the 6-0, 220-pound prospect from Marrero (Louisiana) John Ehret. The UCLA staff had an in-home visit with Williams Thursday and, while he's committed to LSU, the feeling is that UCLA has a chance to get in on Williams. He could very well officially visit UCLA Jan. 31st with the rest of the Louisiana contingent.
Speaking of which – sources in Louisiana said that UCLA's visit with Malachi Dupre, the nation's the #1 receiver from River Ridge John Curtis Christian, went exceptionally well, with UCLA receivers coach Eric Yarber riding lead on the interaction with Dupre Thursday. UCLA linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich was the lead on John Curtis Christian linebacker Kenny Young. While Young likes to keep people guessing publicly, and will take some official visits, there are sources close to him that are pretty confident he's still clearly leaning to UCLA. Of course, Dupre, Young and their teammate, defensive back Mattrell McGraw, will all officially visit UCLA Jan. 31st.
We've heard that there is an ever-increasing chance that the #1 outside linebacker prospect in the nation, Rashaan Evans, from Auburn (Ala.) will take an unofficial visit to UCLA Jan 31st. And, the word, is, his family is coming with him. Despite what SEC-area recruiting experts maintain – that it's Auburn or Alabama for him – other sources that we trust are saying UCLA is strong with Evans and that it's probably about 50-50 right now, UCLA or Auburn. If he takes that unofficial visit with his family the UCLA odds will increase.
Getting back to running backs…
UCLA, as I said, will go after Williams, but they've also offered and are pursuing Kalen Ballage, the 6-2, 215-pounder from Falcon (Col.) who is verbally committed to Arizona State. UCLA running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu had a relationship with Ballage, so he's been recruiting him since being hired at UCLA. The feeling at this point is that UCLA has a decent chance to flip Ballage. He's officially visiting ASU this weekend, will visit Washington on Jan. 24th and, as of now, plans to visit UCLA Jan. 31st. There's still a chance Michigan could squeeze another official visit out of him sometime in there, too.