Wednesday Recruiting Buzz Word

It's a big buzz today, with tidbits on Jim Mora using his two-way affinity to recruit, Rashaan Evans coming on an unofficial visit Jan. 31st on his own dime, and more...

-- Jim Mora was a bit innovative this last season, and he's marketing that innovation to recruits. Mora used quite a few defensive players on the offensive side of the ball in certain offensive packages. Defensive linemen were used as running backs and receivers, linebackers caught touchdowns, and even offensive linemen were used as receivers. Atrue freshman linebacker, Myles Jack, was a national sensation as a running back, accomplishing an unprecedented feat of winning the Pac-12 Freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. Mora is causing some waves with this in recruiting, pitching it to recruits that he'll use them in various ways, and both ways.
He's told Budda Baker he can be both a defensive back and a slot receiver. He told Rashaan Evans Tuesday in the in-home visit he could be a linebacker and run some Wildcat. Now, other coaches might scoff at this, or try to discredit it, but Mora has some evidence to back it up. UCLA won't be using two-way players on every down, of course, but Mora intends to continue to use some players in different packages on the opposite of the ball. Who knows? Perhaps Mora ushers in a new era of utilizing two-way players in college football.

-- UCLA wide receiver coach Eric Yarber will be in for a in-home visit with Fresno Central receiver Michiah Quick today. Oklahoma and Notre Dame visited Monday and USC Tuesday. We continue to hear it's a UCLA-OU battle, with OU ahead.

The leaning to Oklahoma had a little to do with his friend, Joe Mixon, committing to Oklahoma, but Oklahoma was probably slightly leading before Mixon announced for the Sooners. OU has been on him harder and longer than anyone, his mother lives near campus, he's close with Courtney Viney, who is from Fresno and on Oklahoma's staff, and he has two former teammates at Oklahoma. That's a great deal to overcome.

-- The five-star athlete from Gardena Serra, Adoree Jackson, has narrowed his choices for his final official visit to UCLA, USC and Florida. He has one official visit remaining, having visited LSU, Oklahoma, Florida State and Tennessee. It's thought that USC or Florida will be the two primary considerations for the visit. Jackson is from Illinois and was there last week when USC coaches went there to conduct an in-home visit with him. We think that Florida, who was thought to be a leader in summer and fall, and Tennessee have a real chance here, despite the sentiment that he'll end up at USC.

-- UCLA pulled a bit of a surprise and had an in-home visit with Demetrius Knox, the nation's #7-ranked offensive guard from Fort Worth (Tex.) All Saints' Episcopal. Offensive Line Coach Adrian Klemm and Jim Mora went on the visit. It was thought UCLA was leading for Knox back in summer, but then he surprised many by committing to Ohio State in August. He's only taken one official visit -- to Ohio State -- in September, and it was pretty much believed his recruitment was over. But even some of the BRO sleuths started to notice over the last few months that Knox was interacting with many UCLA players and recruits on Twitter. Knox is friends with current freshman offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch, and Knox kept in touch, with him, and we've heard, recently Klemm. Mora and Klemm emerged from the in-home visit with Knox now taking an official visit to UCLA on its big recruiting weekend, Jan. 31st. The thought right now is that it could legitimately go either way --- that he could stay with his commitment to OSU or flip to UCLA. The momentum right now is with the Bruins. We'll see if it stays that way when OSU Head Coach Urban Meyer comes to Texas for an in-home visit today.

-- Defensive Backs Coach Demetrice Martin checked in on UCLA-committed defensive back Adarius Pickett in Cerrito (Calif.) Tuesday. The day before Martin had an in-home visit with Budda Baker in Bellevue (Wash.), along with Mora and Baker's mother. It appears that Baker gave UCLA a strong enough indication of his leaning that it led to Martin having a conversation with River Ridge (Louisiana) John Curtis Christian defensive back Mattrell McGraw, and UCLA taking back its offer to McGraw. McGraw will not visit UCLA on Jan. 31st, and it was believed that Oregon had really come on strong anyway in the last week or so and had overtaken UCLA for McGraw.

Kenny Young.
-- The first question is: How does McGraw affect UCLA's recruitment of McGraw's teammates, linebacker Kenny Young and receiver Malachi Dupre? From what we've heard, it doesn't. The two who are particularly close are Young and Dupre, and it wasn't going to be a big deal for them if McGraw went to Oregon anyway. They were never a package deal; it worked out that they had a few schools in common, and if it happened to end up they went to the same program, great. From what we've heard, they were never locked in to playing together in college.

Also, if it's the case of taking Baker and not McGraw, then it's worth it. We saw McGraw last summer, and believe he's a tweener -- corner size without the speed but safety tools without the size. He's a good prospect, but not on the level of Baker.

-- Dupre just returned from a whirlwind four days or so when he officially visited LSU and Alabama from Friday through Monday night. Yarber attended Dupre's basketball game Tuesday night.

-- UCLA, as we reported, got a verbal commitment from Kolton Miller, the 6-8 offensive line prospect from Roseville (Calif.) Tuesday night. UCLA assistant Angus McClure (whose recruiting region is Northern California, where he's from and knows everyone) got Miller's commitment on the in-home visit Tuesday, just a couple of days after Miller had officially visited UCLA. Of course, a great deal of credit for getting Miller goes to Klemm, who just about every OL prospect wants to play for, but credit also has to be given to McClure, who stayed on Miller during the summer and fall when not many schools were offering, including UCLA. Once again, McClure proves that recruiting is a marathon and not a sprint.

-- Mora and UCLA Linebackers Coach Jeff Ulbrich spent 5 1/2 hours with the nation's #1 outside linebacker prospect, Rashaan Evans, in Auburn (Ala.) Tuesday. Here are the details of the visit: Evans Talks About UCLA In-Home Visit. The big news is that Evans agreed to unofficially visit UCLA on Jan. 31st. He's coming alone, without his family, so that Evans can have a pure student-athlete experience. He'll stay in the dorms with a current player, which is allowed by NCAA rules, and accompany the many official visitors on all of the events, with Evans' paying his own bill. Evans visited UCLA in September, so it's really significant that he's coming back, on his own dime, to visit UCLA again. He officially visited Alabama last weekend and he'll visit Auburn this weekend. The word has always been that Auburn was the main competition, but lately the word is that Alabama might have moved ahead of Auburn. It could just be the visit glow. UCLA, though, has been a constant throughout. Evans is a kid with a big personality, and it's thought that he's a good fit with Los Angeles and UCLA, and that he wants to get away from the Auburn/Alabama thing. Again, as we said, it's always tough to predict an SEC-area prospect is ultimately not going to stay in the SEC, especially when its perennial power Alabama, and Auburn, who made the national championship game this season. It would be, to put it mildly, a huge coup for Mora, Ulbrich and UCLA to pull off Evans.

-- We had reported that UCLA's chances to flip Joe Mixon, the running back from Oakley Freedom, who is committed to Oklahoma, were dwindling. Tuesday we heard that the relationship between UCLA and Mixon had taken a bit of an upturn and that UCLA still had a chance with Mixon. UCLA Running Backs Coach Kennedy Polamalu went to see Mixon at his school Tuesday, and Mora spoke with Mixon on the phone. We still believe he'll stick with Oklahoma, but UCLA isn't entirely out of it.

-- Nick Gates, the prospect from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, was supposed to officially visit UCLA this weekend, but cancelled his visit this morning. The way it sounds, with the commitment of Miller, Gates was concerned about numbers on UCLA's offensive line. We've heard that UCLA will continue to try with Gates, however.

-- Kammy Delp, the offensive line/defensive line prospect from Pomona Diamond Ranch, de-committed from ASU this week and said he's now considering UCLA, Washington and still ASU, but we've heard the de-commitment was about wanting to commit to UCLA. Delp, you remember, was considered a silent verbal, and then switched it up at the Semper Fidelis All-American Game by picking ASU. We've heard that one factor that now made Delp reconsider the commitment to ASU was the presence of Polamalu on UCLA's staff, and reconsidering his connection to Klemm. Before Gates decided not to visit, we would have thought UCLA didn't really have a spot for Delp, but without Gates there's a possibility. Klemm has Miller and Najee Toran, the prospect from Texas, committed, and is now targeting Knox, who would clearly be higher on the priority list than Delp. So at this point, even if Delp wanted to commit, it's unknown whether UCLA would take his commitment. It might only be a case that UCLA might take Delp if they miss on Knox. That could even be unlikely at this point. If UCLA gets back in on Gates we're even more skeptical about Delp. But we've heard something could break on this soon.

-- And then there's Damien Mama, the #1 offensive guard prospect in the nation from Bellflower St. John Bosco. We've heard that UCLA's chances with Mama have improved as of late, but that he's still a strong lean to USC. At this point, though, the renewed recruitment of Knox has kind of changed things: if UCLA got Knox and Gates, they'd probably call it a day. Gates actually might be a tougher one, since he's been pretty far down the road in his recruitment with Nebraska, Oregon, Arizona and Texas A&M. If Mama wanted to commit on National Signing Day they'd certain take his commitment, but an offensive line class of Toran, Miller, Knox and/or Gates, and graduate Miami transfer Malcolm Bunche, is a very good haul for Klemm that fills many needs.

Kalen Ballage.
-- Mora will be in the state of Colorado today, to see UCLA-committed running back Nathan Starks, from Englewood Cherfy Creek, and running back Kalen Ballage, from Falcon (Col.) Starks was very impressive personally on his visit to UCLA last weekend, and we've heard that Polamalu, who will accompany Mora on the visits, likes the size of Ballage, who is all of 6-2 and 220, and recorded a 4.39 40. We think Ballage will stick with his verbal commitment to ASU, but there are some close to the situation that feel UCLA has a good chance to flip Ballage. Ballage visited ASU last weekend, is scheduled to visit Washington this coming weekend and then UCLA on Jan. 31st.


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