Football Recruiting Reset: Offense

We take a look at UCLA's offensive recruiting with one week until Signing Day...

We're just one week from Signing Day and there is one last weekend left for official visits, and just a couple more days of in-home visits and coaches being on the road.

UCLA added two commitments last week, both on offense, and that's seven in the month of January, four on defense and three on offense.  They did lose a verbal, but it wasn't one that broke their heart.

The Bruins have 17 commits, with seven on offense and ten on defense.

But there are several big fish still on the radar so the final weekend of visits in January, and the weeknights spent on in-homes will be crucial for the UCLA coaches to sign another top tier class.

UCLA has brought in some big classes in Jim Mora's first two recruiting classes, for 2012 and 2013. The 2014 class looked like it'd have about 18 scholarships to give, 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.***


UCLA finally picked up a quarterback in the 2014 class when Aaron Sharp picked the Bruins last week.

Aaron Sharp, 6-3, 190, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
National Position Ranking: 60, UCLA Offer
-- Sharp was a very soft commit to Kansas State, and basically, if he took a visit to UCLA or Washington, then Kansas State and Sharp would part ways.  Well two weekends ago, Sharp visited UCLA officially and the next night, he committed to the Bruins.  His pickup is crucial for depth and even though he's still pretty raw and may be a project, he'll be no worse than the third most talented quarterback on the roster next fall and it gives UCLA another quarterback to battle for Brett Hundley's job when he leaves for the NFL.


UCLA got an Army All-American running back, but not the one many thought.  They have one commit here and they're still open to Mixon coming and potentially bringing Watson in on an official visit.

Nathan Starks, 6-0, 190, Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek
National Position Ranking: 19, COMMIT
-- Starks was offered by UCLA a long time ago, but then he had off the field issues that forced him to leave Bishop Gorman and move to Colorado.  The week of the U.S. Army Bowl, Starks said UCLA was in his top three, but hadn't heard from the Bruin coaches since Steve Broussard left.  That triggered a crazy week for Starks, who had a good week in San Antonio and then was offered by UCLA again on the Saturday after the Army Bowl and he immediately committed.  Starks was actually one of the top running backs in the early on out West before a few moved ahead of him after good springs, summers and season, but he's a tremendous talent (he also could be an elite safety).   Starks visited earlier this month and had his in-home with UCLA coaches last Wednesday.  He said he's 100% solid to UCLA, despite several schools coming after him since he committed to UCLA.

Kalen Ballage.

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, if Mixon wanted to sign with UCLA, they pretty much would take him.  He's committed to Oklahoma and publicly saying he's solid to the Sooners, but we've heard that UCLA is still in talks with Mixon, so we're not completely closing the door on Mixon.  Kennedy Polamalu was by his school on Tuesday.

Kalen Ballage, 6-2, 215, Falcon (Colo.)
National Position Ranking: 52, UCLA Offer
-- Ballage has recently come on the radar for UCLA with the addition of running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu. Ballage is committed to Arizona State, but he's been looking around, and will officially visit UCLA this weekend.  He visited Washington last weekend as well. Ballage has very good speed for his size, reportedly running a sub-4.5 40 at one point in the last year.  UCLA had an in-home with him the same night they visited Starks.


UCLA receiver recruiting has been much discussed.  They had five commits at the position at one point, but their two least regarded receivers and UCLA went their separate ways.  Of course, UCLA would love this class to be at five receivers again, with their two biggest targets still on the board.

Austin Roberts, 6-2, 221, Carmel (Ind.)
National Position Ranking: 36, 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 and Roberts had an in-home with the Bruin coaches last week since they were in Indy for the coaches convention.  Roberts had a great week at the U.S. Army Bowl.

Alex Van Dyke, 6-4, 200, Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove
National Ranking: 39, 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 had a monster senior season too and he more so than Roberts could move to Y at UCLA. UCLA coaches had an in-home with him Thursday.  His coach said on Wednesday too, that despite some Pac-12 schools trying to get him to visit, he declined and is solid to UCLA.

Jordan Lasley, 6-1, 180, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
National Position Ranking: 69, 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, having played as a back-up as a junior, but he blew up last summer and looked very good in his senior season. The Trojans offered in fall and were recruiting him but Lasley visited UCLA earlier this month and told Biggins that he's solid to UCLA, won't be taking any more trips and has shut his recruitment down.  He did have a good showing at the B2G Elite Camp.

Michiah Quick, 5-11, 175, Fresno (Calif.) Central East
National Position Ranking: 6, UCLA Offer
-- Quick has been 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 has continued to heavily pursue him.  Oklahoma, who signed two of his teammates, is also very much in the mix for Quick and is the leader. Quick announced a top six last week of Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA and USC.  Quick visit USC two weekends ago and is scheduled to visit UCLA this weekend, but his coach told Biggins that he may not visit UCLA this weekend, that he's tiring of the process.  UCLA is expected in his home on Wednesday, and will try to get him to take that visit, but he becomes a real longshot if he doesn't trip.

Malachi Dupre, 6-3, 175, River Ridge (Louisiana) John Curtis Christian
National Position Ranking: 2, 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.  He will visit officially with two of his teammates this month, the weekend before Signing Day.  The UCLA coaches were also at his home on Thursday, in full and total force, to continue to push for Dupre. Experts in the SEC region all are making the call that he's going to LSU, but we definitely believe it's a toss-up right now between LSU and UCLA. Alabama also had him in for a visit and is making a push, and Florida State wowed him last weekend on his official, having Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston hosting him.  Then he did a mid-week visit to Ole Miss this week, but weather has him still in Mississippi.  Assuming the weather improves and Dupre gets out of Mississippi, he'll visit UCLA.


UCLA is looking pretty good at the position, but it will undoubtedly try bring in at least one Y, so Van Dyke and Roberts could be that guy if need be.

Bryce Dixon, 6-4, 220, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
National Position Ranking: 3, UCLA Offer
-- Dixon committed to USC at the Army Bowl, after long being thought of as a UCLA lean, so it was somewhat of a surprise when he picked the Trojans.  He visited USC last weekend and then said he was shutting his recruitment down and not visiting UCLA.  But then he had an in-home with Jim Mora on Tuesday and now it appears he will, in fact, visit UCLA this weekend officially.


After taking 7 OLs for 2013, it was though the 2014 UCLA really only needed two, but with the class expanding its available scholarships 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 freshman on the offensive line, so depth continues to be an issue.  UCLA did get a boost with Malcolm Bunche choosing to transfer to UCLA to play his senior season.

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 lone offensive line commit.  A commit to Oregon State, Toran flipped to UCLA and then helped get his teammate Zach Whitley to flip from Alabama to the Bruins.  Toran was hoping to be enrolled in January, but now it looks like he'll enroll in April for spring practice.  

Damien Mama.
Kolton Miller, 6-8, 300, Roseville (Calif.)
National Position Ranking: 28 (OT), COMMIT
-- UCLA offered Miller last month after he visited Oregon State and Wisconsin.  Angus McClure had been recruiting him for a while, but Adrian Klemm did the offering last month and Miller visited UCLA last weekend.  He had scheduled a visit to Oregon, but he won't trip to Eugene, committing to the Bruins last Tuesday night.

Damien Mama, 6-5, 340, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
National Position Ranking: 2 (OG), UCLA Offer
-- UCLA is in the final four for Mama, along with Alabama, BYU and USC.  The feeling is still that he's USC's to lose.  He was scheduled to visit BYU this weekend, but in a surprise on Tuesday, decided to cancel the BYU visit and will officially visit UCLA this weekend, keeping the Bruins in the game.

Malcolm Bunche, 6-6, 330, University of Miami
-- Bunche, a fifth year transfer out of Miami, began to look around for a new school after the Hurricanes' football season ended. After visiting UCLA this past Sunday, Bunche pulled the trigger and committed to the Bruins. He'll have a year to play, and could slot in immediately at either guard or tackle.


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