There are some recruits left on the board we, at this time, don't think UCLA is going to get on National Signing Day. But the situations with some of them have improved, considerably. Here are the chances UCLA pulls some surprises next Wednesday...
We've been publishing our predictions for UCLA
's final 2014 recruiting class every Tuesday and Friday for the last couple of weeks (latest Prediction Friday
It's clear there are some pretty big fish out there that we think UCLA, at this point, isn't going to get.
But that doesn't mean they aren't going to get them.
As most readers of Bruin Report Online know too well, anything can happen on National Signing Day, and there are very often, more times than not, surprises.
So, here are the prospects left on the board and UCLA's chances to get them. We're not going to include Rashaan Evans or Malachi Dupre, since we've been predicting for the last couple of weeks that UCLA was going to get those two five-star recruits.
Best Chances at a NSD Surprise, in order:
1. Kalen Ballage, RB, 6-2, 220, Falcon (Col.)
He's committed to ASU, but we've heard consistently that with a good official visit this weekend UCLA could flip him. He brought a big family contingent with him on the visit, which is a good sign. We have previously thought he'd stick with his commitment to Arizona State, based mostly on our own reasoning – that he's been recruited for a long time by the Sun Devil coaches and that UCLA could be a little late to the party. But from what we've heard, among the prospects still left on the board, UCLA probably has the best chance to get a commitment from Ballage by National Signing Day.
2. Solomon Thomas, DE, 6-3 256, Coppell (Tex.)
The prevailing sentiment is that Thomas is sewn up to Stanford, but there have been enough whispers around his recruitment that lead us to believe UCLA has a chance to pull the upset here. We've heard that some sources around Thomas are leaving it open that there could be a NSD surprise. The fact that he hasn't announced yet is a bit uncharacteristic of a prospect intending to commit to Stanford; usually when they get accepted academically there is a commitment that follows pretty swiftly right after that. Thomas was accepted the weekend of Jan. 10th, on his official visit, and still no verbal commitment. UCLA coaches Angus McClure and Jeff Ulbrich visited Thomas this week, and we've heard that it wasn't just a hollow, courtesy visit, but that the indication from it was that UCLA is very much still in this. The general read from this: While Stanford might be the leader, Thomas hasn't truly made up his mind yet. As our predictions reflect, we still have to go with Thomas picking Stanford, but we've heard enough, and there is some evidence that fits, to indicate UCLA has a chance with Thomas on Wednesday.
3. Davon Godchaux, DE, 6-4, 271, Plaquemine (Louisiana)
It's a leap of faith to put him at #2 on this list, mostly because good information is scarce about Godchaux. He's verbally committed to LSU and, as we've said, there are some sources saying that he's only taking a UCLA visit to have some fun in L.A. Other Louisiana sources, though, close to the recruitment say UCLA is a real player for him and, with a good official visit, he could easily flip. That's unusual to get sources from an SEC area indicating that UCLA could steal an LSU commitment, so we put a bit of weight in that. From the little we do know, Godchaux has had a bit of a bumpy history with LSU, which has made him look elsewhere a bit. We think that if Dupre decides on UCLA, and we know that Kenny Young
has already, that it could cause some momentum with Godchaux. Of course, again, we're shooting in the dark here a little since so much depends on the official visit this weekend.
4. Juju Smith, S/WR, 6-1, 190, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
We've been told all week that UCLA has made an impression on Smith. He and his family visited UCLA's campus Sunday night, and the word around Poly was that the visit made a big impression. UCLA Running Backs Coach Kennedy Polamalu, since he was hired at UCLA in December, has been working on Smith, and it's been working. Polamalu has made some in-roads not only by selling him on Jim Mora, but on being a force in the Polynesian community through Polamalu's philanthropic endeavors. Mora and Polamalu were on Poly's campus Wednesday, and had a good visit with the talented athlete. USC, of course, is Smith's childhood favorite, and has always been considered the leader, with many reports saying Smith is a silent verbal to USC. We've also heard lately that Oregon is making a bit of a push, and we don't doubt that. And then with what we've heard about Smith and UCLA, it leads us to believe, at the very least, Oregon and UCLA have given Smith some things to think about it, and he's not completely certain that he's going to USC. The word was that Smith could take an unofficial visit to UCLA this weekend. As of last night, we hadn't heard that he did, but if he does Saturday or Sunday, it could be a very good sign that UCLA has a legit chance with Smith on NSD.
5. Adoree Jackson, CB/ATH, 5-10, 185, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Things have changed up a bit in Jackson's recruitment very recently. In fact, last night. The feeling now is that UCLA has a legitimate shot at the five-star, all-world athlete. It's been believed that USC and Florida were the leaders, and most of the people who know anything (and there aren't many since Jackson has kept his recruitment very close to the vest) are still putting their money on USC. But the door is now open a bit for UCLA. Jackson's mom is in town, and if she and her son take an unofficial visit to UCLA sometime during this weekend that would be a very positive sign, especially since he spurned taking an official visit to USC. If that mom/son visit happens then UCLA's chances greatly increase and Jackson would move up this list.
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