Monday Recruiting Buzz Word

After the big recruiting weekend, we take the latest info we have and break down the recruitments of all of the prospects remaining on UCLA's 2014 board...

With just two days remaining until National Signing Day, and UCLA coming off a big recruiting weekend, here's a rundown on all the remaining prospects on UCLA's 2014 recruiting board:

-- As we reported in the Sunday buzz, there was a surprise visitor during the weekend, who came into UCLA both Saturday and Sunday. As we said, he's a big-impact recruit, and we had heard he was very interested in UCLA, being motivated to take the visit himself. There were a few indications Sunday night and even early Monday morning that lead us to believe he won't ultimately sign with UCLA on Wednesday, but it's one of those you-never-know situations. We will probably know quite a bit more in the next 24 hours.

-- A source close to Adoree Jackson, the five-star prospect from Gardena Serra, when asked about his visit to UCLA on Sunday, said, "It couldn't have been better." The relationship between Jackson and UCLA had been a bit reserved in recent months, but Jackson really bonded with the UCLA coaches in this recent trip to campus. Jackson's sister, whom he lives with in Los Angeles, is pro-UCLA, and his mother, who flew in from Illinois for the weekend, grew up in the same neighborhood as UCLA assistant coach Eric Yarber. Jackson met with the UCLA track coaches and the word was that the meeting went particularly well. UCLA's history of dual-sport athletes really resonated with Jackson and his family. While at this point, still, no one knows what NLI Jackson will sign Wednesday, we have it from pretty good authority that if he decides to stay in Los Angeles, UCLA has moved ahead of USC. Of course, there are still two days until National Signing Day, so things can change, and there's still the formidable out-of-state competition of LSU and Florida. But it's safe to say that UCLA has, in a matter of weeks, gone from what seemed like not really a serious consideration to a very serious player for Jackson.

-- Even after reporting Sunday that UCLA might be on the outside-looking-in for Rashaan Evans, the five-star linebacker prospect from Alabama, we heard information late Sunday night that leads us to believe that UCLA is very much in it for him. A source close to Evans says that the kid himself probably favors UCLA, but that the father hasn't signed off on allowing his son to play for the Bruins – and then there's all that pressure to attend Auburn. Right now, the recruitment of the #1-ranked outside linebacker in the nation has a bit of a circus feel to it, with coaches from Auburn and Alabama having attended the birthday party of Evans' grandfather and actually having a bit of a dance-off. We can only hope video of that surfaces. As of right now, we're leaning toward believing Evans will not opt for UCLA, but we've learned this morning that the situation is far different than how it was described to us over the weekend, with UCLA having a real chance here.

Malachi Dupre.
-- Malachi Dupre, the nation's #2 receiver prospect from Louisiana, visited UCLA officially over the weekend, and then talked to UCLA coaches Sunday night. At this point, this is another one that, honestly, no one knows which NLI he's going to sign Wednesday. He has indicated to sources close to him that the visit to UCLA was unlike any other. The factors are: LSU is his childhood favorite and, like Evans, he has a great deal of pressure to go to the local school; Florida State is also in the running, and they're the national champion; but UCLA is the more exciting lifestyle alternative compared to LSU and FSU, and there is the fact that Jim Mora has known Dupre's parents for over 20 years and is really close to Dupre's godparents, who live in San Diego. We were told by sources in Louisiana that they truly believe he could opt for UCLA, but that they could easily see him choosing LSU, too.

-- Kenny Young, the four-star Louisiana linebacker and Dupre's teammate at River Ridge (Louisiana) John Curtis Christian, is considered the visitor from the weekend that is easily most likely to sign with UCLA Wednesday. The feeling from sources close to him, as they always have maintained, is that UCLA is the leader, and the official visit solidified that.

-- Davon Godchaux, the four-star defensive end from Plaquemine (Louisiana), who is close with Young and Dupre, also took his official visit to UCLA, even though he's verbally committed to LSU. One source on Godchaux told us Sunday night that they believe, if he had to pick Sunday night, Godchaux would opt for UCLA. But there is that pesky thing of returning to Louisiana and being two and a half days out from NSD, which means so much could change. Godchaux, from what we hear, looks like a beast physically, at 6-4 and close to 290, kind of a mix of Datone Jones and Ellis McCarthy. Godchaux came alone on his weekend visit, but one thing to remember, too, is that he visited UCLA last summer, with his parents. He is a Louisiana country kid, but the word was that he could easily fit in at UCLA, and his parents are comfortable with it. We've heard, though, not to count out Ole Miss for Godchaux either.

-- We continue to hear that UCLA has a legitimate chance to pull off an upset Wednesday with the five-star defensive end Solomon Thomas, from Coppell (Tex.). It's long been thought that Thomas is a Stanford lean, and that's probably true, but there is something to the fact that he didn't commit to the Cardinal after his official visit there in early January. A source told us it truly reflects that Thomas hasn't made a decision. In fact, we've heard that Thomas contacted UCLA over the weekend, and has told people close to him that he was planning to sit down with his parents Sunday and Monday to talk about his final decision. All things point to Thomas still not knowing his choice; it might still mean he opts for Stanford, but it's a good sign for UCLA that he's still unsure of where he wants to go.

Budda Baker.
-- Budda Baker, the four-star defensive back prospect from Bellevue (Wash.) hosted UCLA Defensive Back Coach Demetrice Martin Friday, and a source close to Baker said the visit went very well, and only helped UCLA stay in the pole position, ahead of Washington. It's a bit worrisome that he hasn't yet verbally committed, since there is the issue of staying close to home because of his mother's health, but sources around the recruitment still believe he signs with UCLA Wednesday.

-- As we reported Sunday, we have heard quite a bit in the last day or so that Juju Smith, the five-star athlete from Long Beach Poly, won't sign with UCLA on Wednesday, that it's between USC and Oregon. We still find it difficult to believe he won't opt for USC, for there have been some indications lately that the Ducks could be supplanting the Trojans and are possibly the favorites to get Smith's signed NLI Wednesday. You have to give UCLA assistant Kennedy Polamalu a great deal of credit for even getting UCLA back in the game for Smith in the last few weeks.

-- Kalen Ballage, the three-star running back from Falcon (Col.) officially visited UCLA during the weekend, accompanied by a big family contingent. Ballage has gone a bit underground, and won't talk to the media at this point, which is understandable for any of these kids (We actually respect it). A source close to him indicated to us Sunday night that, after the visit, UCLA was probably leading ASU, the school Ballage has been verbally committed to for a while. We still tend to believe, however, that Ballage will ultimately stick with his commitment to the Sun Devils. Ballage, by the way, was measured at 6-2 and weighed 223.

-- Raekwon James, the 5-9, 185-pound running back prospect from River Ridge (Louisiana) John Curtis Christian, took an official visit to UCLA with his teammates this last weekend. You can read the interview we did with him after the visit here. He's verbally committed to Northern Colorado, and would be a depth guy at UCLA, given its current running backs depth chart. Of course, if he's part of a package that gets Dupre, who James is close with, UCLA would certainly take him, and it didn't hurt at all to have James on the weekend's visit.

-- As we reported Sunday, there were many unofficial 2015 visitors this last weekend, including running back/athlete Isaiah Langley, defensive tackle Jacob Daniel, linebacker Cameron Smith and running back Bolu Olorunfunmi.


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