We have to preface this one by really emphasizing that, when it comes to the recruits that announce on NSD, it's truly a crapshoot predicting their decisions. For most of the uncommitted prospects listed below, we have some inside information but it's really, at this point, just an educated guess or a gut feeling rather than basing it on concrete knowledge.
Aaron Sharp, 6-3, 195, Houston (Tex.) Summer Creek
RUNNING BACK PREDICTION:
Nathan Starks, 6-0, 195, Englewood (Col.) Cherry Creek
The Most Recent Word: Joe Mixon, the running back prospect from Oakley (Calif.) Freedom, visited UCLA Saturday and Sunday, was very close to flipping to UCLA from his commitment to Oklahoma, but then Monday decided to stick with Oklahoma. UCLA Running Backs Coach Kennedy Polamalu did an exceptional job in getting UCLA back in it, having visited Mixon a few times in the last several weeks. Now, at the risk of this being a smokescreen, we'll put to bed the MIxon-and-UCLA saga.
That means the Bruins will go hard after Kalen Ballage, the 6-2, 225-pound running back prospect from Falcon (Col.). He officially visited UCLA with his family this last weekend; in fact, he was on campus at the same time as Mixon. We believe that the Mixon recruitment was a factor in Ballage not committing to UCLA during the weekend, even though we've heard the UCLA coaches were very willing to take his commitment, despite Mixon. Good sources have told us that Ballage will huddle with his family and advisor today, deciding between where he is verbally committed, ASU, and UCLA, while Washington has an outside chance. The plan is for Ballage to announce on National Signing Day. We had predicted that he'd stick with his commitment to ASU previously, and we think that the Mixon situation might be an element to Ballage's recruitment that keeps him committed to ASU.
WIDE RECEIVER PREDICTION:
Austin Roberts, 6-2, 221, Carmel (Ind.)
Alex Van Dyke, 6-4, 210, Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks
Jordan Lasley, 6-1, 185, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Malachi Dupre, 6-3, 195, River Ridge (Louisiana) Curtis
We've heard that he's eliminated Alabama and Florida State, and it's down to UCLA and LSU.
We've been predicting Dupre would be a Bruin and we think the big factor here has always been that Mora has known the Dupre parents for over 20 years, and that Mora is very close with Malachi's godparents, who live in San Diego. Malachi is a worldly, sophisticated kid, so we see him opting for the bright-lights, big-city of UCLA.
But we'll be straight with you: At this point, this is a pure guess. We know it's 50-50 between UCLA and LSU, and on NSD, he could go either way.
TIGHT END PREDICTION:
The Most Recent Word: UCLA went after Bryce Dixon, the Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure prospect, but he is sticking with his commitment to USC.
OFFENSIVE LINE PREDICTION:
Najee Toran, 6-3, 265, Galena Park (Tex.) North Shore
Kolton Miller, 6-8, 280, Rosemont (Calif.)
*Malcolm Bunche, 6-6, 330, University of Miami graduate transfer
The Most Recent Word: After the Damien Mama Drama, UCLA is standing pat with Bunche, Toran and Miller for 2014.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE PREDICTION:
Ainuu Taua, 6-0, 280, Lompoc (Calif.)
The Most Recent Word: You can be sure that UCLA is completely satisfied with Taua as their defensive tackle class for 2014.
The Most Recent Word: We are going out on a limb on this one and predicting Thomas will sign with UCLA. This is based on a few factors, mostly Thomas having not committed to Stanford yet, and some intel that Stanford isn't completely confident about getting him. So we're going to predict that Thomas starts off NSD with a Bruin commitment.
Even though UCLA was leading for Davon Godchaux after his official visit to UCLA last weekend, we think after returning to Louisiana he'll opt for either LSU or Ole Miss.
Zach Whitley, 6-2, 220, Galena Park (Tex.) North Shore
Cameron Griffin, 6-3, 210, L.A. View Park
Dwight Williams, 6-1, 212, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Kenny Young, 6-2, 225, River Ridge (Louisiana) Curtis
The Most Recent Word: Yes, Rashaan Evans has been removed from the linebacker prediction list. We legitimately think UCLA still has a chance, and it's down to UCLA and Auburn, but we think, in this case, the pressure to stay home is overwhelming.
We've heard even more information that Young is coming to UCLA, so we're still very confident on that call.
The Most Recent Word: It's been a tumultuous couple of days for Baker. We know he has been leaning to UCLA since his official visit a couple of weeks ago, but the latest is that he's now leaning to Washington as a result of pressure to stay close to his family, and we completely believe that. But we've also heard that the pressure to stay home could backfire on Washington. Baker might be getting a little annoyed that people are saying he's succumbing to pressure and not doing what he wants to do. We also think there are some influences locally that want him to go to UCLA. We think, ultimately, he opts for what he wants to do and picks UCLA tomorrow.
We've heard that UCLA doesn't have much of a chance for Juju Smith, and he could very well choose Oregon over USC.
The Most Recent Word: We're going to end this with our most homer-tinged prediction -- in the biggest National Signing Day stunner, Jackson opts for UCLA on Wednesday.
It's not like it's that out-of-the-blue. No one really knows where Jackson is going to go. The most logical speculation, based on recent events, is that he commits to Florida, and that's what experts like Greg Biggins and Brandon Huffman are predicting. But we think he won't want to leave SoCal after having been here for a couple of years -- that he feels he has everything, if not more, here in California than he'd have in Florida. So, we think he'll opt to stay in SoCal, and we think at this point, given all the recent events of Jackson visiting UCLA and USC, that he'll pick UCLA. Yeah, we know recruits almost never pick a school they didn't visit officially, but it has happened sometimes (Jordan Payton, the most recent). Jackson would be a prime candidate to be another who does it.
Where Would the Class Rank?
It would be a class of 23 incoming players, but Bunche doesn't count in the Scout.com class rankings, so for those purposes it'd be a class of 22. Scout.com rewards points on recruits up to 25 recruits, so being three short would, of course, hurt UCLA's rankings.
If we project the class above, and the points for the class, comparing it to the class recruiting rankings from 2013, it would put UCLA among the top 10 classes in the nation. Of course, this is a different year and it's impossible to predict how things will unfold nationally on Wednesday. Here, though, is a more in-depth projection of where UCLA's class could end up being ranked tomorrow.
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Monday Afternoon Recruiting Buzz - We have updates on Baker, Dupre, and the surprise visitor this weekend...
Where the Class Could Rank - We take a look at some of the scenarios for UCLA with two days to go...
Recruiting in the Jim Mora Era - In just two years, Jim Mora has completely changed UCLA recruiting...
Why UCLA Could Make the Playoffs in 2014 - The Bruins have the talent, experience, and schedule to make a deep run...