UCLA's 2014 Recruiting Class
Ron Robinson, S, 6'2, 195, , Position Rank: 69
Evaluation: Robinson has good size and a frame to add more weight, to the point where many project him as a possible linebacker down the road. He plays as sort of a physical safety, with the ability to jam at the line of scrimmage and play strong in coverage. He's a pretty big hitter as well.
Impact: He'll probably get an initial look at safety, and we suspect that's where he'll slot in his first year. It's going to be interesting, though, to see how much bigger he gets. We know that UCLA has liked using safety-types in the occasional mini-backer role throughout Mora's tenure at UCLA, and we have to imagine that Robinson will be another who can fit that mold.
Zach Whitley, MLB, 6'2, 220, , Position Rank: 6
Evaluation: Whitley is very athletic—we've heard that he tested very well on most of the athletic measurements UCLA does in January, similarly to how Myles Jack tested last year. He's very rangy, with the ability to cover sideline to sideline, and might have the ability to fit in at various spots in the linebacker corps. He didn't show much in the way of coverage skills in high school, but, then again, neither did Jack.
Impact: Immediately, you have to figure that Whitley will have a chance to compete with Isaac Savaiinaea and potentially another recruit for the open middle linebacker position opposite Eric Kendricks. Depending on whether Myles Jack plays more inside or outside, we could see Whitley in the two deep at any of the four linebacker spots. In any case, he's probably not a redshirt candidate.
Najee Toran, C, 6'3, 258, , Position Rank: 18
Evaluation: A lineman with a nasty streak, Toran has the ability to play any of the three interior line positions. He's actually played a fair bit of tackle for his high school team, and has shown good mobility on the edge. As he adds weight and strength, he should only improve as a player.
Impact: Toran might actually get his first shot at guard, rather than at center, since that's where there is an open spot. Coming in during the spring, Toran will actually be able to join in the competition for the starting left guard spot vacated by Xavier Su'a-Filo. While we can project that one of the returning players will have a leg up in the competition, Toran will get valuable reps and possibly show well enough to carry the competition in to the fall.
Adarius Pickett, CB, 6'0, 185, , Position Rank: 15
Evaluation: He's a very physical corner, with good size for the position and good ball skills. His physicality and strength has carried him a long way, and he showed some development as an athlete this past season, playing several different positions for his high school team, including making an impact on offense. Continuing to develop his athleticism and speed will be important for him going forward.
Impact: Pickett figures to be able to play any position in UCLA's secondary, but the odds are he'll get an initial look at cornerback, with the opportunity to compete with Fabian Moreau and Ishmael Adams (and a host of others) for one of the two starting spots. If he doesn't fit there, Pickett has enough versatility to play any of the other positions in the secondary, or potentially flipping to offense.
Austin Roberts, WR, 6'2, 221, , Position Rank: 36
Evaluation: Roberts is another big, rangy type of receiver. He has good speed for his size, and showed very good hands in high school. He has versatility, with the potential to play tight end or wide receiver at the next level, depending on which way his body goes. He's a good blocker as well.
Impact: Between Roberts, Van Dyke, and Lasley, we'd say Roberts has the best chance of competing for immediate playing time simply because his body appears fully college-ready. We could see him playing the Y position to start out with, which could need some additional bodies with the departures of Grayson Mazzone and Darius Bell.
Aaron Sharp, QB, 6'3, 180, , Position Rank: 60
Evaluation: Sharp is an exceptional athlete who is still developing as a thrower. He reportedly ran a 21.19 second 200m, which is incredibly fast. He has decent arm strength, and if he can refine his mechanics, could be a very interesting prospect as a dual threat in the backfield.
Impact: Sharp will have time to develop, with Brett Hundley, Asiantii Woulard, and Jerry Neuheisel all probably ahead of him to start out. If he shows well in fall camp, it's still a good bet that he'll be a redshirt candidate with the quarterback depth ahead of him. If he shows an inclination, though, it wouldn't be a shock to see him get a try at another position, given his athleticism.
Denzel Fisher, CB, 6'2, 170, , Position Rank: 39
Evaluation: Fisher is long and lean, with good strength and speed. He showed very well at the Nike Camp, and then, during West Coast Bowl practices in January, was easily the best cornerback there, showing significantly better than John Plattenburg. With continued strength training, he has a chance to be a very good corner at the next level.
Impact: Fisher looks like he's added some strength over the last few months, but he probably still has some more weight and strength to add before UCLA would want to throw him into the fire. He'll get the chance to compete for playing time during August camp, but we wouldn't be shocked to see him redshirt this season. He's a pure corner at the next level.
Ainuu Taua, DT, 6'1, 270, , Position Rank: 9
Evaluation: Taua was the defensive line MVP at the Southern California Nike Camp in March of last year and was also the DL MVP at The Opening. He is very quick and has elite pass rushing skills. The one concern with him was size, but he told us in January that he's already up to 290 pounds, and he looked not too far off that number.
Impact: With the way that Angus McClure likes to mix and match his defensive line to get different skillsets on the field, we could see Taua impacting immediately in that Keenan Graham role that McClure carved out last year, as a situational pass rusher from inside. Of course, Taua could surprise and potentially compete for an even greater role than that in his first year.
Kenny Young, MLB, 6'2, 225, , Position Rank: 7
Evaluation: Young is a force on the inside, with good ability to range sideline to sideline as well as the bulk and tackling ability to be a run stopper on dives. He's not much of a coverage guy, which might limit how much he can play to start out his career, but his motor and aggressiveness are both plus qualities of his.
Impact: Young could compete with Whitley and Savaiinaea, not to mention Judge and Brown, for the vacant inside linebacker position opposite Eric Kendricks. Even if he doesn't win the starting job, we'd project him making an impact in the two deep and on special teams to start out his career.
Alex Van Dyke, WR, 6'4, 210, , Position Rank: 39
Evaluation: Van Dyke is big and rangy with good hands, good speed, and good strength. He's already good in the red zone, which might be attributed to his basketball training, and projects to get even taller, which could make him an even bigger touchdown threat. He's a very good athlete, and could be an impact player down the line.
Impact: UCLA uses its receivers in a myriad of ways, and we could see Van Dyke plugging in at either the Y, X, or Z, depending on the way his body goes. We could easily see him playing as a true freshman, but there's also a chance that he will redshirt to gain strength.
Kolton Miller, OT, 6'8, 280, , Position Rank: 28
Evaluation: Miller, despite his considerable height, moves really well for his size and is a good athlete, with a 27 inch verticle and a 5.1 second 40. He improved significantly from his junior to senior year, and as he continues to get stronger throughout his upper body, could project to be a big-time contributor down the road.
Impact: Miller projects almost exclusively as a tackle, given his height. Depending on Torian White's status in the fall, you could see Miller potentially competing for a spot in the two deep to start out his career. Depending on what kind of shape he is in after summer workouts, it'll be very interesting to see whether he's ready for that kind of role come fall camp.
Jaleel Wadood, S, 5'11, 170, , Position Rank: 8
Evaluation: Wadood has earned a reputation as one of the toughest players in California. While a bit slight for a traditional safety, Wadood makes up for it with great instincts and awareness. He isn't a complete speedster, but his instincts generally put him in the right place at the right time. He also made an impact on offense for St. John Bosco, and could find a role as a slot receiver at the next level as well.
Impact: Wadood will get his first look at safety, but, like Pickett, he has the ability to impact at many different positions, including each position in the secondary. He could easily see the field as a true freshman, either in the secondary or as a playmaker on offense.
Dwight Williams, OLB, 6'1, 212, , Position Rank: 36
Recruiting: Williams had a very volatile recruitment. Beginning in his sophomore year, Williams was one of the most sought after linebacker prospects in the country, earning offers from across the country. In large part due to a lackluster senior season, though, he saw most of those offers float away, to the point where it was an open question whether he'd find a BCS-conference school to take him. Prior to the Army All-American Bowl, though, he indicated his desire to become a Bruin, and UCLA accepted the commitment.
Evaluation: Williams is certainly an athlete, but the question has been how solid his motor is. He took plays and whole games off this year, and didn't seem particularly interested even when Serra was in the playoffs. He has the athletic skills to make an impact at the college level, with good quickness and speed, but his love of the game is probably a question mark.
Impact: Williams probably projects as an inside linebacker in UCLA's system, and he'll have to add weight to be a potential starter there. For his first year, there's a good chance that he'll play on special teams in much the same way that Jayon Brown and Cameron Judge did this past season.
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, DE, 6'4, 265, , Position Rank: 14
Evaluation: Tuioti-Mariner has very good athleticism for his size, having been a volleyball player as well at the high school level. He's a very good pass rusher, and a good comparison for him would be someone like Cassius Marsh.
Impact: He projects, like Dickerson, as a player with the potential to crack the eight man rotation immediately upon entering school. He gives UCLA that dimension it's losing with Marsh's graduating, providing a good pass rush from one of the end spots. His quickness and pass rush skillset could earn him early playing time.
Matt Dickerson, DE, 6'5, 280, , Position Rank: 22
Evaluation: Dickerson is a load, probably even heavier now than his listed 280 pounds. He fits very well in a 3-4 system, with the ability play a strong defensive end role or even slide inside to play nose tackle. He's shown more of a space-eater/run-stopper skillset in high school, but could develop pass rushing skills, since he's a good athlete for his size. He did miss the majority of his senior season with a back injury.
Impact: UCLA likes to use an eight man rotation along the defensive line, and we have to imagine that Dickerson has a chance to compete for a role in that rotation. His size, strength, and athleticism are all college-ready, and the questions are simply whether his back is fully healthy and how quickly he will pick up the technique Angus McClure teaches.
Jordan Lasley, WR, 6'2, 180, , Position Rank: 69
Evaluation: Lasley has very good speed and quickness for his size, and a good set of hands. He also runs good routes. The knock on Lasley is that he is a big talker, which can sometimes be taken as a bad attitude. From what we've heard, though, his teammates generally like him, and Jim Mora, in particular, developed a very good relationship with him.
Impact: Lasley provides a good amount of speed, and might be one of the faster receivers on the team next year, depending on how a couple of recruitments go. We see him playing the big outside receiver role, much like Devin Lucien, and we could see him competing for playing time in his first year.
Nathan Starks, RB, 6'0, 190, , Position Rank: 19
Evaluation: Starks, at one point, was actually rated higher than Mixon as a running back, and he has a chance to be a very good one. He has good size, quickness, and strength, but lacks true top end speed. He has also shown a solid ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Impact: Starks should compete for immediate playing time in the running back rotation. If you project Jordon James as a starter, the rest of the depth chart is extremely fluid, with Paul Perkins, Craig Lee, Starks, and a few others all in the mix to compete for playing time.