Next month are two big events – the Los Angeles NFTC March 9th, and the Pylon Elite 7on7 Tournament in Las Vegas March 15th-16th, along with a few other 7-on-7 events in the next few weeks (even one this weekend). Just like in any year, we anticipate more 2015 recruits will blow up a bit at these events and earn a reputation – and potential scholarship offers.
Then, of course, when you get into April, May and June, it feels like there are multiple 7-on-7 tournaments every weekend featuring high-level prospects, providing more opportunities for recruits to step up.
UCLA has a very limited amount of scholarships for 2015, probably 12-18, ultimately. It means that the UCLA staff is being pretty selective at this point in the process, having extended offers to a fairly small list of prospects. But we could see UCLA opening up the scholarship bag in the next few weeks – and definitely next couple of months -- as a result of these events. Of course, college coaches can't attend these events, but the media coverage (that would be us) is so extensive, with reports, videos, etc., it sometimes is just enough to make a program offer a prospect they had evaluated and were close to offering.
UCLA coaches will then be able to do their own evaluating when they're "out" in April for the Evaluation Period, which runs April 15th through May 31st. Coaches can visit the high school campuses of recruits to evaluate them in their spring practice. UCLA, also, has its spring practice in April, and will host some Junior-Day-like events, giving UCLA coaches a chance to interact with and eyeball recruits when they visit UCLA's campus. Then, in June, UCLA will conduct a series of its own camps – a Big Man Camp, Skills Camp and Elite Camp – and these are annually the events that garner more UCLA offers than anything else – giving the UCLA coaches a chance to actually coach up a prospect.
So, being on the verge of all of this, we asked our illustrious west coast recruiting experts, Greg Biggins and Brandon Huffman, to help collaborate on a list of 2015 prospects that we could see emerge this spring. The primary criteria here were guys that don't have a UCLA offer and we think very well might end up with one. We also added guys that UCLA might not even get to because of the limited amount of UCLA scholarships available for 2015, but who could emerge this spring and summer and become, say, at least four-star prospects.
Tevita Halalilo, 6-6, 320, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde
We actually wrote this piece Wednesday morning -- before UCLA offered Halalilo Wednesday night. We were cheating a bit to put Halalilo on this list anyway since he is one of UCLA's top targets at OL for 2015 so far. Biggins has implied that UCLA is "in a good spot for him." It'd be a very big (literally and figuratively) get for the Bruins, to secure perhaps the #1 OL prospect in California early.
Dedrick Young, RB, 6-1, 200, Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial
With running backs being scarce in the west for 2015, Young has already emerged as one of the region's top prospects at the position, with four Pac-12 offers in the
Clayton Johnston, OL, 6-6, 265, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
The pool of offensive line prospects in the west isn't deep, and Johnson has started to emerge as one of the best tackle prospects in the region, and is already starting to get recruited like it. He camped with UCLA last summer and likely will do it again in June. If he attends the Nike Camp next week, and he's expected to do so, and does well, we could see UCLA offer.
Bolu Olorunfunmi, RB, 6-0, 210, Clovis (Calif.) North
He's the big, physical running back UCLA is looking for. He doesn't have great top-end speed, but he's tough running through the trenches. He unofficially visit UCLA and we've heard intends to camp in Westwood.
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, 6-4, 200, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
He's already a four-star prospect with a pretty impressive offer sheet. He's very long and has good body control for a guy his size, and very good ball skills. He camped at UCLA last year; the question is, with offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Stanford and others, will he feel he needs to go to UCLA's camp this year? He doesn't have offers from either UCLA or USC so he might be compelled to get the local programs onboard. UCLA has many big-type of receivers on its roster, and has offered some for 2015 already, but we think St. Brown might impress enough that he garners an offer.
Khaylan Thomas, LB, 6-2, 210, Etiwanda (Calif.) His junior film is one of the best you'll see from a linebacker in the west for 2015. He's big, physical and rangy. He had no offers before Signing Day, but now has four from the Pac-12. He'll be at both the Nike Camp and the Vegas 7on7, and has said he'll more than likely camp with UCLA in June. UCLA, also, has recruited the Inland Empire fairly aggressively. If he checks out physically, and is a legit 6-2, we could see a UCLA offer coming pretty soon.
Vaimoe Sekona, DT, 6-3, 285, Encino (Calif.) Crespi
The biggest question might be which side of the ball Sekona plays on in college. We know that UCLA had shown some interest in him on the offensive line. He has a couple of Pac-12 offers, from Colorado and Washington State. It's probably going to take either a blow-up performance at the Nike Camp and/or one at the UCLA camp to get a spring offer. But if he doesn't get one in the next few months, we could still see Sekona being a candidate for one in fall, since he's in UCLA's backyard.
Colin Samuel, CB, 6-2, 175, Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany
Samuel is this year's Denzel Fisher, at 6-2 and long, and is one of the better cover corners in the Southland. He also plays for one of the top teams in Southern California, which means UCLA isn't going to miss him this spring, and Samuel has shown interest in UCLA, attending a couple of UCLA games last fall.
Jaylinn Hawkins, WR, 6-0, 170, Buena Park (Calif.)
Hawkins is one of the few four-star prospects on this list that doesn't have a UCLA offer. It could be because he's neither a big receiver nor really burner fast. But he is quick and he is a technician as a receiver, being a great route-runner and pass catcher. He's good enough that
Joseph Wicker, DE, 6-4, 255, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Wicker looks to fit UCLA's mold of its defensive end, and the Bruins have been picking up their recruitment of him. With really just one scholarship to give to a DE, perhaps two if there were two elite guys who wanted to come, UCLA is being very selective in offering DEs. If there were a local DE prospect we could see, however, UCLA could offer in the next few months it would Wicker.
Tony Brown, WR, 6-1, 175, La Mirada (Calif.)
Brown transferred from Servite to La Mirada and figures to be a big part of their offense this fall. He plays on either side of the ball and has shown the type of athleticism that could make him versatile, which UCLA obviously likes. Brown has talked about attending UCLA camps. He has offers from Purdue and Washington State.
Breiden Fehoko, DT, 6-3, 275, Honolulu (Haw.) Farrington.
Fehoko is the #13-ranked DE in the country but projects, really, as a defensive tackle, and it's a bit curious at this point why UCLA hasn't offered him. We'd have to speculate that UCLA hasn't had time to review his academics. We know that UCLA will go to Hawaii this spring (don't feel too badly for the UCLA coach who draws that stick) to see Canton Kaumatule, and will almost certainly check in on Fehoko and we'd have to anticipate a UCLA offer might result.
Christian Rector, DE, 6-5, 235, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola
As stated, UCLA isn't doling out many offers for defensive ends for 2015. We probably don't think Rector would be a candidate to get one early, even this spring, but we could maybe see it by next fall. Rector is big, has good length, and if he can get up around 255-ish by fall, like he intends, that could help matters. He has ties from his high school to USC and UCLA, with UCLA assistant Kennedy Polamalu having just coached at Loyola this last season. He'll almost certainly have to camp at UCLA to have a chance at an offer.
Bar Milo, OL, 6-6, 285, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
He's a four-star prospect that UCLA hasn't offered so putting him on this list is kind of a no-brainer. But UCLA will probably only give out three rides to OLs for 2015, so there's still a question of whether UCLA will, in fact, offer Milo. He's great physically, with pretty much an ideal body for a junior offensive line prospect. If he shows some athleticism and quickness at a camp or in person for the UCLA coaches in April he'll almost certainly get an offer.
Cedric Peterson, CB, 6-0, 190, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde
UCLA doesn't have many rides to give to defensive backs, so they might not get to Peterson. But he's a talented player who is athletic and versatile, and has a real chance to blow up this spring and get noticed. UCLA has watched him so if he does blow up we could see the Bruins moving on him pretty quickly.
Ykili Ross, WR/ATH, 6-2, 185, Riverside (Calif.) Poly
Like with Halalilo, we were writing this piece Wednesday morning when UCLA offered Ross (Perhaps this story is magical?). Ross is a guy we really like on film, with that long, 6-2 body and with the combination of quickness, instincts and ball skills to project to either side of the ball, and looks like he could be one of those ideal, big corners. In our recruiting update on Ross from yesterday, Biggins wrote: "If you're looking for a player who could really blow up this spring and summer, Ross could be that guy."
Isaiah Renfro, 6-2, 185, Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon
Renfro is a big, physical receiver who is among the best in the west for 2015. He is, though, what UCLA has quite a bit of in its receiver ranks – that 6-2ish, bigger guy that isn't blazing fast. He'll have to really separate himself and emerge as an elite guy this spring, we think, for him to garner a UCLA offer, but he has a chance.
Dru Samia, OL, 6-4, 275, Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley
One of the more versatile linemen in the Bay Area, Samia has a Pac-12 offer already, but is interested in the two Southland schools and Kennedy Polamalu stopped by his school in January. He'll need to get in front of a UCLA coach sometime this spring; camping at UCLA would definitely improve his chances of an offer.
Jacoby Herring, WR, 6-4, 175, Perris (Calif.) Citrus Hill
A long receiver, Herring is similar to UCLA 2014 committed receiver prospects Alex Van Dyke and Austin Roberts in that he's more of the taller, possession-type, but he can definitely run. If, this spring, he shows quickness and speed to go along with that size he has a chance to emerge as one of the best in the west, and UCLA could move on him.
Nick Capella, OL, 6-6, 265, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
Right now he has one Pac-12 offer, from Cal, but he's one of those guys that has the size and frame to be a very good OL prospect; he'll just have to show quickness and athleticism this spring.
Paul Lucas, RB, 5-11, 180, Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe
Lucas might be the fastest player in the west for 2015, having won the Arizona state title in the 100 last year with a time of 10.44, which is blazing. He might not be an every-down running back, and could slot in at the F-back spot in most spreads, but with that speed he has a chance to be a big weapon. The Arizona schools and the lower Pac-12 schools have already offered, but if he shows up to a camp and runs a 4.3 40, programs from around the country will jump on the Lucas boat.
Jackson Perry, DT, 6-2, 275, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
The top defensive prospect in the state of Nevada, Perry is teammates with UCLA commit Alize Jones, and has an early offer from Nebraska. UCLA will see him this spring at Bishop Gorman because of Jones, and if Perry comes to the UCLA camp in June we could see UCLA's interest picking up.
Matt Locher, LB, 6-3, 247, Los Alamitos (Calif.)
Many recruitniks, when they see a linebacker prospect is 6-3 and 247, get very excited. But if you're legitimately that size as a junior in high school, most of the time you're going to continue to get bigger and probably become a defensive lineman. Locher will have to prove this spring/summer that he has the quickness to remain a linebacker, and if he does, with that size, he could blow up.
Simba Short, S, 6-2, 185 Concord (Calif.) De La Salle
Short is already a four-star prospect by Scout but doesn't have many offers, from just Arizona State and Northwestern. He'll do the 7on-7 circuit and will be at the Oakland NFTC in May, so he'll have to show that he has the athleticism to go with the size.
We're cheating on Longson a bit, too, since he's a four-star with offers from Ohio State and Florida State. UCLA hasn't shown much interest to date, and he plans to go on his Mormon Mission out of high school. But we would anticipate that UCLA assistant Angus McClure, whose region is NorCal, will get on Longson.
Lavan Alston, WR, 6-0, 175, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
UCLA is looking for that fast, quick, shifty slot guy that can be a homerun threat, and Alston could end up being that guy. He's run a 10.77 100, and currently has some Pac-12 offers. He's also a good student.