Football Recruiting Reset: Offense

AUG 26 -- With the 2014 season nearly underway, we reset UCLA's offensive recruiting board...

As we've said in previous Recruiting Resets, initially the thinking was thatUCLA football recruiting for 2015 would a bit different than it's been in Jim Mora's first three recruiting classes, since there were seemingly so few scholarships available. Now, however, it looks much more likely that UCLA will take a full class of 22 to 25 players. Perhaps, though, there will be somewhat of a change in the makeup of the class.

In the past under Mora, UCLA just needed talent. The theory was – get the most talented and plug them into a position later. Now, with UCLA having established some defined roles on both offense and defense, it can target recruits for more specific needs. For instance, it's clear that UCLA is pursuing pass rushers, specifically five-technique types of rush defensive ends (think Cassius Marsh). It's also specifically targeting rush outside linebackers (of course, think Anthony Barr). On offense, it's looking for speed and elusiveness at wide receiver and in the slot.

These lists aren't comprehensive, but are comprised of the prospects UCLA has offered that they have a legitimate chance to get, prospects UCLA is fairly close to offering, and those we feel have a good chance to garner a UCLA offer.

QUARTERBACK

Needs at Position: 1

Josh Rosen, 6-4, 205, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Ranking: #14 Overall, #1 QB COMMITTED

UCLA secured a huge part of its recruiting class when Rosen verbally committed March 20th. As we've said previously: the success of UCLA's 2015 recruiting class is almost completely based on whether it gets an elite quarterback prospect, and it got one in Rosen. After being the No. 2 quarterback for the majority of his junior year, a season in which he led the Braves to a CIF State Open Division Bowl title and a 16-0 record, Rosen moved up to the No. 1 quarterback in the country and Scout. He then emphatically put his stamp on the top spot throughout the spring and at The Opening and the Elite 11. Rosen has so many of the tools you need to be an elite college quarterback – size, athleticism, a strong arm, accuracy, touch, and intelligence. He also seems to be maturing in terms of leadership, too, which is a big factor. Rosen, too, has been recruiting for UCLA, and it's pretty clear that his commitment will impact a number of recruits, especially receivers who want to catch his spirals for a few years. To UCLA's vast credit, it did an excellent job of recruiting Rosen. The Bruins were trailing for him early on, but Jim Mora himself and quarterback coach Taylor Mazzone were very effective in recruiting Rosen. Then, once they surged ahead for him they got the commitment. And also to their credit, they weren't as linear in their quarterback recruiting; even though it looked like a pretty sure thing they'd get Rosen, the UCLA staff was recruiting other quarterbacks for 2015 just in case they missed on Rosen. It appears, too, that Rosen's commitment will be solid to UCLA, and there isn't much worry of a de-commitment. Rosen has been recruiting for UCLA, and the hope is that the prospect of playing with such a talented quarterback will compel others to jump in the boat. He's one of the most cerebral and intelligent quarterbacks we've come across in over a decade. He also showed a lighter side this summer on the heels of the Elite 11, after Trent Dilfer called him out for not "buying in" on national television and ranked him 11th in the competition. Rosen put a photo on Instagram prior to the airing of the Elite 11 show saying "Watch me show why I'm the 11th best quarterback in the country". All in all, Rosen may be one of the most gifted and talented quarterbacks to come from the West in the last 15-20 years. And with Brett Hundley gone to the NFL after this season, plus Rosen's decision to graduate early from Bosco (a first, in fact), he will be in Westwood in the spring of 2015 and make a very legitimate case to be the heir to the reins of the Bruin offense.

RUNNING BACK

Needs at Position: 2-3

We changed the needs to "2-3" since it's clear, with UCLA's second commitment at running back, it's still in the market for even another, and that was before Simmons suffered a season ending injury last weekend. It's obvious with new running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu that he wants to be well-stocked talent-wise at the position. It's also a matter that there are some very athletic prospects at the position that UCLA has a very good chance at getting -- the type of high-level athlete that, despite maybe limited scholarships and enough depth at the position, you just can't turn down if they all want to jump in the boat.

Bolu Olorunfunmi

Bolu Olorunfunmi, 5-11, 210, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis North
Ranking: #48 RB COMMITTED

Olonrunfunmi is a solid running back pick-up, who fulfills the role that UCLA wants and Polamalu prefers – that of the bigger, NFL-prototype back. He doesn't have great top-end speed (running a 4.7 at the Nike Camp), but he had good quickness in the Nike Camp drills for his size, and when he gets it all moving forward he looks like a locomotive. He has repeated his solid commitment to UCLA and actually has been one of UCLA's best recruiters in the class, even with other running backs. In fact, usually when there is another UCLA commit, Bolu is one of the first on social media to congratulate and welcome them. UCLA has staved off offers from Notre Dame and Stanford for Bolu as well, and he's been one of their top offensive targets throughout.

T.J. Simmons, 6-0, 205, Lakeland (Fla.) Lakeland Christian
Ranking: #65 RB COMMITTED

Simmons really saw his stock soar this spring/summer. He was fairly under-the-radar, since he tore his ACL as a sophomore, but he was so impressive in camps and combines this year that he received big-time offers from around the country -- like from Florida, Ohio State and Notre Dame. He has a combination of assets that is unusual -- to be a legit 6-0 and 205, but run a 4.4 40. UCLA got on him hard this spring, and he had a natural affinity for the Bruins. When he visited for UCLA's camp week he was immediately sold and verbally committed. Simmons was a strong candidate to make a move up the rankings with a good senior season, but unfortunately, he suffered a broken fibula last weekend in Lakeland Christian's preseason scrimmage that will sideline him for his entire senior season.

Sotonye Jamabo, 6-3, 190, Plano (Tex.) Plano West
Ranking: #42 Overall, #2 RB OFFERED

UCLA started recruiting Jamabo pretty seriously in March and the interest is mutual. The #2 running back prospect in the country, Jamabo is big kid with a great body that could add quite a bit more bulk, and combines that with some considerable elusiveness. He's not ranked #2 in the country for nothing. UCLA Running Back Coach Kennedy Polamalu has a connection to Jamabo and he's having an impact on the elite prospect. Jamabo visited UCLA at the beginning of June and it clearly had a big impact on him. Jamabo said: "Well I had a good time at UCLA. It is Hollywood out there and I feel like I have a little bit of Hollywood in me. I just like the scene. It is a different scene from Texas and the East Coast as well, so I just like getting out and seeing the world. I got to meet some of the players and hang out with them, they are a lot of fun. They are also on the come up." The feeling at this point is that the Bruins lead for him while in-state schools Baylor and Texas A&M and national schools like Notre Dame and Ohio State are also prioritizing him.

Cameron Scarlett, 6-1, 210, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic
Ranking: #251 Overall, #32 RB OFFERED

Scarlett was a late spring offeree for the Bruins, but he long had high interest in them, so despite their late offer, they still made his top five in the summer, which also included Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford and Washington. While he's thought to be favoring Stanford and Oregon, Scarlett did say that when his older brother Brennan, a linebacker at Cal, was being recruited, UCLA was his favorite school to see, so they're going to at least get an official visit from Scarlett.

Dedrick Young, 6-1, 217, Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial
Ranking: #37 OLB OFFERED

Like Scarlett, Young was offered at the end of spring, but he too had long been interested in the Bruins so UCLA made his short list. He played with current Bruin Jalen Ortiz as a sophomore and Ortiz has been recruiting Young. While Young is ranked as a linebacker by Scout (and for good reason, he's a good prospect there), the Bruins like him as a power back, with a running style similar to Myles Jack in high school. Young visited unofficially in June and plans to take an official visit to UCLA during the season.

Other to Watch:

Malik Roberson, 5-6, 175, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Ranking: #60 RB


WIDE RECEIVER

Needs at Position: 3

UCLA got a number of bigger-type receivers in the 2014 class and now seems to be targeting both some bigger-type receivers and smaller, more elusive types. In UCLA's offense it always needs a good amount of receivers, so it's still very feasible that UCLA takes three receivers for 2015, especially if it means getting elite big-play guys.

L.J. Reed

L.J. Reed, 6-3, 205, Lodi (Calif.) Tokay
Ranking: #132 Overall, #14 WR COMMITTED

Reed committed to the coaches at UCLA's spring game, after it was pretty well-known he was leaning heavilty toward committing. He was offered early, and isn't the fast, elusive receiver UCLA is targeting in 2015, but he's too good not to take. UCLA, actually, though, after spring practice where a few smaller receivers emerged, might not be limited to just one "big" receiver for the 2015 class. Reed, too, very well could end up a Y, since he's not only big, as in tall, but pretty thick. He's an exceptional athlete who might actually plug in to a number of spots on either side of the ball. He was high school teammates with incoming freshman receiver Alex Van Dyke, and UCLA's Angus McClure was mostly responsible for his commitment. We've heard there could be a question on whether he qualified academically for UCLA, and he recently left Cosumnes Oaks for Tokay, where he'll be ineligible until league play because of transfer rules, after he was removed from the team at Cosumnes Oaks. Still, we've heard he's been buckling down on his academics to ensure his qualifying at UCLA.

Cordell Broadus, 6-2.5, 192, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #139 Overall, #16 WR OFFERED

Broadus is considered a top-five receiver in the west, and after seeing him this spring he solidified that status. He's gotten taller, a legit 6-3, and his body has muscled out some and is developing well. He's not lightning fast, but quick for his size, and has good length to go along with good pass-catching skills. And we're hearing UCLA is probably his leader at this point. In fact, you could say UCLA is doing "very well" with him. Broadus has said that he'll wait until Signing Day to announce, but he could do it before then. He's now in Las Vegas playing at Gorman with another UCLA commit (A. Jones) and his father has spent quite a bit of time with Jim Mora this summer.

Ryan Newsome, 5-9, 175, Aledo (Tex.)
Ranking: #191 Overall, #26 WR OFFERED

Newsome is the type of speed guy UCLA is targeting at receiver in 2015. He ran a 10.51 in track this spring, which is lightning fast. He has offers from some of the elite national programs and his recruitment is going big. Mora has been recruiting him personally and the word is that UCLA is doing well with Newsome, even though we're hearing Texas is really pulling out all the stops, and other big-named programs are pursuing him. Newsome visited UCLA with his family this month and the word is that the visit went very well, and the Bruins are definitely in the race. He has named his top five of Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA, and Notre Dame and has set up official visits to all five schools. His visit to UCLA will come on November 1st when the Bruins host Arizona (his next-to-last trip). Newsome hurt his hamstring at The Opening but was just recently cleared and is ready to play his senior season.

Equanimeous St. Brown, 6-5, 200, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Ranking: #82 Overall, #7 WR OFFERED

Since UCLA might be taking more than one big receiver, St. Brown is now definitely on the possibility list, especially since he's probably the best big receiver in the west. He looked great this spring, having filled out really well since last year and actually looking like he's improved his quickness, which is pretty good for a guy his size. UCLA offered him in April, which was a bit late compared to others like USC and Notre Dame, but we've heard UCLA was a childhood favorite and that has helped place the Bruins in his top few programs. He visited Notre Dame this summer, and we've heard that the Fighting Irish are a big contender, as is Stanford. There were also rumors that he committed to USC during fall practice, but he immediately shot them down. UCLA doesn't seem to be getting the attention from St. Brown as others, so it's not certain how much of a priority they are for him and vice versa.

Trent Irwin, 6'2, 191, Newhall (Calif.) Hart
Ranking: #130 Overall, #13 WR OFFERED

Irwin has long been a favorite of ours after watching him on the camp circuit. He's one of the most fundamentally sound receivers we've seen, with excellent route-running ability, great hands, and underrated quickness and speed. He has consistently improved over the last three years, to the point where the idea that he doesn't have much upside needs to be reevaluated. UCLA offered recently, and while the Bruins are late, the thinking is that there might be a chance since Irwin grew up a UCLA fan. Stanford and Arizona State are thought to be the serious leaders, but from what we've heard, there's a chance Irwin goes through the process, giving UCLA more time to play catch up. It'll be tough for the Bruins to break in to that top group, particularly with his good friend and quarterback Brady White committed to Arizona State, but UCLA and Eric Yarber will try.

Christian Kirk, 5-11, 190, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
Ranking: #32 Overall, #4 WR OFFERED

After watching Kirk at the SoCal Nike Camp, it's a bit uncertain exactly what position he'll play in college. But he's not one of those guys that you say that about since he's not really a fit at any position; with Kirk it's a matter that he could play a number of positions really well. UCLA previously had been near the top of his list, but over the past few months, they've faded to the pack, while Texas A&M remains the leader. Kirk named a final six earlier this month of Auburn, Arizona State, Ohio State, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC, but he said he's uncertain if he'll visit Ohio State and UCLA officially, while Auburn and Texas A&M have officials set and USC is likely to get one. At this point, he's probably a longshot for the Bruins.

Paul Lucas, 5-11, 185, Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe
Ranking: #69 RB OFFERED

UCLA offered Lucas in late April, after recognizing that he has elite track-level speed. Lucas is primarily a running back in high school, but projects as an F back in college, a guy who can carry the ball but catch it out of the slot mostly. The Arizona schools are on Lucas, and Notre Dame and Nebraska have offered. We're hearing, however, that Lucas is a longshot to qualify for UCLA and it's uncertain just how hard they'll pursue him the rest of the way

Carlos Strickland, 6-4, 198, Dallas (Tex.) Skyline
Ranking: #103 Overall, #10 WR OFFERED

UCLA coaches went to see Strickland in May, and offered him then and are pursuing him along with LSU, Alabama, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Strickland intended to visit UCLA this summer but it didn't happen so it could be an official visit that is taken during the season

Taeon Mason, 6-0, 170, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir
Ranking: #296 Overall, #38 WR OFFERED

Mason is committed to USC, but UCLA has been picking up its recruitment of him throughout the last several months. It's uncertain where he would project in college, being raw on both sides of the ball, but Mason has exceptional speed, and it's thought he'd plug in as a slot receiver the best. UCLA assistant coach Martin is from Pasadena Muir so he has some connections into Mason. We're hearing that Mason is still a bit open, and is considering UCLA, Notre Dame and others, and wants to take official visits. There was some talk this summer that he was actually considering himself a decommit from USC and wide open, but he shot those down. Still, he did say that he'll continue to be recruited, and said in August that UCLA is recruiting him the hardest. Arizona State and Notre Dame are also pursuing Mason.

Stanley Morgan, 6-1. 180, New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine
Ranking: #88 WR OFFERED

UCLA offered him in the spring and he intended to visit during the summer, but it doesn't appear that happened. An official visit could be on the docket, but we've also heard he's unlikely to leave the South and if he did come out West, USC is the school he's more intrigued by.

Other to Watch:

Lavan Alston, 5-11, 175, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
Ranking: #269 Overall, #35 WR


TIGHT END

Needs at Position: 1

UCLA's Y position is a pretty dynamic one. If you remember the way Joseph Fauria was used in Mora's first season that's the ideal type of mismatch the Y can represent in UCLA's spread. It can accommodate more of the traditional tight end type, like Fauria, but also more of one in the H-back mold of a UCLA tight end a few years back, Ryan Moya. The bigger and more athletic the better the player will exploit the mismatches, like Fauria did. The position doesn't necessarily need a great deal of depth, and UCLA probably just needs to take one per year. With UCLA's offense, actually, the Y isn't exactly a position anymore but a role, and it's a role that is fulfilled by bigger, more physical receiver types.

Alize Jones, 6-4.5, 220, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #28 Overall, #2 TE COMMITTED

UCLA got a commitment from the #2 tight end in the country early on and it looked like the commitment was very solid. Then came a couple of days in August where Jones said on Twitter he would be taking his official visits and removed UCLA commit from his bio. That led to some concern, but we then heard that UCLA coaches and Jones and his family talked and Jones was back to saying he was a UCLA commit. We do know that Notre Dame is still pursuing him heavily, as is USC, but the Irish are making the biggest push, with his teammate Nicco Fertitta, a Notre Dame commit, working on him. That said, we've still heard of late that UCLA is where Jones wants to be and recently, Stephen Johnson tweeted at Jones and he said he's 100% to UCLA. Jones is an elite athlete, who could probably be a five-star defensive end/linebacker if he chose to be. He's also fairly close with Rosen, which always helps – to have two five-star recruits bonding over being committed to UCLA. Since he's been committed for so long and he didn't participate in any spring events, Jones had been somewhat overlooked. Then he decided to do The Opening, where he looked good in the SPARQ portion and in the early part of the NFTC before getting concussed. He was cleared and back, though, for the Gaels season opener and had over 100 yards and a touchdown, an 80-yard catch and run that showed off his elite speed and athleticism, taking a short pass and outrunning the defense for the score. Performances like that are what Jones needs to re-take the top spot in the tight end rankings.


OFFENSIVE LINE

Needs at Position: 4-5

UCLA has many more offers out to offensive line prospects than those listed here – most of them being elite national prospects that might be more longshots. These are the guys we could envision being the pool from which UCLA will get its 4 for 2015, and even 5 if there is one more elite guy who wants to jump in the boat.

Fred Ulu-Perry

Andre James, 6-5, 275, Herriman (Utah)
Ranking: #160 Overall, #12 OT COMMITTED

The #2 tackle prospect in the west, James had offers from all over the country but committed to UCLA at The Opening, on television, the second commit to the Bruins during the event (and one of three that week). This was a big recruiting win for the Bruins too, beating out Oklahoma, Ohio State, Oregon and USC for James, all who had him high on their board. James had a very good week at The Opening and has become a recruiter for the Bruins too (taking a lot of credit for Ulu-Perry's commitment) and said he's working on Osa Masina constantly. James has a lot of positional versatility, a staple in Klemm recruits, able to play guard or tackle.

Tevita Halalilo, 6-5, 325, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde
Ranking: #165 Overall, #12 OG COMMITTED

Halalilo is considered one of the best OL prospects in the west for 2015, and the top lineman in California, not unlike his former Rancho Verde teammate and current Bruin, Poasi Moala. For how big he is, he's showed good mobility, and has a very good junior tape, where he looks aggressive. He's continued to get in better shape and his athleticism will clearly improve as he trims down further. UCLA offered him in March, and committed soon thereafter in April. Halalilo was also at a couple of Bruin practices in San Bernardino and is rock solid to the Bruins.

Fred Ulu-Perry, 6-2.5, 305, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis,
Ranking: #216 Overall, #1 C COMMITTED

Ulu-Perry participated in UCLA's Lineman Camp and earned a UCLA offer. He's looked like a center prospect at the camp but, also, an interesting note: at UCLA's camp, the UCLA coaches presented the idea to Ulu-Perry that he play defensive tackle, that he was perhaps well-suited for it, and he wasn't unreceptive. At The Opening, though, Ulu-Perry was back on the offensive line and playing center, and was outstanding. Through the week, Ulu-Perry was no worse than the No. 2 overall performer among the offensive lineman, behind only the nation's top line prospect, Martez Ivey, and Ulu-Perry also had some of the more impressive 1-on-1's, beating Kahlil McKenzie twice. Ulu-Perry plays tackle for St. Louis but knows he's an interior lineman and has been working inside all offseason. Pound-for-pound, there may not be a better offensive lineman in the West. His St. Louis team went up against St. John Bosco and his future quarterback, Josh Rosen, in week one.

Josh Wariboko, 6-3, 305, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Casady School )
Ranking: #155 Overall, #11 OG OFFERED

The one-time Oklahoma commit opened up his recruitment, and UCLA offered, along with many others. UCLA also offered his younger brother, a 2016 safety prospect, Max, and that has gone a long way for the Bruins. He visited UCLA, but it was during the B2G Camp and that restricted him from meeting with coaches prior to the event, but afterward he was able to meet with Jim Mora. We've heard UCLA is the leader for him, and he'll visit UCLA officially in November for the USC game. Ohio State is also right there in the mix and we've heard that Oklahoma has made up ground, but that the Bruins still are in the drivers seat. Last week, Wariboko named a top eight of UCLA, USC, Louisville, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Ohio State, California and Oklahoma State.

Drew Richmond, 6-5, 320, Memphis (Tenn.) Memphis University School
Ranking: #161 Overall, #13 OT OFFERED

UCLA began to cool on Richmond during the summer, and he was just ok at The Opening. He's planning to announce early next month, and all signs are pointing to him staying in the SEC. We've heard UCLA hasn't been actively recruiting him since essentially June.

Semisi Uluave, 6-5, 320, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Ranking: #274 Overall, #16 OG OFFERED

Uluave emerged this spring once coaches got a look at him and he performed in various camps. UCLA had been on him previously and after he had a sterling performance at the Oakland NFTC (which garnered him an invitation to The Opening), others started to push for him. But as he's narrowed his list to a top five, UCLA was on it (along with Texas Tech, Oregon, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin) and we've heard he's leaning towards the Bruins. We've also heard that UCLA is going all in on Uluave, who's good friends and teammates with Canton Kaumatule, who's one of UCLA's top defensive line targets. He's also close with Isaac Savaiianaea, a former Punahou teammate. Uluave plays tackle for Punahou but UCLA is recruiting him as a guard.

Dru Samia, 6-4, 275, Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley
Ranking: #202 Overall, #17 OT OFFERED

UCLA had been the leader for Samia until he visited Oklahoma. Then the Sooners moved into the front and last week, he committed to Oklahoma. Still, we're pretty confident that UCLA will continue to pursue Samia and have a spot for him if, as it gets closer to Signing Day, he wants to stay on the West Coast. But for now, he's a commit to Oklahoma.

Darrin Paulo, 6-7, 320, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant
Ranking: #87 OT OFFERED

Paulo is a guy with some connections to UCLA (current UCLA fullback Nate Iese is Paulo's cousin). UCLA had offered, and there was some question whether he was okay physically, having suffered two knee injuries. But he's healthy and ready to go this season. Paulo said that UCLA, USC, Washington State and Oregon were the main schools he's considering but we've heard it's really Washington State (where his brother plays) and USC for him. He did say he wants to take an official visit to UCLA during the season, but we'll see if that happens.

Connor Williams, 6-5, 275, Coppell (Tex.)
Ranking: #36 OT OFFERED

Klemm offered Williams on his trip to Texas in spring. Williams is athletic prospect who really emerged this spring when he grew from a tight end to an offensive line prospect. That has garnered over 30 offers, from some of the biggest programs in the country. Williams visited UCLA during the early part of summer and reportedly it went very well. Williams' sister lives in Los Angeles, as a flight attendant, so it'd make it easy for Williams to make the trip. Texas, Ohio State, Oregon, Georgia and Stanford are thought to be contenders, but the word is that Williams is probably a long ways off from a decision.

Zach Robertson, 6-4, 315, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Ranking: #32 OG OFFERED

UCLA offered Robertson early on and the word is that UCLA is his long-time favorite. He has looked a bit better in some events this spring and summer, but still has a ways to go to be of the same caliber as others on this list. Robertson is still high on UCLA from what we've heard, and we've heard he wouldn't be opposed to committing sometime soon. The question is whether UCLA would accept the commitment.

Others to Watch:

Bar Milo, 6-6, 290, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
Matthew Burrell, 6'4, 291, Woodbrige (Virg.) C. D. Hyton


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