As we've said in previous Recruiting Resets, initially the thinking was that UCLA 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.
Needs at Position: 1
Josh Rosen, 6-4, 205, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Ranking: #12 Overall, #1 QB SIGNED
Needs at Position: 2-3
We changed the needs to "2-3" since it's clear, with UCLA currently having two commitments 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 running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu 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, 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. He has looked very good so far in his senior season.
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, while running 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 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: #41 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 made an impression. 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." He's started off his senior year with some remarkable performances and his recruitment has intensified. UCLA was thought to be the leader, but Jamabo recently took an official visit to Notre Dame, so the glow of that trip currently has Notre Dame supplanting UCLA. In-state schools Baylor and Texas, as well as Ohio State, are going after him hard, and Arizona State, and Oregon are also involved. UCLA is his next official visit, October 11th for the Oregon game.
Cameron Scarlett, 6-1, 210, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic
Ranking: #252 Overall, #32 RB OFFERED
Scarlett was a late spring offeree for the Bruins, but he's had high interest in UCLA for a while, so despite its late offer, it's still a serious consideration for him. He recently officially visited Washington, then has plans to visit Notre Dame (Oct. 11th) and Stanford (Nov. 15th). He plans to visit UCLA and Oregon after his season. 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 the official visit could have a big impact.
Dedrick Young, 6-1, 217, Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial
Ranking: #38 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. So far he's officially visited Washington and Nebraska. Young visited UCLA unofficially in June and had said he planned to officially visit UCLA, but it sounds like it could be between local Arizona, Washington and Nebraska.
Other to Watch:
Malik Roberson, 5-6, 175, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Ranking: #60 RB
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 or even four receivers for 2015, especially if it means getting elite big-play guys.
L.J. Reed, 6-3, 205, Lodi (Calif.) Tokay
Ranking: #133 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 left Cosumnes Oaks for Tokay, where he's been ineligible due to transfer rules until this Friday. We've heard he's been buckling down on his academics to ensure he qualifies at UCLA.
Cordell Broadus, 6-2.5, 192, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #140 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 6-2.5, 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. He's had a good half of his senior season so far, asserting himself in a Gorman offense that has many weapons. We have long heard he's been a UCLA lean, and he just admitted that he was slightly leaning to UCLA. Broadus has said that he'll wait until Signing Day to announce. He has become friends with his teammate, UCLA-committed tight end Alize Jones, and Josh Rosen (pictured above after the recent Bishop Gorman/St. John Bosco game). His father did some bonding with Jim Mora this summer. He has two official visits arranged, to Florida State (Nov. 29) and Notre Dame (Dec. 13), but says he plans to also visit LSU and UCLA.
Ryan Newsome, 5-9, 175, Aledo (Tex.)
Ranking: #192 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. Newsome visited UCLA with his family during the spring. And he also attended the UCLA/Texas game in Arlington. The UCLA coaches, while in town, attending his game that Friday night. 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). The word is that, right now, it's probably a UCLA-Texas battle, but UCLA leads.
Trent Irwin, 6'2, 191, Newhall (Calif.) Hart
Ranking: #131 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. After we recently spoke to him we get the feeling that UCLA is on the outside looking in -- on ASU and Stanford. It'll be tough for the Bruins to break up that duo, particularly with his good friend and quarterback Brady White committed to Arizona State, but UCLA and Wide Receiver Coach Eric Yarber will try.
Christian Kirk, 5-11, 190, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
Ranking: #33 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 six months or so, 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. Mora continues to doggedly recruit Kirk but, at this point, he's probably a longshot for the Bruins.
Carlos Strickland, 6-4, 198, Dallas (Tex.) Skyline
Ranking: #102 Overall, #11 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. UCLA Coach Eric Yarber recently went to see Strickland during his season, and the word is that Strickland will almost certainly officially visit UCLA.
Equanimeous St. Brown, 6-5, 200, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Ranking: #91 Overall, #10 WR OFFERED
> UCLA has been recruiting St. Brown but it doesn't seem like either are going all out for each other. 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. It does appear to be a USC/Stanford battle at this point.
C.J. Sanders, 5-8.5, 175, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame
Ranking: #41 WR OFFERED
Sanders is verbally committed to Notre Dame, but UCLA recently offered him and has started to recruit him. Sanders is lightning fast, having ran a 4.32 at The Opening, and would fill the role of the speedy slot receiver in UCLA's offense. It's uncertain how much of a chance anyone has of shaking him off Notre Dame.
Dominic Davis, 5-10, 175, Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany
Ranking: #38 WR OFFERED
Davis is another speed guy who would fill the slot receiver role. He has great speed and some considerable elusiveness. Curiously, in the summer it was looking like it'd be a UCLA/USC battle for him -- and then he verbally committed to Washington State. The word, though, is that the commitment is a bit shaky, and UCLA and USC are both doing the shaking.
Chico McClatcher, 5-9, 185, Federal Way (Wash.)
Ranking: #43 WR OFFERED
McClatcher is one of the most explosive players in the west for 2015, and UCLA has been on him a while. The issue, from what we're hearing, could be academics. UCLA, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State and Boise State are the five finalists that he wants to visit. UCLA is recruiting McClatcher, and if his grades look promising, he could be a viable option at the slot.
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.
Taeon Mason, 6-0, 170, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir
Ranking: #42 WR OFFERED
Mason is committed to USC, but UCLA has been recruiting him since last summer. 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, ASU and others, and wants to take official visits. There was some talk this summer that he was actually considering himself a de-commit from USC and wide open, but he shot down that idea. 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 didn't happen. He just recently officially visited Nebraska, and said he also intends to visit Clemson and UCLA.
Other to Watch:
Lavan Alston, 5-11, 175, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
Ranking: #269 Overall, #35 WR
Needs at Position: 1
Alize Jones, 6-4.5, 220, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #29 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, 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. UCLA-committed 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. The challenge for UCLA will be to hold onto him and stave off Notre Dame.
Needs at Position: 4-5
With three commitments, UCLA offensive line recruiting is more focused on a handful of guys, with UCLA Offensive Line Coach Adrian Klemm trying to fill out his OL class with a 1 or 2 more chosen guys. The staff recently offered a JC tackle (Bateman) and might be looking for more JC tackle types.
Andre James, 6-5, 275, Herriman (Utah)
Ranking: #161 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). That 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 has said he's working on Osa Masina constantly, and becoming Facebook friens with Josh Wariboko. James has a lot of positional versatility, a staple in Klemm recruits, able to play guard or tackle. He's not sure when he'll take his official visit, but it could be after his season.
Tevita Halalilo, 6-5, 325, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde
Ranking: #166 Overall, #13 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 shown 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. He'll take his official visit this weekend (Oct. 4th).
Fred Ulu-Perry, 6-2.5, 305, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis,
Ranking: #217 Overall, #1 C COMMITTED
Ulu-Perry participated in UCLA's Lineman Camp in June and earned a UCLA offer. At The Opening, though, 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-1s, 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: #156 Overall, #12 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. He recently said Wariboko said he's trying to arrange visits to Cal, Texas A&M and Louisville. The word, though, is that Wariboko is leaning heavily to UCLA at this time.
Semisi Uluave, 6-5, 320, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Ranking: #275 Overall, #17 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). UCLA has gone all in on Uluave, who's good friends and teammates with Canton Kaumatule, one of UCLA's top defensive line targets. He's also close with UCLA linebacker Isaac Savaiianaea, a former Punahou teammate. Klemm recently made a trip to Hawaii to see Uluave. We've heard from sources that his family might want him to take a couple of official visits elsewhere, just for some perspective, but he's leaning pretty heavily to UCLA at this time. He plays tackle for his high school but he projects as an inside guy on the college level.
Zach Bateman, 6-6, 310, Costa Mesa (Calif.) Orange Coast College
Bateman is one of the hottest OL prospects in the west right now, recently receiving scholarship offers from UCLA and Ohio State in the same week. He has good athleticism for his size and a considerable mean streak, and projects to coming into a program and immediately competing for a tackle spot. He grew up a UCLA fan, but Ohio State could be very enticing for him. He said his top five are UCLA, Ohio State, Arizona State, Oklahoma State and Florida.
Dru Samia, 6-4, 275, Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley
Ranking: #203 Overall, #17 OT OFFERED
UCLA had been the leader for Samia until he visited Oklahoma. Then the Sooners moved into the front and in Augusut he committed to Oklahoma. Still, we're hearing 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.
Darrin Paulo, 6-7, 320, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant
Ranking: #86 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 been healthy for his senior 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. UCLA coach Angus McClure recently went to watch him play.
Zach Robertson, 6-4, 315, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Ranking: #35 OG OFFERED
UCLA offered Robertson early on and the word is that UCLA is his long-time favorite. He 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 would like to commit sometime soon. UCLA, though, appears to not be ready to accept his commitment, waiting on others ahead of him.
Kevin Estes, 6-5, 270, San Marcos (Calif.)
Ranking: #53 OT
Estes is verbally committed to Wisconsin, but we've heard UCLA is keeping an eye on him. They'll probably get out to watch him sometime this season and there's a chance they could offer.