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 in the preseason. 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: #46 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, especially after getting dinged up a bit in the summer. Bolu took his official visit to UCLA the weekend of the Utah game and said he's 100% solid to the Bruins, even with other backs being recruited. He said he plans to visit again unofficially for the USC game and plans to help recruit visitors that weekend.
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 has sidelined him for his entire senior season. Simmons, though, suited up last weekend and his coach told Scout's Jamie Newberg that he's close to 100% to get back on the field and is 100% committed to the Bruins.
Sotonye Jamabo, 6-3, 190, Plano (Tex.) Plano West
Ranking: #40 Overall, #1 RB OFFERED
UCLA has had quite a few battles with Notre Dame of late, some broke the Bruins way and some went the Irish way (and some went the Irish way before ending up going the Bruins way). This one appears to be another battle just the same, with the Irish and the Bruins tussling for the nation's top-ranked running back. Jamabo has visited both the Irish and the Bruins officially, tripping to UCLA the weekend they hosted Oregon. While Jamabo hasn't done many interviews this fall, we've heard the visit to UCLA went extremely well and the Bruins are very much in the race. That said, the Irish have also really emphasized their need for him and some think that the Irish could end up getting him. And you can't completely count out the homestate schools, Texas A&M and Texas, with both wanting to keep the nation's top back in the Lone Star State. Jamabo may be one of those guys who quietly goes down to the wire without any real indicators of where he's going and he's almost certain to be taking all five of his official visits, which would give him three more to take. But you can bet UCLA will be pushing for him all the way until Signing Day.
Cameron Scarlett, 6-1, 210, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic
Ranking: #235 Overall, #28 RB OFFERED
Scarlett was a late spring offeree for the Bruins, but he's had high interest in UCLA for a while, going back to when his older brother, Brennan (now at Cal), was being recruited. Scarlett took his official visit for the Arizona game and had a great trip. However, while Scarlett maintains his wide open, Stanford appears to be the heavy leader and it's just a matter of time for him to announce for them, likely just waiting for the green light from Stanford's admissions. If for some reason, he's not admitted into Stanford, UCLA would probably still welcome him, but Cal could sneak in for him with their improvement and his family tie.
Dedrick Young, 6-1, 217, Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial
Ranking: #39 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. Young said that UCLA would get an official visit from him this fall, but to date, he's only visited Washington and Nebraska, and those two teams, along with Arizona, seem to be the leaders for him, and we've heard that UCLA may not really be recruiting him all that much anymore.
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: #143 Overall, #17 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. Reed left Cosumnes Oaks (where he played with Alex Van Dyke and Marcus Rios) for Tokay in the summer and missed the first half of the season after the transfer. We've heard recently that UCLA is still high on Reed and wants him so talk about him being a longshot to come is relatively quiet. He's gotten his grades up at Tokay and is improving there and doing what he can to ensure his qualification and admission in to UCLA and the Bruin coaches, namely Angus McClure, continue to champion for him. Reed has played a little of everything this year for Tokay, including some quarterback, but he's obviously a receiver in college. UCLA is high on him largely because of how gifted an athlete he is and he's gotten bigger and has some stability behind him now.
Christian Kirk, 5-11, 190, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
Ranking: #29 Overall, #4 WR OFFERED
The West's top receiver, Kirk is rewriting most of the Arizona state high school records for receivers. The Bruins were the first to offer Kirk, doing so almost three years ago, in December of 2011, just a couple of weeks after Jim Mora was hired, when Kirk was a freshman. Since then, he's racked up around 50 offers and has a who's who list of schools after him. Kirk has visited UCLA officially already, tripping in the weekend of Arizona, where Rosen put the fullcourt press on him. He's also visited Arizona State, Auburn and Texas A&M, where his good friend, Kyle Allen, is now starting as a true freshman for the Aggies at quarterback. Meanwhile, USC will get his fifth and final official visit at the end of the month. The feeling has been that he was Texas A&M's to lose, but then there slow start hurt them, yet now with Allen potentially the longterm starter, they could be back in it. Arizona State is the hometown school and with their success this year, and the likely departure of Jaelen Strong to the NFL opening the door for Kirk to take on that role, the Sun Devils are in a good place. USC has also been a school he's been high on. Kirk has played it pretty close to the vest, never publicly acknowledging a leader so his recruitment probably is too early to call where he's going, but UCLA and the Mazzones will keep trying with him till the end.
Ryan Newsome, 5-9, 175, Aledo (Tex.)
Ranking: #192 Overall, #27 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. Newsome visited UCLA with his family during the spring and he also attended the UCLA/Texas game in Arlington. Newsome then took his official visit to UCLA the first weekend in November, coming in the same weekend that Rosen did and seeing the Bruins play Arizona. Newsome has told BRO twice that when watching UCLA play this year, he sees their need for a receiver that can stretch the field, and while he's said some schools tell him that and don't really mean it, watching the Bruins play in person twice this year validated what the coaches have told him about their need for a receiver like him. The Bruins are still very much in the thick for Newsome and just have to weather his last official visit, to Texas, down the stretch. He visited Oklahoma last weekend and has also officially visited Ole Miss and Tennessee previously.
C.J. Sanders, 5-8.5, 175, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame
Ranking: #283 Overall, #39 WR OFFERED
Sanders is verbally committed to Notre Dame, but UCLA offered him in the early part of the season and has started to recruit him much, much more. 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. He's been terrific this season in his first year back in Southern California (he spent the previous few years in Nashville), as both a receiver and a returner. It's uncertain how much of a chance anyone has of shaking him off Notre Dame but UCLA has both Angus McClure, who recruits the Valley, and receivers coach Eric Yarber double-teaming Sanders and trying to keep him local.
Trent Irwin, 6'2, 191, Newhall (Calif.) Hart
Ranking: #129 Overall, #15 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 late in the summer, after he had already started to narrow things down, and at this point, the Bruins don't seem to have a real chance, with Irwin likely choosing between Stanford and Arizona State, where his teammate and close friend Brady White is headed.
Cordell Broadus, 6-2.5, 192, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #212 Overall, #32 WR OFFERED
Broadus will be an interesting recruitment to watch in the stretch run to Signing Day. There was rumor that he was a silent to UCLA but when he spoked to Scout this week, he didn't even mention UCLA. He's not had a great senior season since transferring to Bishop Gorman and there are questions of how hard UCLA will recruit him. They'd still take his commitment, but with some other emergers and players with more upside and physical tools, the Bruins could turn their attention that way.
Equanimeous St. Brown, 6-5, 200, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Ranking: #88 Overall, #11 WR OFFERED
UCLA has somewhat been recruiting St. Brown but it doesn't seem like either are going all out for each other. In fact, a couple of schools (like USC), have seemed to back off a bit on St. Brown.
Chico McClatcher, 5-9, 185, Federal Way (Wash.)
Ranking: #45 WR OFFERED
McClatcher is one of the most explosive players in the west for 2015, and UCLA has been on him a while, offering him as a sophomore. The issue, from what we're hearing, could be academics, specifically his test scores. UCLA, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State and Boise State are the five finalists that he wants to visit. UCLA is somewhat recruiting McClatcher, albeit not that hard, but if his grades and scores look promising, he could be a viable option at the slot.
Tony Brown, 6-1, 170, La Mirada (Calif.)
Ranking: #121 WR
Brown was at Servite last year, playing opposite St. Brown, but moved to La Mirada in the offseason, and was pretty much under the radar after the move, not doing camps or 7v7 and being at a new school. Yet this fall, he's flourished for the Matadores and is likely to move in to the Scout 300 in the postseason update. UCLA could be on the brink of offering him, as he's the type of receiver that Eric Yarber loves, one that's a good, discplined route runner, good hands, and just as importantly, a good ability to block downfield. Brown has visited Nebraska officially and will visit Texas Tech and Washington this month, but we've also heard if UCLA offers him, they would likely get a visit from him and could ultimately keep him close to home.
Other to Watch:
Keon Stephens, 6-2, 190, Etiwanda (Calif.)
Ranking: #210 WR
Needs at Position: 1
Alize Jones, 6-4.5, 220, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #26 Overall, #2 TE COMMITTED
UCLA got a commitment from Jones 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. Well, fast forward to November, and the Irish are right back in the mix for Jones and are likely to get an official visit from him soon. He told Scout that he plans to take that visit and make his final decision closer to Signing Day. The Irish are selling their tight end success and they are making the biggest push, with his teammate Nicco Fertitta, a Notre Dame commit, working on him. Jones said he remains committed to the Bruins but is very open about his interest in the Irish and Notre Dame has to be considered a very real threat for Jones.
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 offered a JC tackle (Bateman) and might be looking for more JC tackle types.
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). 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. Since then, though, homestate Utah, which has had a good season, continues to push for James, having him come to some games, and Ohio State is close to getting a visit from James. James will visit officially for the USC game and he doesn't have any dates set for Ohio State or Utah, but UCLA will need to continue to recruit him and keep him on board.
Tevita Halalilo, 6-5, 325, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde
Ranking: #164 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's been to almost every home game and took his official visit the weekend of the Utah game.
Fred Ulu-Perry, 6-2.5, 305, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis,
Ranking: #218 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. In a much anticipated rematch with Punahou, Ulu-Perry was the best lineman on the field in a game that featured three Scout 300 prospects in the trenches. Ulu-Perry took his official visit to UCLA for the Oregon and while he's visiting Oregon State and Texas Tech and could take a couple more, he's said he's 100% solid to the Bruins and is taking the visits, with Adrian Klemm's blessing, because of the difficulty in seeing most schools being from Hawaii.
Josh Wariboko, 6-3, 305, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Casady School )
Ranking: #150 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. Earlier this fall, Wariboko named a top eight of UCLA, USC, Louisville, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Ohio State, California and Oklahoma State, but we've heard its really a UCLA-Oklahoma battle with Ohio State also still in the mix, and having Wariboko on campus last month for an official visit.
Semisi Uluave, 6-5, 320, Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou
Ranking: #295 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 and he's maintained for a while that the Bruins are the leader. He did visit Oregon officially earlier this month and the Ducks got a commitment from his teammate and close friend Canton Kaumatule, but he said that the visit to Oregon only evened things with the Bruins, and he's yet to take his official visit to Westwood. Texas Tech will also likely get an official visit out of him and he's set to visit UCLA officially the weekend of the Stanford game.
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 and the feeling is the Bruins could be tough to beat, growing up in Southern California. He visited Oklahoma State officially last month and then the following weekend, he visited UCLA officially and he's also been back to the Rose Bowl since then for the Arizona game. Bateman has made it a point to say that he's looking at schools that have immediate openings at left tackle, so it will be interesting to see what happens with the emergence of Conor McDermott at left tackle and now five non-seniors starting for the Bruins on the offensive line.
Kieffer Longson, 6-7, 300, San Ramon (Calif.) Dougherty Valley
Ranking: #39 OT OFFERED
Longson was a recent offeree and immediately, he expanded his top three to a top four. Longson is LDS and plans to serve his mission right after graduation, leaving next summer, and he'll be back in college for the fall of 2017. UCLA joined BYU, Ohio State and Utah for Longson and the Bruins are very much a legitimate candidate to snag him. He had been hoping for that offer for some time, and the haste in which he added them to his finalists is a good indicator. The fact he'll not come for a couple more years helps them in this class, should he sign, because he won't count against their numbers, but they'll get him when he returns.
Dru Samia, 6-4, 275, Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley
Ranking: #200 Overall, #16 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 is continuing 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. Angus McClure went to see him play last month against De La Salle.
Darrin Paulo, 6-7, 320, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant
Ranking: #83 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 but its unlikely to happen during the season. UCLA coach Angus McClure recently went to watch him play.
Zach Robertson, 6-4, 315, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Ranking: #38 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.