As we've said in previous Recruiting Resets, initially the thinking was that UCLA football recruiting for 2015 would be 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 absolutely 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: #47 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 had a good senior year, 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 was also at the USC game and was doing recruiting then as well.
T.J. Simmons, 6-0, 205, Lakeland (Fla.) Lakeland Christian
Ranking: #67 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. So Simmons flashed some five-star level talent in spring and summer and was poised to put it on display his senior season – which would have boosted his ranking – but then didn’t have the opportunity. Simmons took his official visit to UCLA the weekend of the USC game and said he's solid to the Bruins, but he said there is a good chance he'll visit Ohio State before Signing Day. There is also the possibility that he might not qualify academically for UCLA, thus the reason UCLA is definitely looking for a third running back.
Sotonye Jamabo, 6-3, 190, Plano (Tex.) Plano West
Ranking: #20 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. Then last week, longtime Oklahoma State running back commit Ronald Jones decommitted from the Cowboys and said that the Irish and USC are his top two, and the scuttlebutt seems to be that Notre Dame is moving on to Jones because they feel they're losing Jamabo to UCLA. Now, 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 and with Rosen already in the mix, its pretty clear Soso is their top offensive target on the board.
Needs at Position: 3-4
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: #131 Overall, #15 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. 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 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. Reed took his official visit to UCLA last weekend and said that the trip firmed up his already pretty solid commitment to the Bruins.
Stephen Johnson, 5-11, 185, San Leandro (Calif.)
Ranking: #212 Overall, #28 CB COMMITTED
Johnson committed to UCLA at The Opening last summer, putting the cap on a terrific off-season that saw his stock go through the roof. Johnson chose the Bruins over Oregon, with UCLA recruiting him as an athlete -- either a receiver or cornerback. For a while it looked like UCLA Intended to bring him in as a corner first but recently it appears Johnson will get a first shot at receiver. UCLA has been looking for that speedy receiver, and it very well could be Johnson, since there aren’t many guys in the 2015 class that have his speed. He ran a 4.41 at the Oakland NFTC, and is a very smooth, natural athlete. He missed the majority of his senior year with a broken foot, and he played mostly quarterback in high school, so he’ll probably be pretty raw at receiver and it might take some time to determine if that his best spot in college. If he ends up at corner that’s not a bad thing because he looks completely natural there, with great flexibility and that great closing speed. Several have kept trying to recruit him, but he's 100% solid to the Bruins since his commitment.
Ryan Newsome, 5-9, 175, Aledo (Tex.)
Ranking: #193 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 in the thick for Newsome but he will still visit Texas down the stretch. He visited Oklahoma last month and has also officially visited Ole Miss and Tennessee previously. The thought, though, is that it’s between UCLA and Texas.
Carlos Strickland, 6-4, 195, Dallas (Texas) Skyline
Ranking: #109 Overall, #12 WR OFFERED
Strickland was supposed to visit UCLA for the Arizona game but then committed to Texas Tech and never took the trip. Now, we've heard that Strickland does in fact plan to visit UCLA officially in January. Texas Tech's quarterback commitment, Jarrett Stidham, decommitted from the Red Raiders over the weekend too. Strickland said that doesn't affect him too much, but we've heard he's certainly open to others and the Bruins will get a chance at him next month.
Ray Ray McCloud, 5-9, 175, Tampa (Fla.) Sickles
Ranking: #154 Overall, #19 WR OFFERED
UCLA was in the final three for McCloud when he committed during the summer to Clemson, with Florida the other school in the mix. Since then, Clemson lost their offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, to the head coaching job at SMU and Florida replaced their head coach, Will Muschamp, with Jim McElwain. The word, then, is that McCloud will weigh other options a bit, and probably give Florida a longer look as well as take an official visit to UCLA in January. We’ll see if those plans stick through the Dead Period, but if UCLA gets him on an official visit they could have a very good chance of flipping McCloud.
Tony Brown, 6-1, 170, La Mirada (Calif.)
Ranking #232 Overall, #32 WR OFFERED
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 moved in to the Scout 300. UCLA offered Brown last month and seemed to be a lock to get him. Brown, though, now is favoring Colorado and Texas Tech at the moment. It would appear that he will most likely pick one of the two this week, although UCLA might still get a January official visit, and an opportunity to sway him. We think it could be a case that UCLA isn’t necessarily prepared to take Brown, and Brown knows that and Texas Tech and Colorado having him as a very high priority appeals to him. If he does visit UCLA in January that would mean UCLA is, indeed, ready to take him and that could change things. The connections to Colorado and Texas Tech make sense too- his coach played quarterback at Colorado and his top receiver with the Buffs is an assistant coach now at Texas Tech.
C.J. Sanders, 5-8.5, 175, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame
Ranking: #280 Overall, #38 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. Still, all indicators are that he will ultimately sign with the Irish.
Cordell Broadus, 6-2.5, 192, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Ranking: #275 Overall, #35 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 last month 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. We've heard of late, that UCLA isn't really recruiting Broadus at all and have moved on. They'd still probably take his commitment, but with some others emewrging with more upside and physical tools, the Bruins likely will turn their attention that way.
Others to Watch:
George Wilson, 6-3, 180, Tustin (Calif.)
Ranking: #147 WR
Keon Stephens, 6-2, 190, Etiwanda (Calif.)
Ranking: #210 WR
Needs at Position: 1-2
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. Jones visited Notre Dame last week for an official visit, then on Sunday night, in the last in-home before the dead period, UCLA head coach Jim Mora and a number of other coaches, met with Jones and he went back to putting a picture of him in a UCLA uniform on his Twitter. UCLA will have to keep recruiting Jones though all the way to Signing Day if they want to hold on to him.
Chris Clark, 6-6, 247, Avon (Conn.) Old Farms
Ranking: #23 Overall, #1 TE OFFERED
On the flip side is Clark, who moved past Jones to be the No. 1 tight end in the 2015 class. Clark has had UCLA coaches in for an in-home and he'll take an official visit next month. He was once a commit to North Carolina and then flipped to Michigan before opening things up when Brady Hoke was fired. Now, Clark seems to be focused on a couple of schools: Texas and UCLA. USC was very much in the mix for him, but with their flipping of Tyler Petite last week from Duke, could be out of the mix for Clark. UCLA will get a visit from Clark on January 16th, but first he'll visit Texas. Michigan, assuming they hire a head coach at some point, and North Carolina aren't completely out of it either, even after he decommitted.
Needs at Position: 4-5
With four 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 prospects. Given who is committed and who else it has a realistic chance to get, UCLA has a chance to sign the best offensive line class in the country for the second time in three years.
Andre James, 6-5, 275, Herriman (Utah)
Ranking: #201 Overall, #17 OT COMMITTED
The #3 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 friends with Josh Wariboko. He took his official visit to UCLA for the USC game and worked on Wariboko that weekend too. He's since visited Ohio State and Utah, but he said after his visit to Utah, which UCLA coaches had an in-home visit with him the night he got back, that he's 100% solid to the Bruins and he shut down his recruitment.
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's been to almost every home game and took his official visit the weekend of the Utah game. Halalilo committed so early and has played zero games in his recruitment that he's somewhat been overlooked in the recruiting process, but make no mistake, UCLA is very happy to have a commitment from him. He'll play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl next month in Los Angeles.
Fred Ulu-Perry, 6-2.5, 305, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis,
Ranking: #219 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 planning on visiting Colorado, Oregon State and Texas A&M, 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. Ulu-Perry had an in-home visit with the UCLA coaches last month that he said was an awesome visit from the coaches.
Zach Bateman, 6-6, 310, Costa Mesa (Calif.) Orange Coast College
Ranking: #16 JC Overall, #2 JC OL COMMITTED
Bateman picked the Bruins over a final group that included Arizona State, Ohio State and Oklahoma State. 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 was the Bruins could be tough to beat, growing up in Southern California. He committed to the Bruins in November and signed his NLI with the Bruins on Wednesday on JC Signing Day. Bateman is the No. 2 JC offensive tackle in the country and will come in and compete for playing time, if not the starting job next year. With the emergence of Conor McDermott midway through the season, Bateman could start at right tackle and move Caleb Benenoch inside to his more natural guard and finally allow for Scott Quessenberry to redshirt.
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, most of the visitors that weekend said Wariboko was a done deal for the Bruins. In fact, he’s been one of UCLA’s best recruiters since. He could announce his decision next month at the UnderArmour All-America Game.
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 had gone all in on Uluave and he maintained for a while that the Bruins were the leader. Then it looked like the Bruins had cooled on him, tiring of waiting for him to make his commitment. Now, we've heard that he still favors UCLA but may take his LDS mission and, if he does serve, UCLA will be where he signs in February and he'll enroll in 2017.
Maea Teuhema, 6-5, 340, Keller (Texas)
Ranking: #40 Overall, #1 OG OFFERED
Teuhema has been committed to LSU forever, and his older brother, Sione, plays for the Tigers. Klemm used to recruit Keller High School when he was at SMU and has been working on Teuhema for some time and the prospect is likely to visit UCLA in January. If he does end up taking an official visit, then all bets are off, and that could bode well for the Bruins. He's been committed to LSU for so long that there are some people that think he's just taking a visit to L.A., but we've also heard that he is feeling like LSU isn’t the place for him and has sincere interest in the Bruins and thus the official visit. Teuhema, being the #1 guard prospect in the nation, would be a huge finishing touch on a great OL recruiting class for Klemm.
Kieffer Longson, 6-7, 300, San Ramon (Calif.) Dougherty Valley
Ranking: #39 OT OFFERED
Since UCLA offered a few months ago we had heard the Bruins were the leader. The plan was Longson would go on his Mormon Mission out of high school and then return to UCLA in 2017. But he announced this week – for BYU. We’ve heard that there was some considerable pressure to go with the LDS school, and understandably. We’ve also heard, though, that Longson could still visit UCLA in January and there’s a chance he very well could flip by NSD.