Big Recruiting Buzz Word

Jan. 8 -- We have a buzz that's loaded with inside stuff and new developments, on prospects like Chris Clark, Tyrone Wheatley, Soso Jamabo, and more...

Recent updates in bold.

The Dead Period has seemed particularly long, so we have a particularly long and packed Recruiting Buzz for you.

The Dead Period will finally be over Jan. 15th, which is the Thursday before the first official visit weekend of January, the 16th-18th. After that, then, there is only just a bit over two weeks (and three official visit weekends) remaining for the contact period in January, so it’s significant where UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora plans to be on Jan. 15th.

From what we’ve heard from the recruit himself, Mora will be on the east coast to see the #1 tight end in the country, Chris Clark from Avon (Conn.) Old Farms. According to sources at the school, Mora and assistants Angus McClure, Noel Mazzone and Eric Yarber will be at the high school to meet with Clark, with his parents driving down from North Jersey to visit with the UCLA staff also.

Clark has changed his visit dates, and will then head off on his official visit to Michigan the 16th-18th, and then finish with his official visit to UCLA the 23rd-25th.

Clark last week admitted that UCLA is the leader. Now, there’s still a good ways to go in the recruitment, and Michigan with newly-installed head coach Jim Harbaugh should be formidable, especially since Clark was once verbally committed to Michigan. We have heard from sources that Clark has indicated pretty strongly that he wants to go to UCLA but, again, you just can’t under-estimate Harbaugh with a UM hat on. It’s encouraging, though, that Clark has UCLA leading without him ever stepping foot on UCLA’s campus, and that he’ll visit UCLA last. Brian Dohn, our east coast recruiting expert, who was a UCLA beat writer for the Daily News back in the day, said he thinks Clark is UCLA-type of kid.

UCLA is selling Clark on being the type of tight end they haven’t had since Joe Fauria, a hand-in-the-dirt type.

We’ve said previously that Clark wouldn’t come to UCLA if the nation’s #2-ranked tight end, Alize Jones, who is still verbally committed, comes to UCLA, despite the two being very dissimilar in their skills and talents. We still think that’s the case and we continue to hear that Jones is leaning toward Notre Dame, mostly because of some influences around him, and he’s expected to sign with them on February 4th. Given that, UCLA will take Clark and let go of Jones.

Notre Dame and UCLA, in fact, have gone head to head, a bit bitterly, in recruiting the last few years. The Eddie Vanderdoes recruitment initiated it and it’s escalated from there. So, most of the time if there’s a UCLA recruit that Notre Dame is trying to steal there is undoubtedly a Notre Dame recruit UCLA is trying to steal. UCLA has attempted to steal wide receiver C.J. Sanders, from Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, and is still trying to get him on campus for a visit in January, but the word is that he’ll more than likely hold fast with Notre Dame. The Bruins are, though, going to trip in Notre Dame-committed safety Prentice McKinney, from Dallas (Tex.) South Oak Cliff, on January 23-25. The general feeling is that Notre Dame still is pretty strong with McKinney, but there were some whispers that Notre Dame was thinking of cutting him loose. UCLA has him as pretty much a back-up option at this point if they miss on some other DBs.

Perhaps the biggest UCLA/Notre Dame battle of the 2015 recruiting cycle is for Sotonye Jamabo, the nation’s #1 running back from Plano (Tex.) West. It’s generally been thought that it’s between UCLA and Notre Dame for Jamabo, with some giving Texas a relative chance. But the latest we’ve heard is that Notre Dame actually started picking up its recruitment of other running backs because it believed Jamabo was going to UCLA.

The recent saga of UCLA-committed offensive lineman Tevita Halalilo from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, has been just that – a saga. It seemed Halalilo wasn’t happy with his commitment to UCLA and told just about everyone he was about to flip to ASU, who had continued to recruit him. We’re hearing now Halalilo is pretty much up in the air at this point, and that UCLA has made up some ground to make it a ball game.

Sticking with OL recruiting, we’ve heard a recent update that UCLA is probably back on top for Josh Wariboko, the offensive lineman from Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) Casady School. Wariboko had been leaning to UCLA for some time and was set to announce at the U.S. Army Bowl but then reneged on the announcement. It was thought that hometown Oklahoma had really made up ground and that his family was thinking they wanted him to stay close to home. In situations like this – like with Wariboko when he’s the #1 prospect in the state and there’s a great deal of pressure from friends, family and everyone else in the state to stay -- it’s an overwhelming recruiting task for an out-of-state program like UCLA. It was pretty remarkable that UCLA had been leading this long for Wariboko. Well, now, we’re hearing that Wariboko, who already officially visited UCLA, will unofficially visit UCLA sometime in January – and that’s particularly significant when a prospect pays for a visit out of his own pocket. It makes us think that UCLA might very well be in the pole position for Wariboko.  Also, Wariboko and Jamabo are related and close.

It appears UCLA will get an official visit from the #1 guard in the nation, Maea Teuhema, from Keller (Tex.). Teuhema has been verbally committed to LSU for a long time, and it’s where his older brother, safety Sione Teuhema, is. But we’ve heard from sources in Texas that that isn’t necessarily an influence for him to go to LSU. The feeling is that the younger and much bigger Teuhema is looking for a way out of going to LSU, and that he privately likes UCLA quite a bit. In situations like this, it’s always tough for a recruit to fight off so much pressure and actually take an official visit to another school, but if he does visit UCLA we would think the Bruins have a pretty good shot. We had heard he plans to visit the first January weekend, the 16th-18th.

Semisi Uluave, the 6-5, 320-pounder from Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou, will officially visit Jan. 23rd-25th and, at this point, is down to two schools – UCLA and Oregon. He has UCLA as a slight leader, according to many sources, and the fact that’s the case when he’s already visited Oregon and hasn’t visited UCLA is very promising. There is some influence to go to Oregon since his best friend, defensive end Canton Kaumatule, is committed to Oregon, but the thought is that UCLA looks strong here. Uluave very well could go on his Mormon Mission out of high school.

Kieffer Longson, the offensive lineman from San Ramon (Calif.) Dougherty Valley, who is verbally committed to BYU, could still officially visit UCLA. Longson, too, will go on his Mormon Mission out of high school so if UCLA got a signed NLI from either or both Longson and Uluave it wouldn’t be valid by the time they enroll to any school in the fall of 2017. A signed NLI in this case, then, is about as binding as a verbal commitment.

But it would, however, really help UCLA with its recruiting class rankings for 2015.

What is also going to have a big impact on UCLA’s rankings is what happens on January 23rd. It’s the day that Osa Masina, the five-star linebacker from Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton, and Ryan Newsome, the four-star receiver from Aledo (Tex.) announce their decisions.

With Masina, we’re hearing something new about who leads for him just about every other day. There will be many college coaches from the three programs flocking to Masina’s home for in-home visits the week of January 18th, and we’ve heard that UCLA could have his last in-home visit before he decides on that Friday, the 23rd. The latest, though, is that USC could have the edge over UCLA and ASU.

With Newsome, it’s down to UCLA and Texas and we’ve heard he’s wavered back and forth at times. We’ve heard enough recently to believe that Texas might be leading for his commitment.

We hear so much about  Iman Marshalll, the five-star defensive back from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, and that we should take it very seriously that he’s potentially going to UCLA. Knowing what we know, we’re still retaining a huge chunk of skepticism and believe it’s all a ruse, and he’ll sign with USC on National Signing Day.

Cassius Peat, the defensive end from Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol, from what we hear, is still verbally committed to UCLA, but is saying that it will be a signing day decision for him. There are reports that attest to him spending quite a bit of time around ASU and that he'll ultimately sign with the Sun Devils. It wouldn't be surprising.  

There has been a really interesting development with Tyrone Wheatley, the defensive end from Buffalo (New York) Canisius. Of course, with his father being one of the most name-recognizable Michigan grads, it was natural that Harbaugh would make a big pitch now. In fact, Tyrone Wheatley Sr. interviewed and accepted the running backs position at Michigan.   While he’s certainly qualified, it’s pretty clear it’s motivated to get his son to come to Michigan. From what we hear, the father, a former pro who was the running backs coach with the Buffalo Bills, understands that. We’ve heard that Wheatley Sr. very much likes his job with the Bills and might not think that Michigan is an improvement for him. There’s also a thought from sources close to the situation that Wheatley Sr. feels it’d be a good idea for his son to break away from him and have a completely independent college experience. How not-independent would going to the same school as your father be, with your father along for the ride? Wheatley Jr., too, has three trips lined up for the three January weekends, to Alabama (Jan. 16th), UCLA (Jan. 23rd) and Oregon (Jan. 30th). Those three schools have been locked into Wheatley for a while and we can’t see him dropping one to sub in an official visit to Michigan, which severely hurts Michigan’s chances.

On their trip back east on January 15th, Mora and his assistant coaches will also take a swing by Buffalo to check in with Wheatley and his family.

At this point, Wheatley is a tough race to handicap. We’ve heard that, after being in Buffalo, the younger Wheatley would like better weather and that UCLA and USC could be the top considerations. We’ve heard at times that it was between UCLA and Alabama. USC, though, is unique in that they’re recruiting Wheatley as a tight end, and that could appeal to him (despite him pretty clearly not having the best of hands).

Interesting element: We’ve heard from east coast sources that UCLA being featured on the Pac-12 Network show, “The Drive,” this season really enhanced UCLA’s chances with the east coast prospects Wheatley and Clark. So many BRO readers were wondering what kind of recruiting impact “The Drive” would have and it seems that it really helped UCLA reach out-of-the-region recruits and provide them more insight into UCLA.

We continue to hear from sources in the South that you “shouldn’t sleep” on UCLA in regard to Roquan Smith, the four-star linebacker from Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County. Speaking of Michigan, Smith just rearranged his list and official visit plans to accommodate Michigan and, actually, ASU, eliminating USC, Ole Miss and LSU in the process. He’ll now visit Michigan on January 16th, ASU on January 23rd and UCLA January 30th. Smith has already visited UCLA unofficially last summer so it’s pretty big that he’ll officially visit for his last weekend. He visited hometown favorite Georgia in early December and while the Bulldogs are still considered the favorite, there are people that say UCLA is the biggest threat with the last visit. We know that very early on in Smith’s recruitment he was a silent verbal to UCLA, too.

There was some talk that Florida five-star defensive line prospects Byron Cowart and CeCe Jefferson wanted to take official visits to UCLA in January. Both of them talked about visiting with Ryan Davis, the receiver from St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood. It’s probably safe to assume that UCLA won’t trip in Cowart or Jefferson unless there’s a parent accompanying them, which is a policy UCLA employs to ensure they’re not being used just for a great visit to Los Angeles.

Nathan Meadors, the athlete from San Bernardino (Calif.) San Gorgonio, has UCLA In the lead, with some pretty stiff competition coming from Notre Dame and Oregon, with Boise State and Cal also in contention (the two schools he’s already visited). He’ll visit Notre Dame January 23rd and UCLA January 30th, and is setting up a visit for Oregon January 16th. He has said weather is a factor so it will be interesting to see how South Bend feels to him. When he recently admitted that UCLA is his leader he cited the relationship with UCLA DB Coach Demetrice Martin. We feel the true competition might be Oregon, since he’ll be taking a visit there just days after they very well could have won a national championship. Meadors will announce on Signing Day.  UPDATE: Meadors might not visit Oregon since they have a reduced amount of official visits due to NCAA sanctions. 

Tony Brown, the receiver from La Mirada who is verbally committed to Texas Tech, will officially visit UCLA January 16th. From what we’re hearing, Texas Tech is pretty scared of that visit, thinking that Brown, who had favored UCLA, would get sold on the local school. We’ve heard Texas Tech is trying to get in an in-home visit with Brown on January 15th a day before his UCLA visit, or hopes that they could visit Brown the following week without him having flipped to UCLA. Remember back in December, we though that if UCLA didn’t get a commitment from any other receiver by the time Brown takes his visit, UCLA will go all-in on him and we think that will be the case.

What will also add some intrigue to it all is Carlos Strickland, the WR prospect from Dallas (Tex.) Skyline. UPDATE: Strickland de-committed from Texas Tech Friday, which bodes well for UCLA. He'll visit UCLA on January 15th, the same weekend as Brown.  He'll announce his decision January 27th. 

From Greg Biggins on Stickland and Newsome:  Strickland said last week he was also looking at UCLA, Cal and Texas but really it's UCLA and UT here. He only mentioned Cal after we brought up Cal and they just lost their WR coach. Intersting note is I don't think UT has room for both Strickland and Ryan Newsome, who I believe is also leaning to UCLA and UT. So sounds like UCLA is in a pretty good spot to land one of the 2 WRs almost by default and either would be a very nice pickup.

From what we’re hearing, UCLA is looking very good for Benning Potoae, the defensive end from Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes, and have been leading over Washington since his official visit to UCLA in November. He’ll visit Washington January 16th, so UCLA will have to weather that and the pressure to stay close to home. Potoae has said he’ll make his announcement the week after the Washington visit. UCLA has done a very good job with Potoae’s family about going to school away from home, though. Mora and assistant Mike Tuiasosopo will probably be up in Washington to visit Potoae the week after his Washington visit and before he announces his decision.

There have been some reports that Potoae and Fotu Leiato, the safety prospect from Steilacoom (Wash.), are related, in fact, but we’ve heard they’re just very close to the point they feel like family. We’ve also heard that UCLA is looking very good for Leiato, a late scholarship offer, and that where Potoae goes will greatly influence Leiato. Michigan State, not Washington, is perhaps the biggest competition for him.  From Brandon Huffman:  UCLA Coaches Mike Tuiasosopo and Demetrice Martin will be in his home on Thursday the 15th. He will take his official visit to UCLA the final weekend before Signing Day, 1/30-2/1, and WSU will also get an official visit from him in January.

UCLA looks very good for Joseph Wicker, the DL from Long Beach Poly who had a good week at the U.S. Army Bowl. The feeling is that UCLA will have a very good chance of getting a commitment from him when he takes his official visit to UCLA January 23-25.

As we’ve been saying for a while, it looks very likely that Kyon Clark, the defensive tackle from Rialto Carter, will end up a Bruin. He’s currently verbally committed to Montana, but the thought is that he’s coming to UCLA, either as a member of the 2015 class or as a grayshirt, depending on UCLA’s numbers at the end of the day on February 4th.  He'll visit UCLA officially on January 23rd. 

Despite some reports that USC-committed running back/receiver Dominic Davis, from Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany, will officially visit UCLA, there are currently no plans for Davis to visit.

And lastly, it was a big week for UCLA recruiting when JC offensive lineman Zach Bateman and the #1 prep quarterback in the nation, Josh Rosen, actually started classes at UCLA.

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