There are two weeks left before National Signing Day, and it's getting down to it.
Things are changing by the hour, so we have Recruit Trend Meter that we're updating literally all day long.
We thought it'd also be good to rank the top ten recruits remaining on UCLA's board that are of the top priority for the program. This takes into consideration their talent and upside, the need at the position, and many other factors.
We ranked players that we think UCLA has a realistic chance of getting, so not being ranked are Iman Marshall, Osa Masina, Roquan Smith, Jeff Holland, Maea Teuhema and others. Now, if we hear anything that changes our mind about UCLA's chances with these recruits we'll certainly add them to this list. But we wanted to keep this within the realm of reality so it has some efficacy.
#1 -- Joseph Wicker, DL, 6-4, 275, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Ranking: #93 Overall, #11 DE
Why Is He So Important? UCLA currently has just one defensive lineman committed, Rick Wade, and the Bruins don't necessarily look promising for the remaining other DLs on the list (Benning Potoae, Tyrone Wheatley, Cassius Peat), and probably look the best for Wicker. Wicker could be the most talented of the group; he really proved himself able to compete at the highest level with his performance at the U.S. Army Bowl. With how difficult it can be to find someone to play the nose in a 3-4, he's the one most capable of doing it and most versatile among the DLs UCLA is still recruiting. UCLA's projected depth on the DL doesn't look bad, but it's such an important position and the depth/talent could take a sudden turn if Eddie Vanderdoes and/or Kenneth Clark decided to leave early after next season. And you just can't find enough good DLs, especially interior guys, and Wicker is one. It's thought Wicker has UCLA and ASU as his last two, and Wicker is scheduled to officially visit UCLA January 30th.
#2 -- Sotonye Jamabo, RB, 6-3, 190, Plano (Tex.) Plano West
Ranking: #18 Overall, #1 RB
Why Is He So Important? To take the UCLA program to the next level, it needs next-level talent and Jamabo qualifies. Plus, too, even though UCLA has two running backs committed in Bolu Olorunfunmi and T.J. Simmons, there are some doubts about them -- like if Olorunfunmi is a potential starter or not, and whether Simmons will qualify, recover from his ACL and just how good he is. UCLA also needs a win in closing on elite, out-of-state prospects to boost its rep and momentum nationally. Really, the biggest need personnel-wise might be Wicker, but the recruit that will potentially be the face of the class along with Josh Rosen, and for many observers make Signing Day a success or failure for UCLA is Jamabo. The headline for every UCLA recruiting story in every media outlet on Thursday, Feb. 5th would be: "UCLA Signs Nation's #1 QB and #1 RB." Pretty powerful stuff. It's down to UCLA and Texas for Jamabo.
#3 -- Victor Alexander, LB, 5-10, 225, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian
Ranking: #22 MLB
Why Is He So Important? You might scratch your head that three-star Alexander is #3 in this ranking. Well, first, we think he's under-rated because of his size. And then we're a bit worried about UCLA's linebacker recruiting with committed Josh Woods flirting a little with Oregon (we probably should have Woods in this ranking tied at #3 with Alexander). If UCLA loses Woods, even though we think it's unlikely, the only other linebacker it would have on NSD is probably Keisean Lucier-South, and he's going to end up at the linebacker/defensive end spot, which really isn't a linebacker. Suddenly, UCLA's linebacker recruiting is, well, a bit worrisome and Alexander is a big key here. Plus, Alexander is the type of leader, at middle linebacker, that is the backbone of a team and really valuable. He still has an official visit with Georgia Tech this weekend.
#4 -- Chris Clark, TE, 6-6, 247, Avon (Conn.) Old Farms
Ranking: #23 Overall, #1 TE
Why Is He So Important? After losing Alize Jones, UCLA needs a tight end in this class. So there's a positional need. On top of that, Clark is really desireable because he's the type of tight end UCLA hasn't had since Joseph Fauria, and it was clear how effective a guy like Fauria could be in UCLA's offense. It gives UCLA the chance to play more smash-mouth, too, and match up with the likes of Stanford. It's between Michigan and UCLA for Clark; he just visited Michigan last weekend and will visit Westwood this weekend.
#5 -- Carlos Strickland, 6-4, 190, Dallas (Texas) Skyline
Ranking: #101 Overall, #14 WR
Why Is He So Important? UCLA wide receiver recruiting for 2015 is really going to be made or broken by Strickland. Without him, UCLA has L.J. Reed, who could end up a Y or, at the very least, a very big X or Z, while he also has some possible qualifying issues. There is Stephen Johnson, who we really like, but he hasn't played receiver much and he's a slot guy. Strickland is 6-4, so he is big, but he's more of a speedy and elusive type, and between the three mentioned here the only true X/Z receiver. There's a reason that Josh Rosen was stuck to Strickland for his official visit this last weekend. Strickland announces on Jan. 27th.
#6A -- Tyrone Wheatley, DL, 6-6, 250, Buffalo (New York) Canisius
Ranking: #275 Overall, #29 DE
#6B -- Benning Potoae, DL, 6-4, 265, Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes
Ranking: #179 Overall, #18 DE
Why Are They So Important? Much of what we covered in the "why-is-he-so-important" section on Wicker applies here. UCLA's defensive line recruiting is suddenly a bit worrisome, with only Rick Wade in the fold. If UCLA got Wicker that would go a very long way, but UCLA could really use three DLs with this class, given the projected depth chart for the next couple of years. To get three you need to get either Potoae or Wheatley. Both are talented, potential-starter types. It's between UCLA and hometown Washington for Potoae, and he'll announce this Thursday. Wheatley will visit UCLA this weekend, and it's a complete crapshoot where he could end up -- UCLA, USC, Michigan or Alabama.
#8 -- Dechaun Holiday, DB, 6-2, 190, San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills
Ranking: #76 Overall, #11 CB
Why Is He So Important? UCLA's defensive back recruiting for 2015 is solid, with William Lockett, Colin Samuel and Octavius Spencer, but it's lacking star power, to a degree. Holiday is a top 100 player and would probably have the best chance among the 2015 DB class to be an elite player. If he indeed ends up at cornerback, too, then he's probably even more valuable than this #8 ranking suggests, since UCLA needs to find a lockdown cornerback. He visited ASU last weekend, has Washington this weekend and then ends it at UCLA January 30th.
#9 -- Josh Wariboko, OL, 6-3, 305, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Casady School )
Ranking: #163 Overall, #11 OG
Why Is He So Important? You can't have enough offensive linemen. No matter what year, what stage it is in the recruiting cycle, or how many OLs UCLA has committed, there will always be an OL prospect on this list. UCLA's offensive line class, to date, is a very good one, but getting Wariboko would make it great, and perhaps the best in the country. Getting Wariboko, too, would be a huge coup for UCLA in getting a big, out-of-state prospect -- in fact, it would be pulling the #1 prospect in Oklahoma out of the state and away from the Sooners.
#10 -- Ryan Newsome, WR, 5-9, 175, Aledo (Texas)
Ranking: #193 Overall, #26 WR
Why Is He So Important? UCLA needs speed at receiver and that's Newsome. He's the type of receiver UCLA hasn't had during Mora's three years, and would add another dimension to the offense. Like with the other out-of-staters on this list, if UCLA got Newsome it would be a big victory with an out-of-state prospect, and really send a message that UCLA recruiting has the power to go out of state for elite recruits. It would also be a huge coup to get him away from hometown Texas, and that would probably resonate in future recruiting cycles in that state.
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