Evaluations from West Coast Bowl

Jan. 26 -- We take a look at the four UCLA prospects from the West Coast Bowl this weekend...

Bolu Olorunfunmi (5'11, 210)
Fresno (Calif.) Clovis North
No. 49 RB

Olorunfunmi is much the same player we saw last spring and summer, showing good physicality and a decent enough burst to go along with a strong, well-built body. Judging from what we saw in the actual game on Sunday, he’s pretty good at getting downhill quickly, but he still needs to get better at that, and perhaps that’ll come as he adjusts to not being one of the faster players on the field. There were two runs where he could have hit a hole in the middle, but instead tried to pop the run outside, and on one of those, Joseph Wicker lit him up for about an eight-yard loss. With his physical assets, he’ll need to continue to hone the mindset that he’s in games to be a power back. As many people noted in his practice clips, he’s not a natural pass catcher. He had a number of drops during practice where the ball hit him right in the hands, and this is a known issue, having carried over through pretty much every event we’ve seen Olorunfunmi participate in. Developing adequate hands should probably be his first priority over the next six months as he gets ready for his first fall camp in Westwood. At worst, he projects as a power back for UCLA — someone who can be a force on short yardage and goal line situations. If he can improve his hands, his upside is higher.

Tevita Halalilo (6'4.5, 330)
Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde
No. 8 OG, No. 145 Overall

First, you have to give credit to Halalilo for completely owning the error he made in his recruitment and admitting that he ended up apologizing to the UCLA coaching staff for saying some poorly conceived things to the media. That takes a good deal of maturity. In terms of his play this week, Halalilo looked pretty good during practice, moving his feet well and playing with good strength. During the game on Sunday, he looked more tentative, and seemed to be searching for guys to block on occasion, which is probably a product of the, oh, three days of practice more than anything. Physically, he’s definitely a big guy, but he looks like he’s trimmed up a bit since we saw him over the summer, looking more like 330 or so than the 350 he looked like early in the season. He’s still very slightly top-heavy, so redistributing some weight to his lower body would probably be ideal, but he’s strong enough that he can usually keep himself balanced thanks to his excellent initial punch. He’ll need to improve his quickness, but that’ll probably come as he sheds and redistributes his weight.

Joseph Wicker (6'2, 275)
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
No. 11 DT, No. 93 Overall

Wicker was probably the best of the defensive linemen in both practice and in the game. Despite arriving late after a week full of in-home visits and class, Wicker dominated his one full day of practice and then was a force on Sunday during the game. He showed the ability to make an impact both at defensive end and inside at the three-technique, to the point where we could see him playing both in UCLA’s system. He has very good quickness for his size (about 270 pounds) and is also very strong, as he repeatedly was able to bull rush offensive linemen and then quickly spin around them to disrupt the backfield. There were several points where he was so quick off the ball that the offensive linemen didn’t even have time to react before he was in the backfield. We’d heard that a knock on Wicker was that he’d occasionally take plays off, but we really saw nothing like that during practice or during the game — in fact, he was one of the few players running after ball carriers long after the play had passed them, and he actually made a nice tackle in pursuit. Physically, he’s well put-together, and could probably even get a little bigger if need be, though his size now allows him more versatility. Wicker really rose in the Scout rankings when he moved inside to the three-technique this year, and it would have been interesting to see where he would have ended up in the rankings if he had spent three years playing defensive tackle rather than one.

Josh Wariboko (6'3, 305)
Oklahoma City (Okla.) Casady
No. 10 OG, No. 163 Overall

Wariboko really looks like he’s trimmed up his body since we saw him in person last June. Where before he looked pretty top-heavy and overall was carrying a little extra weight (he was probably about 310 or 315 pounds at the time), he looks like he’s a good 10 or 15 pounds leaner, and has already begun the process of filling out his lower body. He moves really well, with very quick feet, and had some pretty good moments during the game on Sunday. His team didn’t run the ball all that much, so we didn’t see much of his drive-blocking ability, but with his feet and strength, we’d imagine he’s a more than adequate run-blocker. In terms of pass protection, he needs to work on getting a good punch, since all too often defensive linemen were able to get their hands in good position on him off the snap. He’s probably a bit shorter than his listed height, looking more like 6’2-ish than 6’3, which really isn’t a big deal for an interior linemen (if anything, shorter — to a point — is better, since it allows for easier leverage). Saying nothing of Maea Teuhema, if UCLA can land Wariboko to go along with Halalilo, that’s a solid guard class in its own right, with two talented prospects, even if they are a bit raw.

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