UCLA Prospects at Passing Down

Mar. 30 -- The Fontana event had many UCLA propects participating, including Jack Jones, David Long, Damian Alloway...

The Passing Down Regional 7-on-7 Sunday in Fontana was a very well-run – and talented – event. Just about everywhere you looked there was a UCLA prospect. Here are the ones we saw:

Evaluation:
Jones (Pictured Above) played both ways, receiver and cornerback, but mostly receiver. He didn’t get the ball thrown his way much, being on a loaded team, so we watched him mostly just run routes. Physically he looks a little bigger than he did just three weeks ago at The Opening L.A. On the few series when he played corner we once again had it confirmed for us that what we saw at the The Opening wasn’t a mirage; he again showed some elite athleticism and instincts. With how he’s developing physically, and how high of a commodity an elite cornerback is, Jones is easily one of the most important UCLA targets for 2016. Here’s the Interview we did with Jones. UCLA Offer
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Evaluation:
Again, like it was at The Opening, Long was right there in terms of being impressive working at cornerback as Jones. In the two games we saw of Long he wasn’t challenged much, and was able to stay with his man without exerting too much energy, but he was so focused it looked like he was working on world peace. He’s about 5-11, with a bit of a compact body, perhaps not as long as you’d like, but his feet, change-of-direction and instincts also make him a big UCLA priority. UCLA Offer
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Evaluation:
Sidney went both ways, too, mostly playing receiver, and it’s clear what position he prefers. He ran seam routes and after a couple of cuts was wide open for most of the two games we watched. Again, he’s not greatly fast, but he showed again that he has some of the best moves of a receiver in the west for 2016, and great ball skills. There is a question of whether some of his double moves are going to translate to the next level. He took a few reps at cornerback, but didn't seem like his heart was in it. It will be interesting with Sidney, since he clearly has his heart set on playing receiver, and we think it's where he best projects, but many programs see him as a cornerback. UCLA Offer

Evaluation:
We watched Warner for one series, actually just a couple of plays, before he got injured (appeared to be a knee). We did watch him in warm-ups some, and he moved better than he did a few weeks ago at The Opening. He has good size and a good body to play safety in college, and has a good feel for coverage. UCLA Offer

Evaluation:
In 7-on-7, when many defenses are running a sloppy zone, a guy like Alloway can literally get open on every down, and he did. He is pretty explosive, and he’d simply burst into an open seam, then mostly just wave his arms to try to get the attention of the quarterback who, 95% of the time, was looking elsewhere. When he did have the ball thrown his way, he was very natural catching it, as opposed to the few drops he had at The Opening. He looks to be the slot-type of guy UCLA covets. UCLA Offer

Evaluation:
We like Crawford. He has a combo of size (probably close to 6-1 and 190), length and good quickness for his size. Perhaps in another year that isn’t so loaded with receivers in the west he’d stand out more. He’s a good prospect, very deserving of four stars, but he isn’t a guy who can separate or go up and get any ball from any defender. UCLA should definitely take him, even though it’s pretty well-known he’s leaning heavily to USC. UCLA Offer

Evaluation:
There’s been some debate over what position Burton fits the best, safety or receiver. After we saw him at safety at The Opening, we were skeptical (even though he was banged up). After watching him work almost exclusively at receiver Sunday we’re convinced he’s a receiver. He has a big body, at about 6-2 and 190, and, first, that makes it difficult for defenders to get into him, being very physical. He also runs good routes and catches a ball well, and looks far more natural doing it than playing safety. We’re convinced now he’s a good possession receiver on the college level. UCLA Offer.

Evaluation:
We like Beck, and consider him a solid cornerback prospect. He’s a bit smallish, at about 5-10 and 175, and narrow-framed, but he has some length to him. He moves well, flips his hips well, and plays physically. What we like about him, too, is his intensity, going hard on every rep. UCLA hasn’t offered and he’s pretty far down the road with other programs in his recruitment, but we could possibly envision UCLA getting more seriously involved, with Beck being from St. John Bosco – and if he attends UCLA’s camp in June and gets in front of UCLA Defensive Backs Coach Demetrice Martin.

Evaluation:
We watched Gilliam for one game and he was alternating series with another quarterback, but he looked good. Physically he looks a bit bigger than he did just three weeks ago at The Opening, and quite a bit more confident throwing the ball (it was a weird day, if you remember, when all of the quarterbacks didn’t throw well). Gilliam has a very nice throwing motion and the ball comes out of his hand with ease. In the two series we saw he throw some very nice balls, that weren’t caught, but they were still nice. He has a command of the offense, too, and showed he could look at a secondary receiver. Here’s the thing we don’t get: new Stanford commit, K.J. Costello was at this event and, don’t take this wrong, we like Costello. But after watching both of them Sunday, Gilliam has a better motion and throws a better ball that is just as accurate. Gilliam is a much better athlete, at The Opening running a 4.62, which is blazing for a quarterback (on that day that was fast for a receiver). Both are clearly smart kids and have good academics. But Costello is 6-4 and Gilliam probably 6-2, so because of those two inches Costello is ranked highly and got hotly pursued, but Gilliam has offers from just Toledo and Marshall? We’re not saying Costello doesn’t deserve it and Gilliam is amazing, but given Gilliam’s ability to throw at least as well as Costello and his superior athleticism – and it’s not like he’s short at 6-2 – it’s a bit baffling that Gilliam hasn’t gotten much attention yet. It’s especially baffling, too, when USC just offered Matt Fink, who had a pretty poor day at The Opening. The word is that UCLA is the leading candidate to get a commitment from Devon Modster when he announces his decision within the next few weeks. If Modster opts elsewhere, we think Gilliam would be a good option, especially since his mom went to UCLA and he grew up a UCLA fan.

Evaluation:
O’Brien might have had the best day of any quarterback at The Opening, and he looked pretty good throwing the ball Sunday. He has a nice, natural throwing motion and is accurate. He doesn’t have a great body, and will have to work to make it D-1 worthy, but in a year when there aren’t a great deal of quarterbacks in the west we could see him potentially getting some lower Pac-12 offers. He’s a life-long USC fan, and we think it’s arguable who’s better – 0’Brien or Fink, who, like we said, USC just offered.

Evaluation:
James is someone we hadn’t seen before but caught our eye. He did so when, as a receiver, facing a pretty loaded team, he was triple-teamed on a fade in the endzone and skyed over the three defenders and came down with it. We started watching him from that point on and really liked him. He has good size, at probably 6-1.5 and is well-built. He ran well and just had a knack for catching the ball in traffic. He has an offer from Montana, and in a year that is deep for receivers, we could see that he might be overlooked.

Evaluation:
If Joseph Lewis were in the 2016 loaded receiver class in the west, a class that is one of the deepest ever, he might be our #1 receiver prospect. He’s that good of a prospect. He’s big, fast and just physically dominating. We’ve heard he’s one of those USC-childhood kids, but UCLA should really put in a major effort right now, in March of his sophomore year, to turn that around.

Evaluation:
Johnson, the 2017 running back prospect, worked mostly as a nickel back Sunday, and had some ups and downs. He probably did it because, as a running back, you don’t play much in 7-on-7 and he wants to get on the field. Just from an eye-ball standpoint he definitely passes the test, at an easy 5-10 and a solid 185 – just where you’d like a running back to be physically as a sophomore.

Evaluation:
Taylor is an intriguing 2017 prospect. He’s easily 6-3, but very angular. He looks like a small forward more than anything else at this point. He lined up at cornerback and, going up against non D-1 receiver competition, he did fine. He ran really well for his size and length. But he just doesn’t have the fast-twitch for a cornerback with that long body. The issue is, at this point in his development, we don’t know what he is. You’d naturally say safety, but he looks too angular for that, too. Perhaps when he fills out more (even though he’s filled out pretty decently in his upper body already), he’ll look more like a safety. We have no idea if he can catch, but we’d definitely like to see him as a receiver.

There were a number or prospects participating that are well-known to be heavy USC leans, like Javon McKinley and Tyler Vaughns, and 2017 cornerback Thomas Graham, but we don’t feel the need to do evaluations of them.

UCLA’s committed linebackers Lokeni Toailoa and Krys Barnes (pictured below) were in attendance but didn’t participate. Toailoa said he injured his hamstring at The Opening. UCLA-committed athlete Demetric Felton didn’t attend, at least in the day’s first session.


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