With the evaluation period set to begin in two weeks, on April 15th, UCLA has a good idea of who their top targets are in the 2016 class.
Of course, several offers are likely to go out during the eval period, when the coaches can hit the road and eyeball guys they liked on film or see transcripts when at the schools.
Thanks to recruiting much of 2015's class with the mindset it would be a smaller class, there has been an earlier focus than usual by UCLA on the 2016 class. It already has six commitments, but only on on offense.
UCLA clearly signed a considerably talent-laden class for 2015. Plugging that into the existing talent in the program, UCLA is definitely at its most talented point in quite a long time.
It clearly is a new era in UCLA football recruiting, with UCLA not just being mentioned among the elite in California and the West, but also nationally, and beating some of the national powers for guys in their own backyard.
Here is a current look at UCLA's defensive recruiting board.
With Josh Rosen already enrolled and expected to compete for the starting quarterback spot, quarterback recruiting could be difficult in the 2016 class but UCLA will need to still bring in one.
Modster will make his decision in the next couple of weeks and UCLA has a pretty good shot at the four-star prospect. Boise State, where his brother plays, is a legitimate contender for him. Each of the main schools standing out to Modster have talented incoming freshmen -- UCLA, Boise State (Brett Rypien), Arizona State (two quarterbacks) and Washington State, so it further solidifies Modster's feeling that he's not afraid to compete with an incoming quarterback.
Haskins is planning to visit UCLA this spring, and could come in April, but we still think it's a longshot he'll end up in the Pac-12. Still, with him coming out on his own dime, it at least makes it not completely impossible.
Fink could get an offer from UCLA if Modster goes somewhere else, but we don't think he'll get an offer until the UCLA coaches get a chance to see him throw during the eval period. USC just offered him over the weekend and he wants to stay in California. If UCLA did offer, he'd have to weigh the two against each other -- UCLA with Rosen and USC with two freshman quarterbacks.
On the other hand, Gilliam, the son of a UCLA alum and a lifelong Bruin fan, would probably jump on a UCLA offer pretty quickly. But like Fink, it's probably a matter of UCLA finding out what Modster's decision is and likely seeing Gilliam throw during the eval period, and possibly, having him come to their camp in June. We like Gilliam; he has acceptable size and arm strength, and is a very athletic, fast prospect with a good head.
McGrew will make his decision at the end of April, the day after UCLA's Spring Game. It will essentially come down to Arizona, Arizona State, Washington and UCLA. UCLA seemed like the longtime favorite, then it looked like they had cooled on each other, but after he took an unofficial visit to UCLA, it looks like the Bruins are right back in it and we still think that UCLA is where he'll pick when he commits. He and Rosen are tight as well.
Stovall will decide towards the tail-end of summer and he named a top six last week that included UCLA. Still, we think USC is the team to beat with the RB MVP at The Opening Los Angeles, and while UCLA offered him and made the final cut, his heart is across town.
Malepeai has really seen his stock take off in the past couple of weeks, with UCLA, Ole Miss, Stanford and Michigan some of his latest offers. He's a strong back out of Hawaii and helped his team win the state championship last fall. Given UCLA's recent success on the islands, they have a good chance. And Kennedy Polamalu, according to Malepeai, is a big reason for his interest in the Bruins. He's planning to visit unofficially soon.
Other running backs:
Robert Washington, 5-10, 210, Huntersville (N.C.) SouthLake Christian- OFFERED
D'Vaughn Pennamon, 5-11.5, 195, Manvel (Texas)- OFFERED
Beau Bisharat, 6-2, 210, Carmichael (Calif.) Jesuit
Dylan Thigpen, 5-10.5, 180, La Verne (Calif.) Damien
Leo Lambert, 5-10, 180, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame
Zion Echols, 5-10, 175, Covina (Calif.) Charter Oak
Freddie Holly, 6-0, 200, Riverside (Calif.) Norte Vista
Gil-Scott Jackson, 5-11, 190, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
The receiver class out West is ridiculously deep, perhaps the strongest it has ever been and UCLA isn't just offering a bunch of guys in the region, they're offering a number of them nationally. They already have a commitment from Felton, their lone offensive verbal. They were the first offer for McKnight and Jones and one of the first offers for Long and Alloway. Vaughns and Crawford are elite prospects nationally, but UCLA has some work to do with them. UCLA got a jump on McKinley too, and he was terrific during the season, but they're back in the pack. Still, this is a strong position across the country and UCLA is already getting after several.
Felton plays running back for Great Oak, but he projects as a slot receiver for the Bruins, and will be used like UCLA used Damien Thigpen, on wheel routes, jet sweeps, and any way to get the ball in to his hands. He committed to the Bruins last week and he is a great get because his recruitment was really beginning to take off when they offered. The local factor played a huge role in their ability to get him.
Alloway nearly committed to Cal last week over UCLA, but held off from committing. That was big for UCLA, because they still want him badly and Alloway deciding to hold off kept them from losing him to an in-state/in-conference foe. Alloway said there was something about UCLA that kept him from pledging to Cal. UCLA will still have work to do to overtake Cal, but Alloway not committing is a big help. He and Felton could be used in similar roles, but Alloway is more of a pure receiver than Felton, so that could be packaged that way to him.
Owens looked to be a USC lean last summer but now UCLA has made up a ton of ground with him and have a realistic chance with the top skill prospect in the Central Valley. Owens could also be a pretty good safety and UCLA is aware of his ability to play in the secondary so that isn't out of the realm of possibility. Of course, a lot will depend on what kind of receiver class UCLA brought in, but Owens would likely come in as a receiver first.
UCLA is still trying with Crawford, but USC had been where he was leaning and now Stanford and Michigan are more realistic threats. Stanford got a commitment from his teammate and close friend K.J. Costello and he'll visit there this week. Michigan has made a concerted effort for Crawford for some time. Suffice to say, UCLA has their work cut out for him with Crawford.
Lee was offered by UCLA in early March after patiently waiting for the offer. UCLA has been watching him for two years and finally extended the offer. It was a big offer for Lee, who also has offers from Tennessee, Miami and Oklahoma as well as Colorado, where his older brother, Donovan plays. The Buffs will probably be the Bruins toughest competition for Lee, with his brother doing the heavy recruiting of him and his relationship with the Bruin coaches.
UCLA offered Harry after a good start to his spring and he was supposed to take an unofficial in March but didn't make it. Another Chandler prospect, his junior film was just ok, but his measureables are what have turned a bunch of schools on to him. He's got some work to do academically and because of that, UCLA is taking a wait-and-see approach with how hard they plan to recruit him.
McKnight got his first offer from UCLA over a year ago but he really never mentioned them much before. However, of late, he's talking a little more about the Bruins and said he wants to see them during the spring and take an unofficial visit and the Bruins could pick up their recruitment with him and he is already picking up his interest in them.
A relative unknown, Jones has seen his recruitment take off in the past few weeks, going from under-the-radar to the owner of double-digit offers. Florida has also offered the Alabama native, the day before UCLA did, and he grew up a Gator fan. Jones told BRO that he plans to visit UCLA during the spring or the summer and may camp with the Bruins.
Javon McKinley, 6-2, 180, Corona (Calif.) Centennial- OFFERED
Tyler Vaughns, 6-2, 185, La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat- OFFERED
Devin Duvernay, 5-10, 175, Sachse (Texas)- OFFERED
Dee Anderson, 6-4, 175, Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite- OFFERED
Binjimen Victor, 6-4, 170, Coconut Creek (Fla.)- OFFERED
Clyde Leflore, 6-1, 165, New Orleans (La.) Warren Easton- OFFERED
Mykel Jones, 6-0, 185, Patterson (La.)- OFFERED
A.J. Morris, 6-1, 205, Smyrna (Tenn.) Lancaster Christian Academy- OFFERED
Simi Fehoko, 6-4, 183, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton
J.J. Wills, 5-11, 161, Clovis (Calif.)
With UCLA picking up Clark in February, that gives them a true, all-around tight end on the roster. Asiasi is a similar tight end to Clark too in that he's a well-rounded tight end. Clark is a better athlete but Asiasi is a better blocker and a little more physical. Asiasi plays in the vaunted veer offense at De La Salle, which is great if you're a running back or linemen, but not so great when you want to catch passes. But its helped Asiasi's blocking greatly and he's used the 7v7 circuit to show just how good of a receiver he is, with soft hands and pretty good ability to run. USC is probably the team to beat for him, but the Bruins will keep trying and he's planning to visit this spring.
Eletise is the top offensive guard in the West and UCLA had been doing well with him, the four-star citing his relationship with Klemm as a reason why. So this will be one factor to watch. As a player, Eletise is every bit the prospect he's ranked, earning an invitation to The Opening Finals after the Los Angeles Regional, where he showed his great punch, physicality and good footwork. His recruitment has really taken off, with over 20 offers.
Right now, Akingbulu is best noted as a project, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. He's only played football for a year, being a basketball player turned offensive lineman. He lost a ton of weight during hoops and weighed in at The Opening Los Angeles at 230. He acknowledged then that he knows he needs to get to at least 260. He moves pretty well and is light on his feet with good length, but he'll absolutely have to add some weight to be serviceable in college. UCLA is the hometown favorite for Akingbulu and his sister is a student there too.
Martin has been one of UCLA's top targets for a while, but he admitted early on that USC has always been the dream school, not a huge surprise for a Mater Dei player. He insists that he's wide open, but he coveted a USC offer and the Trojans finally extended the offer. Martin plays right tackle for the Monarchs but projects as a guard in college.
Wattenberg took an unofficial to UCLA in March, the visit went well from what we heard and the Bruins are probably still the team to beat. Washington made a lot of headway for him, but the SoCal native likes the proximity to home. He can play either tackle spot and is a pretty good athlete to boot.
The No. 2 tackle nationally by Scout, Allen is a long and lean athletic offensive tackle, essentially what you draw up as a tackle. He's nasty too and not just an athletic lineman, but a bruiser. And UCLA has a very good and realistic shot at him. He was a sophomore when Kenny Young played at JCC and Young has been working on him for some time.
Little is the No. 1 lineman in the country and has been committed to Texas A&M for a while. But he told Scout at The Opening Regional in Dallas that UCLA is recruiting him the hardest and he planned to visit unofficially and potentially officially. The next day, Klemm was suspended so we'll see how much that affects Little, who also cited his relationship with Klemm as a reason for his interest.
Williams is the No. 1 lineman in the West and has offers from coast-to-coast. But despite being in California, he's originally from the South and the feeling is that he wants to return to the region for college. He's got a number of SEC offers and those schools are in a good position to grab him from the West.
Smith took an unofficial visit to UCLA in March and raved about the visit. He took the trip right before Klemm was suspended, but he too raved about Klemm, so again, this is another one where that could be a big factor. He's an athletic and nasty lineman himself, but didn't look right at The Opening, struggling with back spasms. Still, his film tells the tale of a guy who's got 20+ offers for a reason and UCLA will have the local advantage going for them.
UCLA has had their linemen success in Texas under Klemm grow and grow. Urquidez is a player who's noticed. He named a top five recently that included the Bruins along with Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma and Miami and he wants to visit UCLA this spring or summer so the Bruins should be in it for a while.
Other offensive linemen:
Jauan Williams, 6-6, 270, Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll- OFFERED
Terrance Davis, 6-4, 310, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic- OFFERED
Clarence Henderson, 6-3, 250, Dallas (Texas) Skyline- OFFERED
Jacob Capra, 6-5, 275, Auburn (Calif.) Placer- OFFERED
Sean Auwae, 6-4, 290, Kapolei (Hawaii)
Nate Herbig, 6-4, 335, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis
Den Bleyker is considered the No. 2 longsnapper nationally by Rubio Long Snapping and he jumped on the UCLA offer the day it was given. He'll come in with the expectation he'll start from day one taking over for Christopher Longo. The last time UCLA brought in a scholarship snapper out of high school it was Christian Yount, so it speaks to Den Bleyker's ability.
Chrisman was offered by UCLA last week and he has a few offers to choose from. He's one of the top punters in the country, with Florida State and BYU also having offered and he was hoping for an Ohio State offer, which came on Tuesday. He was intrigued by the UCLA offer, though.
Molson is the top kicker in North America. He's ranked No. 1 by Chris Sailer Kicking for the 2016 class, making him No. 1 in Canada, where he's from, so essentially, No. 1 on the continent. He covets a UCLA offer and took an unofficial visit to Westwood and raved about it. He may have to camp with UCLA in June at their specialists camp, but he's one to watch.