With the evaluation period at the midway point, UCLA has had a productive start to the recruiting, with 10 commitments in the 2016 class and four of those 10 commitments coming since the beginning of the eval period.
Interestingly enough, not one of those four verbals added is from Southern California.
Thanks to recruiting much of 2015's class at least early on with the mindset it would be a smaller class, there has been an earlier focus than usual by UCLA on the 2016 class. Three of UCLA's current commitments are on offense, with six on defense and one on special teams.
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 offensive recruiting board.
The good news is that UCLA has Josh Rosen on campus and in contention for the starting job as a true freshman this fall. The bad news for recruiting over the last few months was that made it difficult to recruit from the top tier, because those players didn't want to sit behind Rosen for two years. But in a bit of a whirlwind recruitment, UCLA evaluated, recruited, and earned a commitment from a 2016 quarterback in early May.
Matt Lynch, 6-5, 185, Broomfield (Colo.) Legacy- COMMITTED
Lynch was an early commit to Colorado State but when Jim McElwain left for the Florida head coaching gig and Mike Bobo was hired as the offensive coordinator, Lynch opened up his recruitment. UCLA went to see him throw late last month and then had Lynch on campus for an unofficial visit the first week in May. They offered him on the unofficial and he committed an hour later. Lynch is an intriguing prospect who we've only seen on film (though we'll get a chance to see him at The Opening Regionals in Eugene next month). He's a couple of years away from contributing in college, which makes him a good fit for UCLA- there (hopefully) wouldn't be an immediate need for Lynch to play in his first two years in the program. His commitment gets the position filled in the 2016 class and allows UCLA to use the rest of spring to focus on their 2017 quarterback targets, and they already have quite a few offers out to that group.
It's again not a great running back class out West, which has been an issue the past couple of years. That's part of the reason why UCLA stockpiled a bit at the position in the 2015 class, with two backs coming in, Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi (we assume for the sake of the reset that Jamabo will still be enrolling in the summer).
McGrew will make his decision next week on May 20th. It essentially is down to Washington and UCLA. UCLA seemed like the longtime favorite, then it looked like both sides had cooled on each other, but after he took an unofficial visit to UCLA last month, it looks like the Bruins are right back near the top. We still think that UCLA is the school he'll pick on the 20th, but Washington has been focusing on McGrew as well, and he's been getting a lot of one-on-one attention from Huskies' head coach Chris Petersen. McGrew is obviously close with Rosen as well, so UCLA has that going for it.
Malepeai has really seen his stock rise in the past couple of months, with a slew of Power 5 schools among 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 and Polamalu will be in Hawaii this week. He's planning to visit unofficially soon.
Pennamon visited UCLA last month when he was out for the IMG 7v7 West Regionals with his Texas team. UCLA is on his short list, but Arkansas appears to be the favorite for him. Pennamon said he also liked Kansas, SMU and Cal from his offers and he's hoping for a USC offer.
Starks visited UCLA for a spring practice and for the spring game, and there is some real mutual interest there. Kennedy Polamalu will be up to see him at some point soon in the evaluation period, and it wouldn't be a shock if an offer came shortly thereafter. Starks has potential as a bigger back, or even as a fullback in UCLA's system.
Other running backs:
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
The receiver class out West is a deep one, but UCLA isn't just offering a bunch of guys in the region, they're offering a number of receivers nationally. The Bruins already have commitments from Felton and Owens, who UCLA wants as a receiver. UCLA was the first offer for McKnight and Jones and one of the first offers for 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. This is a strong position across the country and UCLA is already getting after several.
Owens looked to be a USC lean last summer but UCLA made up a ton of ground and prioritized him which was big for Owens. Eric Yarber was key in Owens' recruitment and he said their relationship was a big part of his reason to pick the Bruins. Owens is also close with teammate Caleb Kelly, one of UCLA's top defensive targets. Owens is ranked as a top ten athlete on Scout, with some schools liking him for defense, but UCLA wants him specifically for receiver and that was a big thing for Owens too.
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 other way to get the ball in his hands in space. He committed to the Bruins in March 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 over UCLA the same day Felton committed 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. He goes back and forth between the two often. Wisconsin offered last week and is making a move, but we still think it comes down to the two in-state programs. He and Felton could be used in similar roles, but Alloway is more of a pure receiver than Felton.
McKinley seemed to be a lost cause for UCLA, who were one of the first to offer the Top 50 player, but that changed this spring. He visited UCLA on his own during spring ball for a Thursday practice and then was back two days later with his B2G 7v7 team. McKinley, when healthy, has been very good this spring. He's the reigning California Junior of the Year, so he's not just a t-shirts and shorts player, he's a gamer when the lights are on. The Bruins still have some work to do, but McKinley did say he's going to give UCLA a hard look.
UCLA is still trying with Crawford, and he's said of the local schools, UCLA is the leader, but there's a good chance he leaves Southern California to play his college ball. He's close with K.J. Costello, moving to Santa Margarita for his senior season to play with his 7v7 quarterback and so he can graduate early. Stanford, where Costello is committed, is on Crawford hard and the Cardinal are doing pretty well with him, but UCLA is still trying.
Lee was offered by UCLA in early March after patiently waiting for some time. UCLA has been watching him for two years and finally extended the offer. It was a big one for Lee, who has double-digit offers from around the country, including from Colorado, where his older brother, Donovan, plays. The Buffs will probably be the Bruins' toughest competition for Lee, with his brother doing much of the heavy lifting in that recruitment, but his unofficial visit to UCLA in April went really well and the Bruins are in the thick of it for him.
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. UCLA had him on campus during spring ball and are now back on his short list.
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.)
Asiasi is similar 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 it has 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 the team to beat for him, but the Bruins will keep trying and he's planning to visit this summer.
Angeleine was offered by UCLA in the spring and he made his way out to Westwood for a spring practice, but all indications are that he's staying put closer to home, with in-state Penn State one of the favorites. Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State are also making a push for him.
Eletise is the top offensive guard in the West and UCLA had been doing well with him, with the four-star citing his relationship with Klemm as one of the major factors in his interest in UCLA. With Klemm out, Oregon and Washington have both started to make serious in-roads with him. 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 nearly 30 offers, including several from national programs.
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, and when we saw him a few weeks ago on UCLA's campus for the Tom Lemming photoshoot, he looked like he had regained some of that weight. He moves pretty well and is light on his feet with good length, but he'll absolutely have to add some considerable weight to be serviceable in college. UCLA is the hometown favorite for Akingbulu and his sister is a student there too.
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. The early word was that UCLA had a realistic shot at him, as he was a sophomore when Kenny Young played at JCC and Young had been working on him for some time. But with Klemm absent, UCLA may be fading a bit in the pack.
Little is the No. 1 lineman in the country and has been committed to Texas A&M for a while. Interestingly, he told Scout at The Opening Regional in Dallas that UCLA was 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.
Alves will camp with UCLA in June and he's talked with UCLA a lot in the spring. The UCLA staff has essentially told him a good showing at their lineman camp will put him in great shape for an offer. Alves has double-digit offers already, though, from all over the country, so UCLA's hope is that he waits to commit until the summer at the earliest, so they can get him in to camp to evaluate him in person.
Like Alves, Perez plans to camp with UCLA in June and he too could end up the recipient of an offer with a good performance at the lineman camp. Perez is one of our favorite linemen in the West in this class, versatile enough to play tackle or guard. He's approaching double-digit offers too, all without a head coach and at a school that isn't necessarily cranking out top prospects each year. But he did grow up a UCLA fan so an offer from the Bruins could leave a big impression on him.
Auwae was the OL MVP at the Los Angeles Opening Regional and has added a slew of offers since then. UCLA will be out in Hawaii this week to check on him and a few others, but if he returns to camp at UCLA in the summer, an offer could come with a good performance. Auwae will play inside at either guard or center, though center is his more likely destination.
Herbig, like Auwae, probably needs to camp with UCLA and even then, he may have to wait until the fall for an offer. He played with incoming freshman Fred Ulu-Perry in high school and he visited UCLA in March. He loved his time on the visit and got along well with Klemm. He projects to play guard in college and UCLA is recruiting him as such.
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
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.
Molson is the top kicker in North America. He's ranked No. 1 by Chris Sailer Kicking for the 2016 class. He covets a UCLA offer and took an unofficial visit to Westwood twice and raved about it. He may have to camp with UCLA in June at their specialists camp to earn the offer, but he's one to watch.