UCLA Evals From The Opening Day One

Jul. 8 -- We got a look at many UCLA prospects on day one of The Opening...

The first day of The Opening is organized much like a typical Nike Camp, with individual testing followed by extensive individual work and one-on-ones. Unlike the Nike Camp, though, we don't necessarily get great viewing angles for every drill, so if our evaluations are a little less extensive and a little less comprehensive than normal, that's why. We'll have more extensive evaluations of the many UCLA prospects here tomorrow and Friday.
If you wanted to see why this isn't an ordinary football camp, all you had to do was watch Jack Jones. In most every camp or competition this spring, he's been a dominant force, taking many more reps than other defensive backs and winning the vast majority of the reps he takes. At the Opening on Wednesday, though, it was a little bit of a different story. Instead of being able to quickly establish himself as the alpha dog, other players were just as eager to take reps as he was, which kept him from getting on the field for more than a handful of one-on-ones. Then, in those one-on-ones, he was good, but not his usual self. He actually got juked by a tight end at one point, but his other two reps that we saw were both pretty good. It'll be interesting to see how he handles this different sort of environment.
Hansford is a pretty good athlete, but seemed to be a little overmatched in one-on-ones. He's playing linebacker this week, but he told Scout this week that UCLA is recruiting him as a wide receiver. Since he looked like a pretty good athlete, we think that might be a good fit.
Eifler once again was impressive athletically, especially in terms of agility and change of direction. He did great in the combine work at the beginning of the day, and then looked like he belonged among the elite once they broke into one-on-ones.
Parker really opened our eyes on Wednesday. First, he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, which is much faster than we thought he'd run. Then, during one-on-ones, he was one of the more impressive defensive backs in attendance. He won all of his reps but one, which came agianst Tyler Vaughns when Parker had great blanket coverage on him but Vaughns made a very nice catch. Parker looks better physically every time we see him, and between his 4.49 40 and his nearly 37-inch vertical jump, he's a more explosive athlete than many give him credit for.
Juarez participated in the combine, didn't work out for the first half of the individuals and then started working out toward the end of the day. We heard he was suffering from asthma-related issues. He looked good once he started working out, but we really didn't get a good enough look at him to judge his quality relative to the other participants.
Murphy is all of 6'6 or so, and has the frame to get considerably bigger than the 240 pounds or so he currently weighs. He was really good on Wednesday, looking quick and strong against a variety of tackles. He was lined up mostly on the edge, and used a variety of spin and swim moves to get past the offensive linemen. He uses his hands well for a young linemen, and as he gets stronger, he projects as a really good defensive end, especially in a 3-4.
In any other environment, Betiku stands out as a complete physical freak, and while he still looks like a physical specimen in this sort of environment, the effect is a little more muted. Still, Betiku was one of the more impressive defensive linemen in attendance, winning each of his one-on-one reps, one on a speed rush off the edge and the other off a bull rush up the middle where he just pushed the guard back straight into the quarterback area. Once he really learns how to play and where to put his hands and how to develop moves, he's going to be very good.
Barnes looked like one of the players who might have been a little intimidated by the environment on the first day. He was a little more tentative than we've seen him, and just didn't seem to be reacting as quickly as he has in other environments. Today was mostly filled with one-on-one running drills for the running backs, so we didn't get a chance to see him in pass coverage. Hopefully he settles down a bit throughout the rest of the week.
Kelly looked like he usually has in camps this spring, a little stiff and a bit less fluid than the player we saw last year. This isn't the best environment for him, but he used to look better in camp settings. The more we watch him, the more we think he projects more as a DE/OLB, and primarily an edge rusher at the next level.
Gary is a freak. Big, strong, fast, and quick, he was probably the most impressive guy in attendance. Wherever he ends up, he should be an immediate, instant-impact type player. He went up against Greg Little a couple of times, and Little was about the only guy who could do anything against him. Otherwise, he basically just ran everyone over.
Tagaloa didn't do any one-on-one reps again, but hopefully he'll do some tomorrow and the following day. Otherwise, this might be a pretty boring event for him, since the linemen pretty much do one-on-ones the entire time. Not much to take from his day since we didn't see him do any actual drills.
Lawrence looked pretty good, winning three of his four reps. He's a really strong guy with a low center of gravity, and probably projects as a nose or a three-tech in UCLA's system. We talked with him today, and it sounds like UCLA could still be in line for an official visit, but he's not sure about a date yet.
Davis didn't have a great set of reps, but he was playing a bit out of position at right guard. He looked a little soft going against the big interior linemen he was facing, and was susceptible to the bull rush. He moved his feet pretty well, though, so he looks like a pretty good athlete.
Valentin has a so-so day, winning two reps and losing two others. He's strong, but he's not greatly mobile, so padless one-on-ones are probably not a great showcase for him, since he can't get a very effective punch in at the start of the rep.

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