UCLA Football Recruiting Reset: Offense

Sept. 14 -- The recruiting landscape has changed a bit for UCLA, in a few ways, and one could be the impact of Josh Rosen...

UCLA football recruiting for 2016 is in a very interesting place right now.

The 2016 class is currently ranked 13th in the country in the Scout class rankings. We've always maintained the season would have a major impact on how UCLA finishes off the 2016 class and, after just two games of the season in the books, you could anticipate that to be very much the case.  It's just not about whether UCLA has a very successful season, and that naturally attracts elite recruits. It's now also about the Pied Piper Effect of  Josh Rosen, which could also attract recruits who think they'd like to be apart of the Rosen era at UCLA for the next few years.

We've also learned that the number of recruits UCLA is looking to take at different positions has changed a bit, as a result of the coaches getting a look at the true freshman class in fall camp.  Generally, it's all very good;  as we said in our reports from San Bernardino, the 2015 class was very talented, -- consistently talented from top to bottom.  There wasn't really one freshman we came away thinking didn't live up to the expectation of playing at UCLA, and a vast majority of them looked like potentially future starters.

So, you can expect UCLA recruiting for 2016 to get more selective between now and National Signing Day. It's basically a case of UCLA looking for a Few Good Men.  With 16 commitments currently and UCLA probably taking 23 to 25 total, combined with what could be a great season,  and the young depth on the team looking good, UCLA is probably going to be very selective between now and National Signing Day.

Go here for the DEFENSIVE RESET




 QUARTERBACK (Needs: 2)

It will be interesting to see if UCLA stands pat with its 1 1/2 commitments at quarterback that it currently has. We're counting Lee as 1/2 of a commitment, and that's probably not even accurate because we anticipate he'll be a receiver in college.   If Rosen has a big season, quarterback recruits could then clearly see that he's three and gone, UCLA's offense is a great place to showcase your talent, and you'd get some serious attention being the quarterback that comes in after Rosen.  

Matt Lynch, 6-4, 185, Broomfield (Colo.) Legacy- COMMITTED
Lynch is looking like just about the smartest teenager on the planet right now.  While other quarterback recruits were shying away from UCLA last summer because they didn't want to sit behind Rosen, Lynch committed to UCLA pretty quickly after being offered.  Now that Rosen looks three-and-out, Lynch has a wide open lane to be the next starter when he's a redshirt sophomore.  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 in late May 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 got to see at The Opening Eugene regional. And Lynch actually had a good day and alleviated some concern that he can make the jump to the next level with some development, and since there probably won't be an immediate need for Lynch to play in his first two years in the program. His commitment got the position filled with at least one quarterback in this class, in what could have been a tough year to bring in a passer.

Dymond Lee, 6-2, 175, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade- COMMITTED
Lee was offered by UCLA in early March after patiently waiting for some time. UCLA had been watching him for two years and finally extended the offer. It was a big one for Lee, who had double-digit offers from around the country, including from Colorado, where his older brother, Donovan, plays. So it wasn't a surprise when Lee committed to UCLA. The surprise, though, was that he did so as a quarterback. With Asiantti Woulard transferring, UCLA wanted to bring in an athletic, dual-threat quarterback and Lee appears to be their guy there. He's a terrific receiver but hasn't taken a lot of snaps as the starter at Chaminade -- though he has so far in his first couple of games at Chaminade, and he looked pretty good.  He has a decent arm, but in the first two games he showed some headiness and composure. Should quarterback not work out for him at UCLA, though, he can fall back on receiver and, unlike other quarterbacks-turned-receivers like Devin Fuller and Aaron Sharp, Lee is more of an experienced and talented receiver.



RUNNING BACKS (Needs: 1)

The future UCLA running backs depth chart is looking pretty good.  Nate Starks is a sophomore, and then two true freshmen made their debuts this week, Bolu Olorunfunmi and Soso Jamabo, and both look like they'll be major contributors during their career.  And there is Craig Lee, who is a redshirt sophomore, who will return to the team in the next few weeks.  It was great recruiting to, first, recognize that Bolu would be as good as he's looked so far, and secondly to load up in 2015, since the 2016 running backs class in the west was pretty skimpy.  They'll bring in the big back in Starks for 2016 and then be looking for another homerun-hitter type of tailback in 2017.  

Jalen Starks, 6-1, 240, Encino (Calif.) Crespi- COMMITTED 
Starks didn't waste any time at all in jumping on a UCLA offer. The Bruins offered in the afternoon and by that evening Starks committed to the Bruins. He's the No. 2 fullback nationally by Scout, and tops in the West, and is a big power back that UCLA running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu likes, and he knows him well, having coached against him when Polamalu coached at Loyola. He's the physical back that Polamalu wants in his offense and Starks had been high on UCLA's board for a while.


RECEIVERS (Needs: 4+?)

While UCLA has a good number of young receivers on its depth chart, it's still in need of a couple of very elite-level guys.  Enter Josh Rosen.  If you were a high school receiver, wouldn't you want to come to UCLA and catch Rosen's passes?  We're hearing that is exactly the sentiment that some receivers have as a result of Rosen's first game, and we suspect it will be even moreso as the season goes on.  It helps, too, that the receiver class out West is a deep one, and UCLA probably won't have to leave the west coast to get its guys.  The Bruins already have commitments from Felton and Owens, but it's uncertain what position each of them will play in college (Felton probably is a slot, while Owens could be a safety or even a running back). As we said above, Dymond Lee probably ends up a receiver, but that doesn't figure into the receiver number for 2016 because he's legitimately going to get a shot at quarterback first.   With the Rosen factor in play, if UCLA came away with two among Howard, McKinley and McKinney it'd be looking very good. 

Darian Owens, 6-0, 180, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West- COMMITTED
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 ranked as a top ten athlete on Scout, with some schools liking him for defense, but he'll plug in initially at receiver. That is, if he ends up at UCLA. In the last month or so, Owens has said he's a bit soft in his commitment and will take visits elsewhere. With how UCLA is looking in receiver recruiting,  it wouldn't be a major blow if he went elsewhere.  

Theo Howard, 6-0, 175, Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake -- OFFERED
The #8-ranked receiver in the nation was verbally committed to Oregon, until early August, when he decommitted.  The day after he decommitted he went to San Bernardino to watch UCLA's practice. Going to San Bernardino is an indication enough of Howard's interest in UCLA.  He has said it's now between UCLA and USC, and he's visited both in recent weeks, probably spending a bit more time at UCLA, however.  As of right now, the smart money is on the Bruins.  He'd be a huge addition to the recruiting class -- the elite receiver with speed and elusiveness that UCLA tends to not get.  

Demetric Felton, 5-10, 195, Temecula (Calif.) Great Oak- COMMITTED
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.

Javon McKinley, 6-2, 200, Corona (Calif.) Centennial -- OFFERED
McKinley's recruitment has been interesting. He was long thought to be destined for USC, but USC filled up on receivers and didn't have a scholarship for him. UCLA, at one time, was eliminated, but the Bruins are now back in it, and looking pretty good.  He'll visit UCLA, as well as Washington, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Oregon, and recently said Notre Dame was his leader. But we know that his mother really likes UCLA receiver coach Eric Yarber and quarterback Josh Rosen, and we also know that Rosen's performance last Saturday had a big impact on the McKinleys.  While he doesn't always stand out in 7-on-7, he might be the best prospect in the west's 2016 class with the pads on.  

Steffon McKnight, 6-1.5, 165, San Diego (Calif.) Mira Mesa- OFFERED
McKinley is rail-thin, but very quick, with good feet, making him very difficult to stay with downfield. He got his first offer from UCLA over a year ago, and while the Bruins weren't necessarily on his short list ofr a long time, since the summer he has blatantly said UCLA is his leader.  

Damian Alloway, 5-10, 170, Fontana (Calif.) Summit- OFFERED
Alloway nearly committed to Cal over UCLA the same day Felton committed but held off from committing. Then we had heard he was a UCLA lean. In the last few months, after visiting Notre Dame, the Irish have been thought to be the leader.  At this point, you could see UCLA getting a bit tired of Alloway's non-committal and, again, with how UCLA receiver recruiting is looking, it wouldn't be a major blow if he went elsewhere. 

Dylan Crawford, 6-1, 175, Santa Margarita (Calif.)- OFFERED
Crawford thought he was going to get an offer from Oregon a couple of months ago and then pretty much shut down his recruitment. But the Duck offer never came.  He has since moved on to Tennessee, Michigan and Miami, and has arranged visits with all three.  Washington and Nebraska could get a visit, too.  It's thought he might not ultimately want to go away to school and that UCLA would be the local choice, since USC has loaded up on 2016 receiver recruits.  

Adewale Omotosho, 6-2, 190, Plano (Tex.) East -- OFFERED
Omotosho is a well-sought prospect in Texas, with 30 offers, and many of the local programs are thought to be the favorites -- like Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. But he has indicated he wants to officially visit UCLA and we know his parents are enamored of UCLA. 


TIGHT END/Y (Needs: 1-2)

UCLA signed the nation's #1 tight end for 2015 in Chris Clark, with the intention of Clark fulfilling the role we haven't seen in UCLA's offense since Joe Faura -- that of the big, traditional tight end.  UCLA, though, likes its Y receivers, and you can see by watching Thomas Duarte how effective they are in UCLA's offense.  

Jordan Wilson, Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell. -- COMMITTED
Wilson is a long, rangy prospect who took an official visit to UCLA this summer and committed not long after. He was just starting to emerge in the southeast and garner some SEC attention when he committed.

Devin Asiasi, 6-5, 265, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle- OFFERED
Asiasi is just a great all-around prospect. He's a very good tight end, with very soft hands and quickness for his size, but he might even be a better defensive end prospect.  It's always been thought that USC is the team to beat for Asiasi, but we've heard that it might not be that set in stone as once believed.  UCLA is doing well with his teammate, DL Boss Tagaloa, and UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure is assigned to Tagaloa and Asiasi, with NorCal being his recruiting territory, and you can never count out McClure on NorCal guys.  

Thaddeus Moss, 6-4, 235, Charlotte (N.C.) Victory Christian- OFFERED
The son of former NFL great Randy Moss, Thaddeus has garnered some recruiting attention. He recently said he knows the dates of his official visits to UCLA and USC, while North Carolina State, Arizona State, Nebraska and others are involved.




OFFENSIVE LINE (Needs: 3)

Offensive line recruiting might be the aspect of 2016 recruiting that is the most unknown, and perhaps has the most chance for dramatic improvement. Adrian Klemm's suspension definitely threw it off track. Before it was probably on track for Klemm to get, or have a very good chance of getting, some elite national OL recruits.  But that looks to no longer be the case.  For Klemm, when he returned, it was literally starting over in recruiting.  But luckily, Klemm did very well in recruiting the 2015 class, and really doesn't need that many for 2016 -- perhaps three, or more if elite guys want to jump in the boat.  They have one interior guy in Auwae already in the boat, and will definitley need at least one tackle type.   

Sean Auwae, 6-3, 290, Kapolei (Hawaii) -- COMMITTED
Getting the commitment from Auwae was very positive for UCLA OL recruiting, coming not too long after Klemm returned to the program.  UCLA needed to get one OL commitment on the books, and Auwae, who was the OL MVP of the Opening Los Angelese Regional, was a very solid get.  Auwae is strong and quick, with very good feet, and can play either center or guard. 

Alex Akingbulu, 6-6, 240, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne- OFFERED
Akingbulu is still somewhat of a project, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. He's only starting his second year playing football, 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, but he's back up to 250-ish now for the beginning of his season.  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. He hasn't visited any school but UCLA has the local angle and his affinity for the Bruins hasn't created any wavering from him towards UCLA.  It could be a question of whether UCLA, with so few rides to give to OLs, feels that Akingbulu is more of a back-up plan.  

Mike Alves, 6-5, 318, San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine -- OFFERED
UCLA was probably leading for Alves last spring, pre-Klemm suspension, but is now in catch-up mode a bit.  Oregon is assumed to be the leader, with Washington right there, but UCLA is now going pretty hard after him. UCLA likes him as an offensive guard, but he could play right tackle in college.

Terrance Davis, 6-4, 310, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic -- OFFERED
UCLA was probably among the few leaders for Davis pre-Klemm suspension, but Davis is probably the national prospect that UCLA still has a good chance to get.  Michigan is his current leader, and there is hometown Maryland, Alabama and Florida State, but UCLA will get an official visit and there still is a chance.


Scott Lashley, 6-7, 295, West Point (Miss.) -- OFFERED
Klemm was just starting to recruit Lashley before the suspension so the time away from recruiting didn't probably impact Lashley's recruitment as much as others.  However, Mississippi State is thought to be the long-time leader, with Arkansas and Auburn the main competition.  UCLA has a good chance to get an official visit. 

Richard Merritt, 6-5, 325, Washington D.C., Archbishop Carroll -- OFFERED
Merritt is a big body who moves very well for his size.  He has a connection with Klemm, so UCLA is doing better with him than many people realize. Florida State is thought to be the leader, and that's probably true, but UCLA is in that second tier and will probably get an official visit. 





Nate Herbig, 6-4, 335, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis -- COMMITTED TO STANFORD

UCLA could have probably gotten Herbig before Klemm's suspension, if they had offered.  So, it makes sense that UCLA could probably still get Herbig if they wanted him, and if they offered.  Herbig is a wide body with good balance -- just a load to move out of the way.  He probably projects best at center.  

JohnCarlo Valentin, 6-4, 320, Philadelphia (Penn.) Imhotep -- OFFERED
It's another national prospect that will be hard to make up ground on, with Auburn, Alabama and Oklahoma probably out ahead.  Valentin also said recently he will schedule a visit for Arizona State. UCLA as well as Michigan are trying to get a visit, and we're hearing the Bruins probably will.  Valentin is a huge body, but is supposed to be very athletic for his size.  

Michael Eletise, Honolulu (Haw.) Kaiser. -- COMMITTED TO ARIZONA
UCLA was definitely the leader for Eletise, the #1 guard prospect in the west, before Klemm was suspended. It was a bit surprising that he committed to Arizona without giving Klemm a chance to return and recruit him again. We still think that, ultimately, Eletise could reconsider and remember why he favored UCLA and Klemm originally.

**We think there are probably a couple other ofensive line prospects committed elsewhere that we could see UCLA ultimately having a chance at flipping. 


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