UCLA football recruiting for 2016 is in an interesting place right now.
It has laid the ground work for, minimum, a solid recruiting class, but has the very conceivable potential of finishing off with some fireworks.
The 2016 class is currently ranked 15th in the country in the Scout class rankings, but the Bruins are involved with a considerable amount of highly-ranked prospects.
There have been some interesting recent developments in terms of scholarships available, too. It always appeared that UCLA wouldn't have that many to give to the 2016 class, but that has clearly changed. A college football team has a limit of 85 scholarships, and UCLA currently has 26 available for the 2016 school year. You'd have to think, also, that there will be some attrition before next fall (there always is), with players leaving the program due to medical reasons or transfer. So, it's not a stretch to think UCLA will have upward of 28, or more, available for the 2016 fall quarter.
The limit of bringing in 25 per recruiting class isn't relevant either, since UCLA opened up room in the 2016 class by signing 8 early enrolees last week that can be considered counters against the 2015 class. So, theoretically, if UCLA has 15 commitments to date, and 8 count against 2015, and it can bring in 25 in the 2016 class today, UCLA could bring in another 18 prospects if it so desired.
We, then, expect UCLA to possibly take a few more recruits in the 2016 class than we might have previously anticipated. There might not be that many on the offensive side of the ball, but if you take Jim Mora's recent comments to heart, expect UCLA to sign at least a couple more offensive linemen.
QUARTERBACKS (Needs 2)
It will be interesting to see if UCLA stands pat with its 1 1/2 commitments at quarterback. 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. With Rosen's 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 April 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. 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. Lynch took an official visit to UCLA the weekend of the Arizona State game and spent much of it working on Theo Howard, who later followed suit and committed. Lynch had a pretty good senior season and is a pretty good athlete, using his legs a lot this season. He also told us after the visit that Rosen's success is a good thing for him, giving him a chance to redshirt and prepared at UCLA instead of being thrown in to the fire. Lynch signed early enrollment papers last week and will be on campus for spring football and with it looking like Jerry Neuheisel will move on after the season since he's graduated, Lynch very well could be the No. 2 quarterback coming out of the spring or at least the No. 3 with Mike Fafauel likely returning.
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 hadn't taken a lot of snaps as the starter at Chaminade. He started the year splitting duties at quarterback before taking the primary snaps from then on out. He has a decent arm, but in the first few games he showed some headiness and composure. In fact, he won a game earlier this season with a last second touchdown throw, where he used his athleticism in the pocket to roll out and run around and throw his receiver open in the end zone for the shocking win. 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.
Nick Starkel, 6-3.5, 185, Argyle (Texas) Liberty Christian- OFFERED
Starkel was a longtime Oklahoma State commit but opened it up in early December and not long after his decommitment, UCLA offered and Starkel was very intrigued by it. He will likely take an official visit in January to Westwood and the Bruins could have a chance with him. He had a great summer, earning a spot in the Elite 11 finals. Texas A&M has also offered Starkel and could be in an even better position to get Starkel given Rosen at UCLA and A&M losing their top two quarterbacks to transfer. But he's also said he's content to wait a couple of years for his turn to develop in college.
RUNNING BACKS (Needs 1)
The future UCLA running backs depth chart is looking pretty good. Nate Starks will be a junior next year, and then Bolu Olorunfunmi and Soso Jamabo will be true sophomores, and each have seen a lot of early carries and both look like they'll be major contributors during their career. 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. If Paul Perkins comes back for his senior season, which is looking more and more possible, this becomes even less of an issue.
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. Now the one caveat here is that Starks does have some work to do academically to get in to UCLA. And he was dismissed from the Crespi football team midway through the season (after a terrific start) when he was coming back from a shoulder injury. But we've heard it shouldn't have any bearing on his recruitment with UCLA.
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? As we said above, Dymond Lee probably ends up a receiver (he'd be smart to convert to WR quickly, in time to catch those Rosen passes), but that doesn't figure into the receiver number for 2016 because he's legitimately going to get a shot at quarterback first. When Howard committed, UCLA has since been in the market for just one more receiver, and would probably stand pat if it got Alloway. But with scholarships available (see above), UCLA very well would also take one more from the guys on the list.
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. He followed it up with an official visit to UCLA in early October and had a great time on the trip. Howard then visited Texas A&M in mid-October and was blown away by what he saw down there and being a part of an SEC game-day experience (the Aggies hosted Alabama). But really, once he opened things up, it became UCLA's recruitment and Eric Yarber wrapped it up and got a verbal from Howard last month. He'll be an instant impact player for the Bruins, and is the top receiver UCLA has gotten a commitment from in over a decade. He's a big-time pull for Yarber and the Bruin staff, and give credit to Angus McClure for staying on him after his initial commitment to the Ducks. Howard signed early enrollment papers with UCLA this month and will be in spring ball, where he could immediately contend for playing time.
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 15 athlete on Scout, with some schools liking him for defense, but he'll plug in initially at receiver. Interestingly, in the last two months or so, Owens had said he's a bit soft in his commitment and would take visits elsewhere, which he did take an official visit to Nebraska. But then he said he'd firmed things up and is solid to UCLA. The Semper Fi All-American will be visiting UCLA officially next month after rescheduling his trip the weekend of the Colorado game.
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. Felton had a very good senior season for Great Oak playing running back, seemingly going over 150+ yards each week and racking up a slew of touchdowns. Felton took his official visit in October and signed for early enrollment last week so he'll be on campus in time for spring practice where he's expected to compete early for playing time.
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 had been thought to be the leader. At one point, you could see UCLA getting a bit tired of Alloway's non-committal but a good senior season has the Bruins still pursuing him. He visited Notre Dame last month and told us last week that he's down to the Bruins and Irish and he'll take his official visit to UCLA next month and will be ready to make a decision. It's essentially a Notre Dame-UCLA battle for Alloway, but with UCLA no longer pursuing Javon McKinley, we think Alloway has given indications he's coming.
Steffon McKnight, 6-1.5, 165, San Diego (Calif.) Mira Mesa- OFFERED
McKnight 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. He was underground and it was really uncertain who his leader is and who was still actively pursuing him this fall. But he told Scout in November that the Bruins are still atop his top five and UCLA continues to pursue him. But if he waits too long, there may not be a spot for him to commit to.
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 and the Duck offer never came. UCLA looked to be in decent shape for him, but then in October, Oregon offered and it was a game-changer for Crawford. While if he chose to stay in the Southland, UCLA would be the option he'd likely pursue, he's been pretty open about wanting to leave the area and the Oregon offer could be the final straw for him, especially after a good visit to Eugene. He named a top six last week that included UCLA, Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Miami and Michigan.
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. Omotosho has yet to set up an official visit, with anyone for that matter, but the Bruins will welcome him in for a trip in January and we've heard that UCLA is doing very well with Omotosho. In fact, UCLA's decision to not trip in Javon McKinley came around the same time they visited Omotosho for an in-home and since they're similar receivers, that could be because they feel good about Omotosho.
Quartney Davis, 6-2, 190, Plano (Tex.) East -- OFFERED
Davis committed to Texas A&M back in June, but the day that rumbles started happening that Kyler Murray was leaving the Aggies, Davis opened his recruitment up. UCLA is one of the schools that Davis had an early offer from and he immediately expressed interest in. The Top 100 prospect is also looking at Arkansas, Houston, LSU and Oklahoma State, but the Bruins are hoping to get him in for a visit in January and will try to keep their recent success in Houston going.
TIGHT ENDS/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 Fauria -- that of the big, traditional tight end. Clark loved that idea so much that he was gone from UCLA before the school year even started, never quite fitting in at UCLA and seemingly having drama following him since he left the East Coast and continues to provide drama even with his departure. With Thomas Duarte being a junior, and potentially threatening to leave early (we're skeptical), UCLA would ideally like to take two Y/tight end types, because if the prospect who are more Y types don't end up in the slot they could split out at the X or Z anyway. So with one Y type committed in Wilson, UCLA very well would like at least one more Y/tight end.
Jordan Wilson, 6-5, 210, Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell. -- COMMITTED
Wilson is a long, rangy prospect who took an unofficial 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. He didn't really have a great season, stat-wise, when he was playing, then a foot injury ended up costing him the rest of his season.
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. 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. McClure and head coach Jim Mora both went to see Asiasi play and he'd truly fit that all-around traditional tight end that UCLA covets- able to catch the ball and run, but also being a very good and physical blocker, thanks to being in the veer-oriented offense at De La Salle. And the departure of Clark makes UCLA that much more eager to get Asiasi on board. Asiasi officially visited UCLA in December, but USC is still the toughest competition, and the Trojans retaining Marques Tuiasosopo and Clay Helton only helps with Asiasi. Recently, if you go by Asiasi's comments, USC is still the team to beat.
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 and he was expected to visit UCLA Jan. 22nd. Moss has three schools standing out, Alabama, NC State and UCLA and the Bruins have a legit shot at him and wouldn't mind getting him on board, but NC State has the local edge. And then there's always Alabama. His dad still lives on the East Coast, but does fly out to the West Coast for his NFL on FOX gigs.
OFFENSIVE LINE (Needs 3)
Offensive line recruiting might be the aspect of 2016 recruiting that is the most worrisome, and perhaps has the most chance for dramatic improvement. Adrian Klemm's suspension in spring and summer 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's probably no longer 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 the 2017 class is pretty well-stocked on the west coast. If you go by what Mora recent said (Jim Mora's recent comments on OL recruiting), look for UCLA to take commitments from up to two more offensive line prospects. If you project out UCLA's depth chart over the next couple of years, they need tackle types, but we've also heard that the staff wants to get some road-grater types that can really create holes in the running game.
Mike Alves, 6-5, 318, San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine -- COMMITTED
UCLA was supposed to get a visit from Alves last month but he ended up pushing it back until December. But that didn't stop UCLA's pursuit of him- he instead committed to the Bruins the Monday after he was supposed to visit. He's got some position versatility- able to play guard or tackle, which is how Adrian Klemm likes his linemen. He chose the Bruins over Oregon and Boston College. In his senior clips, he looks athletic and mobile, especially for his size, so expectations are for Alves to be a potential starter at UCLA.
Alex Akingbulu, 6-6, 240, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne- COMMITTED
Akingbulu was a long-time UCLA lean, especially once Klemm returned from his suspension. He was offered the day after Signing Day, but it really wasn't until Klemm's return that the Bruins really got in to the drivers seat, as Klemm and Akingbulu's relationship rekindled. Akingbulu visited Cal and Utah officially, but on Thanksgiving, he committed to the Bruins. Because Narbonne was playing so late into the season, the Gauchos won the City Section's first state championship in almost 100 years, Akingbulu will wait to visit next month. Akingbulu is considered a project, needing to put on weight and strength, but has good feet and athleticism, and projects as a tackle.
Francisco Perez, 6-4, 300, Baldwin Park (Calif.) -- OFFERED
Perez was offered by UCLA earlier this month, and while he's committed to Cal, and has been for a while, this will be a recruitment worth watching. Perez grew up not far from the Rose Bowl and his family is big on academics- hence why Cal got his commitment. But with an equal education at UCLA and its proximity to home, the Bruins have a very realistic chance to flip Perez. We've been big fans of Perez since the spring and thought he should have been offered during the eval period, but this was an obvious casualty of Klemm's suspension. UCLA used their last in-home visit before the dead period with Perez, sending in Klemm and Demetrice Martin and they left a big impression on Perez and his family. He'll visit UCLA officially the weekend before Signing Day, so UCLA gets the last shot at him.
Terrance Davis, 6-4, 310, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic -- OFFERED
UCLA was probably among the few leaders for Davis pre-Klemm suspension, and while UCLA was hanging in there for a while, it looks like it's a Michigan-Maryland battle for him now, with the Wolverines still having the edge. But UCLA will have Davis in for an official visit the first weekend after the dead period and he'll visit Alabama the week after.
Tramonda Moore, 6-5, 350, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Marshall -- OFFERED
The door isn't completely shut on Moore, who had UCLA on his short list just before his recruitment took off. It looked like academics for UCLA could be an issue, but we've heard his mid-December transcripts looked good and UCLA will continue to pursue him. They'll hope to get him in for an official visit in January, but Oklahoma, especially given their success this season and proximity to home, is in a good spot for Moore. Still, UCLA will keep pursuing Moore.
Michael Eletise, Honolulu (Hawaii) 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. UCLA could continue to pursue Eletise, but with Arizona holding on to Rich Rodriguez and offensive line coach Jim Michalzik, it's unlikely he'll end up decommitting from the Wildcats.
Jake Raulerson, Texas Longhorns Transfer
Raulerson was a top-300 prospect out of high school in 2013, ranked the #18 DE in the nation that year (as you can see from his 2013 prospect stats above). He started for Texas at center in 2014, but didn't get much playing time this last season. He was expected to move into a starting spot for the Longhorns in 2016, but he announced his transfer. He's graduating in May and will be immediately eligible wherever he transfers, and has two years of eligibility remaining. We've heard he's very interested in UCLA, with UCLA OL coach Klemm having known Raulerson and his family since he was a freshman in high school. He'll officially visit UCLA in January, and probably also visit Alabama and Michigan. He's a high academic kid so that could help UCLA with him.
Donte Harrington, San Clemente (Calif.)
UCLA just recently started to show interest in Harrington, after the prospect had a great senior season. He's the road grater type, and really showed good agility and a nice mean streak in his senior campaign. That got him offers from Boise State, Army and others, and now the Pac-12 is evaluating him, including UCLA. With how UCLA might now take more OLs in the 2016 class, we wouldn't be surprised if UCLA offered Harrington and took him.