Recruitment: UCLA got on Jake Burton right around the time of its Elite Camp in June, and the thinking at the time was that the Bruins were doing well with him. Arizona had been on him for a while longer, though, and when Burton announced his commitment in July, he opted for the Wildcats. UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure is nothing if not dogged, though, and he kept on recruiting Burton through the season and into 2016, which culminated with a secret unofficial visit to UCLA on Monday. Burton liked what he saw, and later that night, he decommitted from Arizona and committed to UCLA, giving UCLA its second commitment of the day from a former Arizona commit.
Evaluation: Big, physical and tough -- these are the words that Jim Mora used to describe the team he wants to see, and those are the words that embody Jake Burton. He's a powerful defensive lineman with a really strong base who could probably play anywhere along the defensive line as he continues to add weight and strength. As it stands right now, he might project best as a 3-4 defensive end in the Stanford mold of long, strong defensive linemen. He actually played some tight end in high school, and is a decent athlete for his size, though his future is obviously on the line. If defensive line doesn't work out for whatever reason, his size and ability to bend would make him an intriguing prospect on the offensive line.
Impact for UCLA: Burton gives UCLA a fourth defensive linemen in this class, along with Osa Odighizuwa, Marcus Moore, and Nick Terry, but Burton might be the most versatile, and could preset UCLA with the most options. If UCLA opts for a 4-3 alignment going forward, Burton probably projects best a three-technique defensive tackle, since he's already grown about 30 pounds in the last year and could easily pack more onto his 260-pound frame. If UCLA opts to stick with something closer to a 3-4, though, Burton projects as an almost picture-perfect defensive end for that alignment. It isn't hard to imagine UCLA having a Stanford-like defensive line in two years with a long-armed, 6'5, 275-pound Rick Wade on one end and a long-armed, 6'6, 285-pound Burton on the other end. The big key is that Burton is another lineman who gives UCLA options with his versatility, size, and strength.
Another big key is that Burton, while he obviously hasn't been in a college weight program yet, has the size and strength already that you wouldn't necessarily project there being a huge adjustment period for him in college. In other words, we wouldn't rule out the possibility of him pushing into the two-deep within a year or two in the program.