After recently decommitting from Stanford, four-star Texas running back Brandon Stephens announced on National Signing Day that he'll still be heading to the West Coast, picking UCLA as his college destination.
During the course of his recruitment, schools such as Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas were also in the mix, but Stephens wound up being UCLA's second running back signee in as many years from Plano ISD near Dallas. Stephens played his high school football at Plano High, while 2015 five-star running back signee Soso Jamabo played at rival Plano West.
Scout ranks Stephens as the state of Texas' No. 7 running back in the senior class and the No. 26 running back nationally.
Below is analysis of what Stephens will bring to UCLA:
Stephens is a high-major running back prospect who possesses a well-rounded game. Good frame with growth potential to be a truly big back at the college level. Instinctive runner who makes defenders miss in tight quarters despite tall, long frame and generally longer stride. Shows foot quickness to vary gait and allow change of direction. Plants and cuts decisively. Not a burner, but possesses adequate speed, especially for frame. - Gabe Brooks, Scout Texas analyst
Stephens is a deceptively elusive runner for a running back prospect with a frame as tall and long as his. Stephens is a smooth-striding glider whose foot quickness in and out of cuts makes it difficult for defenders to get clean, square hits on him. That also allows him to change direction better than most backs who are 6-foot or taller.
Stephens can make something out of nothing, and can also turn a modest gain into a big play thanks to his patience, vision, and instincts as a ball-carrier. He also poses a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield when asked.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Stephens' game as he projects to the next level is his frame. He's a tall, lean back ... for now. He possesses a ton of space on his frame, and he's heavier (200-plus pounds) than you would think at first glance. We would not be surprised at all to see him playing at 220-225 pounds in college.
Stephens produced well at the highest level of Texas high school football (Class 6A):
- CAREER: In a three-year varsity career at one of Texas' largest high schools (Plano), Stephens ran for 3,637 yards and 43 touchdowns, while catching 21 passes for 253 yards. Stephens finished with 3,890 yards from scrimmage.
- 2015: As a senior, Stephens ran for 1,378 yards 15 touchdowns on 6.2 yards per carry. He also caught 11 passes for 150 yards.
- 2014: Stephens finished his junior season with 1,268 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on 6.4 yards per carry, while catching seven passes for 76 yards.
- 2013: As a sophomore, Stephens ran for 991 yards and seven touchdowns on 5.7 yards per carry. He also caught three passes for 27 yards.