Recruitment: It's been a really quick recruitment for Hunter Echols. He earned his first offer in November, from San Jose State, but quickly told reporters that his dream offer would be from UCLA, with UCLA having already earned a commitment from his 2017 teammate Rhedi Short. He actually said he would commit on the spot if offered, and the offer came on Dec. 3. He didn't commit immediately, but that seemed to have as much to do with UCLA wanting to hold him off until the Bruins knew he was serious as it did with Echols not wanting to commit immediately. In any case, as soon as the 2016 class was signed, Echols committed the next day. He has already tweeted out that his job now is to recruit the remainder of the 2017 class, which he feels will be a big one for the Bruins.
Evaluation: Usually, when you see a guy who wants to commit immediately, he's maybe not the best prospect in the world, but Echols is a really good defensive end prospect with plenty of upside. He has all the attributes you'd want in an elite college pass rusher -- a really long, athletic frame, a great first step, really long arms, and an aggressive mindset. He's about 6'4 and 220 pounds right now, but you could easily see him packing on weight to his frame as he doesn't look close to filled out. His addition to the commitment list also is another sign that UCLA is pretty adamant about switching to a 4-3, at least partially, since Echols projects as basically a prototype 4-3 defensive end. The big key for him will be maintaining his considerably athleticism and quickness once he starts to add bulk, but he has a good enough frame that it shouldn't be too much of a concern.
Impact for UCLA: UCLA needs to recruit hard on both lines constantly, and snagging a commitment from a guy like Echols this early gives UCLA some flexibility in how it recruits the remainder of the class. The Bruins took a huge haul on the defensive line in the 2016 class, and now they've added a potentially elite pass rusher to the mix for 2017. UCLA may want another defensive end in this class, but now Angus McClure can focus his attention even more on interior line prospects for the remainder of the defensive line class. As an on-field matter, if Echols continues to fill out over the next year and get into the 230 or 240 pound range, he could be an immediate impact player at the next level, with the athleticism and quickness to make an impact as a pass rusher early on.