UCLA Notes and Evals From L.A. Opening

Mar. 2 -- Here are our notes and evaluations from the Los Angeles Opening on Sunday...

Tracy Pierson, David Woods, and Blair Angulo contributed to this report.


Darnay Holmes, CB, 5'10, 185, Calabasas (Calif.)

The five-star DB showed exactly why he's so highly rated on Sunday, displaying elite athleticism, a great feel for the cornerback position, and excellent technique. He actually played receiver as well at one point and made one of the most spectacular catches of the day, a leaping grab over a defender. He has a tremendous vertical leap -- he didn't test on Sunday, but we'd have to imagine he would have been near the top of the ratings in all of the speed and explosion categories. He could make an impact at either receiver or corner at the next level. We've heard that his top seven is more like a top three of Nebraska, Stanford, and UCLA, and we've actually heard that the Bruins might be emerging as a slight leader of late.

Jack Sears, QB, 6'3, 205, San Clemente (Calif.)

We were very excited to see Sears, and from a physical standpoint, he really didn't disappoint. He's a legitimate 6'3-ish with a very good frame, and he tested really well, recording a top 10 SPARQ score, which included a 4.77 40, a 35-inch vertical, and a 4.16 second shuttle. He's clearly a very good athlete for the position. He wasn't quite as good throwing the ball. His motion was a little bit funky and he didn't get a ton of juice on the ball, which was a little surprising. There's obviously a lot to work with there since he's such a good athlete, but it's understandable that UCLA will make a real run at Tua Tagovailoa and others before pivoting to Sears.

Hunter Echols, DE, 6'4, 220, Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral

The defensive end is still young-looking physically and pretty skinny, but he's a very good athlete and was impressive during one-on-ones. He has an explosive first step and was just too quick for most opposing offensive linemen to handle. He'll need to get bigger and stronger before he enters a college program, obviously, but he has the frame to do so naturally over the next year. 

Jaelan Phillips, DE, 6'5, 230, Redlands (Calif.) East Valley

Phillips was arguably even more impressive than Echols. He's a little bit longer, a little bit bigger, but equally explosive off the edge. He was arguably one of the three or four most impressive guys at the camp on Sunday, and he's just scratching the surface of his potential at defensive end, since he was actually a linebacker before this. He and Echols were basically inseparable during the event, and Phillips' dad was wearing a UCLA hat and a UCLA shirt all day, so it's safe to say UCLA is in the mix here. Stanford also looms large, however.

Tate Martell, QB, 5'10.5, 192, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman

This wasn't Martell's best performance, as he's never going to really shine in a camp setting where his athleticism and ability to keep plays alive with his legs are such huge assets. He has an above average arm and can get balls where they need to go, but he wasn't tremendously accurate on Sunday. He earned a UCLA offer last week, but from what we've heard, it's doubtful the Texas A&M commit considers UCLA strongly.

Taariq Johnson, TE, 6'3.5, 210, Buena Park (Calif.)

Johnson was battling a tight hamstring all day, but still competed in every drill, which you have to give him a ton of credit for. He didn't look as explosive as he's looked at times over the last year, but he still showed pretty good speed and quickness for his size. He's a little undersized right now for a pure tight end, but he has a big lower body and it wouldn't be a shock to see him add some good weight over the next year or two. He has good hands as well. 

Joseph Lewis, WR, 6'2.5, 200, Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins

Lewis had a really slow start to the event, and didn't look particularly engaged through the first half of the event, skipping reps and talking to his friends. After an excellent pep talk from Scout's Greg Biggins, though, Lewis turned it on, and was one of the most impressive receivers in the event over the last hour or so. He has an elite combination of tools, with great athleticism, excellent speed for his size, and very good hands. He has the ability to be an asset in every phase of the passing game, whether it's short passes where he'll need to make someone miss, mid-range stuff over the middle where he'll need to fight for the ball, or deep bombs where he'll need to run past safeties. If he can stay motivated, he will be an elite receiver at the next level.

Deommodore Lenoir, CB, 5'10.5, Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian

Lenoir looks like he's improved a good amount since last year, looking bigger, stronger, and a little bit faster. He is also extremely competitive, and was one of those guys who seemed like he was always taking a rep somewhere. UCLA was his leader last spring, but it sounds as if the two sides have cooled on each other a bit. 

Bryan Thompson, WR, 6'1, 185, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde

Thompson was easily the most competitive receiver at the event on Sunday and had to frequently be pulled back by coaches from taking extra reps, which you love to see. He's still scratching the surface of his potential, but there's obvious potential there, as he shows a very good burst, good speed, and the ability to make tough catches. He's still a little raw as a route runner, and he'll need to continue to fill out and get stronger so he can deal with press coverage a little bit better, but there's a lot to like about him as a prospect.

Osiris St. Brown, WR, 6'2, 175, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei

St. Brown really didn't have the chance to do much on Sunday as he was dealing with a nagging foot injury. He still competed through some drills, which you have to give him credit for. He's a good looking receiver -- not as tall as his brother, but a good body with room to continue to fill out. 

Brian Casteel, WR, 6'1, 200, Covina (Calif.) Charter Oak

Casteel is actually built more like a running back than a receiver, with a thick body. We didn't see a whole lot of top end speed through the drills, and he didn't stand out much in the one-on-ones. Given his size, he might be one of those guys who shines more in an actual football setting than shorts and t-shirts.

Jaylon Redd, CB, 5'9, 160, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.)

Redd looks about the same as he did last year -- strong, competitive, and a bit undersized. He's probably 5'8 or 5'9 with a strong build which allows him to play better than you'd think in press coverage. He's not super fast, though, so he can get burned a little bit deep. UCLA is still in the mix here.

Elijah Hicks, CB, 6-0, 165, La Mirada (Calif.).

He was one of the guys we hadn’t seen much of before the camp and came away very impressed with.  He has a prototype cornerback body, with good height and very good length, on a wide frame.  He looked impressive running the 40 and in drills, with quick feet, and showed very good instincts in one-on-ones.  We know that UCLA has him among the top few cornerback targets in the 2016 class and the Bruins are doing well with him. 

Quentin Lake, S, 6-1, 190, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.

The son of former UCLA great Carnell Lake, we were impressed with Quentin.  He has a great body for a safety prospect, big enough but not too big, and with enough promise he could put on good weight without getting linebacker-big.  For his size, he showed good feet in the drills, but we didn’t see him much in one-on-ones.  UCLA is prioritizing cornerbacks in the 2017 class, in fact they could take upward of four of them, so we don’t know whether they’ll get to Lake, especially with a commitment from safety Rhedi Short. 

Greg Johnson, CB, 5-10, 190, Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins

Johnson is an aggressive, physical defensive back prospect.  We are a bit skeptical whether he has the ability to adjust and explode as a cornerback, and actually think he might be a better running back on the next level.  Up until his commitment to Arizona yesterday, UCLA had him as a priority, but we would bet that, after the infamous trip to UCLA where Hawkins players looked disinterested, and then a lackluster effort from them at the Opening L.A., UCLA might cool on Hawkins overall.

Wyatt Davis

Wyatt Davis, OL, 6-4, 320, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco.

Consistently the best OL of the day Sunday, Davis has great feet and agility for such a big guy.  In fact, he needs some body work, and when he gets it in a college program, the upside he has in terms of quickness and athleticism is considerable.  Being a national prospect, UCLA offensive line coach Adrian Klemm will be challenged to keep Davis home (and in Westwood).  We think ultimately UCLA is going to be in this until the end.

Haskell Garrett, DL, 6-1, 280, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman

We list Garrett here even though he’s an Ohio State commitment because there are those close to the recruitment that feel the OSU verbal might have been premature.  He was offered by OSU and committed almost immediately, but over the long run things could change.  Garrett had a pretty good day Sunday, probably being the best interior DL on the day.  He moved well and fluidly, and looked strong, but just didn’t win as many reps as we would have liked.

Martin Andrus, DT, 6-1, 265, Los Angeles High.

Andrus, a long-time UCLA target, was a bit disappointing at the Opening L.A. We always knew he might be a bit light, but were hoping he’d show up here and look more college-ready physically, but he’s still a ways away.  His frame is a little smallish, so there is probably a question whether he can ever get to that 300-pound level.  Andrus had an up and down day performance-wise, having one good rep for probably every mediocre one.  He didn’t show as much explosion as we expected.

Ryan Nelson, OL, 6-6, 260, Buena Park (Calif.)

He was probably the second-best OL prospect after Davis, even though that isn’t saying that much because it wasn’t a greatly talented event for OLs.  Nelson was the best OT prospect, with good athleticism, looking very natural in his ability to shuffle his feet. He ran well, too, getting off the line immediately, without having to get his weight going.  He is, though, pretty light, and there is a question of whether his frame is too narrow to get to the 300-pound mark.  But the athleticism is good enough that he’s probably worth the risk on his frame. We could see UCLA offering Nelson sometime this spring/summer.

Chuck Filiaga, OL, 6-5, 275, Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta.

Filiaga had a bit of a disappointing day, not looking very athletic or mobile in the drills, and very raw in his pass protection technique in the one-on-ones.  We knew Filiaga was on the borderline of UCLA recruiting him, and we expect he’ll probably stay there.

Nathan Tilford, ATH, 6-1, 205, Ontario (Calif.).

Tilford is a bit of a head-scratcher. He definitely passes the eye test, with a great body, looking like a college-level player already.  But he worked out with the running backs, and that doesn’t appear to be his best projected position.  He’s not a compact 205, but kind of long, and a long-strider.  We moved pretty well laterally for his size, so maybe he need to repurpose himself as a linebacker.  UCLA offered Tilford a long time ago, and we doubt it’s a commitable offer now.  He’d have to show up at the UCLA camp in June and look good at another position for UCLA to probably be aggressive in recruiting him.

Brandon McKinney, S, 6-0, 200, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran

We like McKinney.  He might not be a big-type of safety, but his size is good enough, and he’s a fluid athlete, and was seamless in his backpedal and break.  He didn’t get many opportunities at this camp, but looked good in the drills.  UCLA offered him a while ago, and he had a good junior season. But like we said, UCLA is prioritizing cornerbacks so it will be interesting to see how UCLA and McKinney go.

Elijah Blades, CB, 6-2, 175, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir

Blades might have improved his stock the most of anyone at the camp. He ran a camp-best 4.42 40, and combine that with very good size, he’s intriguing.  He looks a bit raw in his coverage technique, but you have to love the speed.  Being from the alma mater of UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin, we can expect UCLA to probably get more heavily involved.

Rhedi Short, S, 6-1, 180, Los Angeles Cathedral.

The UCLA commit passes the eye test, looking and moving like a good athlete.  He didn’t do much in one-on-ones, at least when we were looking, so we didn’t see him enough.  He wasn’t one of those guys that puts himself at the front of the drill line, so the body language was a bit disappointing.  As we said, UCLA might only take one safety type, and could get very selective, and if Short wants to look elsewhere, like he said in his most recent interview, it will be interesting to see how the UCLA-Short relationship develops.

Chase Garbers, QB, 6-2, 200, Chase Garbers, Corona Del Mar (Calif.).

Garbers had a good day, good enough to get an invite to the Opening. We thought that might have been a little bit of a stretch, but he was clearly one of the best handful of quarterback prospects at the camp.  He started off strong, throwing a nice, tight ball early, and then trailed off a bit as the day wore on. He was considerably better with his feet set.  Body-wise, he’s solid, probably could tighten up some, but it’s a good frame that projects to the Pac-12 well.  UCLA hasn’t been involved up to this point, but we could see some interest happening.

Rahyme Johnson

Rahyme Johnson, LB/DE, 6-4, 210, Rahyme Johnson, Los Angeles Salesian.

Johnson looks like a small forward, with a long torso.  Athletically he looked good straight ahead, but struggled a bit to move laterally, which means we think he’s more of a defensive end than a linebacker. We’ve heard he’s challenged a bit to put on weight, but heck, he’s only a junior in high school.  The frame is good, so we’d expect him to be a rush end and be around 240+ by the time he’s a sophomore in college. 

Isaiah Pola-Mao, S, 6-3.5, 190, Hhoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe

The nephew of UCLA offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu, the long, rangy safety from Arizona looked and performed like a four-star prospect, at 6-3.5 and clocking a 4.58-40. He plays fast, especially for his size, can cover a ton of ground in the secondary and shows the physicality you love to have in a safety. He could even grow in to an outside linebacker if that was the need on defense and has a ton of positional versatility. Pola-Mao said he's still open to all schools but did say he wouldn't mind staying closer to home to play his college ball.  Maybe that's a hint for his uncle?

Alex Cook, 6-2, 175, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon

Cook was impressive, being all of 6-2 and running one of the best 40s of the day -- a 4.55.  He showed good ball skills and, for many smaller DBs, was just to big to defend, especially when he used that body as a shield. UCLA hasn't offered but we could see one coming.  


Jalen Hall, WR, 6'4, 183, Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins

Hall was another guy who opened our eyes in a big way on Sunday. He's added some pounds in the last year, but he has also improved his speed, quickness, and overall athleticism, and the total package was pretty impressive. He was a pretty impossible cover most of the day for the corners he matched up with, and he showed excellent hands, with the ability to make tough catches in traffic. He looked like he's at least 6'4 and possibly well on his way to 6'5 on Sunday, and with the way he's filled out in the last year, there's a chance he grows into a tight end. He's going to be a major priority for a ton of schools in the 2018 class, but UCLA should absolutely keep its hat in the ring.

Brevin Jordan, TE, 6'3, 210, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman

Jordan is not super big at this point, but he's well put together and he's already a pretty fluid athlete with good route running ability. He's a very good athlete, and caused some obvious headaches for safeties and linebackers during the 7-on-7 portion with his ability to get open downfield. He is also a good leaper, and should be good at snagging contested catches in college.

Jaiden Woodbey, S, 6'1, 195, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco

Woodbey was solid. Good build, good footwork, and should definitely be one of the better local defensive backs in the 2018 class. He was aggressive in coverage against some older receivers, which is always fun to see.

Camren McDonald, WR, 6-4, 210, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly

McDonald is a big kid for being a sophomore, and has the kind of body we could see getting bigger. Usually a kid this young and big is still a bit awkward but McDonald wasn’t, moving really well and showing nice hands.  He isn’t a speed burner, but is a guy who will use his body and hands to be a very good possession receiver. It’s just a question of how his body goes – he could end up a tight end.  UCLA has offered, as has a few other Pac-12 schools.

Cameron Rising, 6-3, 190, Newbury Park

Rising is one of the, well, rising 2018 quarterbacks in SoCal.  We have seen him play during the season and liked him quite a bit, having a very good pocket presence and ability to extend plays.  At the camp, though, his ability to throw the ball wasn’t great, with a hitchy throwing motion, a lack of arm strength, with the ball fluttering on him.  He is just a sophomore so that could improved, and it will have to for him to be a UCLA target. He visited UCLA’s campus recently.

T.J. Pledger, RB, 5-9, 185, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade Prep.

It wasn’t a deep camp for running backs, so Pledger stood out.  He ran very well and looked very quick in drills, and then had a couple of “wow” moments in the one-on-ones.

Olaijah Griffin, CB, 5-11, 170, Mission Viejo (Calif.)

The camp was pretty stacked with cornerback talent, and Griffin was in that first group, as a sophomore.  He’s long and still skinny, but with a good frame, and he moved really well while showing some pretty exceptional cover skills for being so young. UCLA is his first and only offer to date. He plays for the UCLA feeder 7-on-7 team, Ground Zero.

Brevin White, QB, 6-1, 170, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade.

The younger brother of ASU freshman QB Brady White, Brevin is a prospect to watch.  He’s still smallish and, like his brother, doesn’t have a big frame, so there is a question of just how big he might get.  He doesn’t have top-end arm strength, but he is still pretty young, and he throws the ball with good mechanics and accuracy.  He’s probably a little better than his older brother at the same stage, and the Whites are a UCLA family, so he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories