UCLA football recruiting for 2017 is already off to a good start, with six commitments, four on defense and two on offense.
The biggest impact is being felt on the offensive line, though, with the return of an absolutely motivated Adrian Klemm (UCLA's offensive line coach), who was off the road for all of spring last year and had a small class to put together as it was.
Plus, UCLA has a new quarterbacks coach in Marques Tuiasosopo, who was the Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year in 2015 and isn't just working on quarterbacks but on several other positions.
So adding a fully charged Klemm and a known recruiter like Tuiasosopo gives UCLA reason to be optimistic about offensive recruiting in the 2017 class.
Each year, there are questions of just how many players UCLA will sign. When a class looks small and BRO predicts they'll have more numbers and scholarships to utilize, they always have the space available, so this year should be no different.
The spring evaluation period starts one month from tomorrow and here is a look at UCLA's offensive recruiting board in mid-March.
UCLA was in a precarious position last spring with quarterback recruiting, largely because of the large shadow that incoming freshman Josh Rosen was already casting. When Devon Modster chose Arizona over the Bruins, UCLA scrambled but was able to land Matt Lynch from Colorado and then Dymond Lee, who we still think ends up at receiver, committed to the Bruins. And once Marques Tuiasosopo returned to UCLA, the Bruins ended up in a good spot with quarterback recruiting when Modster ultimately signed with UCLA, thanks to a late push by Tuiasosopo. What that tells us is what we've long thought: Tuiasosopo has a recruiting plan, something you couldn't always say about the previous quarterback coaches.
Tua Tagovailoa, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis
Tagovailoa is UCLA's top quarterback target and the Bruins were able to get him on campus this past weekend. It appears to be primarily a USC-UCLA battle but the Trojans are ahead in this one. Still, UCLA has a chance thanks to Tuiasosopo's relationship with Tagovailoa and if UCLA can weather the early spring storm where he's favoring USC, they'll have a shot. Tagovailoa had originally said he wanted to take official visits and decide after his season but told BRO that he would like to decide before summer. The lefty is a top five quarterback nationally and may have the strongest arm of any passer in the West. The Bruins won't give up on him, but they'll also have backup plans in place should they get the sense the USC mountain is too big to climb.
Next Tier to Watch:
Jack Sears, San Clemente (Calif.)
Sears is probably the top unoffered quarterback on UCLA's board and he's very interested in the Bruins. He took an unofficial visit in February and while he's blowing up nationally, he's willing to wait to see what UCLA will do. The previous two San Clemente quarterbacks were Sam Darnold, who's challenging for the starting job at USC this spring and Travis Wilson, a four-year starter at Utah, and Sears has been called by many the best prospect of the three. He didn't have the greatest showing at The Opening Los Angeles regional so he'll have some time to redeem himself and Tuiasosopo will go watch him throw in the spring. If UCLA gets the sense that it is time to move on from Tagovailoa, though, Sears could be the next candidate in line for an offer.
Chase Garbers, 6-3, 210, Corona Del Mar (Calif.)
Garbers, on the other hand, did have a good day at The Opening Los Angeles regional and put his name on the map as a passer to watch this spring. The QB MVP, he was selected to the Elite 11 Semifinals and then followed up his performance at The Opening with another good showing at the Pylon Elite 7v7 in Las Vegas. Another Orange County quarterback who is seeing his recruitment take off, Garbers has interest in UCLA and an offer sooner than later could really help the Bruins. He'll be another quarterback that Tuiasosopo will see throw this spring as part of his backup plan.
Nick Sipe, Villa Park (Calif.)
Sipe has been overshadowed a bit by Sears and Garbers early on and also because he's coming from school that doesn't necessarily churn out a ton of talent. But he's a gifted passer in his own right and should end up with a number of offers when schools come watch him throw. UCLA will likely go see him workout in the spring and he is probably behind Sears and Garbers in terms of UCLA's board but he could eventually work his way up it.
Connor Neville, Wilsonville (Ore.)
Neville is the top quarterback prospect in the Pacific Northwest in 2017 and has early offers from Boise State, Hawaii and Washington State but is still looking at a number of Pac-12 schools who are doing the same with him. Neville told Scout in Las Vegas that the Bruins have been in contact with him and Tuiasosopo plans to watch the four-star throw in the spring.
Other Names to Know:
Davis Mills, 6-2.5, 188, Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian- Offered
Tristan Gebbia, 6-2, 185, Calabasas (Calif.)
Tyler Lytle, 6-5, 195, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Chance LaChapelle, 6-3, 210, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon
RUNNING BACKS (1)
With UCLA making a switch to more of a power back focus it helps that two of the best in the country are both in California. The downside is both are committed elsewhere. But UCLA is trying with both Najee Harris and Stephen Carr. Getting Brandon Stephens late in 2016, to follow up the Soso-Bolu signing from the year before, and combining him with Jalen Starks, gives UCLA some much needed depth at running back. But with Harris and Carr, you have the top two backs in the country, so staying on them both is critical, especially if you can land one of the two.
Najee Harris, Antioch (Calif.)
Harris visited UCLA on Friday and had a good visit with the Bruin coaches, talking with Kennedy Polamalu, Adrian Klemm, Marques Tuiasosopo and Jim Mora. He's been committed to Alabama for almost a year, but it's not a done deal he's headed to Tuscaloosa and the Bruins are working on him hard. Harris is the No. 1 overall player in the 2017 class, a true program difference maker and UCLA has been recruiting him hard for almost two years, so they're not going to give up. The more they can get him on campus, the better chance they have to flip him, no matter how big an obstacle Alabama appears to be, thanks to being in the same state.
Stephen Carr, Fontana (Calif.) Summit
Carr is a soft commit to USC but it would still be a surprise if he didn't end up there. Still, UCLA won't give up, having signed six of his travel 7v7 teammates from a year ago from Ground Zero. USC is also trying with Harris, so should the Trojans be the ones to flip him, Carr could decide to be the man somewhere else. While he has national offers, UCLA, like USC, has the close to home advantage, not to mention several familiar faces on the roster, including his 7v7 and prep teammate Damian Alloway. So while Carr is a bit of a longshot, the Bruins won't stop trying.
Drake Beasley, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola
Beasley was a freshman at Loyola when Polamalu was coaching there, so there is a familiarity between the two and UCLA was the first school to offer Beasley. UCLA will stay on Beasley while focusing on Harris and Carr, and they'll have a chance with him because he has stated his desire to play in Southern California.
Bruce Jordan-Swilling, New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin
Jordan-Swilling has long ties to Jim Mora, with his father having played for the Moras in New Orleans. The two families have known each other for quite some time. Like many big time prospects from the Bayou, Jordan-Swilling has a lot of national attention, including offers from two playoff semifinalists in Alabama and Oklahoma, so even family ties will be tough to bring him West.
Other Names to Watch:
Adarius Lemons, 6-1, 185, Clearwater (Fla.)- Offered
Chris Brooks, 5-9, 170, Newbury Park (Calif.)
Tyler Nevens, 5-11, 190, Hacienda Heights (Calif.) Los Altos
Biaggio Ali-Walsh, 5-10, 180, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
It seems like a yearly discussion that UCLA needs to sign receivers and there usually seems to be a good core group of pass-catchers from the West. This year will be no different, with a good number of receivers (albeit, not of the same skill level of the 2016 class) available. After signing a big class in 2016, UCLA will probably just be looking for two 2017 receivers, but could probably go for more if they were elite. That said, because of how many receivers UCLA lost to graduation and the NFL, most of those receivers will be expected to play right away, so there isn't the chance to space out receivers, making the 2017 class again an important one to land a few. With UCLA having gotten more speedy slot types, we expect UCLA to target more of the bigger, possessions types for 2017.
Terrell Bynum, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Bynum is one of the Southland's best receivers and he's back at St. John Bosco, where he played as a freshman, after spending the last two years at Servite. At Bosco, he'll have a new quarterback in Re-Al Mitchell to throw to him but the Braves should be loaded and allow Bynum to really be featured. UCLA is on his very short list with Washington and Stanford, who hasn't offered, and he's publicly said on numerous occasions that the opportunity to play with Josh Rosen is something he's intrigued by. UCLA just needs to stay on him.
Joseph Lewis, Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins
The No. 1 receiver prospect nationally, the Bruins were one of the first schools to offer Lewis and the Bruins and USC have the hometown edge. But Lewis is blowing up even more nationally and is at least listening to the idea of playing outside of the West. Still, he's a rare talent and is young for his grade, having not even hit his physical peak yet, and with potentially the top receiver in 2018 a teammate in Jalen Hall, the Bruins would love to get the ball rolling at Hawkins and get Lewis and follow it up with Hall.
Alex Cook, Sacramento (Calif.) Shelton
Cook has a chance to end up the biggest riser when the spring is done, already seeing his recruitment explode in the last two weeks, with two big in-state offers, Cal and UCLA, coming in. Cook can play receiver or safety and UCLA offered him last week and he took an unofficial visit on Sunday. Cook said that UCLA was his dream school, so the relatively early offer could pay huge dividends for the Bruins.
Osiris St. Brown, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
St. Brown is more gifted than his older brother Equanimeous, who UCLA lightly recruited before he eventually signed with Notre Dame. While St. Brown may be a bit of a long shot, since he's more interested in national programs, the Bruin coaches will stay on him much more than they did his brother.
Tarik Black, Cheshire (Conn). Academy
Black, a Connecticut product, already has a who's-who list of national programs in pursuit of his services, but UCLA has offered and the Bruins will earn an unofficial visit from the four-star this spring. It's always difficult to assess how serious out-of-state kids are about leaving home, so that visit should give UCLA a useful gauge of his interest.
Hunter Rison, Ann Arbor (Mich.) Skyline
Rison, the son of former NFL receiver Andre Rison, was a commit to Michigan State before he opened things up and a number of schools, including UCLA, are after him. It may be tough to get him out of the Midwest, but UCLA will keep pursuing him.
Emmanuel Greene, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy
The Florida speedster is going to be difficult to pull out of Florida, as he grew up a Miami fan and is also heavily looking at Ohio State, but UCLA is in his second tier with Clemson, Louisville, Penn State, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Laviska Shenault Jr., DeSoto (Texas)
UCLA was part of a flurry of schools who offered Shenault in December, along with LSU, Oklahoma State, and Arizona State, and the Bruins have done well enough in Texas over the years that it's hard to count them out. In fact, the Bruins are in his early top four with Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma State, so there is a legitimate shot.
Next Tier to Watch:
Jamire Calvin, Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral.
Calvin is our pick for smaller receivers that UCLA should stay on and eventually offer. He said that UCLA told him they're looking for bigger receivers in this class, but they also told him they're still going to keep watching him, that his talent may be too great to pass on. He has two teammates committed to UCLA in Hunter Echols and Rhedi Short and UCLA has the hometown advantage too. But he's in the 20's in offers, so they may not get to wait too long before he moves on.
Bryan Thompson, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde.
Thompson comes from the same program current offensive lineman Poasi Moala and Tevita Halalilo came from and he played with Halalilo as a sophomore. He's the type of receiver that UCLA is looking for and will be one they'll take a long look at during the eval period and the summer camps.
Other Names to Watch:
Omar Manning, 6-2, 208, Lancaster (Texas)- Offered
Jeremiah Hawkins, 5-9, 160, Buena Park (Calif.)
Warren Jackson, 6-5, 165, Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany
Brian Casteel, 6-1, 200, Covina (Calif.) Charter Oak
TIGHT ENDS (1-2)
UCLA needs tight ends, not just in this class, but, really, on the roster in general. With just one true tight end signing last month, and a dearth of traditional tight ends on the roster, combined with the offense moving towards using traditional tight ends more in its scheme, it's crucial that the Bruins sign at least one tight end in 2017, if not more. The Bruins have one true tight end coming in the 2016 class in Jordan Wilson. Fortunately, the West has a number of tight ends still on the board and UCLA has offered several of them.
Josh Falo, Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum
Falo is the best receiver of the group but needs to add more weight, still being a little slight of build. We loved what we saw from him in Las Vegas at the Pylon Elite 7v7, since that is in his wheelhouse, being a pass-and-catch event. But blocking isn't his strongest suit and UCLA wants tight ends that can do both effectively. Still, since he's the top receiver of the bunch, they will stay on him.
Jimmy Jaggers, Roseville (Calif.)
Jaggers is a nice blend of blocking and receiving and UCLA offered him after seeing him play in its 7v7 tournament last June and he's looked good so far this spring too. He's a better blocker than receiver, but he's still gifted in catching the ball. But because blocking is more of his strength, he could be UCLA's top target at the position and the interest is reciprocated.
Tyler Johnson, Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland
Johnson has a Bruin offer amongst a host of other offers, including both the in-state schools in Arizona and he has national offers from Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska, so UCLA will have their work cut out for them with Johnson.
Next Tier to Watch:
Taariq Johnson, Buena Park (Calif.)
Johnson is more of a big receiver who's out growing the position. Blocking isn't something he's had to do a whole lot of, and when he did, it was usually against DBs, so blocking inside or with his hand down isn't something he has a lot of experience with. But he's a very good receiver who just got too big so tight end is likely where he ends up. He likes UCLA a lot and has been to a number of practices and games and he'll camp with UCLA this summer.
Moses Robinson-Carr, Antelope Valley (Calif.)
Robinson-Carr is a bigger tight end who can catch the ball well but is more that physical tight end that UCLA is looking for. He's landed offers from Tennessee, Texas A&M and USC so the secret is out on him and he told Scout that UCLA has been picking up the interest in him and they could be the next to offer him. He's willing to camp with the Bruins this summer to land that offer.
Other Names to Watch:
Tucker Fisk, 6-4, 255, Davis (Calif.)- Offered (Stanford commit)
Erik Krommenhoek, 6-5, 237, Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista
Patrick Brown, 6-5, 230, San Diego (Calif.) Cathedral Catholic
Andrew Nichols, 6-3, 230, Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial
Ben Moos, 6-3, 240, Pullman (Wash.)
Jared Poplawski, 6-5, 220, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
OFFENSIVE LINE (4+)
UCLA recovered nicely on the offensive line front in the 2016 class after not having a great start with Adrian Klemm off the recruiting trail. The Bruins locked up a couple of interior prospects but only one true tackle in 2016, so getting some tackle prospects will be important in the 2017 class and UCLA got that going on the same day, when both Will Farrar and Kanan Ray committed to UCLA in early March within hours of each other. There is no denying that offensive line will be a heavy emphasis in this class, especially at offensive tackle. UCLA has enough interior guys, but they need some tackles badly, so Ray and Farrar were huge gets. Fortunately the 2017 offensive line class out West will be one of the strengths of the class. In odd years, Klemm usually does his best work. The 2013 class had two three-year starters in Caleb Benenoch and Alex Redmond, who both left for the NFL, Scott Quessenberry, who's been a multi-year starter and Kenny Lacy, who's started a number of games. The 2015 class was also a highly-rated one for Klemm. Now, with Klemm having a number of offers to extend and bring in, and a chip on his shoulder after having missed the eval period last spring, expect UCLA to emphasize their offensive line haul in 2017 and for Klemm to be turned loose. He's already showing signs of what he can do with a chip on his shoulder, a full arsenal of offers and the opportunity to recruit.
Kanan Ray (OT), Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon
Ray can play either tackle spot and has tremendous versatility with his position, a Klemm calling card. Ray got an offer from UCLA not long after Signing Day and the Bruins were able to get past his offer from his childhood and family favorite, Tennessee. He took an unofficial visit earlier this month and not long after that trip, was ready to end his recruitment. Farrar beat him by a couple of hours, but the two made for a nice 1-2 punch of tackle commitments.
Will Farrar (OT), Richmond (Texas) Travis
Farrar keeps UCLA's steady pipeline of prospects from the state of Texas under Klemm going, a big commitment for the Bruins and the first offensive prospect to pick UCLA, just a few hours ahead of Ray. Farrar picked UCLA over in-state Texas and Texas Tech, a host of Pac-12 schools and other programs like LSU, Miami and Michigan State. At 6-5, 290, Farrar fits exactly what Klemm wants in an offensive lineman- position versatile and good size.
Wyatt Davis (OG), Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Davis may be UCLA's top offensive target, period, in Southern California. The top offensive guard prospect nationally, the five-star Davis comes from St. John Bosco and UCLA is doing well with him and he and Adrian Klemm have a great relationship. Having said that, Davis has offers from coast-to-coast and Alabama was actually his first offer, and that wasn't lost on Davis, who is high on the Tide and their track record with lineman is something that will give them a big advantage. But UCLA has the proximity advantage and while USC is going to be tough to recruit against as well, UCLA will keep playing the local angle up.
Foster Sarell (OT), Graham (Wash.) Kapowsin
Sarell is the No. 2 prospect in the West behind Najee Harris and he's the most coveted tackle prospect in the region. UCLA will likely get an unofficial visit from him this spring, but Stanford and Washington will be their toughest competition. Klemm went and saw him in the fall and UCLA offered him early in his sophomore year, so he's been a high priority for a while.
Andrew Vorhees (OT), Kingsburg (Calif.)
Vorhees is one of the top prospects regardless of position in Central California and will be a focus for Klemm. He raved about his unofficial visit to UCLA in February and he's been diligent on the road, already visiting Arizona State and Cal as well and plans to visit five more Pac-12 schools between now and mid-April.
Austin Jackson (OT), Phoenix (Ariz.) North Canyon
Jackson is the top prospect in Arizona and UCLA is trying, but he's got family ties to USC plus the in-state schools after him. He's just behind Sarell as the top tackle prospect in the West. Klemm is trying, though, and Jackson is very open to UCLA and isn't tipping his hand one way or the other on where he wants to go.
Alijah Vera-Tucker (OT), Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd
Vera-Tucker is the top tackle prospect in NorCal and he's seen his recruitment really take off too. Washington will have a good chance at him as well, with his teammate, Camilo Eifler, having signed with the Huskies and his coach being a former Washington legend in Napolean Kaufman. But UCLA is making a push for him.
Aaron Banks (OG), El Cerrito (Calif.)
Banks will contend with Vera-Tucker for NorCal's best line prospect and while he plays tackle for El Cerrito (where he played with Adarius Pickett as a freshman), he'll likely slide inside in college. Banks plans to visit UCLA this spring (he'll check out USC as well), and the two Los Angeles schools are both doing well with him.
Hyrin White (OT), DeSoto (Texas)
White was one of the Texas prospects Klemm went after and he's still listing the Bruins on his short list, so with Farrar already on board, they have another Lone Star State prospect to help with White, who at 6-6, 275, is a true tackle prospect.
Next Tier to Watch:
Brett Neilon (C), Santa Margarita (Calif.)
Neilon is one of Orange County's top line prospects this year in a pretty good crop of players and could play inside as a center and UCLA was one of his earliest offers, though it is uncertain how hard UCLA will recruit him, with tackles more their focus.
Jalen McKenzie (OT), Concord (Calif.) Clayton Valley
The four-star tackle from the Bay Area is coming off a knee injury that he suffered on the second play of the first game of the season, but he told Scout he's 100% now and plans to camp at The Opening Oakland Regional. The younger brother of Tennessee defensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie, Jalen is longer and leaner and more athletic than his brother, but not quite the same level of prospect. Still, he's a talent in his own right. His mother went to UCLA (his father and uncle both played at Tennessee), and he said the Bruins were in his top five. UCLA will watch him closely this spring to see if they'll continue to go after him.
Ryan Nelson (OT), Buena Park (Calif.)
Nelson had a good showing at The Opening Los Angeles regional and is a guy that UCLA will watch this spring. His biggest thing will be adding more weight, as he's in the 245-pound range. He lost a lot of weight with basketball and an illness in the winter, but said he wants to be around 275 when the season starts and 260 is his goal by summer. He'll probably have to camp with UCLA for an offer but Klemm will go watch him this spring.
Other Names to Watch:
Edward Ingram (OT), 6-4, 310, DeSoto (Texas)- Offered
Walker Little (OT), 6-7, 301, Bellaire (Texas) Episcopal- Offered
Henry Bainivalu (OG), 6-6, 302, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline- Offered
Chuck Filiaga (OT), 6-5, 275, Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta- Offered
Jason Linden (OT), 6-8, 340, Arizona Western- Offered
C.J. Thorpe (OT), 6-4, 304, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic- Offered
Dontae Powell (OT), 6-6, 300, Richland (Wash.)
Alan Ali (OT), 6-5, 275, Fort Worth (Texas) Timber Creek
Toryque Bateman (OT), 6-8, 300, Gadsden (Ala.) City
Blaise Andries (OT), 6-5, 290, Marshall (Minn.)
Jacob Wilson (OT), 6-6, 340, South Pasadena (Calif.)
Samir Martula (OT), 6-7, 325, Cypress (Texas) Ranch
Samuel Vretman (OT), 6-6, 295, Cheshire (Conn.) Academy
Jonathon MacCollister (OT), 6-4, 255, Orlando (Fla.) Bishop Moore Catholic