Arguably the top two targets on UCLA’s defensive recruiting board competed at the Passing Down SoCal Regional on Sunday in Fontana. Here are the news and notes from the event.
• Darnay Holmes shined again, looking smooth in coverage and making plays on the football when he was tested. He recently visited Nebraska, but it sounded like he didn’t really do or learn anything new on the trip that would give the Huskers an edge in his recruitment. He still intends to commit in late June, and UCLA still is a prominent contender.
• It was a surprise to see four-star defensive end Jaelan Phillips at the event, but the Redlands (Calif.) East Valley standout certainly didn’t disappoint. He played primarily tight end and appeared very comfortable there, running fluidly and effortlessly. On the recruiting front, Phillips visited Stanford last week and said it went very well, with the Cardinal coaches spending significant time with him and answering all of his questions. He intends to visit USC next week, UCLA the week after that and then Notre Dame before announcing a decision in late May or early June. The Bruins are right there with Stanford on this one, with the Cardinal probably having surged slightly ahead following the recent stop in Palo Alto. Phillips spent some time chatting with Holmes, who was wearing a pair of UCLA trainers.
• Addison Gumbs, the four-star outside linebacker from Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep, was tremendous in coverage, dominating his reps and overpowering whatever receiver lined up in front of him. Gumbs moved remarkably well and showed great closing speed. The Bruins set the bar really high during his recent unofficial visit, his father said, and he intends to make an early commitment, probably by the end of April or early May.
• Jimmy Jaggers, probably UCLA’s top target at tight end, had an up and down afternoon, appearing powerful on one rep then failing to break free in the end zone. He said he really likes the fact that the Bruins have switched to a Pro Style offense and it’s a big factor. Washington continues to be a big factor in his recruitment, and he said Nebraska is actually a school he’s really interested in and hopes to visit soon. LSU is also expected to check on him this upcoming spring evaluation period, along with several Pac-12 schools, including UCLA. Jaggers said he intends to visit campus again for the Spring Showcase on April 23.
• Four-star cornerback Elijah Gates of Buena Park, Calif., had a great showing, sticking to his receivers down field and hardly getting tested. It’s become increasingly clear in the last month that Gates could be the most important defensive back for UCLA in this class not named Darnay. Gates said his recent visit to UCLA will keep the Bruins in it until the end -- he plans to commit on National Signing Day.
• Similarly to how they performed in the Las Vegas tournament earlier this month, UCLA commits Rahyme Johnson and Rhedi Short looked good again. Johnson is freaky athletic, long and just a bulldog in coverage. Short looks a little hesitant defending the slot (in a zone scheme), but he closes well on ball carriers.
• Chase Garbers, the three-star quarterback from Newport Beach (Calif.) Corona Del Mar, had a really good performance in the game we watched, using the middle well and hitting receivers in stride with good touch down field. He showed good footwork, too. Given UCLA’s standing with Tua Tagovailoa, it should be interesting to see if Garbers draws a closer look this spring.
• Marques Evans also had a good performance in helping Proway -- which features Holmes and UCLA offeree Bookie Radley-Hiles in the secondary -- to a tournament title. Evans has versatility to play safety and covers a lot of ground, and he's very tough near the line of scrimmage, bumping receivers off their routes and displaying good instincts.