UCLA football recruiting for 2017 is already off to a good start, with five commitments, four on defense and one on offense.
One big change from the 2016 cycle should be 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. There are now offers out to double-digits in OLs.
Plus, UCLA has a new quarterbacks coach in Marques Tuiasosopo, who was the Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year in 2015 (for USC) 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 started last weekend so here is a look at UCLA's offensive recruiting board in mid-April.
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 has been UCLA's top quarterback target and the Bruins were able to get him on campus last month. It appeared to be primarily a USC-UCLA battle but the Trojans were firmly ahead in this one locally. Then came a visit to the South, where Tagavailoa visited Alabama and Ole Miss and now there is some buzz building that Tagovailoa is legitimately interested in playing in the SEC. We still think he stays out West, and USC appears to still be the favorite. That said, UCLA hasn't given up, with Tuiasosopo, who's related to Tagovailoa, continuing to pursue him. We think Tuiasosopo will pursue his relative until the end, even if UCLA does offer others on this list, and is it the Tagovailoa sweepstakes until the end. If it happens, and UCLA gets a commitment from someone else, and then Tagovailoa wants to also commit, so be it.
Next Tier to Watch:
Jack Sears, San Clemente (Calif.)
Sears figures into the equation prominently. Tuiasosopo is expected to be at San Clemente on Tuesday afternoon (today, Apr. 19th), on UCLA's off-day, to see Sears throw. We know from Sears and his coach that UCLA is high on him; they've said that Tuiasosopo has told him he wants to see him throw in person, since he didn't have the chance to when he was across town. So Tuiasosopo will be in Orange County to watch Sears work out and, a good workout, which would match his film, could be the final push needed to have UCLA offer Sears. Washington offered him earlier this month and that offer was one that intrigued Sears, so the Huskies are trying to make a move as well. A UCLA offers wouldn't make Sears a slam dunk, but would certainly go a long way in their efforts. UPDATE 4/19: Tuiasosopo went to see Sears at his high school today and has subsequently offered Sears a UCLA scholarship.
Chase Garbers, 6-3, 210, Corona Del Mar (Calif.)
Garbers had 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. He visited UCLA unofficially last month and raved about the trip and UCLA could get down to see him throw in the next week, especially if they don't make a move with Sears. Garbers would be very open to a Bruin offer. He's probably after Sears in preference by the staff, but he's in the discussion.
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 work out in the next two weeks but he is probably behind Sears and Garbers in terms of UCLA's board, yet he could eventually work his way up.
Tate Martell, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Martell is the No. 1 quarterback in the 2017 class, a five-star who led Bishop Gorman to the National Championship by Scout last fall. He's only about 5-10.5, but he's a gamer and one of the best high school quarterbacks in recent memory. He's been a longtime commit to Texas A&M, but the Mazzone's didn't recruit him all that hard when they were at UCLA, so there is no certainty this marriage is going to happen at A&M. So Martell said on Monday he plans to take five official visits and is considering every school that has offered him- and that includes UCLA. He's visited unofficially this spring and he and Tuiasosopo have a good relationship so this is one worth monitoring.
Other Names to Know:
Michael Bonds, 6-2, 185, La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis
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 in March then was back for UCLA's first spring practice 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. He visited Washington earlier this month and was at Ohio State last weekend for their spring game. He'll likely be at UCLA's Spring Showcase on Saturday too (as he was a year ago), while in town for the Passing Down Best of the West Finals, which would be his third time on campus in a two-month span. The inside word is -- if he flips somewhere from Alabama, right now it'd be to the Bruins.
Stephen Carr, Fontana (Calif.) Summit
Carr is a soft commit to USC but it would be a surprise if he didn't end up there. 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. He is more open to national programs though, having visited a couple of national schools during the spring.
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. Colorado has also offered Beasley. While UCLA focuses on Harris, Beasley may be on their second tier, but they'll keep him warm, especially with Polamalu's relationship with him.
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.)
Marcus McElroy, 6-1, 200, Denver (Colo.) Mullen
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.
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 had 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. He had the infamous unofficial visit with the rest of his Hawkins teammates earlier in the spring, but we've heard that Lewis likes UCLA more than the picture would justify and isn't as high on USC as most think. So it will be a matter of how hard does UCLA push for Lewis, who is coached by a former Bruin in Mil'von James. The talent, though, should make that an easy decision.
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 months, with two big in-state offers, Cal and UCLA, coming in and then an offer from Washington. Cook can play receiver or safety and UCLA offered him last month and he took an unofficial visit shortly. Cook said that UCLA was his dream school, so the relatively early offer could pay huge dividends for the Bruins. The Huskies will have a chance largely because his coach, Brandyn Thompson, starred for Chris Petersen at Boise State and Petersen has long had success in the Sacramento area throughout his career, but UCLA has the in-state advantage and the fact they were his childhood favorite. We think Cook could pop for UCLA soon.
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.
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. But if they wait too long, a school like Arizona could end up sitting pretty.
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, 5-10, 185, 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.
Hunter Bryant, Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic
Bryant, the No. 2 tight end in the West, likes both the in-state schools but has told Scout on numerous occasions that he's interested in both UCLA and USC and he's not opposed to leaving the state. He's said since early in his sophomore year, in fact, that UCLA was a school he hopes to get an offer from. And that offer came two weeks ago when Bryant was down in Westwood for UCLA's spring practice. And immediately, UCLA was on his short list with the hometown Huskies. We know Bryant likes UCLA a lot and the Bruin offer was a big deal for him. But his best friend and teammate signed with Washington last year and several of his 7v7 teammates are working on him hard to stay home, so UCLA will have to keep battling the home school.
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 pure receiver of the bunch, they will stay on him. Oregon is doing really well with him right now and you can't count Colorado out- both of his older brother's signed with Mike MacIntyre, one at San Jose State and another currently at Colorado. He'll be at UCLA's Spring Showcase on Saturday.
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. USC offered him this month, though, and the Trojans are now making a big push for him so UCLA has their work cut out in staying at the top.
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 to keep working with Johnson.
Moses Robinson-Carr, Antelope Valley (Calif.)
Robinson-Carr is a bigger tight end who can catch the ball decently well but is more that physical tight end that UCLA is looking for. He's landed offers from Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC so the secret is out on him. He was at a practice last week and got the red-carpet treatment from Jim Mora, who spent a good deal of time with him and even left practice for a bit with Robinson-Carr. UCLA will stay on him and he's very interested in the Bruins.
Alexander Marshall, Andover (N.H.) Proctor Academy
Marshall has a slew of offers from around the country but UCLA is on his short list with USC, though the rest of his top schools are in the Southeast, and he's from the Northeast. So he's open to getting out of the Northeast. He's supposed to visit Los Angeles this spring.
Next Tier to Watch:
Erik Krommenhoek, 6-5, 237, Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista
Krommenhoek has Bruin ties, both his parents having graduated from UCLA. He's an excellent student, with an offer from Harvard, but also has a few more FBS offers. He's a big and athletic tight end who catches the ball well and he could see interest in the Bruins turn up in the next few months when they get up to the East Bay to see him work out in the spring. He'll be at UCLA this weekend for the spring showcase.
Other Names to Watch:
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, though Farrar ended up decommitting a month later. There is no denying that offensive line will be a heavy emphasis in this class, especially at offensive tackle. UCLA has some interior guys, but they need some tackles badly, so Ray was a huge get. 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 COMMITTED
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.
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. And Stanford is also heavily involved with Davis, and he's sincerely interested in the Cardinal. UCLA has the proximity advantage and while USC is going to be tough to recruit against as well, UCLA will keep playing up the local angle.
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. But it is looking like a longer and longer shot to get him away from either the Cardinal or Huskies.
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 returned again in April for a spring practice. He said that UCLA is among three schools recruiting him the hardest with Arizona State and Washington State. Vorhees has been recruited by Klemm and Angus McClure but said Klemm is taking over the majority of his recruitment.
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 and he visited UCLA earlier this month with USC. Still, its looking like a Washington-Oregon battle 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.
Jason Linden (OT), Arizona Western (J.C.)
Linden is an intriguing prospect who is more raw than anything, but at 6-8, 340, he's someone to watch. He has an offer from New Mexico State as well. If UCLA can lock up prep prospects, then they'll probably focus on them and not go the JC route, but Linden is someone they'll continue to monitor.
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.
Other Names to Watch:
Walker Little (OT), 6-7, 301, Bellaire (Texas) Episcopal- Offered
Henry Bainivalu (OG), 6-6, 302, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline- Offered
C.J. Thorpe (OT), 6-4, 304, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic- Offered
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