Addison Gumbs (Blair Angulo)

UCLA Evaluations From Best of the West

Apr. 25 -- Check out the recruiting notes and evaluations from the Passing Down "Best of the West" tournament, which featured several UCLA targets...

PLACENTIA, Calif. -- One of the better tournaments in the 7-on-7 circuit took place Sunday at Bradford Stadium and we've got the relevant UCLA recruiting notes and observations.

Darnay Holmes, the five-star cornerback who showed up to the Bruins' spring showcase event Saturday, was a featured receiver on his team and proved to be spectacular. At one point, Holmes shook a cornerback with an out route, made a catch and turned up field before leaping over the safety and extending the football over the pylon. We often hear recruits mention the would love to get a shot at both sides of the ball in college, but Holmes is one of the few that could actually have an impact as a two-way player. He is quick enough to blow past defenders and has the ability to high point the football, though he had a few drops Sunday that showed why corner is his primary spot. On the recruiting front, Holmes said he thoroughly enjoyed his stop by UCLA and was accompanied by several family members all decked out in gear. On Sunday, Holmes walked by a group of reporters and, unsolicited, dropped a "fours up."

The No. 1-rated recruit in the country, Najee Harris, also competed in the event and did many of the things that have earned him the lofty ranking. He played running back and receiver, and looked quicker and showed more wiggle than former five-star Soso Jamabo, who scored a handful of touchdowns in the showcase Saturday. Harris is powerful with the ball in his hands and finds ways to get open down field, but he struggled a bit hanging onto the football in tight spaces. His talent, though, is undeniable. We continue to hear the Bruins are doing well on that front.

Najee Harris (left) and Darnay Holmes

Addison Gumbs, the No. 1 outside linebacker in the West region, was also in attendance but only played a couple series. This wasn't the best setting to evaluate the physical 'backer, but he still showed some above average coverage skills and the change of direction to keep up with running backs. According to his father, UCLA likely earned the final recruiting stop before Gumbs announces in June, so that could mean good news for the Bruins.

Three-star safety Trajon Cotton was another UCLA target to suit up alongside Harris and Gumbs for the Northern California-based TMP Elite. Cotton wore a Bruins visor and gave his visit to UCLA rave reviews, but didn't do much on the field at safety. He didn't show the best instincts back there, failing to read quarterbacks and allowing receivers to slip behind him down field. Cotton had a couple one-on-one assignments and fared much better in coverage. It sounds like it's down to Oregon and UCLA for his commitment.

Trajon Cotton

Three-star quarterback Chase Garbers said Marques Tuiasosopo is set to swing through his school Tuesday to see him throw, and several close to his recruitment have suggested that a Bruins offer would be tough to turn down. UCLA, of course, offered Jack Sears last week, so it should be interesting to see how things play out in the next month. Garbers made some really good throws early in the day, showing great feel and touch and putting the ball only where his receiver could get it. He looked really comfortable throwing deep and looked off the safeties well when he did so.

The other standout quarterback was Nick Sipe, who told us that he hadn’t heard from UCLA, and we don’t expect that to change, because we expect UCLA to probably get a commitment from Sears or Garbers. After watching him Sunday, we think Sipe should be a part of the Sears-Garbers possibility group.  He’s taller than either Sears or Garbers, a good 6-feet-4, and very long, with a body that could clearly fill out, and get bigger and stronger – giving him physically more upside that Sears or Garbers. He might not be the athlete of Sears, but Sipe throws at least as good a ball as either Sears or Garbers, if not better. That was on display Sunday; an effortless motion that really gets the ball to a spot in a hurry. He hit his stride late morning when he placed three deep balls in a row into the hands of streaking receivers (and all three dropped them, which was good since it enabled him to throw all three). We'd imagine that UCLA's dream scenario would involve all quarterback targets throwing next to each other in front of Tuiasosopo at camp in June.

At tight end, Danville (Calf.) Monte Vista Erik Krommenhoek validated the performance he put on in Las Vegas at the Pylon Elite national tournament. He has a prototypical tight end’s body, at 6-5 and about 240, with a big frame, enough weight already, but clearly the upside of adding more weight easily. What was most impressive was how well he ran and cut -- that his stride was natural and he didn’t take a moment to get his body going like so many big guys do. He didn’t get the ball thrown to him much Sunday -- as is often the case in the 7-on-7 setting -- but when he did his pass-catching looked very natural, too. UCLA will go out to see Krommenhoek at his high school in the next couple of weeks, and we could definitely see the Bruins offering once they see him work out in person. Krommenhoek told us that UCLA was a childhood favorite, since both his parents are Bruins (and BROs), but that, without an offer just yet, he’s not seriously considering them – yet.

On the defensive side, former USC commit Thomas Graham said he's heard the recruiting pitches from former GroundZero teammates Lokeni Toailoa, Leni Toailoa, Breland Brandt, Damian Alloway and Demetric Felton. And, although he couldn't make it to UCLA on Saturday due to track obligations, he said he intends to stop by campus soon and appreciates that Demetrice Martin has recruited him throughout, even after coming in second on his initial pledge to the Trojans. Graham is on the smallish side, as has been documented before, but he's incredibly tough near the line of scrimmage and does what he has to in order to disrupt routes. He also has good ball skills and doesn't allow receivers any space down field. Arizona is another school to watch here, but Graham admitted that UCLA's local appeal is a plus. And then there is this...

Four-star Jaylon Redd was on campus recently to see the Bruins practice and said he was surprised the hear UCLA likes him at athlete, which is a plus. He primarily lined up at receiver Sunday and, though he won't blow you away physically, he's a tough player that just produces. Redd showed a good change of direction and good speed. If he becomes more consistent as a pass-catcher, there could be another two-way candidate. UCLA is on his short list and a visit to Oregon is scheduled this week, with some whispers that if everything goes well, a commitment to the Ducks could follow.

USC commit Stephen Carr was probably the most impressive prospect in the event, making linebackers look silly in open space and displaying the elusiveness that complements his power style very well. If not for Harris, Carr would be talked about more. His pledge to the Trojans is a soft one at the moment -- Carr recently visited Miami and Michigan -- but we've heard he won't take the Bruins' advances serious until something is decided with Harris.

The other running back that put on a good performance was T.J. Pledger, the 2018 prospect that UCLA recently offered. He's not the big power type that Kennedy Polamalu prefers, a bit more on the stouter side, but Pledger said the Bruins like him in a versatile role where he can get the ball in the flats and out of the backfield. He has really good speed and, at least locally, could be the most productive back the next two seasons in high school. Pledger said he has heard several recruiting pitches from former teammate Dymond Lee.


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