We established the primary recruiting needs for UCLA in the 2017 class back in February, right after National Signing Day.
We updated the 2017 Recruiting Class Trend Meter in April, and now here's our monthly installment, how the trend has gone in the last month. The Spring evaluation period has been going on for a month and has two more weeks remaining.
#1 -- Offensive Tackles
This remains priority #1 and priority #1A. Last month we did the Trend Meter right after Texas tackle prospect Will Farrar decommitted, so things were a bit on a downward trend. Since then, UCLA hasn't received a commitment, but OL coach Adrian Klemm has put in plenty of flight miles seeing offensive tackle prospects, and there is probably a bit of an uptick on UCLA's chances with offensive tackles in the 2017 class.
That uptick would be because of a number of things.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1667660-jaxson-kirkland-high-on-... UCLA Is looking good for a recent offeree, Jaxson Kirkland, an OT prospect from Portland (Ore.) Jesuit, who is supposed to visit campus soon, and a verbal commitment resulting from that visit is a real possibility.
Ronald Rudd, the JC prospect from Chaffey College, has a chance to make it academically into UCLA, so that was a big hurdle in his UCLA recruitment. The leader was thought to be Baylor, but the feeling is that, if he can get into UCLA, he'd opt for the local Bruins over the Bears.
UCLA is still among the top two for Andrew Vorhees, from Kingsburg (Calif.), along with Oregon, even after USC offered him.
UCLA could still have a chance with Farrar, and fellow Texas OT prospect Grayson Reed, who's committed to Texas A&M, but perhaps looking around given the mess there. Klemm is expected in Texas another time during the eval period (which goes until the end of May), and he's also expected to check in on Stephan Zabié, who is a real possibility.
A couple of tackles UCLA probably isn't leading for, too, at this point, will visit UCLA a second time this spring and summer -- the nation's #1 tackle Foster Sarell, from Washington, and Alijah Vera-Tucker, from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. The fact that both are visiting again can't hurt, and it always has an impact to get recruits on UCLA's campus. UCLA could actually be among the leaders for Vera-Tucker, he's just a tough read. Klemm is expected to take another swing through NorCal to see Vera-Tucker, Vorhees and Jalen McKenzie, of Concord Clayton Valley by the end of May.
#2 -- A Big Offensive Line Class
The arrow remains sideways here. There were some incrementally good developments in the last month for the 2017 offensive line class, but nothing singularly monumental.
Other than what we mentioned above about developments in offensive tackle recruiting, the biggest news was that Wyatt Davis, the five-star offensive guard from Bellflower St. John Bosco, spent a day on UCLA's campus with his dad. The feeling is that Stanford is probably still the leader, but Klemm is making up ground.
Wyatt Davis Clips
UCLA's other big guard target is Aaron Banks, from El Cerrito, and Klemm will visit him on his NorCal trip. From what we hear, UCLA is looking good with Banks.
We're hearing, too, that UCLA might have a chance with a four-star guard prospect committed elsewhere.
Henry Bainivalu, from Washington, will take a second visit this spring/summer, too.
UCLA already has a commitment from a guard, Kanan Ray, from Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, and he's been looking good this spring, and it appears to be a good get for UCLA.
UCLA will look to sign 4 or 5 OLs, and it could be 3 offensive tackles, so among the guards, with Ray committed, the success of the class hinges on Davis and the quality of the tackles UCLA gets.
#3 -- A Pac-12 Starting-Level QB
The arrow definitely is trending up here, with all of the developments in the last month.
The big news was the decommitment of the #1 quarterback prospect in the country, Tate Martell, from Texas A&M, and his immediate and public affection for UCLA. UCLA QB coach Marques Tuiasosopo went to Las Vegas Bishop Gorman to see Martell, and we heard the visit went really well. There are some concerns with Martell, just the circus-element of it all, but we're hearing that UCLA looks good for Martell at this point, even though he intends to take many visits and hold out until pretty late.
Jack Sears Clips
The other great development was the continued emergence of Jack Sears, from San Clemente, who has looked considerably better in many events recently and has garnered great national interest. UCLA offered Sears, a bit before all the attention started, and Tuiasosopo had Sears on campus and established a rapport with him -- before the bigger wave of attention started (offers from USC, others). We've heard that made an impact with Sears. He intends to decide sometime this summer, and UCLA is really in a good spot for him.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1670433-evaluating-ucla-quarterb... UCLA hasn't offered, but is also showing attention to Chase Garbers, from Corona Del Mar. We think that, with Garbers also getting a good wave of attention and offers (USC started showing attention), that the longer UCLA goes without offering him the harder it will be with him.
Obviously if UCLA could get Martell it'd be over-the-top successful QB recruiting, but at this point if UCLA got Sears it'd have to also easily be considered a successful QB recruiting cycle.
We have to say, speculating about UCLA's future quarterback depth chart is a pleasure now, compared to that exercise the last several years. If UCLA gets Sears or Martell, and then a good prospect in the 2018 class, thinking about the depth for the 2018 season, with Josh Rosen having left after his junior season, is exciting. The depth chart could be: Matt Lynch, R-SO; Devon Modster, R-SO; Martell/Sears, R-FR: True Freshman (2018 recruit). UCLA would have some good options to find Rosen's successor, and potentially some talented depth. Both would be unusual for UCLA's quarterback depth chart.
#4 -- At least One Great Defensive Tackle
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1662144-dt-greg-rogers-hearing-f... This has gone from trending up to sideways, merely because we haven't heard anything in the last last month that leads us to believe UCLA is doing better in getting an elite defensive tackle. It doesn't mean UCLA is doing worse, however.
It's still mostly about Greg Rogers, the nation's #3-ranked defensive tackle, from Las Vegas (Nev.) Arbor View. UCLA DL coach Angus McClure went to see him, and Rogers has been taking visits, going out to Notre Dame after they offered him. It's still thought to be a UCLA/USC battle, with UCLA maybe having the lead still. Some close to the situation think it will be a late decision, but Rogers is expected to visit UCLA later this summer, so we'll see if that maybe pushes up his decision.
Fulfilling this need could come down to whether UCLA gets Rogers and/or Popo Aumavae, from Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's. It's also thought to be a UCLA/USC battle for Aumavae, and it could one of UCLA or USC gets one of them, and the other program gets the other. If UCLA got both it'd be a major coup.
As we revealed in our recent BRO Buzz, UCLA is now considered a contender for Xach Gill, the DT from Wake Forest (North Carolina). We're not that familiar with Gill, since he's not from the west coast, so we can't say if he'd absolutely fulfill the need of a elite defensive tackle, but it is still very good for UCLA to have a realistic shot with him.
We continue to hear that it might not be over for the nation’s #14-ranked DT, Marlon Tuipulotu, from Independence (Ore.) Central, who surprisingly committed to Washington. Tuipulotu could still visit UCLA with his family.
#5 -- Darnay Holmes
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1670372-ucla-s-top-five-defensiv... We continue to hear that Holmes has UCLA as his clear leader, so the trend remains upward here. Holmes showed up at the UCLA Spring Showcase wearing a throwback Jackie Robinson UCLA baseball jersey, and took pictures of himself, his girlfriend and his family all over campus. He intends to take official visits, but with Holmes wanting to stay close to home, stay in L.A., and his relationship with UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin, we can't see him not coming to UCLA.
Holmes is such a key to the class, the five-star perhaps ending up being the class's crown jewel.
#6 -- Two Tight Ends
The arrow stays sideways this month for 2017 tight ends.
It was very positive that UCLA offered Erik Krommenhoek, from Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista, who is the son of Bruin grads. We think ultimately he'll be one of the two tight ends UCLA takes.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1668986-3-star-te-erik-krommenho... After that, though, it's a bit uncertain. Jimmy Jaggers, from Roseville (Calif.), is seeing his recruitment expand, and it could be a long-haul effort on him, despite UCLA having been the previous leader. We don't think Moses Robinson-Carr from Antelope Valley has UCLA among his favorites. UCLA did offer Terrance Lang, from Pasadena (Calif.) Maranatha, who is a very good-looking 6-6, 275-pound athlete, and he could very well start out as a tight end or defensive end in college, but we think he ends up an offensive tackle on the next level.
We would bet that UCLA could end up bringing in a tight end in the 2017 class that we haven't necessarily heard about just yet -- or put it more accurately: that we haven't reported on publicly yet.
#7 -- Second Starter-Level Defensive Tackle
We remain sideways on this. As mentioned above, UCLA looks good for some candidates, but the need is high at the position. Looking at UCLA's future depth chart, it could definitely use two starter-level defensive tackles in the 2017 class. It's probably one of the best recruiting years for defensive tackles in the west in recent memory, so this is the year to capitalize, too. We're a bit worried that UCLA might not, though, be a serious consideration for enough DTs of that caliber to give it a chance to fulfill the need of bringing in two with this class.
#8 -- Elite Wide Receiver
The arrow went from down to sideways on the elite-wide-receiver front, mostly based on UCLA being the leader for Tarik Black, the #1 receiver prospect in the east, from Cheshire (Conn.). When Black visited UCLA he reportedly was very impressed, and that impression has stuck with him. We'll see if it's enough to hold him over until signing day.
It'd be great if Black wanted to be a package deal with his teammate, C.J. Holmes, who blew up after a great performance at the Opening Regional New Jersey. UCLA has been on Holmes, too, but he's now hearing from every big-time program across the country.
It will be interesting to see if UCLA can get involved with the #1 receiver in the west, Tyjon Lindsey, from Corona Centennial. Lindsey is very close with Tate Martell, having played at Bishop Gorman last year, and the two want to be a package deal. UCLA doesn't generally do well in recruiting elite receivers, when it has to get into the show-the-love game, and that's what Lindsey wants. It's also what Joseph Lewis, the nation's #1 receiver from L.A. Hawkins, wants. We think UCLA could get seriously involved with both Lindsey and Lewis if it did, in fact, shower them with recruiting affection.
UCLA has a wide receiver stable that is pretty stocked with solid guys, but it's pretty evident that it's lacked that top-end, difference-making talent at wide receiver. It brought in that caliber prospect in Theo Howard in the 2016 class, and if needs to keep that talent level flowing in with 2017. Black, Lindsey or Lewis would fulfill it.
#9 -- Big Physical Safety
UCLA lost a safety commitment in the last week, with Rhedi Short decommiting. So it's unique that we'd keep the arrow ascending.
It's mostly because UCLA is looking good for a couple of guys that project to be better safety prospects than Short, and perhaps Short now not being on UCLA's committed list helps with their recruitment. Those guys are Bubba Bolden, the #15-ranked safety in the nation, from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman; and Chaz Ah You, the nation's #7-ranked safety from Provo (Utah) Timpview.
Bubba Bolden Clips
We really like Bolden; he might be the best safety prospect we've seen this spring at any event. There is a little hitch here, though -- he's verbally committed to USC. But as Scout reported earlier this month, he's looking around, not being sure if USC is the right fit for him. Demetrice Martin has been working his magic, though, and continuing to recruit Bolden, so UCLA is very much a player for him.
The word is that UCLA is still the leader for Ah You, even though he wants to hold out and take visits. UCLA, though, isn't really in the market for more than one pure safety type, so even though Ah You is a great prospect, UCLA will take a commitment from another elite guy in a flash over Ah You. Ah You will compete at the Opening Oakland Regional on Sunday, so it will be our first chance to see him this spring.
#10 -- Two Starter-Level Linebackers
With a decommitment from a UCLA-committed linebacker last week, the arrow trends down for the 2017 linebacker recruiting class this month.
UCLA also was looking like the clear leader for Addison Gumbs, from Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep, the nation's #6 outside linebacker, but we're hearing that Washington and USC are making good runs at him.
We, though, feel that, despite the arrow being down this month, UCLA linebacker coach Scott White, who was Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year for 2016, will ultimately sign an elite LB class.
A few reasons:
After watching UCLA’s spring practice, we are more encouraged with the future talent and depth of the linebackers, and feel that White doesn't need a huge class, but a couple of elite guys.
We think UCLA and White are doing really well with Baron Browning, the nation's #1 outside linebacker from Kennendale (Tex.) The onetime-Baylor commit has every elite program in the nation pursuing him, but we've heard UCLA is among its favorites. He has connections to the west and some of his family want to make a west-coast move.
Baron Browning Clips
If UCLA just gets Browning, the arrow goes up and it's a successful linebacker class. That would mean White would sign the #1 outside linebacker prospect nationally in both the 2016 (Mique Juarez) and 2017 class, an amazing recruiting feat.
If White does, indeed, get Gumbs, and Browning, that would be two OLB prospects ranked in the top 6 in the nation.
UCLA has a legit shot, too, at the nation's #13 outside linebacker, Levi Jones, from Westlake (Tex.) and is line to get an official visit this fall, and will probably get a visit out of Will Ignont, the four-star inside linebacker prospect from Florida.
#11 – Defensive Ends
As we said last month, if there's a UCLA recruiting need for 2017 you can check off, it's this one.
There is a little bit of a worry to hang on to the committed defensive ends, Jaelan Phillips and Hunter Echols, however. Echols likes getting recruited and will almost certainly take visits, but we think it's highly unlikely he ends up anywhere but UCLA.
But with Phillips and Echols, that’s the #6- and #12-ranked DEs in the nation.
Quite a coup for McClure.
We think this need will even be more fulfilled with Phillips having a very good chance of being bumped up to a five-star.
Because of the outside chance of losing one of the two, McClure will also keep recruiting the DE position. He has stayed on D.J. Johnson, the four-star from Sacramento, whom McClure has been recruiting for a long time.
To date, this is easily the recruiting need for 2017 that’s best filled so far, and it very well could end up being the best-filled need by Signing Day.
#12 -- More Pac-12 Level Cornerbacks
From what we hear from good sources, UCLA is looking very good with its cornerback class. Not only does it lead pretty clearly for Holmes, we've been told by many sources that it's doing really well with Elijah Gates, the four-star from Buena Park; Elijah Hicks, from La Mirada; Thomas Graham, the USC decommitment; and Jaylon Redd, from Rancho Cucamonga.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1669263-highlights-4-star-cb-tho... Graham and Gates are the #5 and #9 corner prospects in the nation, Redd is ranked #14, and we think Hicks is underrated at #33, so any of the four would be great gets.
However: Graham has shown some serious interest in Arizona after decommitting from USC; Gates could opt to get away from home and go to Oregon; Redd could also end up at Oregon; and Hicks might want to not be overshawdowed by the cornerback talent UCLA could stockpile and go elsewhere.
All legitimate points. But we still think UCLA probably has the best chance of getting each of them.
Demetrice Martin has seen all of them this evaluation period, and they've all been on campus, for the Spring Showcase and other times.
UCLA needs corners, with a DB depth chart that is a bit safety-heavy. Or put it this way: it needs guys who are clearly great cover corners, rather than those that are more like safeties that can play some corner.
If UCLA gets Holmes and just one among Graham, Gates, Redd and Hicks it would a great recruiting job by Martin, and definitely checking the box on this need in a way UCLA hasn’t done in a while.
#13 Elite Running Back
While the #1 running back -- and #1 prospect overall in the 2017 class -- Najee Harris, remains verbally committed to Alabama, we continue to hear from many very respected sources that there is some considerable doubt he ends up in Tuscaloosa. And those same sources are indicating that UCLA is where he really wants to be. In fact, that information is so prevalent in recruiting circles that Stephen Carr, the five-star running back from Fontana Summit, who is verbally committed to USC, has indicated he'd be interested in UCLA, but isn't right now because the word is that Harris is going to UCLA.
Harris is a difference-maker. He has the size of Sotonye Jamabo, but is more elusive and physical.
And since we've indulged ourselves in projecting out potential UCLA depth charts, if UCLA got Harris, here's what UCLA's running back depth chart would look like in 2017: Nate Starks, SR; Soso Jamabo, JR; Bolu Olorunfunmi, JR; Brandon Stephens, SO (or R-FR), Najee Harris, FR.
That's probably a good little realistic fantasy to leave you with.