Evaluating UCLA Prospect at Seattle Opening

May 30 -- We take a look at what UCLA prospects showed last weekend at The Opening Regional in Seattle...

Sione Lund, the Stanford commit from Utah, might not pop out in the shirts-and-shorts setting given his physical playing style that translates more in full pads, but he displayed the running style that could make him an intriguing power back in some of UCLA’s new formations. Lund has a strong lower body that allows him to drive his legs through contact, but he also the athleticism to make that first defender miss in open space. He might not have the killer speed or electrifying wiggle, but there would definitely be a use for a back like Lund in Kennedy Polamalu's offense. Lund visited the Bruins earlier this spring and has sparked a relationship with assistants Marques Tuiasosopo and Polamalu, so his pledge to the Cardinal is definitely worth monitoring moving forward, especially given his friendship with another UCLA target, Chaz Ah You.


Four-star tight end Hunter Bryant was remarkable once again, proving to be one of the better pass-catchers in the event while also running the best routes of any of the receivers. He has tremendous hands that make him a reliable target no matter the throw length and, though he might not be remarkably fast, Bryant is smart enough to make a move on defenders to get behind them and give quarterbacks a window to throw the ball into. The Washington commit also thrives in traffic where he is able to go up for passes, and that was a major reason why earned an invite to The Opening Finals on Saturday. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound prospect from Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic is firmly committed to the Huskies, but given UCLA’s need for tight ends in this class, you could expect the Bruins to continue to stay on Bryant, especially following his successful stop by campus earlier this spring.


Foster Sarell, the No. 1 offensive tackle prospect in the country out of Graham (Wash.) Graham-Kapowsin, was the jewel of the event, proving to be far too athletic for defensive ends that tried to sneak around him. He maintains a solid base and uses his hands remarkably well to keep defenders in front of him while absorbing contact well. Sarell uses great footwork to effortlessly slide into place before engaging and fighting off the rush. The scary thing is that Sarell could still be considered somewhat raw as a prospect after missing most of his junior season due to injury, with his ceiling being very high. Stanford and Washington are considered the frontrunners, but UCLA is trying to stay in it, dropping by to check on him twice in recent weeks.

A more realistic option appears to be Portland (Ore.) Jesuit tackle Jaxson Kirkland, who recently added an offer from UCLA. He was bigger than we anticipated, measuring around 6-feet-7 and around 330 lbs., but not looking sloppy. At times he played a little too high, but when he dug in and got lower, defensive ends struggled to get off his block.

Three-star OL Jaxson Kirkland

Kirkland played mostly left tackle during the day but likely projects to right tackle in college. He’s physical with good strength and hand placement, but just needs to work on playing a bit lower. Kirkland is set to visit the Bruins in a couple weeks and wore a UCLA sweatshirt Sunday, so there is the possibility that a commitment could come if things go well on the trip to Los Angeles.


There are a few outside linebackers ahead of four-star prospect Tayler Katoa on UCLA’s recruiting board, but the Layton, Utah, prospect could be worth monitoring. This was actually the first event that Katoa, his school’s quarterback, exclusively worked out at linebacker, and he looked comfortable operating in open space. Katoa has a good build at about 6-feet-2, 215 lbs., and he showed good footwork in coverage during the 7-on-7 portion of the event. He plans to unofficially visit UCLA again this summer as he continues to establish a relationship with Scott White, and Katoa could blow up next month when coaches from across the conference see him in person at the All Poly Camp.

Four-star Tayler Katoa

Another ‘backer to watch following Saturday's regional could be Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic prospect Eli'jah Winston, the younger brother of former UCLA recruit and Oregon signee Lamar Winston. The younger Winston is a member of the 2018 class, but already looks bigger than his older brother and has drawn the attention of White, who has established a good connection with the family. Eli’jah Winston could grow into a pass rusher, possessing the size to match up against linemen on the edge and the speed to get into the backfield.

At quarterback, Jacob Sirmon from Bothell, Wash., had a good showing but, if there was one knock, it’s that he was inconsistent throughout the session. The 2018 prospect had perhaps his best sequence during the half skelly portion at the end, putting throws where he needed to and hitting receivers in stride. Sirmon has good arm strength and displays nice presence in the pocket to scan the field and get the ball out in timely fashion, checking down to underneath options when he has to. He is committed to Washington but Marques Tuiasosopo, who coached with his uncle Peter at both Washington and USC, dropped by to see him throw recently and we’ve heard the Bruins are expected to continue to push as they search for their 2018 signal caller.


Tanner McKee, the 2018 quarterback from Corona (Calif.) Centennial, continued his impressive spring with another solid performance Saturday. He holds early offers from Colorado and Hawaii, but they certainly won’t be the last as the 6-foot-5, 185-pound prospect has shown great promise in various events. McKee has a strong arm, a projectable frame and the ability to make plays with his legs, and he should have plenty of opportunities against difficult competition the next two years. Dylan Morris, a 2019 prospect from Graham (Wash.) Graham-Kapowsin, also raised some eyebrows, making accurate throws and putting good touch on the deep ball. He should be a name to remember down the road.

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