Big UCLA Recruiting Buzz

June 23 -- There's quite a bit going on with UCLA recruiting, and tomorrow on campus will be a big day. Check out here about how UCLA is leading for two top targets who could commit soon, and more...

Brandon Huffman, Greg Biggins and Blair Angulo contributed to this report.


Jeffrey Manning, the defensive back prospect from Los Angeles Cathedral, announced his commitment to UCLA last night.

It was going to be a big thing for Friday, at UCLA’s Elite Camp, with his fellow committed Bruins – Hunter Echols, Jaelan Phillips and Kanan Ray – there on campus with him.  But it’s understandable that Manning wants to participate in a high school 7-on-7 Friday and won’t be able to come to UCLA that day.

Manning is one of the more under-rated recruits on the west coast.  He has a sprinter’s type body, at about 6-1 and 190, and has the quickness and agility of a cornerback.  He has had very little coaching so far in his football career, running a 4.6 40 without any training on how to run a 40, and very good ball skills without any knowledge of coverage technique.

One of the nation’s best offensive tackles, Calvin Ashley from Florida, visited UCLA Tuesday and USC Wednesday.  The nation’s #5-ranked OT has been committed to Auburn for a while, so he’s taking the summer to check out other programs and regions of the country.  Sources close to his recruitment feel there is a chance he could take an official  visit to UCLA, but more than likely remains committed to Auburn.

As we reported Tuesday, Another Floridian, Taron Vincent, also was on campus.  The four-star Vincent is the son of former NFL DB and current NFLPA VP Troy Vincent. He didn't participate in the camp, but we eyeballed him, and at about 6-3 and 290, he's a good-looking kid who's grown quite a bit this spring.  He already has offers from the likes of Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State.

We’re hearing that UCLA is doing very well with Greg Rogers, the nation’s #4-ranked defensive tackle from Las Vegas (Nev) Arbor View. It’s been thought it’s a UCLA-USC battle, but inside sources are indicating the Bruins lead at this point.   There’s a chance Rogers could verbally commit before his senior season.  He plans to visit UCLA In July, so that could be when it happens.

Someone who will announce his commitment is Addison Gumbs, the nation’s #6 outside linebacker prospect, from Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep.  Gumbs will announce on his birthday in July, and the word is that UCLA has emerged as his choice over Washington and USC.

If UCLA were, indeed, to get Rogers and Gumbs – two top-ten ranked players at their position in the nation -- to go along with two top-ten committed defensive ends in Phillips and Echols, combined with what looks to be a monster defensive backs class that defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin is putting together, the 2017 UCLA defensive recruiting class could be literally the best in quite some time.

Just to top it off with some icing for the cake, the rumors that have been percolating on the BRO Premium forum about Baron Browning, the five-star outside linebacker from Kennendale (Tex.), are more or less true: UCLA is on the very short list for the five-star.  In fact, UCLA has been on Browning’s short list for a very long time, and has probably been his leader.  Ohio State is probably the biggest competitor for Browning at the moment, but you can expect the recruitment to be a long and eventful one, and for UCLA to have a considerable challenge ahead to stay on top.

UCLA’s Elite Camp on Friday, even without the hoopla of Manning’s commitment, should be an eventful one.  We personally have a soft spot every year for recruits who have scholarship offers from other schools but decides to attend UCLA’s camps to earn a Bruin offer.  It’s just shows old-school work ethic, in an era when that’s rare for recruits. 

The recruit that has embodied this kind of character in the 2017 recruiting cycle is Los Angeles Cathedral wide receiver Jamire Calvin.  The 5-10 prospect has made it clear that UCLA is his favorite, even without an offer. He has offers from Nebraska, Michigan State, Cal, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington, and others.  Calvin has had a great summer, showing as one of the best receivers in every camp environment he’s participated in.  UCLA hasn’t offered because it might only have 1 or 2 slots open for receivers in the 2017 class, and with a good group of smaller, quicker guys already on the roster, it stands to reason that UCLA is looking to fill those slots with bigger types.  But Calvin won’t give up on his quest for a UCLA offer, or in showing his UCLA preference.  He plans on attending UCLA’s camp Friday to get in front of UCLA receiver coach Eric Yarber.

Another recruit on a UCLA-offer quest is Akili Vimahi, the three-star defensive end from Kahuku (Haw.). Vimahi has offers from BYU, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah and others, but covets the Bruin offer. He has made it clear a few times over the last few months that he stays in contact with UCLA DL coach Angus McClure, and he’s slated to participate in the camp Friday to get in front of McClure and earn a scholarship offer.   We might actually see it happening, perhaps not now, but later.  McClure already has commitments from two elite DE prospects in Phillips and Echols, but could use another, and someone like Vimahi, with that old-school desire, would potentially be a great fit, and not scare off Phillips or Echols.  We could see McClure still shopping around for a third DE for a few months, but then deciding to offer Vimahi, and how he performs Friday will have big impact on this potential scenario.  Also, keep in mind that Poly recruits tend to get quite a bit bigger physically, and in eyeing his dad Tuesday night on campus, if the son is anything like his father, Vimahi could end up a defensive tackle in college.

Another 2017 recruit in this UCLA-offer-quest category is Quentin Lake, the three-star defensive back from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.  Lake is the son of former UCLA great Carnell Lake, and obviously has a penchant for UCLA.  Demetrice Martin, though, has some truly elite prospects looking lined up to be Bruins (we’ll get into that later), and might not have room for Lake.  Lake has collected some very good offers, and recently just received an offer from USC. It, of course, would be painful to see Carnell Lake’s son play at USC (Marc Tyler redux).  If Lake can show some distinct position versatility to Martin at the camp on Friday, that could possibly inspire an offer.   Martin, as of right now, needs cornerbacks, and looks to be leading for the elite ones in the west, while also probably leading for the #1 and #2 safeties in the west.  But if Lake can show he can play either spot (like Manning proved in various camps this spring/summer), and Martin can somehow convince the other elite guys on the hook that it’s not over-crowded in UCLA’s defensive backfield and convince Jim Mora to allow him to give out another DB scholarship, perhaps Lake would be the next in line.

A highly-ranked 2018 quarterback prospect who will participate Friday is Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. While he intend to not publicly name a leader again until around this time next year, it's been clear from the start that UCLA sits in the top spot in his recruitment, even without a UCLA scholarship offer. He recently landed an offer from Michigan, his mother's alma mater, and although the Bruins officially joined the chase for fellow 2018 prospect Cameron Rising earlier this week by offering the Newbury Park (Calif.) prospect, Thompson-Robinson said he's not stressing about UCLA offering him early. Thompson-Robinson has been in steady communication with UCLA quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo, who saw him throw in Vegas late in the spring evaluation period, and the quarterback told Scout he is confident that an offer would eventually arrive.

"Coach Tui told me whenever he feels it's the right time, he'll pull the trigger on me," Thompson-Robinson said.

A Bruin offer for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect after Friday would be a significant development in the 2018 class with Rising also now in the conversation.  We fully expect Thompson-Robinson to garner an offer, and it will be interesting to see if that precipitates an early commitment from either of them.

Greg Biggins: “I wouldn't be shocked Thompson-Robinson made a quick decision. Not saying on Friday but he and 2018 tight end prospect and Bishop Gorman teammate Brevin Jordan are best friends, want to play together and UCLA is the top school for both.

The recruiting for 2017 quarterbacks has taken some interesting recent turns.  There have been commitments to other programs by UCLA recruits, and the lone man standing is Jack Sears, the four-star prospect from San Clemente (Calif.).  Sears has gone on some unofficial visits across the country to see various programs, but the word is that UCLA is still the leader, ahead of USC and Tennessee.   The 6-3 prospect will probably be on UCLA’s campus Friday, and probably won’t work out, but to hang with Tuiasosopo and Mora, and the contingent of UCLA-committed recruits.   If this happens, we think it could also precipitate a UCLA commitment from Sears.

Interestingly, this would leave USC kind of out in the cold for 2017 quarterback recruiting, with Sears to UCLA, Tate Martell verbally committing to Ohio State and Chase Garbers to Cal.  But we’ve heard that there’s some expectation that, when it’s all said and done, Tua Tagavailoa will shake loose from his Alabama commitment and probably end up at USC. 

One other 2017 quarterback note:  While it does feel that UCLA has put all its eggs in the Sears basket, we’ve heard that, if for any reason UCLA doesn’t get Sears, the Bruins would still have a very good shot at flipping Garbers from Cal. Erik Krommenhoek, the 2017 tight end target from Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista, participated in UCLA’s skills camp Wednesday, mostly to work with UCLA tight ends coach Rip Scherer.  He also camped with USC earlier in the week, and plans to camp with the Michigan coaches at a satellite camp in NorCal.  Krommenhoek’s two parents are Bruin alums, but we’ve now also learned that there are some USC ties in his family, with some other relatives being USC alumni.  We’re hearing UCLA is probably the leader, but it might not be the slam dunk for UCLA that we previously thought.  In terms of timing, we’re hearing he’s probably not close to making a decision and will take official visits.

Jimmy Jaggers, the four-star prospect from Roseville (Calif.), could be the guy closer to making a decision.  It’s probably down to UCLA, USC and Washington, and while the opinion is that it could be either one of those three, UCLA probably has the slight lead. 

Josh Falo, the four-star tight end from Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum, has been a guy that never has indicated UCLA was among his favorites.  It’s been mostly about Oregon, and maybe Colorado, where his brother plays.  UCLA, though, has been trying hard.  He’s in NorCal, so he’s in the recruiting region of Angus McClure, who has been on him; Scherer went to see Falo this spring to get to know him, and Tuiasosopo, who was recruiting him at USC, has benn a part of the recruiting team on Falo.  It has probably paid off some, with Falo planning an unofficial visit to UCLA in July.

With receiver recruiting, as we said above, we’ve heard UCLA will probably only give out 1 or 2 rides to receivers in the 2017 class.  We think that will ultimately be two.

But that makes UCLA’s recruiting process for 2017 receivers pretty selective. 

One thing that has really helped UCLA’s receiver recruiting, and receivers coach Eric Yarber, is the fact that Jordan Payton, Devin Fuller, Thomas Duarte and even Devin Lucien all got drafted.  It has, actually, really resonated with recruits.

All of this contributes to UCLA stretching a bit in its 2017 WR recruiting, pursuing some guys that might be tough for UCLA to get.  UCLA’s top targets are probably Tarik Black, the #1 receiver in the east; Omar Manning, the #1 WR prospect in Texas; Joseph Lewis, the #1 WR in the nation; and Tyjon Lindsey, the #4-ranked receiver in the nation, along with some more Texas targets: CeeDee Lamb (Richmond Foster), Charleston Rambo (Cedar Hill), and Camron Buckley (Cedar Hill).  The bad news: All of these guys are probably long shots. The slightly good news: Black, Lamb, Rambo, Manning and Buckley have all committed to taking official visits.

We’re completely expecting Darnay Holmes, the five-star cornerback from Calabasas, to make an appearance Friday.  UCLA is still looking very good for Holmes, even though he intends to take visits to Nebraska, Ohio State and Alabama.  Holmes, though, is perceived by other schools as almost a certain lock for UCLA and, in fact, some Pac-12 schols have decided to not even recruit him anymore.

The overall pictue of DB recruiting remains the same essentially, with the commitment of Manning not really expected to have an impact on other recruits UCLA was clearly doing very well with, like Thomas Graham, Elijah Gates and Jaylon Redd.  

UCLA remains in front for four-star Chaz Ah You, the No. 1-rated safety in the West out of Provo (Utah) Timpview. Marques Tuiasosopo and Kennedy Polamalu saw Ah You last week at the All Poly Camp where he was named a defensive back MVP and, with Demetrice Martin running point on the recruitment, the Bruins have a solid team of pitchmen. Ah You camped with UCLA and USC at this point last year and it was a big couple days, according to a source, because he realized he was more of a UCLA type than USC.

Interestingly enough, the Trojans have been sending mixed messages ever since he camped there last summer, with the coaches telling him they didn't want to offer because of a looming LDS mission out of high school. Given that staff's need for immediate results, it would make sense they would not be on board to wait two years for a recruit to arrive on campus, so it's worked out in UCLA's favor a bit. Another source told me Martin, when speaking with Ah You, actually took off his sunglasses, looked him in the eye and told him he would take him no matter what he decides to do after high school. Stanford, Michigan and Notre Dame are three others to watch, but the Bruins are holding steady.

UCLA also intends to step in where USC seems to be faltering a bit with Bubba Bolden, the #1 safety in the west from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, who is verbally committed to the Trojans.  Bolden is considered a soft commitment, and said a couple of weeks ago he intends to officially visit UCLA. The word on him is that he’s very high on UCLA at the moment.

If UCLA does, indeed, get Rogers, to go along with Phillips and Echols, it will allow UCLA DL coach Angus McClure to play with some house money in filling out the rest of his class.   UCLA will host quite a few DLs on campus in the next month or so, besides Rogers, and that will go a long way to giving us a sense of how the DL class will round out.  Scheduled to unofficially visit in July are:

-- DT Marlon Tuipulotu, who is verbally committed to Washington, but could move to the L.A. area for his senior season, which would dramatically help UCLA’s cause in flipping him. 

-- DT Xach Gill, Wake Forest (North Carolina)

-- DT Popo Aumavae, Stocton (Calif.) St. Mary’s.  He could unofficially visit in July, but he’s committed to taking an official visit this fall. It’s still believed it’s between UCLA and USC for him.

-- DE D.J. Johnson, Sacramento (Calif.) Burbanks

-- DT Dalyn Wade-Perry, Sparta (New Jersey) Pope John

-- DE Terrance Lang, Pasadena (Calif.) Maranatha. Lang has been on a tour of schools in the south for a couple of weeks, but could also be at UCLA this weekend.  We still think he’s a potential impact player as an offensive tackle.

-- DT Martin Andrus, Los Angeles High, is expected on campus Friday, but probably won’t participate in the camp. 

-- And as we said, Akili Vimahi could have a shot at an offer, depending on his performance Friday. 

UCLA has faded some for South Jordan (Utah) Bingham lineman Jay Tufele, the No. 3-rated defensive tackle in the country, heading into summer, but it's not for lack of trying. Michigan and Ohio State have been making a strong push, with both programs attending Pride Camp in Utah last week to coach up Tufele, with UCLA also in attendance. The UCLA campus is a big draw for Tufele and the family, the Bruins probably aren't sniffing the top three at the moment. One thing UCLA might have going for it is its developed Poly culture.

On the offensive line, we’ve hearing that UCLA’s top target, five-star Wyatt Davis from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, is now leaning heavily to Ohio State.  UCLA is in the second tier behind OSU and Stanford. If UCLA were to have any chance, it’d be a scenario where, as it gets closer to Signing Day, Davis and his family decided they want him to stay closer to home, but it’s looking unlikey at this point.


Jaxson Kirkland, from Portland Jesuit, is expected to be on campus Friday, but will probably not participate in the camp. Kirkland set Aug. 14 as his announcement date, with the Bruins being a major contender after offering this past spring evaluation period.

We’re hearing UCLA is doing well with Aaron Banks, the nation’s #7-ranked guard from El Cerrito (Calif.) At the satellite camp held at Contra Costa last week, we heard that Banks mostly hung out with the UCLA coaches in attendance, while coaches from other schools were there.

The word is that UCLA has a good chance with Jalen McKenzie, from Concord (Calif.) Clayton Valley. After he showed well at the Opening Oakland, UCLA coaches went to see him and reinforced their recruitment of him.

Penei Sewell, the 2018 offensive tackle from St. George (Utah) Desert Hills, is turning into a national recruit, but UCLA continues to do well because the Bruins jumped in first with an offer. It's significance since offensive tackle figures to be a major position of need in the 2018 cycle (as it is in the current one).

As we reported, UCLA offerd two 2018 OL prospects after their performance at the UCLA Big Man's Camp Tuesday:  Tommy Brown, from Santa Ana Mater Dei, and Justin Dedich, from Temecula Chaparral. 

Najee Harris, the running back from Antioch (Calif.) and #1 prospect overall in the 2017 class nationally, remains verbally committed to Alabama, and visited there recently. He also visited USC unofficially yesterday, since his high school coaches were working the USC Camp. We continue to hear, though, that not much has changed with his recruitment – that there’s a good chance he flips, and if he flips, it’d be to UCLA. 

There is also some good buzz about UCLA and 2018 West Hills Chaminade running back T.J. Pledger, who UCLA offered this spring.  He visited UCLA yesterday morning and the word is that the Bruins are doing well with him.

So, Friday should be an eventful day, even without the event of Manning’s commitment.  UCLA-committed offensive lineman Kanan Ray told us he’s riding with Jaelan Phillips to the UCLA camp on Friday and they "plan to go on a recruiting spree."



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