We'll keep filling this in as we do more evaluations, but here's the first wave.
The UCLA Elite Camp turned into a very successful event, with a good amount of talent participating, and another good amount of talent looking on.
One of the most impressive things that happened Friday didn’t happen during camp action, when UCLA-committed five-star DE Jaelan Phillips addressed the recruits after camp. Phillips was in attendance but didn't participate, mostly to help recruit, and he definitely did that. I had never seen UCLA allow a recruit address a camp, but Friday at the end of the Elite Camp, after the coaches had talked, Phillips told the group about how great UCLA is, the program, the school and the staff, and how the new football facility was going to be incredible, how they were putting together one of the best recruiting classes in the nation for 2017, and how everyone needed to join the Bruin Revolution. It was a very impressive moment, and really showed what type of quality kid Phillips is.
Kanan Ray, UCLA’s committed offensive lineman, was also doing a very active job of recruiting all day.
UCLA’s other committed prospect, DE Hunter Echols, planned to attend but Los Angeles Cathedral had practice.
Among the non-committed guys that attended but didn’t participate:
OL Jaxson Kirkland – got a great deal of attention from OL coach Adrian Klemm, and got a campus tour with his family.
JC OL prospect Ronald Rudd – He was on Klemm’s hip for most of the afternoon. We have an interview coming with him, so you’ll get details, but in short it appears he’ll have the academics to get into UCLA, and the Bruins are high on his list.
DB Thomas Graham made a quick appearance.
T.J. Pledger, the #1 RB prospect in the west for 2018.
Brian Hightower, the four-star WR originally from SoCal who attends IMG Academy in Florida, looked on, and got a great deal of attention from WR coach Eric Yarber and the entire UCLA staff.
If you were going to design the prototype college cornerback, and how he’d look like when he was in the summer before his senior year, it might be Jaylan Shaw. He’s 5-11 and 175, well put-together but with a frame that could easily hold more muscle, and he ran a camp-best 4.44 40 on what seemed like a slow day. Shaw is a great story – Corona Centennial was so loaded in its secondary in 2015 he didn’t play much, and is only garnering offers because of how good he’s looked in camps this summer, getting a USC offer last week after the Trojans’ camp, and yesterday after an impressive performance at UCLA’s camp. Shaw is a great athlete, and moves really well, and not just straight ahead, but laterally. He’s still raw in his coverage skills, with UCLA DB coach Demetrice Martin coaching him up during the camp.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Shaw because of the timing of it all, in terms of Shaw himself and UCLA. With camp season pretty much over, there will be a question of whether other big programs offer Shaw without seeing him. If not, or even if they do, we’ve heard that the local schools would have an edge. UCLA, too, as we’ve made clear, is very locked into its 2017 targets and doesn’t have a great deal of room for everyone UCLA has offered, if they all wanted to jump in the boat (especially with the commitment of Jeffrey Manning this week and the offer to Quentin Lake). It’s a great problem for Martin to have – too many great prospects without enough spots for them. Since we don’t think Shaw will commit anytime soon, from what we’ve heard, we don’t necessarily think the offer to Shaw will rock the boat that much with the long-time UCLA targets, but will hopefully help to nudge them closer to a commitment.
The offer to Quentin Lake might be another story. We could easily see Lake jumping on the UCLA offer, and probably sooner than later.
Lake has been a player we've been high on all spring. Just about every time we've seen him, he's showed ability to play at a high level. Lake's UCLA ties are pretty well-known by now -- his father is former Bruin great Carnell Lake, whose position versatility as a collegian and pro were what set him apart. And that's why Lake is so intriguing: he's 6-1, 180, but could grow into a safety, yet has pure corner skills. He didn't run a great 40, but during the drills, one-on-ones and 7on, he was outstanding, only giving up one catch that we remember. He's physical at the line of scrimmage, real fluid with a quick and smooth backpedal and active hands that allowed him to break up a number of passes. Not surprisingly, Lake was offered after the camp. He was offered a week ago by USC, but he told us during the spring that UCLA was always his favorite school growing up and he camped with the Bruins specifically to get an offer. He said after the camp he's not quite ready to make a decision, but the offers from the local schools likely expedite his recruitment and UCLA is probably in a very good spot for him.
You have to respect him, coming all this way from Hawaii to try to earn a UCLA scholarship offer. Vimahi is good-sized at 6-4 and about 250, and he looked good at the camp, showing some good agility and technique. UCLA didn’t offer him, and it seems like the right decision at this point, with the Bruins loaded with two DE commitments, Jaelan Philips and Hunter Echols. It’s something to watch – how the relationship with Vimahi develops over his senior season, and whether UCLA might loosen up a scholarship offer for him.
Richard Cage, the three-star linebacker from Corona (Calif.) Eleanor Roosevelt, turned in a good performance in front of Scott White for the second time this month. He was a standout at the Empire Showcase a few weeks ago, and on Friday made a few nice plays in coverage during the 7-on-7 portion. The Bruins are waiting on some of their top linebacker priorities, but we could see Cage get more attention down the road if things fall through. He's not as physical as incoming freshman Krys Barnes, who, like Cage, played for Ground Zero, but he's a bit more nimble on his feet and has a projectable frame for the next level.
When Davis was offered by UCLA earlier in the spring, there wasn't a lot of buzz. He's added a few more offers since then and while UCLA would probably wait a bit to take his commitment if he wanted to but he had a good evening, showing good burst off the line of scrimmage, consistency in his pass-catching and ran crisp routes. He's not real big, about 5-11, 172.
We have to admit, Thompson-Robinson is one of our favorites. He throws such a strong, effortless ball that proved to be too hot for many receivers to catch Friday. He didn’t have a great day connecting with receivers, but overall it’s clear that the arm strength and motion are there, and he clearly is a great athlete, moving smoothly in the drills. It was pretty well-documented that UCLA was his favorite, even as he chalked up offers from other big-time schools, and he came to this camp to earn a scholarship, and did. We think UCLA loves Thompson-Robinson, and we also know that his close friend and teammate, and it's mutual. UCLA-offeree tight end Brevin Jordan really likes UCLA, too, and the two of them want to go to college together. We wouldn’t be surprised if this doesn’t last too long, with Thompson-Robinson and Jordan potentially doing a joint early commitment to UCLA.
Jordan was very impressive, at about 6-3 and 235, and running a 4.63 40. He is a Thomas Duarte-type of tight end, but probably thicker physically at the same stage, with good pass-catching skills. When asked if he and Thompson-Robinson were going to commit to UCLA together soon, he smiled and said, “Maybe.”
Salua Masina, the younger brother of one-time UCLA lean Osa Masina, did enough to earn a scholarship offer. He's a rangy outside linebacker type with long arms and a lanky frame, and although he could still be considered somewhat raw, he oozes potential. He fared very well in pads at the All Poly Camp last week in front of Marques Tuiasosopo and Kennedy Polamalu, and it should be interesting to see if the Bruins are able to land this Masina next year. Wearing a UCLA tank top, he told us he would keep an open mind and really consider the Bruins, even with a brother playing for the Trojans and the possibility of being on the same team in the fall of 2018.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the camp, Cooley was the best receiver prospect participating. He measured 6-1 and weighed 167, and has a great, long body, the type that could continue to grow and a frame that will easily hold more weight. What was most impressive was how explosive he was, and deceptively so. He was able to shift between speeds in a very sneaky-fast way and leave defenders a couple of strides behind him, on downfield or short routes. Then he showed very good hands, and a very good ability to catch outside his window. We don’t know what he ran in the 40, but in some ways he’s very reminiscent of UCLA freshman Theo Howard. Coach Yarber jumped on it quickly and offered Cooley right after the camp. We have an interview coming with him, but suffice it to say that Cooley was knocked out by the offer.
He probably was the recruit that participated with the most hype, with offers from LSU, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, and on and on. He’s impressive physically, at about 6-4 and 235, with a frame that could easily get to 255-ish, and very long arms. He ran well for his size, too. His pass-catching was good, but a bit awkward at times, and he didn’t step up to take reps as much as we would have liked. But he’s clearly a fantastic prospect, and you have to give him credit – having those kinds of offers, and with a UCLA offer, and then coming all the way from Texas to participate in the camp.
This is one large human, at about 6-3+ and 310, but not sloppy. He’s just a big boy, and what was really eye-opening was how fast, and how quickly, he could get that body moving. In the DL drill where a player runs around big circles on the ground while trying to catch the player running in front of him, Irving actually almost caught the defensive ends he was chasing. What’s amazing is that Irving is almost completely unknown, without any offers, while being such a D-1-looking kid that goes to a high-profile program like Chaminade. UCLA is lucky to be the first to offer.
Ely Doyle had some up-and-down moments in coverage, but he certainly showed signs of being one of the better safeties in Southern California for the 2018 class. He has long arms and moves fluidly through his backpedal while breaking quickly to the football. Doyle had focused a bit more at corner previously so he's got some good instincts to go along with the growing frame. Utah and Washington State are among the schools that have offered, with UCLA probably waiting to see some junior film at a new position before getting more involved.
Williams rivaled Cooley for best receiver on the day, and for much of it, Williams made the case that he was the best. He measured in at 6-1, 185, but is well put together and looks like he can get in that 195-200 range with ease. He probably was the most natural pass-catcher in the camp, catching everything, with great body control and speed and had probably the most polished routes of any receiver. He was offered by UCLA after the camp, and has landed offers in the last couple weeks from both Los Angeles schools.
Thompson-Robinson and Brevin Jordan weren't the only Bishop Gorman prospects participating, as slot receiver Jalen Nailor also made the trip. Nicknamed "Speedy," the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Nailor has very good quickness off the line of scrimmage and showed great body control to come down with the football on some throws near the sideline. He has a good feel for getting open up the seam and should be a big target for Tate Martell this coming season, with the Bruins expected to continue to monitor him closely.
Remigio was offered by USC on Thursday and tried to make it two-for-two on Friday, but he didn't have his best day, with an unusual amount of drops for a pretty sure handed receivers. He is pretty quick off the ball and runs good routes, but it may have been exhaustion setting in (it was his third straight day of camping), because he struggled a bit early on in catching the ball. He's still a talent and a player we think UCLA will continue to recruit, but Friday wasn't his best day.
Lenzy also was doing his second camp in as many days, this time as a receiver. He camped at USC as a corner and looked good there, but decided to work as a receiver at UCLA. He's a high level corner, a likely Scout 300 corner, and he's a pretty good pass-catcher. He just drew Quentin Lake in the majority of his reps, and Lake used his size and skill to neutralize Lenzy for the majority of the evening. UCLA is actually recruiting Lenzy as an athlete, and he's a prospect they'll continue to evaluate. He's one of the top 2-3 prospects in Oregon in the 2018 class.
Tuliaupupu didn't get to work out, but came and spent a lot of time with the coaches. He was offered by UCLA, which was a no-brainer- he's a national prospect, they just wanted to get him on campus and do it in person, which they did. He spent a lot of time with Scott White, then got a lot of face time with Marques Tuiasosopo and Kennedy Polamalu.
Brown was the revelation of the camp, coming in pretty unheralded out of Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino, but he had a huge night that landed him an offer from the Bruin coaches. He was the focus of Kennedy Polamalu during the 1on1s and 7on, and showed very good speed, cutback and shiftiness, but at 6-0.5, 205, has the frame that Polamalu covets in a back, yet still looks like he can carry another 15-20 pounds. He was very good catching the ball too, but he's more a pure between the tackles back that Polamalu likes to feature in his offense.