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 May, and now here's our monthly installment, how the trend has gone since. The Spring evaluation period ended in May, and in June it's been about satellite camps and UCLA's own camps.
#1 -- Offensive Tackles
This remains priority #1 and priority #1A.
And in the last month, the arrow remains sideways.
UCLA got a commitment from a tackle prospect, but lost out on a prospect it was supposedly leading for, so the arrow remains the same.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1681865-jc-ol-ronald-rudd-commit... The commitment was from Ronald Rudd, the JC prospect from Chaffey College. On one hand, it's a good commitment since UCLA absolutely needs tackles, but we don't really know how good Rudd is, having not seen him in person in a game or camp environment. Also, whether he qualifies academically is a question. He was a non-qualifier out of high school, and those type of JC recruits traditionally have a hard time getting into UCLA. The requirements demand certain classes, and ultimately, most of the time, they opt for the easier route, like to qualify for ASU, a school Rudd was considering.
Here's an interesting twist, though: The NCAA has changed its academic requirements for JC transfers, making it more stringent. One one hand, that's not good news. On the other, it might be. Since JC recruits will now have to go through a more rigorous process at the JC to qualify, possibly that will assist them in getting admitted into UCLA.
UCLA really struck out with Andrew Vorhees, from Kingsburg (Calif.), who committed to USC, in a stunner. It was thought, at worst, UCLA was among the top two with Oregon, and probably leading for Vorhees. It was a definite case of UCLA getting beat out for a much-needed prospect.
UCLA also lost on Alex Forsyth, the prospect from Oregon, who was about to take an unofficial visit to UCLA, but it coincided with the on-campus shooting. The Forsyth family suffered a loss in a mass shooting, so understandably they were wary of visiting, and Forsyth subsequently decided to stay home and go to Oregon.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1682524-3-star-ol-kirkland-check... Three-star prospect Jaxson Kirkland from Portland (Ore.) Jesuit took an unofficial visit with his family Friday. He's now visited Cal, Washington State, Oregon State and Texas Tech, and could make a decision soon. We've heard UCLA looks good, but at this point we wouldn't be shocked at another outcome.
Here's the thing, too: Not to disparage Rudd or Kirkland, because UCLA absolutely needs tackles, but they're not providing UCLA the absolute top-end talent at tackle. Now, Rudd, who has three to play two, and Kirkland could absolutely end up all-Pac-12 tackles, but, of course, they're longer shots at that proposition than a four- or five-star would be.
And the other thing: We don't see any more on the horizon that are elite and/or UCLA is leading for. In this trend meter a month ago, we wrote that UCLA would have a chance with some Texas tackle prospects, like Grayson Reed or Stephan Zabié, or get back in on the prospect that de-committed from UCLA, Will Farrar, but in the last month that hasn't been the case.
The situation with a couple of elite tackles UCLA wasn't leading for hasn't improved -- the Bruins are still not in serious contention for the nation's #1 tackle Foster Sarell, from Washington, and look to be trailing for Alijah Vera-Tucker, from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. They were supposed to visit campus this spring or summer and have yet to. We think UCLA has a legitimate chance at Jalen McKenzie, of Concord Clayton Valley, but only recently started recruiting McKenzie aggressively again after his performance in late May at The Opening Oakland and, despite some connections with the family, have some ground to make up.
#2 -- A Big Offensive Line Class
The operative word here is "big." We don't just mean "big" as in size of class, but "big" in talent.
That objective took a considerable blow when Wyatt Davis, the five-star offensive guard from Bellflower St. John Bosco, verbally committed to Ohio State. We knew that UCLA wasn't running with the leaders for Davis, but the thought was that, if he remained un-committed, UCLA would have a better chance of working on him between now and Signing Day, and the local appeal could possibly do the trick. His verbal to OSU makes that considerably tougher.
The good news is that we continue to hear UCLA looks good for its other big guard target, Aaron Banks, from El Cerrito. At a recent satellite camp in NorCal, with other coaching staffs in attendance, Banks hung out with the UCLA staff for the entire camp.
Henry Bainivalu, from Washington, was supposed to take a second visit to UCLA's campus this summer, but that has yet to come to fruition.
UCLA already has a commitment from a guard, Kanan Ray, from Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. Ray hasn't participated in events this off-season, so we haven't been able to assess him. He physically fits the part and he's been a great recruiter for the Bruins.
UCLA will look to sign 4 or 5 OLs, and it could be 3 offensive tackles, so among the guards, with Ray committed, and Davis almost certainly a lost cause, so much rides here on whether UCLA gets Banks, the nation's #7-ranked offensive guard. With Davis out of the picture, Banks now becomes the big fish at guard.
#3 -- A Pac-12 Starting-Level QB
The arrow definitely is still trending up here, with all of the developments in the last month with Jack Sears, the four-star prospect from San Clemente.
First, the #1 quarterback prospect in the country, Tate Martell, verbally committed to Ohio State, but the focus of UCLA quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo has been Sears. Sears participated in the Elite 11, and made the finals, being one of 17 quarterbacks from across the country selected. After a number of very good performances at various camps, he was elevated to a Scout four-star and ranked the #11 quarterback in the nation. This all coincided with Sears taking visits to various schools across the country, while he kept close contact with UCLA. He visited UCLA again this week, and was on campus two days, both Thursday and Friday. We've heard Tennessee is the biggest competition, with USC and Duke being considered, but at this point it'd be a huge upset if he didn't pick UCLA. And the thought is his decision could come at just about any time.
Jack Sears Clips
Chase Garbers, from Corona Del Mar, verbally committed to Cal, but we heard that, if UCLA missed on Sears, Garbers could be a candidate to flip. So that's a good back-up plan to have.
Getting Sears, though, would make this a permanent up-arrow.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1681483-elite-18-qb-lands-dream-... Longer-term quarterback recruiting took a good turn this month, too, when UCLA offered two 2018 prospects, Cameron Rising, from Newbury Park (Calif.), and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. DTR has made it very clear that UCLA is his favorite school and he's hung on to that while other big-time programs offered him. Getting the Bruin offer at the UCLA camp this week was huge, and the opinion is that DTR might not wait too long before committing. If Sears and DTR could both commit to UCLA, the Bruins' future quarterback depth chart would look great. When Josh Rosen leaves after his junior season, the depth chart could be: Matt Lynch, R-SO; Devon Modster, R-SO; Sears, R-FR, and Thompson-Robinson, FR.. UCLA would have some good options to find Rosen's successor among that group, potentially some talented depth, and the future at the position would look pretty secure for a while.
#4 -- At least One Great Defensive Tackle
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1662144-dt-greg-rogers-hearing-f... This arrow has gone back to trending up, based on what we've heard on UCLA's primary target, Greg Rogers, the nation's #4-ranked DT prospect, from Las Vegas (Nev.) Arbor View. That is, UCLA Is leading USC now, he plans to visit UCLA next month and the word is that he could end his recruitment.
To satisfy this need, that of a "great defensive tackle," if UCLA didn't get Rogers it'd have to bring in someone close, and that would be the nation's #7-ranked DT, Popo Aumavae, from Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's. It's also thought to be a UCLA/USC battle for Aumavae, and we continue to hear that UCLA is holding steady and right there for Aumavae. He's still considering visiting UCLA in July, but has definitely locked in an official visit for fall.
UCLA continues to be a contender for Xach Gill, the DT from Wake Forest (North Carolina), who plans to visit UCLA's campus in July.
We continue to hear that UCLA might have a slight chance for the nation's #5-ranked DT, Marlon Tuipulotu, from Independence (Ore.) Central, who is verbally committed to Washington. Tuipulotu plans to visit UCLA next month 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 Camp last week. We shared in the recent recruiting buzz that some programs have stopped recruiting Holmes because they've recognized he's going to UCLA. Of course, it's a long way to SIgning Day, and a five-star's recruitment is always a circus, so there could be many twists and turns to this before it's all done. We still like UCLA chances because of Holmes' desire to stay close to home and his relationship with UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin.
With UCLA needing a lock-down type cornerback, and a big-named, attention-getting player like Holmes, the five-star is perhaps the class's crown jewel.
#6 -- Two Tight Ends
The arrow turns decisively down this month.
UCLA lost what most thought was a Bruin legacy lean in Erik Krommenhoek, from Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista, to USC. He is the son of Bruin grads. And UCLA lost Moses Robinson-Carr to USC. It lost Alexander Marshall, the TE prospect from New Hampshire, to Florida State earlier in the month. And in a year when it's loaded in the west for tight ends, UCLA has done poorly -- having previously missed on Colby Parkinson (Stanford), Hunter Bryant (Washington) and Tucker Fisk (Stanford), as well as Krommenhoek and Robinson-Carr.
All the chips, then, are on. Jimmy Jaggers, from Roseville (Calif.). it's supposedly a UCLA-USC battle, but we know USC was trying to play Jaggers and Krommenhoek off each other to get the other to commit, so hopefully Krommenhoek's USC commitment steers Jaggers UCLA's way. If not, it's Defcon 1. It's probably Defcon 2 right now. And if Jaggers picks USC, with Krommenhoek already there, or opts for Washington, with Bryant already committed, it's definitely a sign that there's something dearly wrong with UCLA's tight end recruiting. It's probably safe to say that the results so far for 2017, when UCLA's message is that it has a ton of playing time at tight end, is alarming. It's all not a good result so far for new UCLA tight ends coach Rip Scherer, to say the least.
There's possibly a little chance with Josh Falo, the four-star from Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum, and he is supposed to unofficially visit UCLA, but we have never gotten a read on him that he particularly favors UCLA, with Oregon and Colorado (where his brother plays) the preferences.
We could easily see UCLA having to pivot to a tight end in the 2017 class that we haven't necessarily heard about just yet.
#7 -- Second Starter-Level Defensive Tackle
We remain sideways on this. As mentioned above, UCLA looks good for some DT 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. If UCLA can, indeed, snag Rogers, it would go a very long way to satisfying this need of a second high-level tackle. The combo of Rogers/Aumavae, Rogers/Gill, Rogers/Tuipulotu would be homeruns, but even a combo of someone like Dalyn Wade-Perry and Rogers would get the job done here. We still would probably like to see UCLA involved with more DTs to give it a chance to fulfill the need of bringing in two with this class, but getting Rogers seems to make it all okay.
#8 -- Elite Wide Receiver
The arrow went back to down this month, mostly based on UCLA no longer being the leader for Tarik Black, the #1 receiver prospect in the east, from Cheshire (Conn.). Black said he no longer will unofficially visit UCLA this summer, and that came after an unofficial visit to Notre Dame, so it reasonable follows that Notre Dame is the clear leader and that Black probably silently committed there.
UCLA has tried to get involved with the #1 and #2 receivers in the west, Joseph Lewis from Los Angeles Hawkinss and Tyjon Lindsey, from Corona Centennial. Lindsey is very close with Tate Martell, and the feeling is that he's done for Ohio State after Martell verbally committed there, and UCLA just can't get much traction with Lewis. Lewis is the type that would like to be showered with attention and, admittedly, UCLA hasn't done that with him.
UCLA is also on some elite out-of-region guys, like Omar Manning, Charleston Rambo (an Oklahoma commit) and CeeDee Lamb, but we're skeptical they'd be able to pull guys like these from the state of Texas.
UCLA is really only looking for 1 or 2 receivers in the 2017 class, so we're not too alarmed at this point.
And we think that UCLA is going to eventually offer Jamire Calvin, from Los Angeles Cathedral, who openly favors UCLA even without the Bruins having offered. He has offers, though, from the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and Nebraska, but UCLA, with so many smaller, quicker guys already on the roster, is looking for bigger types. We do think, though, that UCLA receivers coach Eric Yarber will come around and offer Calvin. Whether he becomes a Bruin is really dependent on how much patience Calvin has in UCLA not offering.
#9 -- Big Physical Safety
This is a priority for us since UCLA has lacked a big-hitting safety type.
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 we reported, it's a soft commitment and he has said he'll take an official visit to UCLA. UCLA DB coach Demetrice Martin has been working his magic and has continued to recruit Bolden, so UCLA is very much a player for him.
The Bruins just got a commitment from Jeffrey Manning from Los Angeles Cathedral and, while he's considered a cornerback prospect, he's more of a swing guy, someone who could probably play both corner and safety. There's also Quentin Lake, from Santa Ana Mater Dei, who UCLA just recently offered and you'd have to say will have a pretty good chance to get. He's also a swing type. While we think both are great prospects and potential starters in UCLA's secondary, they're not necessarily the big-hitter type. Bolden and Ah You are probably more of that style.
What would be an absolutely slam dunk in satisfying this need is if UCLA gets Lake and Bolden to go along with Manning, and Ah You commits but goes on his Mission so he then comes to UCLA in 2018.
Bubba Bolden Clips
#10 -- Two Starter-Level Linebackers
The arrow here went from down to sideways, based on snippets of information we've heard about some of UCLA's elite linebacker targets for 2017.
We reported in our Buzz last Friday that all indications are that UCLA is now the leader for Addison Gumbs, from Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep, the nation's #6 outside linebacker, and that he'll more than likely pick the Bruins in the next couple of weeks over Washington and USC.
We've also heard that UCLA still looks good 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 his favorites. He has connections to the west and some of his family want to make a west-coast move.
With those two developments, we think UCLA linebacker coach Scott White has a very good chance to fulfill this need. If he gets Gumbs and Browning, it's beyond just fulfilling. If he gets Gumbs and then someone to be named later, there's still a good chance he fulfills the need. Heck, if UCLA just gets Browning and not Gumbs, it's a highly successful linebacker recruiting class for 2017. That would mean White would sign the #1 outside linebacker prospect nationally in both the 2016 (Mique Juarez) and 2017 classes, an amazing recruiting feat.
Baron Browning Clips
#11 – Defensive Ends
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, and while we lost a little confidence in his commitment to UCLA over the last month, we still think he ends up a Bruin.
With Phillips and Echols, that’s the #3- and #12-ranked DEs in the nation. And Phillips was just moved up to a five-star in the recent update of the 2017 Scout 300.
Quite a coup for UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure.
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, and there's Aliki Vimahi from Hawaii, who has made it pretty clear he'd covet a UCLA offer.
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
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1682251-highlights-db-jaylan-sha... The potential 2017 UCLA cornerback class shifted a bit in its complexion in the last week. UCLA got a commitment from Manning, it offered Lake, who UCLA will have a very good chance to get, and offered Jaylan Shaw, the talented prospect from Corona Centennial, who told Greg Biggins that he was feeling UCLA more than USC and could make a decision soon.
Oh, yeah, there's still that guy UCLA is leading for -- Darnay Holmes, the nation's #1 corner and #8 prospect overall.
Demetrice Martin's cup runneth over.
The DB coach will probably take 2 or 3 more corners in addition to Holmes and, as Biggins suggested on the BRO Premium Forum, he'll probably take the first two to commit from Shaw, Lake, Gates, Graham or Hicks, and then maybe figure out if he takes another.
There's also Jaylon Redd, from Rancho Cucamonga who has been impressive all spring and summer and UCLA has a very good chance to get. With the commitment of Manning and emergence of Lake and Shaw, we'd say that Redd might not be on that absolutely-take list at this point, however. That's a Scout Top 300 prospect we're talking about here.
If Martin gets Holmes, Manning, and just two of Shaw, Lake, Gates, Graham or Hicks, it absolutely satisfies this need. Heck, if he gets Holmes, Manning and your aunt it probably satisfies this need.
#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 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. Harris did take an unofficial visit to Alabama, and we heard that visit went well, but that the situation remains just about the same.
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 again leave you with this month.