Evals & Notes on UCLA Recruits at The Opening

July 11 -- We take a look at each UCLA commit, target and prospect that participated in The Opening -- how they did, what kind of prospect they are and how their UCLA recruitment stands...

Quarterback 

http://www.scout.com/player/197180-jack-sears?s=12

Sears looked technically good the first couple of days of the Elite 11, then in the 7-on-7 had some good moments managing his team. But he faltered a bit in the 7-on-7 the last day and a half, not looking down field enough and locking onto receivers.  It appeared at times he didn’t quite have the arm strength to throw the ball down the field effectively with the caliber of receiver he had at the event. It also appeared in this environment that his mechanics were a little long, with a bit of a wind-up.  Overall, though, he’s still a very promising quarterback prospect, showing some very good athleticism in the testing, a good motion (that probably will shorten up as he continues to get stronger) and a very good mental approach to the game.  Right now we think it’s between UCLA and USC, but wouldn’t be surprised at this point if he chose Duke. 

Running Back 

http://www.scout.com/player/191061-najee-harris?s=12

He’s a freak.  He was chosen to compete in the RB/LB cat-and-mouse competition, and it’s just phenomenal that a guy his size (probably 6-2.5 and 225) can be that quick and nimble. His feet are really something to watch when he goes through drills.  He really is deserving of the #1 ranking overall in the nation.  He continues to be verbally committed to Alabama and we haven’t heard that he’s going to de-commit anytime soon.  But we still hear that there’s a chance he does go elsewhere and that UCLA would be the #1 option if he did opt out of Alabama.

http://www.scout.com/player/193389-stephen-carr?s=12

Carr is truly one of the most elite running backs we've seen in the west in recent years. With great size, speed and elusiveness. If it weren't for Harris, he'd probably be getting a ton more hype.  He's so good that he's an absolute weapon in 7-on-7s, and we've seen him dominate them, just by running the ball, which is kind of unheard of.  He had some moments in the 7-on-7s at The Opening, but just didn't get enough touches, in our opinion.  He's verbally committed to USC but, as he said in his interview that's coming to BRO today, UCLA is trying very hard with him.  We've heard that, if UCLA doesn't get Harris they'd have a chance to flip Carr from USC.  

Wide Receiver

http://www.scout.com/player/193382-joseph-lewis?s=12

The big, talented receiver maybe didn’t clearly prove he’s the #1 receiver in the nation, but he made an argument. On the first day of 7-on-7 he made a number of plays in the same game that had heads turning. At The Opening there are guys each year that look like they could already be in college and even close to looking like pros already, and he’s one.  The combination of size and speed set him apart.  It’s truly a shame UCLA hasn’t gone after him really hard since we continue to hear that he’s still wide open and the Bruins would have a chance.

http://www.scout.com/player/193432-omar-manning?s=12

Manning was injured and didn’t participate in much.  Physically he’s very impressive, all of 6-3 and 200.   As a Texas kid he has a ton of Texas media hounding him, and he keeps his info pretty close to the vest, so it was a bit of a departure when he revealed to us that he intended to take an official visit to UCLA, as well as possibly other destinations like Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Florida. He’s thought to be a in-state lean, like for TCU and Texas, and then Oklahoma.  Manning would definitely be the bigger type of receiver UCLA is stressing in the class of 2017, but we think it’s a longshot he ends up a Bruin.

http://www.scout.com/player/193390-jalen-hall?s=12

The #1-ranked wide receiver in the nation for 2018, Hall looked a year younger at The Opening.  In SoCal 7-on-7, comparatively to other prospects, he looks big and mature, but here comparing him to the best 2017 receiver prospects in the nation, he looked physically like he has a ways to go and just not as polished as others here.  He was one of the handful of juniors-to-be that participated in the event, and he held his own, definitely looking like he belonged.  He says he’s wide open at this point, and it will be up to UCLA to stay on him aggressively to remain involved with him with all the big-named national programs coming at him hard.

Tight End

http://www.scout.com/player/192281-josh-falo?s=12

In this environment, Falo really showed that physically and skill-wise he deserves to be considered one of the elite tight ends in the country. He’s a good 6-5 and actually looks taller at times, and probably 230, and he runs and moves laterally very well. He catches the ball with his hands, and with his length he can grab a pass that is in another stratosphere than a defender can reach.  At this point, UCLA isn’t among the leaders for him, as Michigan, Oregon and Colorado probably lead.

Offensive Linemen

http://www.scout.com/player/183469-foster-sarell?s=12

We said above that Najee Harris is deserving of the #1 ranking in the nation and that’s true, but the debate all week at The Opening among Scout personnel was whether Sarell deserved the distinction.  He has the perfect tackle body, at about 6-6 and 315, and with no extra padding. It was stunning watching him run his 40 – moving so effortlessly and seamlessly, like he was a safety or a player much smaller.  In the OL/DL drills he dominated, using that easy mobility to stay in front of any DL and did so almost with an ease that makes you think he wasn’t challenged much this week.  He’s one of the best OL prospects we’ve ever seen at The Opening (even though this year’s DL wasn’t very talented so he wasn’t going up against the caliber of DL freaks we’ve seen in the past here), and probably one of the best to come out of the west in many years. UCLA is in the second tier for him, with Stanford probably at the top of the heap.

Defensive Linemen

http://www.scout.com/player/201009-jaelan-phillips?s=12

The five-star UCLA-committed defensive end really proved he deserves the five stars and probably ranks among the few best DEs in the country.  He showed some great agility in getting around OLs and some good hand work.  The only time he was beaten was when he went up against Foster Sarell, who, as we said, is one of the best OLs we’ve seen here – and Phillips actually beat him a few times.  What’s impressive, too, is that he still clearly has some physical growth ahead of him, looking pretty young next to some of the guys at The Opening who look 30 years old.  The word, too, is that he impressed everyone at The Opening, with his intelligence and demeanor. He’s quickly becoming the future poster boy for UCLA football. 

http://www.scout.com/player/203619-hunter-echols?s=12

It was probably a great experience for Echols to compete at this level.  He’s 6-3 and 230, which is physically just fine for being in the summer before his senior year, but next to this elite competition he looked smaller and less developed physically.  It showed, too, in the drills, where he displayed good quickness but just a lack of bulk and strength.  The good news is that it’s clear his body has the potential to develop, and we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s even 250 by the time of his true freshman season. On the recruiting front, Echols continues to recruit for UCLA and says it’s absolutely where he’s going, but he’s one of the kids that loves the recruiting process and will take official visits.   We’re fairly confident, though, that he’ll stick with his UCLA pledge, but it could be a roller coaster to get to Signing Day with him.

http://www.scout.com/player/188281-greg-rogers?s=12

Rogers had an up-and-down weekend and had a rough go of it on Sunday, but much of it can be corrected with some real in-depth coaching. The body and talent are there, and as he adds more strength and plays with more technique, he has a chance to be a special player.  He’s athletic and quick off the ball, but at The Opening lacked real lower body strength to keep him going against some of the stronger blockers he faced.  When he used his technique, he made a push into the backfield.  During one sequence Ndumakong Suh give him some pointers on how to use moves, and he won his next two subsequent reps and looked exceptional, but then went away from it and didn’t have the same success.  Still, he’s got a lot of upside, but just needs some coaching and development.  We continue to hear that it’s a UCLA/USC battle for him.  He visits UCLA today and USC on Wednesday, and there is some feeling he could commit after those visits, even though he said he was going to wait it out a bit.

http://www.scout.com/player/193616-jay-tufele?s=12

A foot injury that swelled up on him on Saturday evening knocked out Tufele from the OL/DL Final Five or else he would have been a lock for the finals.  He’s the quickest defensive tackle in the West and has great strength when getting off the snap.  He needs to develop more moves, but he’s got tremendous upside and makes up for his lack of moves with the leverage and the quickness he possesses.  UCLA is on his second tier right now, but they’re still trying.

http://www.scout.com/player/199005-marlon-tuipulotu?s=12

Tuipulotu was one of the more athletic defensive tackles at The Opening. He started off slowly in the one-on-ones on Friday but then got it going the second half of the Nike Camp and continued through the padded part of the weekend.  He doesn’t have the same size as some other defensive tackles, but he’s quick off the snap and has hands that help him shed his blockers.  As he continues to add weight, he has a chance to be a very good college prospect.  He’s committed to Washington right now, but UCLA went and saw him on the last day of the spring evaluation period in May and he may take an official visit in the fall.

Linebackers

http://www.scout.com/player/191624-baron-browning?s=12

Like we said, there are guys at The Opening every year who look like they’re already in college, and Browning is one of them.  He’s 6-3 and probably 230, well-built, but still has length. So he could end up 6-3 and 250 and not slow down.  His ability to change direction, for his size, was his most impressive feature, being able to do so without having to take an extra or gathering step.  He’s very light on his feet.  His ability to cover ground was stunning sometimes, with that length enabling him to eat up a lot of space quickly. He’s still raw, but that’s some great material to work with.  Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State is the formidable competition but we continue to hear he really likes L.A., as does his family.  UCLA linebackers coach Scott White is doing some great work here.

http://www.scout.com/player/189100-addison-gumbs?s=12

In an environment where you have to be a physical specimen to fit in, Gumbs looked the part at The Opening. At 6-4 and a not-skinny 220, Gumbs has a great body, that could easily put on more bulk and strength and get to 245-ish.  In high school Gumbs is a pass-rush specialist, and doesn’t have a great deal of experience in a 7-on-7 environment when he’s dropping into coverage.  He had limited reps here, we heard because of an injury, but when he did play he looked comfortable, and moved fluidly.  When you have a 6-4, 220-pound prospect going into his senior season who is an exceptional athlete there is just so much raw material to work with here. We continue to hear that UCLA leads for Gumbs, over Washington and USC, and the rumor was that he could verbally commit at The Opening. The longer he puts it off the worse it is for the Bruins.

http://www.scout.com/player/179859-anthony-hines?s=12

Hines showed he's a player who can not only rack up tackles, but he can also run the field and cover. Our Scout Texas recruiting experts have seen it before in seven-on-seven in Texas with Plano (Texas) East, but it was great for him to get to show it on the big stage. He probably was the best inside linebacker at The Opening. He released his top 10 list and it included UCLA. He also mentioned that there's a chance he could be making a decision sometime this summer, so that would seem to reasonably favor schools that he's visited most recently, which isn’t UCLA. There are still some trips ahead of him this summer, however. Look for him to make some stops closer to home and possibly Florida, which also made his top 10.  We think that, regardless of whether he does commit early, he’ll take an official visit to UCLA.  The word is out in the South that the UCLA official visit is a good one. 

http://www.scout.com/player/196361-will-ignont?s=12

Ignont is in an interesting place in his development.  He’s put on weight and reportedly isn’t as quick as he was previously.  The Opening wasn’t the best setting for him, since he’s better in run support than coverage.  His recruiting list, too, is kind of in transition, with programs like Alabama and possibly Auburn cooling on him.  Probably at the top of his list are Michigan, Florida State and Georgia, and he said that UCLA will absolutely get an official visit, even if he commits elsewhere beforehand, and he’s said the plan is to do it before his senior season.  He said he has the best relationships with Travis Williams (Auburn) and Scott White (UCLA).

http://www.scout.com/player/171434-dylan-moses?s=12

Moses was one of the physical freaks at this event, looking like a college player already, and showing very good athleticism for being so physically developed.  In the 7-on-7s he disappeared at times, however.  Being the #2 overall prospect in the nation, he has the elite programs in the country pursuing him.  He has set up five official visits, and he’s looking at seven different schools right now.  His official visits will go to AlabamaMiamiOhio StateTexas and UCLA.  His visit to UCLA is when the Bruins play USC, and he has interest in the Trojans as well.  Of course, LSU remains in the race for the five star out of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy.  He still has family in Baton Rouge, has family on the LSU staff, and he was at one time committed to the Tigers.  He said he does not need an official visit to LSU because he is so familiar with them.  When talking Alabama, he made a point about them already having a couple of linebackers possibly impactinghis decision.  On UCLA, he called it "Linebacker U,” and we’ve heard that is very appealing to him.

Defensive Backs

http://www.scout.com/player/193380-thomas-graham?s=12

Graham is a prospect that needs to develop physically, with a great frame but just needing to fill out. But he physically held his own at The Opening, showing good strength to already compete with some very big, strong receivers.  And while he didn’t run a blazing 40, he showed great closing speed and ability to change direction that kept him locked on receivers.  In fact, we thought he was one of the best cover guys at the event, even though he was seemingly over-shadowed for hype by other, bigger national prospects.  UCLA is right in the mix for Graham, with Oregon, Notre Dame, Arizona and Arizona State. UCLA looks to be in good shape, being the home-town option, and he wants to graduate early, so that always helps UCLA. 

http://www.scout.com/player/190852-lamont-wade?s=12

Wade is a five-star corner prospect who is lightning fast and, while on the smaller side, still very strong and able to body-up against bigger receivers.  At The Opening, Wade was his typical aggressive self. He jammed receivers at the line of scrimmage, and was exceptional in his ability to stay on the hip of a receiver out of a break. His closing speed was also on display several times as he tracked receivers across the field and was able to defend the pass while making up ground. Alabama is thought to be the leader, and there are other east coast programs on him hard, but he says he wants to visit UCLA unofficially in August and then officially in the fall (for the USC game).  He also has official visits set for Alabama and Tennessee, and says he'll take all five visits before announcing Dec. 16th.  The connection is UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who obviously has Pennsylvania ties, and Wade likes the L.A. big-city connection possibilities.

http://www.scout.com/player/194460-bubba-bolden?s=12

Watching him in west coast events, we thought he’d be able to shine as one of the best safeties in the country when competing on this level, and that proved to be true.  At 6-2 and 190, he looks tall and long, and showed great instincts and feet.  While he’s still verbally committed to USC, the Trojans didn’t lock him down well so he’s looking around at other schools seriously. UCLA has a real chance, and he’s said he’s definitely officially visiting UCLA.  One thing to know: He’s close with Bishop Gorman teammate Alex Perry, and they talk about being a package, to ASU and Colorado. 

http://www.scout.com/player/194626-isaiah-pola-mao?s=12

We’re including him here because he’s the nephew of UCLA offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu – and the fact that he looked really good in Beaverton. At about 6-4 and probably 190-ish, he looked long and very active, taking up a great deal of room in the middle of the field and ranging well.  He didn’t mention UCLA when Scout spoke with him, and UCLA is doing well with many elite DBs, but it could be someone we could see the Bruins getting more involved with and offering.

http://www.scout.com/player/183790-darnay-holmes?s=12

His 40 time tied for the fastest at the event, a 4.32.  The speed, quickness and athleticism he showed here was exceptional, even against such elite competition.  He worked as a nickel in the 7-on-7, so he didn’t get space as a corner to work in coverage, which was disappointing because that’s where he’s so much fun to watch. He also played receiver some, and we do think he’ll probably get some time at receiver in college, because he’d just have too much of an impact on the offensive side of the ball not to use him.  We’re still hearing that UCLA leads comfortably, but he’ll take some official visits before announcing Nov. 29th

Contributing to this report were Scout recruiting experts Brandon Huffman, Brian Dohn, Greg Powers and Chad Simmons.  

 


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