The best way to describe the 2017 recruiting cycle to date is interesting.
UCLA has more decommitments (five) than commitments (four) just a couple weeks before fall practice starts.
For a school that finished in the top ten of the Scout rankings on Signing Day three times in the last four years, the old adage 'It's a marathon, not a sprint" should apply.
But momentum is definitely not wearing blue and gold right now.
We addressed it last week in the State of Recruiting story, and then the same day, UCLA lost its fifth verbal, from a player that said UCLA was his dream school.
Offensively, UCLA's class has two commitments, both on the offensive line, and doesn't have a verbal from a skill position yet.
With just a little more than six months until National Signing Day, we reset the offensive recruiting board.
UCLA was in a precarious position last spring with quarterback recruiting, largely because of the large shadow that incoming freshman Josh Rosen was already casting. When Devon Modster chose Arizona over the Bruins, UCLA scrambled but was able to land Matt Lynch from Colorado and then Dymond Lee, who we still think ends up at receiver, committed to the Bruins. And once Marques Tuiasosopo returned to UCLA, the Bruins ended up in a good spot with quarterback recruiting when Modster ultimately signed with UCLA, thanks to a late push by Tuiasosopo. Now, though, UCLA is still without a quarterback commitment for the 2017 class and continues to wait for its top target, Jack Sears, to make a decision. In the meantime, they're already working on a backup plan in case Sears heads elsewhere.
Jack Sears, San Clemente (Calif.)
UCLA has been waiting for Sears to make a decision for some time. It looked like it might happen in June, then it looked like early July, but here we are, July coming to a close, and Sears still without a commitment. And what once looked like an imminent commitment by Sears to UCLA, now looks like UCLA could be on the outside looking in for him. At The Opening, Sears named a top four of UCLA, USC, Utah and Duke. Utah is likely out and Duke is very much a legit contender for him. Where UCLA once looked like it had all the advantages, the longer it takes for Sears to commit, the tougher it gets for the Bruins. They're not going to go all in on another quarterback until Sears makes his choice, which is why they made another offer in early July, but the longer it takes for Sears to decide, the more uncertain it gets for the Bruins at this position.
Next Tier to Watch:
Austin Burton, Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange
Burton came out to UCLA in June and camped with the Bruins and was actually pretty good when he threw for Marques Tuiasosopo. He then committed to Boston College in early July when it looked like he wasn't going to get an offer from the Bruins. And the day he committed to the Eagles, UCLA ended up offering. Burton is originally from Massachusetts but moved to Florida for his senior season. Interestingly enough, he's been out to California quite a bit, working with Body By Tra Athletics as part of their 7on team last year, but backed up K.J. Costello. He was intrigued by the UCLA offer and the fact the Bruins throw more than Boston College does. So UCLA could pivot to him quickly depending on what Sears does.
Tua Tagovailoa, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis
Tagovailoa committed to Alabama in May and seems like he'll stick with the Tide, but he's also talking about taking official visits and UCLA and USC are two of the schools still recruiting him, though it's uncertain how hard UCLA is recruiting him at this point, with Sears clearly their top target. He was also offered by Oregon in June, the same school another former St. Louis quarterback starred in Marcus Mariota. After his performance at The Opening, though, he seems to be more solid to Alabama than he's been in a long time.
Chase Garbers, 6-3, 210, Corona Del Mar (Calif.)
Garbers had a good spring too and was QB MVP at The Opening Los Angeles and making it to the Elite 11 Finals, just missing a spot in The Opening Finals. He committed to Cal the week of UCLA's camps in June. But we've heard he's still open to UCLA and USC, should either strike out on Sears and want an option in Southern California. So he could be one to keep an eye on.
Other Names to Know:
Michael Bonds, 6-2, 185, La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis
RUNNING BACKS (1)
With UCLA making a switch to more of a power back focus it helps that two of the best in the country are both in California. The downside is both are committed elsewhere. But UCLA is trying with both Najee Harris and Stephen Carr. Getting Brandon Stephens late in 2016, to follow up the Soso-Bolu signing from the year before, and combining him with Jalen Starks, gives UCLA some much needed depth at running back. But with Harris and Carr, you have the two of the best backs in the country, so staying on them both is critical, especially if you can land one of the two.
Najee Harris, Antioch (Calif.)
Harris visited UCLA in March then was back for UCLA's first spring practice and had a good visit with the Bruin coaches, talking with Kennedy Polamalu, Adrian Klemm, Marques Tuiasosopo and Jim Mora. He's been committed to Alabama for over a year, and we continue to hear that if he doesn't end up in Tuscaloosa, that UCLA is the school he'll end up with. But he also visited Alabama in June for their camp, his first time back since he committed and seems to be more solid to the Tide than he's been in a long time. He's also built a pretty good relationship with fellow Bama commit Tua Tagovailoa (the two were on the same team at The Opening). UCLA, though, will continue to pursue the No. 1 player in the country like they have been. Very aggressively.
Stephen Carr, Fontana (Calif.) Summit
Carr is a soft commit to USC but it would be a surprise if he didn't end up there. UCLA won't give up, having signed six of his travel 7v7 teammates from a year ago from Ground Zero. USC is also trying with Harris, so should the Trojans be the ones to flip him, Carr could decide to be the man somewhere else. While he has national offers, UCLA, like USC, has the close to home advantage, not to mention several familiar faces on the roster, including his 7v7 and prep teammate Damian Alloway. So while Carr is a bit of a longshot, the Bruins won't stop trying. He is more open to national programs though, having visited a couple of national schools during the spring. While before it looked like UCLA had focused exclusively on Harris, they're definitely giving Carr the attention he deserves too and would absolutely take either if they wanted to come.
Drake Beasley, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola
Beasley was a freshman at Loyola when Polamalu was coaching there, so there is a familiarity between the two and UCLA was the first school to offer Beasley. UCLA will stay on Beasley while focusing on Harris and Carr, and they'll have a chance with him because he has stated his desire to play in Southern California. The spring netted quite a few more offers for Beasley. While UCLA focuses on Harris and Carr, Beasley may be on their second tier, but they'll keep him warm, especially with Polamalu's relationship with him. Lately Beasley, though, hasn't been mentioning UCLA.
Bruce Jordan-Swilling, New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin
Jordan-Swilling has long ties to Jim Mora, with his father having played for the Moras in New Orleans. The two families have known each other for quite some time. Like many big time prospects from the Bayou, Jordan-Swilling has a lot of national attention, including offers from two playoff semifinalists in Alabama and Oklahoma, so even family ties will be tough to bring him West.
Other Names to Watch:
Chris Brooks, 5-9, 170, Newbury Park (Calif.)
Marcus McElroy, 6-1, 200, Denver (Colo.) Mullen
It seems like a yearly discussion that UCLA needs to sign receivers and there usually seems to be a good core group of pass-catchers from the West. This year will be no different, with a good number of receivers (albeit, not of the same skill level of the 2016 class) available. After signing a big class in 2016, UCLA has indicated they want only one receiver for 2017, even though we wouldn't be surprised if they ended up with two, or more, especially if they were elite. That said, because of how many receivers UCLA lost to graduation and the NFL, most of those receivers will be expected to play right away, so there isn't the chance to space out receivers, making the 2017 class again an important one to land some impact guy(s). With UCLA having gotten more speedy slot types, UCLA is targeting more of the bigger, possession-types for 2017.
Joseph Lewis, Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins
The No. 1 receiver prospect nationally, the Bruins were one of the first schools to offer Lewis and the Bruins and USC have had the hometown edge. But for whatever reason, Lewis hasn't been much of a priority by the Bruin coaches and we think he's absolutely one they should prioritize. He was excellent at The Opening and solidified his spot as the top receiver in this class. He's still mentioning UCLA but they're down the list a bit after Nebraska, Arizona, Oklahoma and Oregon as well as USC locally. If UCLA were to ever kick it up with him, though, we think he'd reciprocate the interest.
Osiris St. Brown, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
St. Brown is more gifted than his older brother, Equanimeous, who UCLA lightly recruited before he eventually signed with Notre Dame. UCLA doesn't appear to be in the mix for St. Brown, though UCLA hasn't really pursued him or prioritized him all that much.
Tarik Black, Cheshire (Conn). Academy
Black, a Connecticut product, already has a who's-who list of national programs in pursuit of his services, but UCLA has offered and the Bruins have been on the radar to get an unofficial visit. But when teammate C.J. Holmes committed to Notre Dame at The Opening, momentum seemed to swing heavily to the Irish for Black and we're hearing they're most likely going to be his destination. Still, UCLA is pursuing him and Black said last week the Bruins are in line to get an official visit (one of six schools trying for the five visits), though no date has been set.
Omar Manning, Lancaster (Texas)
Manning has a heavy dose of SEC and Big 12 schools on his list, but one Pac-12 school staying in the mix for him is UCLA. In fact, Manning told us at The Opening that UCLA is almost certain to get one of his official visits. While he may be tough to get West of the Rockies, the Bruins are making a push for him and if they can get him out for an official visit, that will be a huge step in the right direction.
Next Tier to Watch:
Charleston Rambo, Cedar Hill (Texas)
Rambo is a commit to Oklahoma and UCLA just recently offered him. It's unlikely he'll decommit from Oklahoma but he's given indications that he would like to take an official visit to Westwood if given the opportunity.
Jamire Calvin, Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral.
Calvin is our pick for smaller receivers that UCLA should stay on and eventually offer. He said that UCLA told him they're looking for bigger receivers in this class, but they also told him they're still going to keep watching him, that his talent may be too great to pass on. Calvin has never really been a priority for the Bruins and he was planning to camp with them but had a 7on7 tournament for school that kept him from it. Should he get an offer from UCLA, it likely wouldn't be until late in the process, and that is likely too late for Calvin.
Bryan Thompson, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde.
Thompson comes from the same program current offensive lineman Poasi Moala and Tevita Halalilo came from and he played with Halalilo as a sophomore. He's the type of receiver, physically, that UCLA is looking for and was one they watched in the spring but right now, Arizona and Oregon seem to be the frontrunners for Thompson and UCLA hasn't really made a push for him.
Kevin Davis, Oak Hills (Calif).
Davis got an offer from UCLA in the spring and while he hasn't been much of a priority for them, he actually did pretty well at the camp and could find himself more seriously recruited by the Bruins come fall. He's tucked away deep in the desert, so he's still a bit under the radar despite being a three-star, but he's performed well on the camp circuit. In fact, he plays for Jaleel Wadood's uncle on the 7on circuit and that's what got him on to the Bruins radar in the first place.
Other Names to Watch:
Hezekiah Jones, 5-11, 185, Stafford (Texas)- Offered
R.J. Sneed, 6-2, 178, Cypress Ranch (Texas)- Offered
TIGHT ENDS (1-2)
UCLA needs tight ends, not just in this class, but, really, on the roster in general. With just one true tight end signing last class, and a dearth of traditional tight ends on the roster, combined with the offense moving towards using traditional tight ends more in its scheme, it's crucial that the Bruins sign at least one tight end in 2017, if not more. The Bruins have one true tight end coming in the 2016 class in Jordan Wilson. Fortunately, the West has a number of tight ends still on the board and UCLA has offered several of them. Unfortunately, tight end recruiting has not been going very well for the Bruins.
Josh Falo, Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum
Falo is the best receiver of the group but needs to add more weight, still being a little slight of build. We loved what we saw from him in the spring and summer, especially at The Opening Finals. Blocking isn't his forte, but he's such a big weapon as a receiver, that it doesn't detract from him. Oregon is doing really well with him right now and you can't count Colorado out- both of his older brother's signed with Mike MacIntyre, one at San Jose State and another currently at Colorado. Alabama offered him last week at their camp too and that wowed him. He visited UCLA for the Spring Showcase, but the Bruins seem to be in his second tier.
Jimmy Jaggers, Roseville (Calif.)
Jaggers has been one of UCLA's priorities for over a year, the Bruins having offered him in June 2015 at their 7on tournament. He's taken a number of visits to UCLA but USC still seems to be the frontrunner for him. He did camp at Alabama last week and the Tide have offered, but everything seems to indicate he's staying West and right now, the Trojans are in a better spot for him.
Major Tennison, Bullard (Texas)
Tennison just decommitted from Texas this month and UCLA offered him, but the Tide seem to be in on him too and are the leaders for him. Alabama loses O.J. Howard and after featuring him in the national championship game, are starting to see their stock rise with several tight ends nationally, with Tennison another one of them.
Tyler Johnson, Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland
Johnson has a Bruin offer amongst a host of other offers, including both the in-state schools in Arizona and he has national offers that intrigue him from Florida and Michigan State. The Bruins are in the mix for him, but Johnson isn't a huge fan of the recruiting process. In fact, he told Scout last week that he may announce where he goes at his high school graduation...which is four months after Signing Day. His father played at Michigan State and the Spartans are high on his list.
Next Tier to Watch:
Erik Krommenhoek, 6-5, 237, Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista
Krommenhoek is a Bruin legacy and UCLA offered him in April. USC, where several other family members went, offered in May and in June, a week after camping with the Bruins, Krommenhoek committed to the Trojans. UCLA continues to recruit Krommenhoek and we expect they'll continue to do so through the fall.
Moses Robinson-Carr, Antelope Valley (Calif.)
Not long after Krommenhoek committed to USC, Robinson-Carr spurned the Bruins and committed to Oregon. He'd given several indications that he was looking to leave California, but the Bruins were his runner up so they're going to keep trying with him and play up the local angle.
Other Names to Watch:
Carson Terrell, 6-5, 225, Lehi (Utah)
Powers Warren, 6-4, 230, Minnetonka (Minn.)
OFFENSIVE LINE (4+)
UCLA recovered nicely on the offensive line front in the 2016 class after not having a great start with Adrian Klemm off the recruiting trail. The Bruins locked up a couple of interior prospects but only one true tackle in 2016, so getting some tackle prospects will be important in the 2017 class and UCLA got that going on the same day, when both Will Farrar and Kanan Ray committed to UCLA in early March within hours of each other,. But then Farrar ended up decommitting a month later. And last month wasn't a good month for UCLA offensive line recruiting, with Farrar opting to commit to Texas Tech plus others they had been on, Andrew Vorhees and Alex Forsyth, committing to USC and Oregon respectively. So UCLA and Klemm need to get things rolling here quickly to get momentum back on their side.
Kanan Ray (OT), Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon COMMITTED
Ray can play either tackle spot and has tremendous position-versatility, a Klemm calling card. Ray got an offer from UCLA not long after Signing Day and the Bruins were able to get past his offer from his childhood and family favorite, Tennessee. He took an unofficial visit in March and not long after that trip, was ready to end his recruitment and he committed that same week. He's actually UCLA's longest tenured commit now, four months solid to the Bruins.
Ronald Rudd (OT), Chaffey (Calif.) College COMMITTED
Rudd visited UCLA in June and was offered on the visit. He then committed to UCLA just a couple days later and he's a big pickup for the Bruins who need tackle prospects badly and guys that can come in and play right away. Rudd was a non-qualifier out of high school, but is now on track to graduate in December and be ready to participate in spring football. He'll come in at the right time, with Connor McDermott graduating after the season and off to the NFL. That will give Rudd the spring to work at taking over for McDermott (or playing right tackle if Kolton Miller is ready to make the move to the left side).
Aaron Banks (OG), El Cerrito (Calif.)
Banks will contend with Vera-Tucker for NorCal's best line prospect and while he plays tackle for El Cerrito (where he played with Adarius Pickett as a freshman), he'll likely slide inside in college. Banks plans to visit UCLA still this summer (he'll check out USC as well), and the two Los Angeles schools are both doing well with him. In fact, its likely that one of the L.A. schools will be where he signs and from what we're hearing, UCLA could be the team to beat. He named a top 16 this week, but we've also heard he has more of a top five with the Bruins on that short list.
Jalen McKenzie (OT), Concord (Calif.) Clayton Valley
The four-star tackle from the Bay Area is coming off a knee injury that he suffered on the second play of the first game of the season, but he is now 100% and after a strong showing at The Opening Oakland, Arizona State offered and Klemm was back in the Bay and reconfirmed the offer to McKenzie. McKenzie's mom attended UCLA while his father went to Tennessee, where his older brother, Kahlil, is a sophomore. But McKenzie said that visits to UCLA with his brother two years ago left an impression on him and that is a big reason why UCLA is heavily in the mix for him. He's trying to visit UCLA before the end of summer and likely will take an official visit in the fall, but if Tennessee turns up the heat on him, the family ties could be tougher to beat. He told Scout last week that he's still trying to get a couple of offers from schools like Tennessee, Michigan and USC, who've all indicated they want to see senior film before offering. While he once before was saying he wanted to pave his own path and not keep the Tennessee legacy going, it now seems like the Vols have a real shot with him if they offered.
Jaxson Kirkland (OT), Portland (Ore.) Jesuit
Kirkland was offered by UCLA in the spring and that was an offer he had been hoping to get. Kirkland is a big-bodied tackle who can play either tackle spot, but might be better suited for the right side. His top four, which named this month, is Cal, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington State. He visited UCLA last month with his family and the trip left a big impression on him, but he also told us last week that Washington State is recruiting him the hardest. He'll announce his decision on August 14th.
Foster Sarell (OT), Graham (Wash.) Kapowsin
Sarell is the No. 2 prospect in the country behind Najee Harris and he's the most coveted tackle prospect in the region. While Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington make up his top three, Sarell told us at The Opening (where he dominated), that UCLA was still in the mix for him and could get an official visit this fall. We know UCLA wants Sarell badly, with Adrian Klemm seeing him twice in the spring, so while they're in the second tier, they're going to continue to recruit him.
Austin Jackson (OT), Phoenix (Ariz.) North Canyon
Jackson is the top prospect in Arizona and UCLA is trying, but he's got family ties to USC plus the in-state schools after him. He's just behind Sarell as the top tackle prospect in the West. Klemm is trying, though, and Jackson is very open to UCLA and isn't tipping his hand one way or the other on where he wants to go.
Alijah Vera-Tucker (OT), Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd
Vera-Tucker is the top tackle prospect in NorCal and he's seen his recruitment really take off too. Washington will have a good chance at him as well, with his teammate, Camilo Eifler, a freshman with the Huskies and his coach being a former Washington legend in Napolean Kaufman. But UCLA is making a push for him and he visited UCLA earlier this spring with USC. Still, its looking like a Washington-Oregon battle for him though Klemm was back up there in late May to keep in contention.
Henry Bainivalu (OG), Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline
Bainivalu was offered by UCLA last fall but it's only been during the spring that they've ramped up their efforts. Klemm was by Skyline twice during the evaluation period to see Bainivalu and while we initially said that Bainivalu was unlikely to leave Washington for college, we're hearing more and more that he's talking about getting out of state. That said, we still think at the end of the day, it will be tough to pull him away from him. He's visited USC this spring (he attends the same school that Max Browne, USC's quarterback, did), but he's talking about visiting UCLA this fall. He's a tackle for Skyline but we think his best position in college is guard.
Tramonda Moore (OT), Independence (Kan.) JC
Moore is a new name to the list, but he's really a familiar name. He was on UCLA's board in 2016 but the former Army All-American wasn't going to make it academically, so UCLA had a couple of official visits with him cancelled. He ultimately committed to Oklahoma State, but didn't qualify, so he's now at Independence College in Kansas. And Klemm stayed in touch with him. If Moore can get qualified for UCLA in one year's time, it's likely he'll end up a Bruin. That could be a pretty considerable "if," however. Moore, a 2016 U.S. Army All-American, committed to Oklahoma State on Signing Day, but then didn't qualify. He's attempting to get enough credits at the JC -- through two summers' worth of classes, an academic year and some online courses -- to be qualified for a four-year college by fall of 2017. Klemm established an excellent rapport with Moore as a high school prospect, and the relationship has continued. If Moore pulls off the academics, he'll have four to play three starting with the 2017 season, and he'd be a huge boost to UCLA's future offensive tackle ranks, which is thin on talent.
Jason Linden (OT), Arizona Western (J.C.)
Linden is an intriguing prospect who is more raw than anything, but at 6-8, 340, he's someone to watch. He has an offer from New Mexico State as well. If UCLA can lock up prep prospects, then they'll probably focus on them, but Linden is someone they'll continue to monitor.
Next Tier to Watch:
Massaman Bagayoko (OT), Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany
Bagayoko is a new name to this list and is a newer name to recruiting boards. He's another intriguing lineman, having only played football for a year after coming to the U.S. and during the spring, he landed a handful of offers. His film is good so he could be one of those players that uses the first few games of his senior year to make an impression. His new head coach at Alemany is former Bruin James Washington and there are several former Bruin coaches on the new staff at Alemany so you can bet that his coaches will be keeping UCLA abreast of his progress.
Other Names to Watch:
Walker Little (OT), 6-7, 301, Bellaire (Texas) Episcopal- Offered