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, May and June and now here's our monthly installment, how the trend has gone since. You can say it hasn't necessarily been pretty for UCLA football recruiting in the last month.
#1 -- Offensive Tackles
This remains priority #1 and priority #1A.
And in the last month, the arrow remains sideways.
UCLA got a commitment from Ronald Rudd, a JC tackle prospect, in June (right before our last Trend Meter), but since then, in June, there hasn't been much going on with offensive tackle recruiting.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1681865-jc-ol-ronald-rudd-commit... Rudd, on one hand, is 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 might dip again into the JC market in this cycle, with UCLA offering and probably the favorite for Tramonda Moore, the prospect from Oklahoma who was an Army All-American as part of the high school national class of 2016. He signed with Oklahoma State, but didn't qualify, and now he ambitiously is attempting to get his AA and academically qualified to play at a four-year in a one-year span (with summer school and online classes). If Moore could pull it off, and make it to UCLA, he'd be a huge boost, being a very talented tackle prospect. UCLA OL coach Adrian Klemm has kept in steady contact with him, so UCLA Is in a good spot if it all comes to fruition.
Three-star prospect Jaxson Kirkland from Portland (Ore.) Jesuit will announce August 14th, and the latest read on his recruitment is that Washington State leads UCLA. The fact that, as of now, Kirkland could be leaning to WSU almost tipped this OT trend meter down.
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1688354-4-star-ot-jalen-mckenzie... It would be safe to say that UCLA is on top of the heap for Jalen McKenzie, of Concord Clayton Valley, but the feeling is if Tennessee (his father's alma mater and where his brother plays) gets involved, the Vols would be hard to beat. If Michigan or USC offer it could also get very competitive.
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 summer but haven't. It's reasonable to believe both could take official visits to UCLA.
We could see UCLA getting involved with some three-star types. In fact, a name to watch is Massaman Bagayoko, an African import who's only played one year of football and got some mid-major offers this spring. But that doesn't move the needle for the OT trend meter.
#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.
After losing Wyatt Davis, the five-star offensive guard from Bellflower St. John Bosco, to Ohio State in May, UCLA's going to have get at least two four-star prospects to make this a "big" class.
We do continue to hear that UCLA looks good for its other big guard target, Aaron Banks, from El Cerrito. But we haven't necessarily heard that he's close to committing and, in fact, the feeling is that he'll take a few official visits.
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. He could take an official visit this fall.
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 is the big fish at guard.
#3 -- A Pac-12 Starting-Level QB
This might be the most significant trend meter move this month. The arrow didn't just go from up to sideways, but from up to down, with it looking like UCLA is now trailing USC and Duke for its prime quarterback target, Jack Sears, from San Clemente.
The focus for UCLA quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo has primarily been Sears this entire spring and summer. The word was that UCLA was leading for him, but that's changed in the last month or so. It's not a stretch to say that UCLA has been out-recruited for him during that traditional period in June/July when the UCLA staff goes into a bit of a recruiting lull.
Jack Sears Clips
We had previously heard, too, that Chase Garbers, from Corona Del Mar, who is verbally committed to Cal, would potentially flip, but we're now hearing that the longer he's been committed to Cal the more he's getting settled in with the commitment.
It could very well look like UCLA's option at this point is Boston College commit, Austin Burton. Burton came to UCLA's camp in late June and looked solid. UCLA subsequently offered him, the strategy being that if Tuiasosopo could get him, they'd take two quarterbacks in the 2017 class. But now it could be Burton comes solo.
Of course, it's a long way to National Signing Day, but Sears is the last uncommitted Elite 11 quarterback -- meaning: there isn't great talent left out there. There could be someone who emerges in his senior season, but it's doubtful.
Plus, Sears hasn't committed anywhere yet. UCLA still has time to try to pull out his recruitment.
#4 -- At least One Great Defensive Tackle
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1688567-get-a-ucla-recruiting-bu... With the seesaw recruitment of UCLA's big DT target Greg Rogers, the nation's #4-ranked DT prospect, from Las Vegas (Nev.) Arbor View (read about it in Recruiting Buzz), this arrow goes back to sideways. One day UCLA leads, the next USC does. He visited UCLA and almost committed and shut it down. He visited USC the next day and all sources said the Trojans pulled ahead then. It's going to be more seesaw all the way to Signing Day for Rogers.
To satisfy this need, that of a "great defensive tackle," if UCLA doesn'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 for Aumavae. He's still considering visiting UCLA this summer, but has definitely locked in an official visit for fall with his entire high school team (who will be in SoCal to play Bellflower St. John Bosco).
UCLA continues to be a contender for Xach Gill, the DT from Wake Forest (North Carolina), who plans to visit UCLA's campus. It might end up being an official visit.
It'd be absolutely amazing if UCLA could get in the top tier for Jay Tufele, the nation's #3-ranked DT who was the best DT on the west coast we saw this spring/summer.
We continue to hear that UCLA might have a slight chance for the nation's #4-ranked DT, Marlon Tuipulotu, from Independence (Ore.) Central, who is verbally committed to Washington. Tuipulotu has had plans to visit UCLA unofficially, but it hasn't happened yet.
If we're talking "one great defensive tackle," there aren't many others on UCLA's board that fit that description. There are other DTs, but none that you would necessarily say are clearly big-impact prospects.
#5 -- Darnay Holmes
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1687251-the-opening-highlights-c... We continue to hear that Holmes has UCLA as his clear leader, so the trend remains upward here. Holmes has said he'll announce in late December, but it could be a case where there's some uncertainty all the way to Signing Day. We still like UCLA's 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 continues downward for another month. In fact, it picked up speed.
It turned down last month when 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 Oregon. It lost Alexander Marshall, the TE prospect from New Hampshire, to Florida State. 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).
All the chips, then, are on Jimmy Jaggers, from Roseville (Calif.), but the arrow continues downward because we've heard that Jaggers is favoring USC over UCLA at this time, even with Krommenhoek committed there. UCLA is still trying to recruit Krommenhoek in case he wants to go somewhere else if Jaggers commits to USC, but we've heard, even if Jaggers commits to USC, Krommenhoek's USC commitment is solid.
There is no way other way to say this: UCLA is getting completely out-worked in tight end recruiting. For Rip Scherer, who was an associate athletic director prior to being hired as TE coach this off-season, recruiting hasn't been friendly.
UCLA wanted two tight ends in the 2017 class, and it could struggle to bring in one decent one. 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
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1689262-post-rosen-era-depth-cha... 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 (broken down in the story linked here), 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. UCLA is a favorite of Martin Andrus, who has slipped down the Scout rankings after some spring/summer appearances where he looked a little too small. But he could suffice as a second defensive tackle -- and potentially grow into a contributor. The combo of any two of Rogers, Aumavae, Tufele, Tuipulotu and even Gill would be homeruns, but even a combo of Rogers or Aumavae with someone like Andrus or Dalyn Wade-Perry, an east-coast three-star DT who will take a UCLA official visit, 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 since UCLA still looks good with every name here, it's okay, for now.
#8 -- Elite Wide Receiver
The arrow remains downward this month, with nothing happening in the last four weeks to even slightly nudge it sideways.
At this time, there isn't a receiver prospect out there that UCLA is targeting that the Bruins lead for.
The good, flip side of this is that UCLA only is looking to bring in one receiver, and it does have a history of getting guys when they bring them in for official visits. UCLA is hoping that strategy works for any one guy of the following: Tarik Black, the #1 receiver prospect in the east, from Cheshire (Conn.); and four elite guys from Texas -- Omar Manning, R.J. Sneed, a TCU commit, and two Oklahoma commits, Charleston Rambo and CeeDee Lamb. UCLA is still trying with the nation's #1 receiver, local boy Joseph Lewis from Los Angeles Hawkins, but other schools are recruiting Lewis much harder.
#9 -- Big Physical Safety
This is a priority since UCLA has lacked a big-hitting safety type.
A big development in the last month is that UCLA's safety target Bubba Bolden, the west's #1 safety prospect from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, officially de-committed from USC. The word, too, is that UCLA looks good for him, and will be battling ASU for him. UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin has done a very good job of staying on Bolden through it all.
UCLA continue to look good for Chaz Ah You, the west's #2 safety from Utah. Ah You intends to go on his Mormon mission out of high school, which is actually good for UCLA. Spots are tight for Martin, and if Ah You could defer his UCLA admission to 2018 it'd work out better.
The Bruins have 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 clearly leads for, and he's also a swing type.
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 stays sideways, without many developments in linebacker recruiting, but with us hearing just about the same things we had been hearing.
It does get a little unnerving that Addison Gumbs, from Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep, the nation's #7 outside linebacker, has't pulled the trigger yet. Everything we hear is that he's a UCLA lean, but the longer it takes for him to make a decision the more worrisome it is that he could pick USC or Washington.
We also continue to hear that UCLA still looks good with Baron Browning, the nation's #2 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 in 2016 (Mique Juarez) and the #1 OLB in the 2017 class, an amazing recruiting feat.
Baron Browning Clips
#11 – Defensive Ends
With the de-commitment of Hunter Echols, this need went to sideways.
It had to change because of that development, but we were tempted to still keep it pointing upward because UCLA does have a commitment from the new #1 defensive end in the nation, Jaelan Phillips.
So much has been written and discussed on the Echols de-commitment so we're not going to get into it here. Let's skip down to the bottom line: We could see a scenario where Echols takes his visits, comes out with a new leader every other week, but then, if UCLA continues to recruit him, it comes down to him not wanting to leave the spotlight of L.A. and deciding between UCLA and USC. At this point, we'd put our money on USC, but it's a long way to National Signing Day.
The natural pivot after Echols' decommitment was to D.J. Johnson, the four-star from Sacramento, whom UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure had been recruiting for a long time, but he verbally committed to Miami. McClure will almost certainly keep trying with Johnson.
We suspect we'll start hearing more new names as defensive end targets, as UCLA and McClure recover from the Echols de-commitment. With Phillips committed (and he's very solid), and since it's just July, McClure still has the luxury to stretch and take a shot at getting another elite guy, at least for a while.
#12 -- More Pac-12 Level Cornerbacks
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1682251-highlights-db-jaylan-sha... The potential 2017 UCLA cornerback class has continued to look very promising. Nothing happened in the last month that would make the arrow vacillate from pointing upward.
UCLA got a commitment from Manning, it will almost certainly get Lake, and it looks very good for Jaylan Shaw, the talented prospect from Corona Centennial.
Commitments from Lake and Shaw, who have said they wanted to commit before their senior year, would be reassuring.
We continue to hear UCLA is doing well with Elijah Gates, the four-star from Buena Park, and Elijah Hicks, the three-star from La Mirada, who might be a bit under-rated. We're hearing more and more that Thomas Graham, from Rancho Cucamonga, is favoring Arizona, where he'd be able to come in and start more readily.
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 Scout's Greg Biggins suggested on the BRO Premium Forum, he'll probably take the first two to commit from Shaw, Lake, Gates, 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. 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, so that's how selective UCLA looks to be in cornerback recruiting for 2017.
If Martin gets Holmes, Manning, and just two of Shaw, Lake, Gates, and Hicks, it absolutely satisfies this need. Heck, if he gets Holmes, Manning and your aunt it probably satisfies this need.
#13 Elite Running Back
Since we haven't heard anything new on the #1 running back -- and #1 prospect overall in the 2017 class -- Najee Harris, we moved this arrow sideways.
He's committed to Alabama, and the longer he remains committed, we think, the more difficult it's going to be to flip. Sources keep saying there's a good chance he does, and if he did it would be to UCLA, but we're getting more skeptical about it as time wears on.