With a little less than six months until National Signing Day 2017, UCLA recruiting has been in a curious position.
Though they've lost six previous verbals, five on defense and one on offense, they're still locked in on a number of key recruiting battles, both in-state and outside the West.
Fall practice starts in a week and come September, recruiting really ramps up again. Some UCLA targets could announce soon, and several will take their recruitments down till the end.
We take a look at UCLA's 10 biggest and potentially most impactful recruiting battles for the 2017 class, starting with the five on offense.
The Recruit: Najee Harris, RB, Antioch (Calif.)
The Rundown: Harris committed to Alabama in April of 2015, not long after Tosh Lupoi, an East Bay native, was named to the full-time staff at Alabama (he had previously served as an analyst). Harris took an unofficial visit down to Alabama and committed to the Tide on his trip. But then Harris went over a year without visiting Tuscaloosa, visiting UCLA a number of times, USC a couple of times and even Ohio State. During the spring, the talk of an eventual flip from Alabama was as loud as it had been. Then came a visit back down to Tuscaloosa for Alabama's camp in June and suddenly, the Tide felt like they had him locked in. That visit, coupled with camping with future Bama teammate Tua Tagovailoa, went a long way for Alabama. There is still a feeling that Harris could eventually stay out West, but the talk about Harris weakening his commitment to Alabama is the quietest it has been in some time.
The Timeframe: Harris will take some official visits and UCLA is likely to get one of them. Its doubtful he'd ever truly decommit from Alabama and open things up should he choose to go elsewhere, but more likely a flip would happen closer to Signing Day or even on Signing Day. So he'll be worth watching all the way until the first Wednesday in February.
Other recruits it could affect: UCLA wants Harris, badly. They're still recruiting Stephen Carr, the five-star from Fontana (Calif.) Summit, but it's unlikely those two end up at the same school. The Bruins also have an offer out to Drake Beasley, the four-star back from Loyola in Los Angeles, who Polamalu coached his freshman year, but make no mistake, Harris is their primary target, then Carr and then Beasley.
The Recruit: Jack Sears, QB, San Clemente (Calif.)
The Rundown: Sears has blown up this spring and summer and become the most hotly pursued quarterback that has yet to commit. In fact, of the top 29 quarterbacks on Scout, only Sears is uncommitted. Sears said at The Opening that it was a four-horse race, with Duke, USC and Utah battling UCLA for the four-star. But in the time since then, it appears like Duke and USC could be out front and UCLA could be trailing for Sears.
The Timeframe: Sears had originally talked about a commitment in early July and then it looked like it might happen after The Opening. Now, here we are, in August, and Sears has yet to make a commitment. And with UCLA still in need of a quarterback, they'll have to wait out Sears' decision.
Other recruits it could affect: Austin Burton committed to Boston College in early July but was then offered by UCLA that night. He camped with the Bruins in June and was offered two weeks later. Even with his commitment to BC, he did note that UCLA's higher level of passing game caught his attention. But UCLA likely won't push for a commitment from Burton until they know what Sears will do. And UCLA could also pivot to another quarterback committed elsewhere who they have been in communication with.
The Recruit: Aaron Banks, OG, El Cerrito (Calif.)
The Rundown: Banks named a Top 16 in mid-July with UCLA on it, but there are really a few schools he's focused on from the top 16 and the Bruins are definitely on the very short list for the top lineman in the Bay Area. Banks and Adrian Klemm have a close relationship and Klemm has been recruiting Banks pretty aggressively. Banks was planning to get back down and visit UCLA one more time before the fall and he's also planning an official visit.
The Timeframe: With a top 16 released, it doesn't look like a decision is coming anytime soon. Banks is probably going to take this one until Signing Day and he's said in the past he wants to take all five official visits.
Other recruits it could affect: Banks remains high on UCLA's board and has been for a while, so a decision from him one way or another, won't really affect any recruits. He's a take no matter when and no matter what.
The Recruit: Jimmy Jaggers, TE, Roseville (Calif.)
The Rundown: Jaggers is the one remaining tight end UCLA has the best shot with and they've been on his short list for some time. He visited UCLA a number of times but USC is also on his short list and he just visited Alabama and Tennessee in July. With UCLA's tough times at tight end recruiting, Jaggers is a big priority. We've heard he's still favoring USC, and that's with the Trojans having a tight end commitment and UCLA not. Does that indicate a bigger problem at tight end recruiting for UCLA? Probably. But UCLA can rectify it with getting Jaggers to commit to them.
The Timeframe: Jaggers will probably take a few official visits this fall before he decides. He's visited a number of places unofficially but he said he wanted to take a few visits. He has also said it's unlikely he'll take all five, so he might be ready to pop after just a handful. UCLA, though, is hoping they get one of those visits.
Other recruits it could affect: UCLA needs tight ends in a bad way, so they're going to bring in two tight ends in this class if they can. With most of their top tight end targets committed elsewhere, Jaggers is that much more important. And should Jaggers and Josh Falo (who UCLA trails others for), commit somewhere else, it wouldn't be a surprise to see UCLA pick up their interest in Sire Woods from La Mirada (Calif.), a three-star who had a good showing at UCLA's Skills Camp in June.
The Recruit: Jalen McKenzie, OT, Concord (Calif.) Clayton Valley
The Rundown: McKenzie is a player that UCLA is plenty familiar with, having offered and recruited his older brother, Kahlil. He had an early offer from UCLA last spring (of 2015) and then when Adrian Klemm went to see him this spring, he reiterated the offer. The story with McKenzie is that he missed almost every down last year, getting hurt on the opening series of the season opener with a torn ACL. He returned in the spring and looked good at The Opening Oakland regional and that following week was when Klemm confirmed the previous offer. McKenzie has said from his offers, UCLA is recruiting him the hardest. But he's also open to offers from schools that haven't offered, namely Tennessee, where his father, uncle and brother all played. His mom went to UCLA, so the Bruins have that, but the football legacy is tough to beat and McKenzie told Scout that if Tennessee offered this fall, he'd strongly consider it.
The Timeframe: Because McKenzie is in no rush to make a decision and because he knows he has a big senior year ahead of him, where so many schools are going to be watching him closely and see how healthy his knee looks, don't expect a decision anytime soon. McKenzie said he wants to take all five official visits and UCLA is pretty certain to get one.
Other recruits it could affect: Because UCLA hasn't landed many prep linemen this cycle, McKenzie has some time to make a decision before UCLA moves on. They need lineman and McKenzie is one of the best who's uncommitted, so they'll wait a bit. Now, if they get a feeling that he's locked in to a school like Tennessee for certain, just needing the offer, they could move on, but it's likely they'll wait a bit.