UCLA has found itself in a very intriguing quarterback recruiting situation. There are plenty of possibilities, but there are a few factors that have contributed, and others that could definitely contribute, in determining which quarterbacks come to UCLA from the current high school senior class.
When Matt Moore committed to UCLA last week, it certainly started the gears turning in the process. UCLA has for some time made it pretty plain that they would take two quarterbacks from this class. Most of the quarterbacks who were considering UCLA thought, "Well, they have two scholarships, I have some time." But with Matt Moore snatching up one of them, the main quarterback targets on the board have to be thinking quite a bit about that other scholarship ear-marked for a quarterback.
As we speculated earlier, it would seem that the most obvious scenario would be that Moore's commitment would push Drew Olson to commit to UCLA. And that still very well could be the most likely case. Olson's two other favorites, Michigan and Tennessee, have yet to offer him. UCLA is the only really elite school on Drew's list to have offered. He's a long-time Bruin fan, his father being an alumnus.
The situation will definitely heat up this weekend at the Rose Bowl when UCLA plays Ohio State. While there will be plenty of action on the field, there will be plenty in the stands and in the locker room. As of right now, Matt Moore, Drew Olson and Ben Olson all have plans to attend the game. Drew is coming down from northern California, having looked forward to attending his first game this year. He'll see the quarterback who has committed there in Moore on one side of him. He'll undoubtedly see the #1-ranked quarterback in the country, Ben Olson, being courted by the UCLA coaches on the other side of him. You'd have to think if there was ever a situation where a prospect would be compelled to commit on the spot, it'd be this situation for Drew Olson. With only one scholarship earmarked for a quarterback left, you would believe he'd want to snatch it up before Ben Olson gets the chance. It makes for a very interesting potential scene – Drew Olson trying to commit to UCLA's coaches before he gives Ben Olson a chance to commit.
But what effect will this have on Ben Olson? He said last night that he was down to three schools: UCLA, Stanford and BYU. He has yet to be accepted academically by Stanford and needs to improve his SAT score. The plan is for him to take the SAT in early October and then get his score back by late October. While Cardinal fans believe that, if he achieved a good enough score to get admitted to Stanford, Stanford would be the frontrunner. There are some problems with the Ben-Olson-to-Stanford scenario, though, and some possible benefits to UCLA. First, without getting into the numbers, Ben Olson would have to improve significantly on the SAT to be accepted to Stanford, and it's fairly unlikely. While Ben might believe he could achieve the score necessary, it still has to be a daunting undertaking for him to put in the studying and work, especially during his season and in the heat of recruiting, and then put his life on hold until late October to find out whether he achieved a score good enough for Stanford admissions. Especially for a kid who just said he'd like to get the process over with fairly soon. But, if Ben Olson did happen to hold out and wait for his score, did achieve a good enough score for Stanford and decided to go to Stanford, he would be competing with Trent Edwards, the other possibility in this scenario, for that Stanford quarterback scholarship. Stanford is far-and-away the leader for Edwards. In fact, if he had achieved a high enough test score himself he probably would have already committed to the Cardinal. So, if this did actually happen and both Edwards and Ben Olson take the SAT in October in an attempt to get admitted to Stanford, it makes for another interesting scenario: Which one gets their test score first and which one is good enough for Stanford's standards? Edwards has less ground to make up on his SAT score and clearly is more enamored of Stanford than Olson. More than likely, Edwards does the Stanford thing. But, if for some reason, Olson did jump up considerably in his score and that inspired him to commit to Stanford, and he did it before Edwards, it could still be a good scenario for UCLA. That could conceivably drop Trent Edwards in the lap of UCLA. Edwards has UCLA second on his list and it's pretty well accepted that if Ben Olson went to Stanford, Edwards would opt elsewhere, more than likely UCLA.
But more than likely what might keep Ben Olson out of a UCLA uniform is BYU. Olson, a Mormon, and his family have a pretty strong faith. He grew up thinking about BYU. His father is very active in the Mormon church in Thousand Oaks. And while his mother has generally said Ben could decide which school he wanted to attend on his own, she generally does prefer he take his Mormon mission out of high school. BYU is pretty confident that they're doing well with Olson. Even if UCLA is currently his #1 choice, given all these ties to BYU, he might not be prepared yet to say no to BYU – especially in time to beat Drew Olson to the commitment punch this weekend.
But what of another possibility: UCLA takes three quarterbacks. UCLA could take a commitment from Drew Olson, but then also accept one from Ben Olson. Ben Olson seems to be leaning toward taking his Mormon mission and then wouldn't be ready to play college football until the fall of 2004. And what if UCLA takes Ben Olson as its third quarterback and he doesn't go on his mission out of high school. More than likely it wouldn't probably bother Matt Moore; he seems like he'd want to come to UCLA if Troy Aikman were on the roster (plus, there are many that believe Moore could end up being the best of this bunch anyway). It probably wouldn't bother Ben Olson; heck, he's the #1 guy, and he has to compete with one other quarterback, what's the difference if he has to compete with two others? But it could possibly bother Drew Olson. UCLA had said they were taking only two quarterbacks – and then they take a third, who happens to be the #1-ranked quarterback in the country. It would seem that UCLA might have an obligation to stick to its original plan and only take two quarterbacks who would come in next fall. But does it really have such an obligation? Would it be bad business to take three? I think UCLA has to take a commitment from Ben Olson no matter when he gives it and when he plans on coming into the program.
So, if you're Bob Toledo and Crew this Saturday, what do you do? Drew Olson sees Ben Olson looking very comfortable hanging out in UCLA's locker room and wants to beat him to the commitment punch. If you're Toledo, do you outright accept Drew Olson's commitment? Do you hold him off (at least until the end of the day!)? Or, do you take it, but inform Drew Olson that UCLA could still take three quarterbacks if Ben Olson wanted to commit?
Even if a commitment doesn't come out of the Ohio State game, you'd at least have to think that some sort of decision will come out of this weekend concerning these three. Hopefully UCLA will be on the winning end of the game, and of any decision…