UCLA needs to sign a running back in 2018. The problem is that it won't be a good class in the West.
And it clearly isn't even in the same zip code as last year's 1-2 punch of Najee Harris and Stephen Carr.
So new running backs coach DeShaun Foster will have his work cut out for him.
That said, he already seems up to the task, offering a couple Texas running backs last week, Keaontay Ingram and Stanley Hackett. Ingram is a big-time tailback prospect, with size, quickness, and elusiveness; Hackett is an intriguing athete at 6-3 and might be a wide receiver at the next level, but he's definitely talented enough to offer. Foster recruited both when he was still at Texas Tech.
Prior to moving out of the region, T.J. Pledger was the top back in the West and top three nationally. UCLA is high on his list, but he's also attracted plenty of national attention. With his move to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, it could make it a little more difficult for UCLA to pull him. Pledger did tell us in January that he still likes UCLA and Southern California is his home.
On the flip side, Kirby Bennett just moved from Texas to Bishop Gorman, where UCLA figures to be camped out this class, so he may be more of a realistic target.
Chris Brown was offered by Kennedy Polamalu after the UCLA Elite Camp last summer but then said he hadn't heard much from UCLA in the fall. We would expect that to change since Brown is a similar type of back to Foster and Foster will likely get down there early in the spring.
From the next tier, Maurice Washington is an intriguing prospect who had to sit out his junior season after transferring from a private school to a public school. Despite that, he already has a number of big national offers.
And Travis Dye is the younger brother of former UCLA safety Tony Dye and current Oregon linebacker Troy Dye, so UCLA probably knows plenty about him already.
T.J. Pledger, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy
Kirby Bennett, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Chris Brown, Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino
Keaontay Ingram, Carthage (Texas)
Stanley Hackett, Pasadena (Texas) Rayburn
AJ Carter, Many (La.)
Jaelen Gill, Westerville (Ohio) South
Maurice Washington, San Jose (Calif.) Oak Grove
Travis Dye, Norco (Calif.)
Other Names to Know:
Jermar Jefferson, Redondo (Calif.) Union
Branden Rankins, San Bernardino (Calif.) Aquinas
Kyle Jones, Upland (Calif.)
Andrew Van Buren, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
Kenyon Sims, San Diego (Calif.) Mission Bay
Chuck Wick, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure