Let's cut to the chase: UCLA receiver recruiting in 2017 was not good.
It wasn't an incredibly deep year at the position in the West, but it's still pretty inexcusable that they didn't sign even one receiver, no matter how many they signed in 2016 and how deep the WR roster is.
There is also no reason UCLA should be resting its hopes on signing one receiver that is a JC receiver and D-I bounce-back.
Now that Eric Yarber is moving on to the Los Angeles Rams, Jimmie Dougherty, who was hired by Willie Taggart at Oregon in December, will be taking over the position of wide receivers coach.
Fortunately for UCLA, Dougherty has a reputation as a very energetic recruiter and a good one, too, having been with Jim Harbaugh and Steve Sarkisian, both head coaches who place a huge emphasis on recruiting chops by their assistants.
Dougherty will also be fortunate to be walking into a pretty damn good situation of receivers in the West. And given that he was able to hit the road in January while on Oregon's staff, he won't be playing catch-up, since Oregon offered a ton of 2018 receivers in that month.
One thing that Yarber did do well was offer a ton of 2018 receivers. How actively they were recruited up until this point, though, is a question.
So the tee has been set for Dougherty, now he needs to drive the ball down the fairway.
UCLA will look to sign at least three receivers, losing actually four to graduation after next season.
St. Brown's older brothers are at Notre Dame and Stanford respectively, so we know academics are high, but UCLA's faint interest in Equanimeous probably makes recruiting Amon-Ra, the best of the bunch, more difficult. And frankly, we don't blame them for not pursuing Equanimeous that hard; he's certainly outplayed his expectations at Notre Dame, but there were a ton of questions about him as a senior, so we understand why he wasn't a priority.
Amon-Ra St. Brown is a special player. He's not overly fast or big, but he has that "it" factor, combining exceptional quickness, cleverness, a feel for the game and great hands. Usually guys don't rank No. 1 in the country unless they have some considerable speed or are big, freakish athletes. So this is a testament to how gifted St. Brown is.
There are reasons why UCLA should be a contender for Hall. Hall saw two of his close friends, and teammates, Joseph Lewis and Greg Johnson, sign with USC last week, but we've heard he'd like to carve his own way and not necessarily go to USC. Hall also plays for former Bruin Milvon James. But for whatever reason, Yarber didn't prioritize Hall, in much the same way he didn't aggressively go after Lewis. We've heard there can be some hurdles to cross when recruiting Hawkins High School. So it could be too late for Hall. But he told Scout over the weekend he's still interested in the Bruins. And since Hall would like to be an instant impact guy, UCLA may offer that quicker than USC. Hall will have national attention, so UCLA would also have to contend with that.
These two recruitments -- that of St. Brown and Hall -- might be the perfect recruiting showcase for Dougherty, so see if he can get UCLA back in with the elite receivers in the west.
One of the best outside of the state of California is Brian Hightower, who plays at Brandenton (Fla.) IMG Academy but is from Calabasas, and is still very high on the Bruins. Another Calabasas prospect who UCLA is high on and vice versa is Nikko Hall. Both Hightower and Hall are close with incoming freshman Darnay Holmes.
A player we loved last June at UCLA's Elite Camp was Devon Cooley. He was in the initial Scout 300 last summer, and this past weekend impressed many at the King of the IE 7v7, some seeing him for the first time while Scout has been high on him for nine months. Cooley is probably 6-0 to 6-1 and has some great quickness -- a bit reminiscent of Theo Howard in high school.
From the next tier of receivers, we wouldn't be surprised to see J.R. Justice from San Diego get an offer. He's probably more of an athlete, playing quarterback too, but he can play receiver (which he played at UCLA's Elite Camp) and safety. He's the son of former MLB All-Star David Justice.
UCLA missed on the big, possession-type of receiver it was looking for in the 2017 class, so that's clearly a priority. UCLA will probably try to get at least two among guys like Jalen Hall, Hightower, Spiker, Nikko Hall, WIlson, Williams, and Johnson, and then just the next best regardless of type.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
Andre Hunt, Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger
Austin Osborne, Mission Viejo (Calif.)
Brian Hightower, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy
Chase Williams, Corona (Calif.) Roosevelt
Devon Cooley, Buena Park (Calif.)
Isaiah Johnson, Modesto (Calif.) Downey
Jalen Hall, Los Angeles (Calif.) Hawkins
Jevon Holland, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd
Marquis Spiker, Murrieta (Calif.) Murrieta Valley
Michael Wilson, West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
Nikko Hall, Calabasas (Calif.)
Nikko Remigio, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
Solomon Enis, Phoenix (Ariz.) North Canyon
Brennan Eagles, Houston (Texas) Taylor
Jermaine Eskridge, Tampa (Fla.) Thomas Jefferson
Joshua Moore, Yoakum (Texas)
Kalon Barnes, Silsbee (Texas)
Terrace Marshall, Bossier City (La.) Parkway
J.R. Justice, San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine
Kyle Philips, San Marcos (Calif.)
Other Names to Know:
Jalen Nailor, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Emoryie Edwards, Tulane (Calif.) Union
John Jackson, Gardena (Calif.) Serra