Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA's top quarterback target in 2018, had a good day, winning QB MVP and getting an invite to The Opening Finals. He showed off his arm strength and ability to muscle in throws all over the field. His athleticism -- throwing while rolling out -- was also very distinctive. Without having great experience on the field, having sat behind Tate Martell at Bishop Gorman for a couple of years, you'd think he might not be as good in 7-on-7 or half skelly, but he actually was, being able to check through his receivers quickly and make the good pass. He definitely needs some refinement, in his ability to take something off his throws to make balls more catchable and going over a zone with touch. And every once in a while a throw got away from him, but overall it was a very encouraging performance. For some inside information on what DTR told us about his recruitment and his unofficial visit to UCLA Saturday, go here.
We've kind of maintained that Jack Tuttle, from San Marcos (Calif.) Missions Hills who is verbally committed to Utah, was a quarterback UCLA should absolutely have been recruiting, and now it's clear that was was always true. For the last two years, Tuttle has looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the west for 2018 and he really confirmed that Sunday, overall probably having the best day among the camping QBs. He has a very natural and powerful stroke, good touch, and was the most consistently accurate on the day. It will be interesting to see if he sticks with Utah, with offers from Auburn and others lately.
Cameron Rising the prospect from Newbury Park committed to Oklahoma, despite wearing an Oklahoma hat Sunday, has been on UCLA's campus a number of times in the last couple of months. We've never been completely convinced of Rising, or put it this way, that he rates being the No. 5 quarterback in the country. We admit, a camp setting isn't the best for Rising because he will throw a wobbly duck too often, and he's better in a real game because he has a great feel and elusiveness. But we think we've seen him enough in camp and 7-on-7s to question whether he has the arm and mechanics to be able to make all the throws needed at the very highest D-1 level.
If UCLA wants to bring in a second quarterback, but doesn't want it to be anyone that would necessarily scare off Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Jeremy Moussa from Corona (Calif.) Roosevelt might be someone UCLA should consider. He has good size, at probably 6-2+, a solid body, and probably one of the best, purest throwing motions in the 2018 class. The ball comes off his hand really easily. He wasn't in the main group of quarterbacks Sunday at The Opening, but he deserved to be, being among the handful best at the camp. Moussa should go to UCLA's camp in June and get it front of the UCLA coaches.
Camm Cooper is kind of a lefty version of Cameron Rising, a prospect who is mobile and looks better on tape in a real game than he does in a camp environment. His arm and passing motion are just okay, being able to make the shorter throws, but he struggled with a bit with the longer ones, especially the ones that require more accuracy, like long outs.
Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton's Tyler Shough might be another candidate for that second quarterback spot, if UCLA chooses to take one. He's about 6-4 and a bit thin, at probably 185, but with a good enough frame that he'd be able to hold more weight. He showed a good arm, and could spin a nice ball on short and longer throws. He was a bit stiff in the roll-outs, but still got the ball to where it needed to be. He's a good student, with offers from Harvard, Yale and Columbia, another reason to think of him in that second-quarterback role, as well as some non-Power 5 D-1s.
Of course, J.T. Daniels, the elite 2019 quarterback from Santa Ana Mater Dei, is a great prospect and is coming off a fantastic sophomore season. In camp settings, however, his throwing mechanics aren't smooth, with a little bit of herky-jerkiness to it. He has a powerful arm, and is accurate, but the stroke doesn't have a greatly natural flow to it, which made him miss on some throws in which he had to make a quick decision. Every school in the country is after Daniels, so we're probably nitpicking, but his throwing technique isn't one that you see in this environment and think, "Wow, that's amazing."
A 2019 guy on film we really like is Hank Bachmeier, from Murrieta (Calif.) Murrieta Valley, and UCLA obviously does, too, since they've offered him a scholarship. He had an okay day Sunday, making some good throws, but also not having an entirely smooth throwing motion, with some balls fluttering. He's probably 6-2 and has a decent body.
Los Angeles Cathedral's 2020 prospect Bryce Young had a good day spinning it, being consistent in his throws and having the arm strength to lay it in deep. It's just a matter of getting over the fact that he's small, at about 5-11 and 175. When he first came on the scene a year ago he was saying UCLA was his childhood dream school.
D.J. Uiagalelei, the 2020 prospect from Bellflower St. John Bosco, showed off his big-arm strength Sunday. He's a big kid, at probably 6-4 and 215 already, a bit thick, too (which is worrisome for a freshman), and has a great arm. He wasn't necessarily as accurate as he was at Under Armour a few weeks ago, but we still like him because of the ease in which he can make throws with that arm.
UCLA's top running back target in 2018, Chris Brown, doesn't necessarily blow you away in a camp environment since it's not a place to necessarily shine for a big running back like Brown. Brown, on game tape, is more of a one-move-and-get-up-field type, But if you watched him closely in the camp, you'd see he has some great feet for a guy his size, and some fast-twitch. And there's that great body, at bout 6-1 and 205.
UCLA recently offered West Hills Chaminad's Andrew Van Buren, and we didn't exactly see the complete reasoning for it after watching Van Buren Sunday. He's a big kid, probably 6-1 and 215ish, but not ripped up like Brown. He, as opposed to Brown, didn't show fast-twitch. Perhaps UCLA is recruiting Van Buren as a potential fullback.
It's curious that Malone Mataele from Santa Margarita (Calif.) doesn't ever record one of the fastest 40s at these camps, but he shows some considerable explosion in the drills, with defenders just unable to stick with him off the line of scrimmage. UCLA is recruiting him as an athlete, because he's about 5-11 and 175, and it's uncertain if he'll be a running back on the next level.
Kirby Bennett from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman looked a bit better here than he did at Under Armour, but at 5-10 and a bit chunky 205, he doesn't move well and it's not a good sign that as a junior in high school he doesn't have a better body. UCLA has yet to offer, and we don't think one is coming anytime soon.
Jermar Jefferson from Harbor Citty Narbonne flashed a bit, looking about 5-11 and showing good quickness in the drills, and then having a couple of good moments in the RB/LB cat-and-mouse where he juked his defender. He has an offer from Colorado.
Jawhar Jordan is probably too slight at about 5-10 and 165, but he was really fast -- in fact he ran a 4.48 and then won the fastest-man competition when at the camp they pitted the five campers who had the fastest 40 times in a race head-to-head.
We didn't get as good a look at the receivers here as we did at the Under Armour Camp. This year in the west there are just too many D-1 receivers, and it's difficult to see them all adequately in a camp environment with 500 kids and each get very few reps.
Of course, Amon-Ra St. Brown stood out as the elite of the elite. He's not physically imposing, but he is one of the smoothest receivers with some burst and instincts that we've seen in the west for many years. We're really hoping UCLA can get involved with him, but we're hearing Stanford is probably leading. Perhaps UCLA can have a really good offensive season that features receivers and that will turn him.
As Devon Cooley continues to get more comfortable competing at this level, he's asserting himself more, and on Sunday he was one of the top three or four receivers at the camp. He is big, at least 6-1, and long, and has the agility of a must-smaller receiver. When the ball's near him he gets his hands on it. Cooley has been among the top guys on UCLA's receiver board for a while, but he's becoming more and more of a must-get.
If UCLA could make it matching Devons for 2018, and get Cooley and Devon Williams, that wouldn't suck. Williams is 6-4 and very long, and a few weeks ago at Under Armour he looked pretty raw, but either he really developed in a few weeks or just got far more comfortable Sunday. He was catching passes with some nice technique and wasn't tentative at all about his routes. UCLA has some advantage with him, since two of his 2017 teammates, Moses Robinson-Carr and Morrell Osling, signed with UCLA, but he's getting national attention now, recently getting offered by Alabama.
Chase Cota was definitely among the best receivers on the day. He's about 6-3 and fast (we think we heard he ran a 4.55 on a slow day) and has very good hands. He got an invite to The Opening Finals because of his performance. When he went up against the elite defensive backs he was a bit overwhelmed physicaly at times. One issue: We're hearing he's enamored of USC but will probably end up at Oregon. He was supposed to be arranging an unofficial visit to UCLA soon.
Jalen Hall is big, at probably 6-3 and 190, and he got ranked the No. 2 receiver in the nation over some considerable upside. But he has't gotten much bigger or better in the last year, and as DBs have seemingly gotten bigger and better he's not dominating them as much. He's still a great prospect, with that size and ability to shield off defenders, but he'll probably have to really show out in the next few months to retain that lofty ranking.
The semi-revelation of the camp for us was Michael Ezeike, the 6-5, 220-pound receiver from Ontario (Calif.) Colony. He's an athletic specimen for sure, looking like an Olympic sprinter physically in a 6-5 body. He's not 4.5-quick by any means, but he runs really well for his size, and there were some reps in half skelly where the quarterback threw the ball up for him running down the middle of the field and he plucked it out of the sky with ease as two defenders vainly tried to defend him. He probably ends up a tight end, and UCLA has plenty of those and probably leads for the nation's No. 1 tight end prospect, but Ezeike would be someone you'd seriously consider taking as an athlete and then finding a place for him later. He's apparently young for being a high school junior, so we'd expect he's going to get quite a bit bigger, which could lend itself to any number of positions.
We continue to like Michael Wilson from West Hills Chaminade. He might be the best 6-1 to 6-2 possession type guy in SoCal this year (and there are many of them), with some very good burst for his size and pass-catching ability. We're hearing, though, that Washington and Notre Dame might be the leaders, and if Stanford offers he'd probably end his recruitment.
Manuel Allen from Corona Centennial decommitted from USC a few weeks ago, and we've heard it was a mutual thing. Allen had some moments Sunday but isn't an absolute must-get type. He's long at about 6-2 and really thin, and is more a finesse receiver, but has some very good hands.
As I said, the receiver position was loaded, and there were other UCLA offerees participating, like Marquis Spiker, Khalil Shakir, Nikko Hall and Nikko Remigio that we just didn't get a chance to watch much.
Brevin Jordan of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman was clearly the standout among the tight ends, and should be since he's ranked as the nation's best at the position. The most noticeable difference in Jordan is how big he's gotten. He looks like he's grown a bit, probably all of 6-3 and has gotten thick, at least 245. He still runs well with the added bulk, and now he's really physically difficult to match up with for most defenders, and he catches everything. With that body now, though, and his quickness, it'd be really interesting to see him as a defensive end.
Camren McDonald from Long Beach Poly has a UCLA offer, but we're not sure as what. He's a big receiver, and he'd fit in to a college offense that uses a Y, but not a traditional tight end. He had some good moments at the camp, catching some tough balls in crowds.
Justin Dedich, the No. 1 center in the nation from Temecula Chaparral, with another great performance, has to be the No. 1 offensive line prospect overall in the west. The only knock on him is that he's 6-2 and doesn't even look that tall, but everything else is stellar. He has the arm length of a guy 6-6, and is so technically sound that no one could get around him, and it wasn't close. Admittedly, it wasn't the best DL competition, but Dedich has done this many times in many events. Even though UCLA's needs tackles desperate, they also need a center and Dedich has to be one of the biggest priorities in the 2018 class for the Bruins.
Tommy Brown from Santa Ana Mater Dei is one of UCLA's top tackle targets and he looked about as good as he has so far this spring on Sunday. He only stepped up to take two reps in the one-on-ones, which isn't what he's done in the past at camps, so perhaps he's nicked up a little. What's impressive about Brown is how he continues to get better, improving his body considerably and getting quicker. He would be a very good get by UCLA for right tackle. UCLA has a good chance with him, as long as his father's alma mater, Alabama, doesn't offer.
UCLA offered Jacob Isaia, the guard prospect from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman this week, and he had a good performance Sunday at The Opening. He has good feet, moves well, very good balance, never bending at the waist or lunging, and he easily kept everyone in front of him. The question with Isaia is his size. He looks closer to a linebacker than he does an offensive lineman, at 6-3 and about 250, and he doesn't have a big frame. We've heard that Isaia didn't expect the UCLA offer when he and his family visited campus last week, but now UCLA clearly becomes a leader for him.
Chris Murray, the guard from Santa Ana Mater Dei UCLA has offered, had a good day overall, mostly because he showed some considerably toughness in the one-on-ones. He was, actually, a badass, getting in a scuffle with a DL, and the DL getting pissed while Murray just calmly kept jabs at him. After the first rep when they mixed it up, Murray grabbed the DL by the shirt and led him back to the line, saying, "Come on, let's do this again." They did another rep, Murray contained him again, they went after the whistle, and Murray kept jabbing the guy, to his frustration.
Steven Jones, Dedich's big teammate, got a UCLA offer after taking an unofficial visit to UCLA, and it was expected. Jones had another good day among a few so far this spring, with that huge body -- 6-65 and at least 320 -- moving well and with balance. Working as a tackle, he contained the edge well, but we still think he could really excel the most as a guard, just with his length and girth making it almost impossible to get around him in a gap. We're hoping UCLA makes it two for two with Chaparral OL for 2018.
Joey Ramos was solid for most of the day. In the drills he wasn't greatly quick in getting out of stance, but once he did he could move his feet decently well. He looks like he's put on some weight since just a few weeks ago at Under Armour, and not necessarily good weight. UCLA has offered the prospect from Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley.
Penei Sewell probably had the second-best day behind Dedich in the one-on-ones. He's a big dude, and a deceptive athlete, being able to move laterally pretty well for his size. He was suscetible to some speed rushers, but he has a strong punch and a nastiness to him. USC is his strong leader.
We noticed Solo Vaipulu, a guard prospect from Corona Centennial, and the Nike coaches did, too, making him among the final five best OLs. He's about 6-3 and 270, but wide, and he throws out some elbows it's dificult to get around him. He squared up well in his stance, didn't lunge, and then was physically in finishing off his rushes. He doesn't have an offer yet but it'd be good to get him to the UCLA camp.
Another guy to potentially watch is Alec Anderson, a tackle prospect from Etiwanda (Calif.). He looked to be about 6-5 and 275, and moved well in the drills and then had a couple of decent reps. He has good length, with long legs that enabled him to contain edge rushers pretty well. He's another we'd like to see at UCLA's camp in June.
A guy we really wanted to see was Jasper Friis. He's from Germany, hasn't played much American football and Cal just offered him on potential alone (he also has an offer from Dartmouth, so he's an academic kid, making him even more intriguing). He is a good 6-7 and about 300, has a body that could translate to Power 5 with some weight training, but he looked a step slow in the drills and really inexperienced in the drills. Without knowing what he was doing, some DEs just stepped right around him.