Lancaster (Calif.) athlete Devon Williams (Gerard Martinez)

UCLA Perspective on New Scout 300

Mar. 30 -- UCLA comes out looking good in the recent update to the Scout 300, with many un-ranked prospects they had offered now jumping into the rankings, and other Bruin targets improving their rankings. We look at how the UCLA prospects did and share some recruiting tidbits along the way...

The recent update to the 2018 Scout 300 was a good one for UCLA.  Many of its recruits moved up the rankings, including some that appeared on it for the first time.

It shows that UCLA is doing some good early evaluation when prospects it’s already been targeting are then highly valued by the Scout recruiting expert team after it gets a first Spring glimpse of them.

So, we’re going to look at how UCLA’s recruits moved in the rankings, and use that as a springboard here for some UCLA recruiting news and notes.

QUARTERBACK

http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1762544-four-star-thompson-robin... Its main quarterback target, Dorian Thompson-Robinson from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, had some things to prove this spring and he’s done that so far with flying colors.  Having not played much at Gorman since he sat behind 2017 Ohio State signee Tate Martell, it was critical for him that he came out in early camps and 7-on-7s and looked good, and it’s exactly what he’s done.   Since he’s done so well, it made it less risky for Scout to rank him high without him having much actual game experience. But in 7-on-7s he showed he could make some very good reads.   He’s still the No. 7-ranked quarterback in the nation while moving up to No. 54 overall.  We continue to hear UCLA leads for him, and there are rumblings from other programs that they believe UCLA Is in the driver’s seat, too.  Whether DTR pulls the trigger early, though, is the main concern here.  The longer he waits, the bigger chance he might vacillate.

Note that Cameron Rising, the prospect from Newbury Park (Calif.) who is verbally committed to Oklahoma, moved down some and that Thompson-Rising is now ranked higher.  Rising had been showing UCLA some interest, visiting campus, etc., but looks like he’s reaffirmed his commitment to Oklahoma.  We’ve always maintained that, while his game tape is good, in person Rising just doesn’t throw the ball seamlessly and question whether he’ll be able to make all the throws needed on the next level.  So the fact that Thompson-Robinson, who has a grade-A arm, moved ahead of Rising is overall a good one for UCLA.

When we’re talking UCLA quarterback offerees, the biggest mover was Corona Centennial’s Tanner McKee, who jumped all the way to the No. 4 quarterback (from No. 17) and No. 29 overall prospect (from No. 177) in the recent Scout 300 update.  UCLA isn’t thought to be on his short list, and only recently offered him, even though we in the west have always thought he was an elite prospect worthy of the new ranking.

It needs to be said that under former UCLA quarterback coach Marques Tuiasosopo there were some head-scratching recruiting moves. Tuiasosopo is considered a good recruiter, but he made some odd moves in the last year as UCLA’s OC, not offering some prospects like McKee, fixating on 2017 prospect Jack Sears, and refusing to recruit other elite prospects – in both the 2017 and 2018 class.  It appears that UCLA quarterback recruiting is rebounding a bit from that, getting some of its evaluations straight, and recruiting some west coast quarterbacks that are deserving of UCLA attention.  To this day, we’re dumfounded by UCLA not recruiting or offering Jack Tuttle, the 2018 quarterback prospect from San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills, who is now the No. 17-ranked QB in the nation, and No. 199 overall.   Tuttle attended UCLA’s camp last June with an intent to garner a UCLA offer and looked very good in his junior season before verbally committing to Utah in December.  If UCLA gets Thompson-Robinson, with the assist from new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who recruited him at Michigan, it will make everyone forget that UCLA really mis-evaluated Tuttle, but still, it’s noteworthy.   To Fisch’s credit, he recently offered Tuttle after UCLA, under Tuiasosopo, hadn’t.

If UCLA gets Thompson-Robinson we could see it standing pat with just one QB recruit for 2018.  If it doesn’t get Thompson-Robinson, it might opt for two, and we don’t think UCLA would have to look much further than Brevin White, the prospect from Paraclete (Calif.) Lancaster.  White, the younger brother of Arizona State quarterback Brady White, has offers from ASU, Tennessee, Washington, Utah, Washington State Oregon State, and more.  White comes from a UCLA family, and the Bruins aren’t recruiting him aggressively, and really aren’t recruiting anyone else in 2018 besides McKee. If Thompson-Robinson does take a while to commit, and opts for elsewhere, UCLA could be left holding an empty bag, and it might be good to try to pre-fill it with White.  Now, we’re sure that Thompson-Robinson is giving UCLA some assurances he’s coming, but until he signs the NLI, it might be smart to get some quarterback insurance. Now, we’re assuming White would even entertain the idea of UCLA, after the Bruins snubbed his older brother and haven’t shown him much attention.  But it still might be something to consider for Fisch who, so far, has made some smart evaluations and offers since taking over the OC job in winter. 

RUNNING BACK

One of UCLA’s top running back targets is Chris Brown, from Oceanside (Calif.) El Camino, and Brown held up well with the recent Scout 300 reset, moving up to the No. 1 running back prospect in the west, and moved up five spots to the No. 11 running back in the nation and from No. 222 to No. 180 overall.  UCLA wants to take two running backs in the 2018 class, and there’s a good chance that Brown, who has had UCLA as his long-time leader, is part of that scenario.   So, it’s good that UCLA would potentially get the No. 1 running back in the west, and even one more running back, as part of its 2018 recruiting class.  

What we’re hearing is that UCLA is looking really good for Demetrious Flowers, the prospect from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, who is now ranked the No. 4 running back in the west and No. 22 nationally from not listed in the running back rankings.  Flowers was offered by UCLA a couple of months ago and he’s giving UCLA strong indications that he wants to be a Bruin, even though we’re not sure if he could make a commitment soon.

UCLA looks smart in the fact that it hadn’t offered Bishop Gorman’s Kirby Bennett, who has moved down the rankings.

It’d be great if UCLA could mix in some blazing speed among the running backs it brings in for 2018, but it’s not a great year for running backs in the west – particularly fast running backs in the west. It is trying hard with some speedy guys like Keaontay Ingram from Texas and Lavonte Valentine from Florida, but we’d have to consider them longshots.

RECEIVER AND TIGHT END

UCLA receiver prospects fared really well in the new Scout 300, with some previously under-valued UCLA recruits getting their deserved credit and jumping up in the rankings.

What’s interesting, too, is that it’s clear it’s a new era for UCLA receiver recruiting. If you look at the top of the Scout national receiver rankings for 2018, the UCLA logo appears next to many names, meaning: UCLA is actually involved with a good number of the elite receiver recruits in the nation. Now, at this point, they’re probably not leading for any of them, like No. 1 Amon-Ra St. Brown, or No. 3 Brennan Eagles, but it’s a departure from what we’ve seen in UCLA receiver recruiting that UCLA is even mentioned with that level of recruit.  Perhaps with a good showing from UCLA’s offense and its receivers on the field this season, UCLA’s chances with those elite prospects will change.

The guys UCLA, as of now, has a realistic chance to get improved their stock in the recent re-rankings.  The three receiver/TE prospects that probably have UCLA as their leader, or at least very close to the top, all made big splashes in the re-rankings.

Devon Williams, being ranked as an athlete, jumped to the No. 81 prospect overall from not being ranked in the Scout 300, which is a very significant leap, and is now the No. 3-ranked athlete in the nation.  Williams is getting some big national attention now, recently receiving an offer from Alabama, in fact, but we’ve heard that, when it comes down to it, UCLA will be difficult to beat. It helps that his two teammates in the 2017 class, Moses Robinson-Carr and Morrell Osling, signed with UCLA.

It could be the recruiting class of Devon, as UCLA’s other big WR target, Devon Cooley from Buena Park, moved from No. 203 to No. 178.  Cooley came to UCLA’s camp last June, got a UCLA offer from it, his first, and has had the Bruins as his leader ever since.

Michael Ezeike

The jumbo athlete Michael Ezeike from Ontario (Calif.) Colony, after some very impressive showings in spring, is now ranked as the No. 10 tight end in the nation, but he could be a multi-use receiver on the next level.  He has said in recent interviews that UCLA was his childhood favorite and that the recent UCLA offer was a dream come true.

UCLA’s top tight end target, Bishop Gorman’s Brevin Jordan, maintained his grip on the No. 1 tight end spot in the nation, and came in at No. 44 overall.

If we had to pick the receiver recruit most likely to be a Bruin it’d have to be Kyle Philips, the speedy 5-11 prospect from San Marcos.  He’s giving some pretty strong indications that UCLA is his favorite, and it’s great that he’s now ranked No. 206 in the Scout 300.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

The biggest development is that UCLA target, Temecula (Calif.) Chaparral’s Justin Dedich, is still the No. 1 center in the nation, after the Scout experts have gotten a pretty good look at the entire country. We know UCLA was doing well with him, but he’s now getting some big recruiting interest and recently received an offer from USC.

A recent UCLA offeree, Bishop Gorman’s Jacob Isaia, moved to the No. 5 center in the nation.

There wasn’t too much other movement by UCLA offensive line recruits.  A recent offensive tackle offeree, Matteo Mele, did make it into the Scout 300 at No. 266, and moved up to the No. 21 tackle in the nation.  Some UCLA offerees like Max Barth from Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary’s, Miles Owens of Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd and Tacoma (Wash.) Fife’s M.J. Ale haven’t been seen yet by Scout experts this spring so they didn’t really have an opportunity to move up in the rankings yet.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

UCLA’s prime target at defensive tackle, Tuli Letuligasenoa from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, comes in as the No. 5 prospect, moving up one spot, at his position in the country, and the No. 73 prospect overall nationally, moving up from No. 90.   The verbally-committed Aaron Maldonado from La Puente Bishop Amat wasn’t ranked but is now the No. 35 tackle.  UCLA is thought to be the favorite for Letuligasenoa and it would be a coup if UCLA got him and Maldonado as its 2018 DT class.

Interesting that Mykee Irving, the prospect from Calabasas, dropped from a 4-star, No. 18 DT and No. 210 in the Scout 300 to three-star, No. 37 DT and absent from the Scout 300.   I think UCLA, too, has cooled a bit on Irving.

One of UCLA’s prime DE targets, Jeremiah Martin from San Bernardino (Calif.), fell from the No. 18 DE to No. 24, mostly because he’s been injured and hasn’t been seen this spring. He’s expected to participate in The Opening Oakland May 21st. Elijah Wade, from Las Vegas Arbor View, another one of UCLA’s top DE targets, held strong at the No. 10 DE spot.  The feeling is that UCLA has a very shot at him, and it’s helping that he’s teammates with UCLA 2017 DT signee Greg Rogers.

Making a big jump was Salt Lake City (Utah) Olympus’ Cameron Latu after some impressive spring performances.  Latu went from not being ranked to the No. 13 DE and No 236 overall.  UCLA is trying hard with him but he’s getting a ton of recruiting attention now.

LINEBACKER

While it seems the program across town is getting all the highest-ranked linebackers in the west, this latest adjustment of the Scout 300 was good for the linebackers that UCLA looks the best to get.

http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1760672-four-star-lb-breaks-down... The guy UCLA is really going hard after is Jack Lamb, the linebacker from Temecula (Calif.) Great Oak. They offered Lamb a couple of months ago and he’s made that offer look smart, being very impressive in various spring events and earning an invite to The Opening Finals.  Inside sources believe UCLA leads for Lamb but that he could take a while before making a decision.  

Right with Lamb as a top linebacker target for UCLA is Eli'jah Winston from Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic, and he held steady at the No. 16 outside linebacker and 193rd overall.

Reggie Hughes has openly said UCLA is his favorite, and the Calabasas linebacker took a favorable move in the Scout 300, from not being ranked to the 21st outside linebacker and 212th overall.

A linebacker’s recruitment to watch is that of Brandon Kaho from Reno (Nev.), who jumped into the rankings as the No. 17 outside linebacker and No. 217th prospect overall. Kaho is verbally committed to BYU, but we’ve heard UCLA has him near or at the top of their linebacker board, and Kaho plans to visit UCLA in April.

A guy UCLA is doing well with is Ben Wilson from Sumner (Wash.), and he jumped from unranked to the No. 10 inside linebacker and No. 215 nationally.

UCLA’s committed linebacker Isaiah Johnson got his position changed from receiver to athlete, and got ranked the No. 30 athlete in the nation.

UCLA is looking to sign three linebackers and, with Johnson in the fold, if it could get two among the four Scout 300 guys we mentioned above -- Lamb, Hughes, Kaho and Wilson – that would be a good, well-ranked class.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

As we’ve said, UCLA is looking to sign three safeties and one cornerback in the 2018 class.  It already has a commitment from safety Jhevon Hill from San Bernardino Cajon, who went from unranked to the No. 38 safety in the country.  Hill is a solid start, but UCLA will now be shooting really high with the last two safety commitments and corner commitment.

And, like with the other positions, the guys UCLA has been targeting look better after the Scout 300 re-ranking.

Perhaps the guy most-likely-to-be-a-Bruin is Stephan Blaylock, from Bellflower St. John Bosco, and he made one of the most significant moves in the west, going from unranked to the No. 15 safety in the country and No. 175 in the Scout 300.

Stephan Blaylock (Gerard Martinez)

The hard-target guy is Steve Stephens from Fresno Edison and he moved from the No. 10 safety to the No. 3 in the nation. Bryan Addison from Gardena Serra is ranked as an athlete but plays mostly safety, and after some of the most impressive performances by any prospect this spring in various events he went from unranked to the No. 5 athlete and No. 96 overall prospect in the nation.  He has said UCLA was a childhood favorite and the Bruins are going after him aggressively. Jevon Holland from Oakland Bishop O’Dowd is a big UCLA safety target and he went from unranked to the No. 7 athlete and 131st prospect overall.  And continuing with the trend of UCLA targets moving up, Ely Doyle went from unranked to getting on the board as the nation’s No. 32 safety.  The other safety UCLA is reportedly doing well with is Mansfield (Tex.) prospect Cam'ron Jones, who held steady at No. 28 and No. 272, respectively.  

UCLA has a good shot at getting at Hill, Blaylock and one more from those other four safety targets.

At corner, Bookie Radley-Hiles of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy held as the No. 7 cornerback, but we think he’ll announce for Nebraska over UCLA this summer.  Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian’s Tyreke Johnson held up his lofty ranking of the No. 9 prospect overall in the nation.  He has long said UCLA was his favorite, but it’s going to be a battle to fend off all the nationally-elite suitors for him.  While UCLA has offered 7 other cornerback prospects, UCLA might not find its cornerback for the 2018 class soon, and it could very well be someone currently not on UCLA’s list who emerges later, or decides they like UCLA after the season. 


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