Of course, as always, there will almost certainly be scholarships that open up by next February. You can probably ultimately expect 18-20 total.
UCLA already has four verbal commitments, from Jesse White, an interior offensive line prospect from Denver (Col.) Mullen; Osaar Rasshan, a quarterback from Pomona (Calif.) Garey; Aaron Ware, a running back/defensive back from Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, and Aleksey Lanis, an offensive tackle prospect from Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw.
That leaves UCLA with probably 13-16 more scholarships to give.
Here's how the game plan for scholarship allocation might break down, given UCLA's projected roster over the next couple of years:
QUARTERBACK (2 Rides)
Committed: Osaar Rasshan, 6-3, 190, Pomona (Calif.) Garey
UCLA has a very pressing need to bring in a quarterback prospect that will be able to take over the reins of the offense in the 2006 season. With Drew Olson going into his junior year this fall, by the 2006 season UCLA as of now would have walk on Brian Callahan as a senior and Pat Cowan, the incoming freshman, as a redshirt sophomore. At this point, though, it would be highly unexpected if Callahan or Cowan became the answer for taking over the UCLA quarterback position in 2006.
It was a pretty significant loss when UCLA failed to bring in a real impact quarterback prospect with the 2004 class. It leaves the program possibly relying on a quarterback prospect from the 2005 class to start in the fall of 2006, when he's just a redshirt freshman. While it makes for a good sales pitch when recruiting 2005 quarterback recruits, it doesn't necessarily bode well for the future of the quarterback position.
UCLA currently has a commitment from Osaar Rasshan. As Rasshan has looked pretty raw this spring, UCLA has now continued to recruit quarterbacks. Despite head coach Karl Dorrell's stated aversion for bringing in two quarterbacks in the same class, UCLA might very well be forced to do it with the class of 2005, to at least optimize its chances of finding someone who could make significant contributions by their redshirt freshman season.
It also leaves the door open for UCLA to again potentially recruit a JC quarterback, or take a transfer. Either would come to UCLA and practically have first dibs on the starting position in 2006.
It's why the prospect of Ben Olson coming to UCLA seems like such a great fit. Olson, the #1 high school quarterback in the country a couple of years ago who went to BYU in the fall of 2003, will return from his Mormon mission sometime at the beginning of 2005. He would then enroll in the college of his choice in the fall of 2005. He would be a sophomore in the fall of 2006, which would be ideal. But before you get too excited, Ben-Olson-to-UCLA is by no means a done deal, and according to some close to the situation, not even likely. There are plenty of rumors circulating about it and while many months ago they primarily were about Olson coming to UCLA, in the last few months they've been more about Olson going to USC. Apparently he's very enamored of USC's Norm Chow, the former BYU offensive coordinator. As of right now, you basically could pick any rumor you wanted to from among many about Ben Olson.
UCLA would certainly like to find a JC quarterback or a transfer that could step in for the fall of 2006 and be good enough to do start. It was pretty known a few months ago that UCLA wanted to take one high school quarterback and possibly a JC quarterback – that it would alleviate the inherent problems of bringing in two prospects in the same year. But now, with the possibility of taking another high school quarterback, their limit would be two – mixed and matched either as two high school prospects or a high schooler and a JC quarterback. It is generally difficult to find a JC transfer that is 1) good enough to come in and start at UCLA and 2) has the academics to get admitted to UCLA. So, if Rasshan sticks to his commitment, it's believed that UCLA would rather opt for a second high school prospect. And it's been evident lately, with UCLA showing more interest in 2005 quarterback prospects. But if UCLA gets a commitment from another high schooler, and then Rasshan de-commits (which there is no evidence of it happening as of yet), it very well could be back to looking for a JC quarterback. Or UCLA could continue to opt for two high schoolers.
As of now, we haven't heard anything about UCLA aggressively pursuing specific JC quarterbacks. And most of the time you never know about transfers, of course, until they're prepared to transfer, so at this point there isn't much to discuss in terms of potential JC or transfer quarterbacks, besides Olson.
So, UCLA now intends to take a commitment from another high school quarterback, and the next month could be critical in determining who that could be. UCLA will conduct its one-day camp this Sunday, June 6th, and its four-day camp in late June. It's invited many prospects, such as Brandis Dew, Sean Canfield and others, and their performances at these camp could have a big impact on whether UCLA offers and pursues them.
From what we've seen of the California quarterbacks this fall, Dew could be the best that UCLA has a legit shot to get. UCLA wants a mobile athlete, which Dew isn't, but he's not as unathletic as you might believe. He is a bit chunky, looking more like a tight end at 248 pounds, but he's strong, and if he got in better shape, he could be as solid of a drop-back, pocket quarterback as last year's Nate Longshore. He has similar arm strength. As of yet, UCLA hasn't offered him, and this Sunday will be interesting to see how Dew performs at the one-day camp in front of the UCLA coaches. It also gives Sean Canfield an opportunity to garner a UCLA offer. Canfield has UCLA as his favorite without an offer, and it's thought that UCLA would be the leader for Dew if they offered him.
RUNNING BACK (1-2 Rides)
Committed: Aaron Ware, 6-0, 190, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
It's a question of whether you want to count Ware with the running backs or the defensive backs. He could very well end up at either position, while many are betting he ends up a defensive back. UCLA, though, will take another tailback, but at this point they're not necessarily leading clearly for an elite one with good enough academics. It also doesn't help that it's generally a down year for tailbacks on the west coast, particularly those that have decent academics.
UCLA has fairly good depth at tailback in the next couple of years, especially if you count Ware. By 2005, Maurice Drew will still be a junior, Jason Harrison a senior, Derrick Williams a sophomore and incoming freshman Chris Markey most likely a redshirt freshman. With Harrison's health questionable and Williams and Markey still unproven, UCLA would still like to bring in a running back. But given the depth and the small numbers of scholarships generally available, they're being picky with their offers to date.
FULLBACK (1 Ride)
With the emergence of redshirt freshman-to-be Michael Pitre as a real viable option at fullback, UCLA can get pickier in its recruiting of fullbacks. Currently, projecting for the 2005 season, UCLA would have Pitre as a sophomore and Jimmy Stephens as a sophomore. Fullback is also a position where walk-ons historically can be utilized, and UCLA has a couple potentially capable of providing solid depth there. Whether Stephens can be a contributor down the line is a question. So, all in all, UCLA will look to take one fullback.
George Hypolite from Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, has yet to be offered, but he appears to be a very good fit, being a long-time UCLA fan. Mike Paschal from Charlotte (North Carolina) Latin has been offered. Pat Roxas from Orange (Calif.) Orange Lutheran and Matt Clapp from Phoenix (Ariz.) Paradise could be options, and could be offered. It also will be interesting to see prospects such as Vic So'oto from Carlsbad or Ryan Moya from El Dorado (Calif.) Oak Ridge as fullbacks, both of whom might be a bit small for their tight end positions. Moya was recently offered as a tight end by UCLA after a nice performance at the Palo Alto Nike Camp.
WIDE RECEIVER (2 Rides)
UCLA took three wide receivers in the 2004 class and have five other young receivers currently on their roster. But having impact receivers is so key in college football that even if you have some deep numbers at the position, you still need to bring in recruits who could potentially be that impact guy. With limited scholarship numbers in the class of 2005, UCLA, from just a mere numbers standpoint, would love to give out one scholarship to an elite wide receiver in the 2005 class. But it very well could have to give out two since it isn't leading for any truly elite national, impact prospect, in trying to optimize the chances of getting that impact guy.
For the 2006 roster, Junior Taylor will be a senior, and probably starting opposite junior Joe Cowan. Behind them will be junior Idris Moss, sophomores Matt Slater, Alex Ghebreselassie and Antwuan Smith, and probably three who will be redshirt freshmen in Marcus Everett, Ryan Graves and Brandon Breazell. Breazell is an athlete who could end up at defensive back, but he'll be given a shot at wide receiver initially. As stated, this is solid depth, but UCLA still would like to find a big impact guy at the position for 2005.
UCLA is doing fairly well in recruiting at the receiver position, mostly because there is good depth of talent on the west coast in the 2005 class. Perhaps at the top of the list is speedster David Gettis, from Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey, whose academics might make it tough for UCLA to offer him. He's also a life-long USC fan. It's known that offers have gone out to Gavin Ketchum of Oak Park (Calif.) High; Jesse Canada of Monrovia (Calif.) High; Ryan Allison of Lake Orion (Mich.) High, and just recently, Jeremy Childs of Los Alamitos (Calif.) High. Austin Usher of Los Angeles (Calif.) Jefferson will have to improve academically for UCLA to offer him.
TIGHT END (2 Rides)
It's a big position of need for UCLA, and the Bruin coaches are looking to take two tight end prospects.
Projecting for the 2005 season, you'd have Marcedes Lewis as a senior, and then question marks. J.J. Hair would be a junior, but he has yet to prove he can contribute significantly. You probably can't expect Matt Raney, the JC transfer, to be more than a serviceable blocking tight end. Incoming freshman Tony Lee would probably be a redshirt freshman in 2005, but it's unsure of whether he's truly a tight end and could possibly be moved to offensive line.
At this point, the general assumption is that Keith Carter will not be able to return to play football. UCLA is still holding out hope, as is Carter, but good sources indicate that it's an extreme longshot that Carter would return, or return and be able to contribute significantly.
And then, what happens if Marcedes Lewis decides to leave for the NFL after this next season? UCLA is left without a tight end that for the 2005 season that has proven he can play at this level.
So, not only does UCLA need some talent at tight end if Lewis stays for his senior year, but they would then desperately need it if he goes.
UCLA coaches have really gone national in recruiting tight ends for 2005, recognizing a considerable need. And recruiting looks pretty good so far, with UCLA seriously involved with some elite prospects nationally. You'd have to think that DaJLeon Farr from Galena Part (Tex.) North Shore is at or near the top of the wish list, and UCLA looks to have a good shot with him. Other national guys that UCLA has offered are Kyle Anderson from the Woodlands (Tex.) High, Anthony Moeaki from Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South and Jared Harrell from Marion (Mass.) Tabor Academy. These four are considered elite prospects. UCLA has also offered in-state prospects Erik Lorig from Rolling Hills (Calif.) Palos Verdes Peninsula, Logan Paulsen from West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade and Ryan Moya from El Dorado (Calif.) Oak Ridge. There are a number of other promising options, too, like Vic So'oto from Carlsbad (Calif.) High, and Adam Heater from Snohomish (Wash.) High. Heater is very close with a fellow Snohomish student, UCLA basketball recruiting target Jon Brockman. Heater is supposed to attend UCLA's one-day camp this Sunday. Charles Brown from Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch could be another possibility but he more than likely projects as an offensive tackle.
OFFENSIVE LINE (4 Rides)
Committed: Jesse White, 6-3, 285, Denver (Col.) Mullen; Aleksey Lanis, 6-5, 313, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw
UCLA really stocked up on offensive line prospects with the class of 2004, which everyone would admit they needed to do.
The fact that there weren't many big-named prospects among the six offensive linemen they signed has its disadvantages and advantages. Of course, you'd always like the prospects that UCLA brings in to be elite talent, so it's a disadvantage for the immediate future that UCLA doesn't seemingly have a great amount of elite talent that could step right in and contribute. But on the other hand, it did sign six recruits, and history bears out that it's not uncommon for fairly unknown names to surprise and become significant contributors. But there's also the advantage that, having signed many recruits that aren't too well known, it left the door open for UCLA to sell playing time to the offensive line recruits in the class of 2005.
And so far it's worked. UCLA has gotten commitments from two of the best offensive line prospects in the west, and possibly the country. According to some early returns from various recruiting expert types, Jesse White might be considered the best center prospect in the nation. In the aftermath of the spring camps, Aleksey Lanis is easily among the best offensive linemen in the west and will have a chance to be among the best nationally. Now, while it's just speculation, but if White and Lanis had perceived that there were some very elite talent that had committed to UCLA ahead of them as part of the 2004 class, it's not a stretch to say that they wouldn't have considered UCLA nearly as attractive.
So, really, if UCLA can get just a few of the six incoming offensive linemen to pan out and become contributors, and White and Lanis develop into what you would project, the talent on UCLA's offensive line could be resurrected within a couple of years.
You also have to give some credit to new offensive line coach Tom Cable. White and Lanis have both expressed that it wasn't just the possible availability of early playing time but UCLA having Cable that was a distinct selling point.
Looking down the road at UCLA's projected depth at offensive line, it's kind of like playing musical chairs. With six new linemen coming in this fall, we only have a general idea at what position they'll end up. Looking at the roster for the 2005 season, though, there is one given -- you can rely on Ed Blanton, who will be a senior, being the starting strongside tackle. But it then gets very indefinite from there. You can also probably rely on senior Mike McCloskey and junior Robert Chai being in the starting lineup, probably with McCloskey at center and Chai at guard, where many believe he's most suited.
After those three, it's a free-for-all. The next player with the most experience on the roster would be Robert Cleary, who would be a senior. He was moved to guard this spring, but you have to still question whether Cleary will have the stuff it takes to be a starter by 2005. Guard Marc Villafuerte, the JC transfer, will be a junior in the 2005 season, and he very well could be the most viable bet on starting at the other guard position that year. The other player with the most experience will be P.J. Irvin, but he'd have to develop considerably to compete for the other starting guard position by then. A good bet might be incoming freshman Shannon Tevaga, who would be either a sophomore (if he plays this season) or a redshirt freshman. Tevaga is probably the most talented among the candidates mentioned here, so he very likely could be very competitive for that starting guard spot. Aaron Meyer, another incoming freshman, is thought to have the next-best shot at playing early at guard. Nathaniel Skaggs is slotted to be a center.
The one issue, though, is that two of the other incoming freshmen, Scott Glicksberg and Chris Joseph, don't necessarily project as tackles, which is the positional need UCLA has to fill. Brian Abraham is possibly the only true tackle-type among the incoming six. But if you look at the depth chart for 2005, either one or both of Joseph and Glicksberg will have to play tackle. After Blanton and then Abraham, there is no one else. In that year, Abraham could be expected to start at the other tackle spot as probably a sophomore or redshirt freshman. Without Glicksberg and Joseph to fill in the depth chart there, it will look awfully full on interior linemen and awfully skimpy on outside guys.
Given all this, Lanis was a huge commitment. He represents the potentially elite talent that is desperately needed down the road at tackle. He very well could get time as a true freshman in 2005, and would figure to be a huge factor on the offensive line at least as early as his second year, 2006, not only because he's good, but because there isn't much else.
White, too, is a big commitment. If he's as good as he projects to be, he very well could be the starting center by his redshirt freshmen year in 2006.
Having taken so many interior guys in 2004, UCLA is praying that at least two of them develop into solid players and potential starters. And UCLA is really praying Abraham is good enough to start by 2005, and that at least one other of the incoming offensive line recruits shows at least the capability of being a tackle.
So, if you hadn't gotten it from write-up so far, UCLA is in need of tackles in the high school class of 2005. Theoretically, in the fall of 2005 they could have up to 11 interior linemen and only three tackles (and that includes Lanis).
Having taken six line prospects in 2004, and with the overall available scholarships being low for 2005, UCLA will probably only take a total of four offensive linemen. With the commitments of White and Lanis, that would almost certainly mean that the last two rides earmarked for offensive linemen will go to tackle prospects.
At or near the top of UCLA's wish list is Eben Britton from Burbank (Calif.) Burroughs. He's been offered and has made indications that he might commit fairly soon to UCLA. Having only two scholarships open for OLs, though, have kept the offers down a bit. Duke Robinson, Atlanta (Georg.) Booker T. Washington is one national recruit UCLA has offered that they seem to have a chance with. They're working hard to try to get one of the most highly-regarded recruits in the country, Dan Doering from Barrington (Ill.) High. Craig Roark, Ada (Okla.) High, was offered, and even though he's more of an interior guy, he's good enough that UCLA would take him if he wanted to come. Jacob Hickman, Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial, has been offered. Among the other possibilities are Charles Brown from Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch, who was mentioned with the tight ends (many feel that Brown projects as an offensive tackle on the next level); Nick Howell from Fresno (Calif.) Bullard; Mat Web from Vancouver (Wash.) Heritage; Devin Head from Corona (Calif.) Centennial; Richard Tuitu'u from Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland; Otis Hudson from Barrington (Ill.) High; Dace Richardson from Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South, and Ian Brinker from Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe.
Many of these names and others will be at UCLA's one-day camp on Sunday. It's traditionally an event where UCLA coaches are then spurred to offer players, particularly linemen. So, much could change and develop after this Sunday in regard to offensive line recruiting.
Next: Recruiting Analysis for Defense