But luckily for the Bruins, one of the best running backs in Southern California last year happened to be a junior – and have UCLA as his life-long favorite school.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw running back Raymond Carter (6-0, 185) helped Crenshaw win the City Section Championship and ran for 1,675 yards and 17 touchdowns for the season, and was named All-City.
The elite tailback prospect has received one scholarship offer so far, from the school that is his leader and life-long favorite, UCLA.
"My aunt went to UCLA, and my (high school) coach, Eric Scott, played for UCLA (1996-97). I've been around UCLA my whole life. No matter what other schools have to offer, UCLA is always going to be on top," said Carter.
Carter, a kid who seems like he will enjoy the recruiting process, said he doesn't anticipate making a really early decision. He said, "It depends on what other offers I get. I'm going to wait on other schools and I want to take some trips and everything like that. I'll probably make my decision at the beginning of the season, before league play starts."
The last two years have seen a good number of Carter's Cougar teammates sign at UCLA and Cal respectively. This past year, Darian Hagan and R.J. Garrett signed with Cal while the year before Chinonso Anyanwu, Aleksey Lanis and Reggie Carter signed with the Bruins.
While Bruin middle linebacker Reggie Carter is not relation to Raymond, he said that when people make the mistake it's ironic. "Everyone thinks that me and Reggie are brothers. We get that a lot. We're real tight, like brothers. And about UCLA, I talk to Reggie all the time and he says ‘You need to come here.'"
There is another Bruin is who Carter has looked up to for years. "I always watched DeShaun Foster. People compare the way we run and a lot of people have been telling me I play just like him. I saw him when he was in college and now when he plays for the Panthers. We're similar. Some people at my high school say I run like Eric Dickerson too," said Carter.
Since former UCLA running backs coach Eric Bienimey had been doing most of the recruiting of Carter, Bienimey's departure for the Minnesota Vikings caused some initial concern.
"When he left, I thought about it a little bit, but it's not going to change how I feel about UCLA. I know Coach (Dino) Babers and I talked with Coach (Karl) Dorrell when I was up there at UCLA a couple of weeks ago," said Carter. "I met Coach Babers when I was at the Cal game last year and talked with Coach Dorrell, though I spent most of my time with Coach Bieniemy."
Carter said he intends on going to camps and combines this spring for further exposure, and maybe take some unofficial visits this summer. He also said that he was going to UCLA's Junior Day next month. Invitations to Michigan and Tennessee's Junior Days last month were declined because he had more pressing issues.
"I had to take my SAT last weekend, so I couldn't go. But I'm trying to get all squared away so I can focus on the rest of my schoolwork and football," Carter said.
He hasn't been a stranger to the recruiting process, watching teammates go through it the past couple of years. But he admits the attention now focused on him is a bit strange. Carter said: "This last year really put me up there. I played my sophomore year, but didn't get much attention. I was kind of a sleeper. Then I had a big year. I'm pretty excited because I've been dreaming for this moment. It's crazy, this whole recruiting process. I know it's going to get hard with all of these schools coming down on you. It's going to be crazy, but I've been waiting for it."
While he's looking at several schools nationally, Carter said his family would like him to stay close to home. "My mom wants me to go wherever I can get the best education. My dad, his favorite school is UCLA and he wants me to stay local," said Carter.
This spring, Carter willl run track for the Cougars, running the 100m, 200m and the 4x100 relay.
Academically, Carter has a 3.2 GPA and took the SAT in January, and said he is already on track to qualify by UC student/athlete standards.