Most Important Recruits:
Cassius Marsh & Malcolm Jones
UCLA has struggled forever to recruit at Oaks Christian. Aaron Ware was the lone Lion the Bruins have ever gotten. Jones would have been on the list, but Marsh signing gives him company. From a personnel standpoint, the Bruins get Oaks' best two players. From a perception standpoint, they landed not one but two players from a school they never could find luck at. Chris Ward could also be mentioned in this category, but in terms of their overall impact on the program, Jones and Marsh head the list. Jones could end up being the starter at running back by the end of the year, and Marsh is almost a lock to play as a true freshman for UCLA, who will need to find a replacement for Brian Price.
Signing Day Surprise:
This one goes without saying. For weeks, Shirley wasn't even mentioning UCLA, and as late as the beginning of this week, was saying he was choosing from USC, Miami and Washington. So of course, he stunned everyone by picking UCLA on Wednesday, including FSN High School Spotlight host, Sean Farnham. Rick Neuheisel, though, wasn't surprised, more than welcoming the hybrid rusher/linebacker to Westwood.
Marsh and Jones
Again, expect both to play early, with Jones one of the leading candidates to take over the running back role (although Jordon James will have something to say about it, as well as the current backs on the team). Meanwhile, Marsh walks into a situation where UCLA needs bodies bad, and Marsh can flat out play.
Give Him Some Time:
The tight end from Los Angeles Loyola probably doesn't need to play right away, not with Cory Harkey, Joseph Fauria and Morrell Presley (who may see more time at tight end), in the rotation. That will allow Young's body some time to develop, where he'll contribute down the line.
Eric Kendricks, Paul Richardson, Anthony Barr & Tevin McDonald All three had fathers who played college football, Richardson and Kendricks' dads playing at UCLA, Barr's father at Notre Dame and McDonald's at USC and in the NFL. Kendricks and McDonald, both Fresno natives, also have older brother's playing in the Pac-10 right now, Mychal Kendricks at Cal and T.J. McDonald at USC.
Jordon James and Shaquille Richardson
It's hard to be a top 10 back and be under the radar, but James would fit that bill, thanks to a tough season for Corona, being in the Inland Empire, and missing part of his junior year. But James showed he'll be a big part of the UCLA running back rotation himself, down the line, with a stellar week at the UnderArmour All-America Game, where he was voted by Scout.com's recruiting analysts, as the top running back there. James brings speed and vision, and playmaking ability, to a position UCLA has lacked that at since Maurice Jones-Drew was here. Richardson was often overlooked when the discussion about cornerbacks came up, but he showed all summer and during the season, he was dangerous to throw on. Toss in an excellent week at the Offense-Defense game, and you can see why Carnell Lake loved him.
Best NFL Prospect:
Anthony Barr and Owamagbe Odighizuwa
Yes, we know neither has played a college game, but Barr just looks like you'd expect a future NFL player to look like. He's physically, well put together, and you know he'll be chomping at the bit to return to the field after missing most of his senior year with an ankle injury. Before he was hurt, it was him, not Jones or James, who was the best running back in California. Like Barr, Owa looks the part. He also plays the part too, his week in San Antonio proving. He was tough for the offensive linemen to block that week, especially challenging Seantrel Henderson the first day. What's scary about Owa is that he's barely scratching the surface of how good he can be. Todd Howard has to be licking his chops to get his hands on Owa, and let him loose a la Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis.
The Tradition Continues:
Tevin McDonald, Wesley Flowers and Kip Smith
UCLA has always recruited well at Fresno Edison and McDonald and Flowers keep that going. They also will likely bring in Rykeem Yates in January. Meanwhile, Smith continues UCLA's long legacy of stellar kicking recruits, and should be ready to go in 2011, after redshirting this upcoming season, as Kai Forbath's replacement.
Chris Roberts' Nightmare:
Aramide Olaniyan and Owamagbe Odighizuwa
This ought to be fun. At least he always has Kip Smith.