Analysis: UCLA Prospects in Vegas

A look at some of the top prospects on UCLA's recruiting board who performed in Las Vegas at the Badger/New Level 7on7 Passing Tournament...

With several of the top players in Las Vegas for the Badger/New Level 7on7 Tournament, it was a good opportunity to see some of the top prospects on UCLA's Wish List for the class of 2011.

From the quarterbacks, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei quarterback Max Wittek was the lone owner of a UCLA offer. Wittek struggled at times with his consistency, sometimes making a nice throw, then following it up with a dud. But you can see the tools in place for a good quarterback with more seasoning. Wittek has good arm strength but needs to work on his accuracy.

Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial passer Cody Kessler started slowly on Saturday, but really got things rolling as the day went on and into Sunday. Kessler has a strong arm, and despite not being really big (think Richard Brehaut, but a bit thicker), he's got tremendous feet and athleticism, can move around and rifle it.

San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty quarterback Kyle Boehm was another prospect who started slowly on Saturday but picked things up throughout the tournament. He got two of his main weapons back on Sunday, which helped him. Boehm is another quarterback with good arm strength and good accuracy, but needs to work on consistency.

Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft quarterback Michael Bercovici was named the MVP of the tournament, and for good reason, leading a very impressive 18 touchdown drives on 19 possessions and leading Team B2G to the title. Bercovici was especially impressive when going for the home-run ball, connecting with his receivers numerous times on big-play touchdowns. He's only about 6-0 tall, though, and average athleticism, so that will more than likely limit his recruitment.

Corona (Calif.) Centennial quarterback Michael Eubank was one of the steadiest performers throughout the weekend, leading his Team GFA to the semifinals before they ran out of steam down the stretch. Eubank's strength is firing the ball into tight spaces, which he did on numerous occasions to Jemond Hazely. His only problem was taking too long to get rid of the ball (the quarterbacks had four seconds from the snap to throw), so he has to be quicker in his decision making.

Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola quarterback Jerry Neuheisel was solid when he had some snaps, but the late addition to Team B2G didn't get many snaps as Bercovici's backup. Still, on his first possession of the weekend, he led B2G to a touchdown.

Montebello (Calif.) Schurr's Aaron Cantu had an excellent weekend, teaming with Pomee and Lucien to win their pool. Cantu did well in going through his progressions and finding the open receiver and didn't force his passes. He has above-average arm strength but really good accuracy. He comes from a Bruin family.

Three underclass quarterbacks who looked good were Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne's Troy Williams, Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral's Hayden Rettig (2013) and Fresno (Calif.) Central's Mike Baker (2012)

From the running backs, DeAnthony Thomas from Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw showed why he's the top prospect in the country, with several impressive plays for scores, and even when the ball didn't make its way to him, he still was a nightmare for the defensive backs to cover. Thomas played a lot of receiver and has very good, soft hands, and defensively he has tremendous instincts and ball skills, and gets to the ball quickly.

Harvey Langi from South Jordan (Utah) Bingham was utilized much more as a receiver, and the owner of a UCLA offer showed he can be a weapon with the ball in the open field. Langi is the type of player who you really appreciate with the pads and helmet on, as he likes to lower his shoulder and pop people, but he showed really good speed and moves during the weekend.

Jordan Perkins from Lodi (Calif.) was another back who impressed us catching the ball out of the backfield. Perkins also lined up some as a receiver and is cat-quick off the line.

From the tight ends, Dillon Van Der Wal from Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian was one of the few tight ends who participated, and he lined up mostly in the slot. Van Der Wal moves well for his size, and catches just about everything in his area. But the passes his way were few and far between.

Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is only a 2012 prospect from Palm Desert (Calif.), but he's one worth watching. He reminds us of Xavier Grimble in his size and quickness, at 6-5, 250. Cope-Fitzpatrick, though, looks like he could be a real athletic tackle in college.

Several of UCLA's receiver targets were on hand, with Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde's Junior Pomee the best performer. Like we said earlier in the week, Pomee is very similar to Morrell Presley. He's not as fast but he's more physical and stronger than Presley was at this age. Pomee has great leaping ability and a couple of times just ripped the ball away from a defender. It's easy to see why he was offered by UCLA.

Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei receiver Victor Blackwell was slowed on Saturday by a hamstring injury, but in the first game, showed some really nice flashes and good hands. On Sunday, he came back in much better shape and did a great job of getting down field and stretching the field (as much as could be with a 50-yard field), and was a big weapon for his team.

Encino (Calif.) Crespi receiver Devin Lucien is quickly becoming one of our favorite players this spring. We saw Lucien at the U.S. Army Combine and he performed admirably there, and was again stellar in Vegas. Lucien and Pomee were favorite targets of Cantu, and Lucien does a great job of straddling the back of the end zone and getting himself open and making the catch. He's got very good speed and good size too.

Another receiver on UCLA's radar is Palmdale (Calif.) receiver David Richards, who's a bigger, physical receiver (he looks very much like Taylor Embree). Richards has great hands and does a good job of getting open. He has above-average quickness but really excels in catching the ball in traffic.

Jemond Hazely from Corona (Calif.) Santiago, who attended UCLA's Junior Day, was Eubank's favorite target, and he made one of the best catches of the weekend, a one-hander as he was being pushed out of bounds, catching the ball for a tying touchdown. Hazely is quick off the line and was tough for the corners to stay with.

Christopher Smith from Henderson (Nev.) Liberty is a player we know likes UCLA a lot and while he's a little skinny he has good length and with some more weight could be a very dangerous receiver. He's a very good route runner and has tremendous quickness and great hands.

Marmonte League foes Richard Mullaney from Thousand Oaks (Calif.) and Nelson Spruce from Westlake (Calif.) were Bercovici's favorite targets for B2G. Mullaney is the quicker of the two of them, while Spruce is a little more physical. Both are excellent in their route running and each have soft hands.

Two of the better underclass receivers were Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco's Bryce Treggs and Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian's Jordan Payton, who were the go-to guys of their respective teams.

Defensively, the linebacker play was tough to gauge, since most quarterbacks went deep every time. But there were still some 'backers who caught our eye.

The most consistent linebacker we saw was Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey's Matthew Lyons, who anchored B2G's defense. Lyons is still pretty slight, looking more like a strong safety than a linebacker, but can move and cover well, especially in his deep pass drops.

Shaquille Moseley from Fresno (Calif.) Edison was the most impressive physical linebacker we saw, and the teammate of two UCLA signees has definite interest in the Bruins and they're interested in him. He's a perfect strongside linebacker candidate (we saw him last fall and he's very good against the run), and showed his ability to cover.

Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser's Dennis Carter teamed with Lyons to give B2G a solid linebacker corps. He's built like Donovan Carter (no relation), shorter and more compact, but moves pretty fluidly.

Kodi Whitfield is only a sophomore, but the Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola receiver has a good future. He's still a little on the smaller side, but that shouldn't be a worry about his size- he's the son of former NFL All-Pro tackle Bob Whitfield.

In the secondary, the most impressive player physically was Livermore (Calif.) Granada's George Atkinson, whom UCLA has offered as an athlete. Atkinson plays receiver and safety, and after watching him all weekend, he looks like a safety all the way in college, playing the position really well, with great ball skills, good range and lateral quickness.

His brother, Josh Atkinson, is a bigger corner who looks like he could grow into a safety at the next level, or take advantage of his size as a big cornerback.

Thierry Nguema is another stellar defensive back from Corona (Calif.) Santiago, who's really well put-together, with a nose for the ball and a lot of physical toughness. He's very close with UCLA's Tony Dye and his family.

Taj Teague is a safety/running back prospect from Pomona (Calif.) who attended UCLA's Junior Day, and while he likes running back, we think safety is his best position.

Chino Hills (Calif.) cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was a little smaller than we were expecting, but he's very strong in his coverage, with good, fluid hip movement. Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch safety Aaron Almond is another who wasn't as tall as we thought but who can play the position well.

San Diego (Calif.) Rancho Bernardo's Aaron Wallace, the son of the former Oakland Raider, has serious interest in UCLA, going to their Junior Day and sporting a UCLA sweatshirt. Wallace looks like Dietrich Riley physically, and looks like he could pack on some more weight and be a really good outside linebacker. He played a lot of safety during the weekend.


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