FanPost

Blast From The Past

I thought I would re-post an article I wrote in early 2005, just after Dorrell had signed his 2005 recruiting class.  The article analyzed Dorrell's first three recruiting classes and predicted the future of UCLA football based on those classes.  Note that this was written prior to the 2005 season, but its focus was mostly on what the 2006 team would look like with Dorrell's recruits.  I hope you enjoy it.

Bruin Recruiting Since 2003
Leaves Gaping Holes on Roster

Copyright 2005 by MaverickBruin

Now that UCLA's 2005 recruiting class is signed and sealed, it is time to take a look at not just this recruiting class, but the three classes the Bruins have signed under Karl Dorrell's stewardship of the program.  The first
recruiting class, 2003, can't be called Dorrell's per se since many of those recruits verbally committed to Bob Toledo before he was fired, some reneged and then were brought back into the fold by Dorrell (e.g. Dennis Keyes), and some were wholly Dorrell recruits (e.g. Maurice Drew,
Kevin Brown).  

Nevertheless, the real question worth asking now, after more than two years and essentially three recruiting classes under the Dorrell regime, is:  Has Dorrell managed to replenish the roster with talent comparable to what he inherited?  

To answer this question, we undertook a comprehensive comparison of the players on the roster when Dorrell took over to the players that have been recruited since that time.

The left column below consists of players whose first year with the program was 2002 or before, who were still on the roster when Dorrell took over in 2003.  We have placed in bold players from the Toledo era who will still be on the roster in 2005.  We have placed in italics players that have been recruited from 2003-2005 but who are no longer on the roster for whatever reason.

For all recruits 2003-2005, we have included their Rivals star ranking () and, for those who distrust star rankings, a selection of the most prominent schools from which the player received offers, where that information was available.

Our commentary and analysis follows the list of players at each position.

QUARTERBACK

2003 RETURNEES   CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Drew Olson      4 SO   2004 David Koral     3              
Matt Moore      4 SO   2004 Patrick Cowan   2 UA,Id        
John Sciarra    3 SO   2005 Ben Olson       5
                       2005 Osaar Rashaan   3 KSU,SDSU

ANALYSIS:  The Bruins still have the quarterback they had when Dorrell took over, and they got the quarterback they wanted in this class.  Koral, Cowan, and Rashaan should finally provide the team with quality depth for the first time in Dorrell's tenure.  No excuses remain for this position to be the cause of another mediocre record.  Moreover, the rating would be a D or worse were it not for the signing on Ben Olson, and one top-ranked recruit, no matter how highly regarded, over three seasons does not merit an "A" grade.  RECRUITING GRADE:  B+.

TAILBACK

2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Akil Harris     4 SR   2003 Maurice Drew    4 USC,Cal,Or    
Tyler Ebell     4 SO   2003 D. Williams     1 Cal,UA
Wendell Mathis  3 SO   2004 Chris Markey    3 Tul,SoMiss    
Jason Harrison  3 SO   2005 Kahlil Bell     2
Glenn Ohaeri    4 FR

ANALYSIS:  The only back remaining from the Toledo
era, Jason Harrison, is unlikely to contribute in the future due to a serious injury.  Dorrell has done a decent job restocking this position with Drew and Markey, but the failure to nab a high-ranking back in this class will make the position one of dire need in the 2006 class.  There is no indication that Williams will contribute down the line, and Bell is another lightly regarded recruit.  
RECRUITING GRADE:  B.    

FULLBACK

2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Manuel White    4 JR   2003 Michael Pitre   2
Pat Norton      3 JR   2003 Jimmy Stephens  2 BSU  
J.D. Groves     3 SO  

ANALYSIS:  Pitre was a nice surprise, but he is one serious concussion away from never playing again, and Stephens does not look like a major contributor.  The Bruins may have to switch someone to fullback, but who?  
RECRUITING GRADE:  D.

RECEIVER

2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Tab Perry       4 SR   2003 A. G�selassie   3 Ok,UA,Colo    
Ryan Smith      2 SR   2003 Joe Cowan       2 UW,OSU,CSU    
Craig Bragg     3 JR   2004 B. Breazell     3 Cal,ASU,WSU                                  
Junior Taylor   4 SO   2004 Marcus Everett  3 Or,WSU,BC    
Jacques Lazarus 3 SO   2004 Ryan Graves     3 USC,Mich,ASU
Idris Moss      4 FR   2005 Gavin Ketchum   3 Or
Antwuan Smith   4 FR   2005 Jamil Turner    2 Id,Mont,EastWa

ANALYSIS:  Dorrell, a former receiver, has been
surprisingly unable to recruit top-notch receiving talent to UCLA.  A roster stocked with 4-star recruits just two years ago will have none left when Junior Taylor, the lone holdover from the Toledo era, uses up his eligibility in 2005.  Cowan, Breazell, and Everett look like they will contribute, and maybe one of them will become the star receiver UCLA needs, but that's sure not guaranteed.  A big-time receiver, or even two, is an absolute must for 2006.
RECRUITING GRADE:  C-.   

TIGHT END

2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Blane Kezirian  1 SR   2004 Matt Raney      2            
Keith Carter    3 SO   2005 Logan Paulsen   4 Or,Stan,BC                                                        
Marcedes Lewis  5 FR   2005 Adam Heater     3 ASU,Or
J.J. Hair       3 FR   2005 Ryan Moya       3 Cal,Or,Ill  

ANALYSIS:  We keep hearing that all of UCLA's three 2005 tight end recruits might move to other positions, but someone has got to play this critical position.  Lewis and Carter will soon be gone, Hair and Raney have never shown an ability to contribute, and after that -- who?  At least
two of the new recruits better stay at tight end and be ready to contribute, or the Bruin offense will no longer have any tight ends to ignore.  RECRUITING GRADE:  
D-.

OFFENSIVE LINE

2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Shane Lehmann   4 SR   2003 P.J. Irvin      3              
Paul Mociler    4 JR   2003 Nikola Dragovic 2              
Steve Vieira    3 JR   2004 Shannon Tevaga  4 Or,OSU,ASU                                    
Eyoseff Efseaff 3 JR   2004 Aaron Meyer     3 Colo,Miss,Lou                              
Robert Cleary   4 SO   2004 M. Villafuerte  3
Ed Blanton      3 SO   2004 Brian Abraham   3 ND                                
Mike McClosky   1 SO   2004 Chris Joseph    2                                
Robert Chai     4 FR   2004 N. Skaggs       2        
Alex Potasi     2 FR   2004 S. Glicksberg   2
                       2005 Aleksey Lanis   4 ASU,UW,Or
                       2005 Justin Brown    3 Utah,UTEP  

ANALYSIS:  Dorrell inherited a group of offensive
linemen that was a little thin numbers-wise, but had good class balance and a nice mix of All-Americans and guys who turned out better than their press clippings.  Thus far, the jury is still out on Dorrell's group of replacements, but there is no doubt they are bigger in numbers and a step down in big-name talent.  Only Lanis and Tevaga had Pac-10 offers.  Fortunately for Dorrell, enough talent remains from Toledo's roster to give Dorrell's stable of sleepers time to prove themselves.  RECRUITING GRADE:  
Incomplete.

OVERALL OFFENSIVE RECRUITING GRADE:  C.  Lots of
"ifs" here.  "If" Ben Olson is everything we expect of him, and "if" there is anyone on the roster who can get open and catch his throws, and "if" the generally unheralded offensive line recruits can cohere into a decent unit, and "if" Chris Markey proves to be as good as he flashed in 2004, then the Bruin offense could be productive.  But there have been so many holes in Dorrell's recruiting on the offensive side -- tight end, receiver, fullback, maybe offensive line, maybe quarterback depth -- that there is
plenty that can go wrong on the way to West Coast Offense nirvana.  Had recruiting been more consistent, we'd be a lot less skeptical of the enormous expectations being heaped on Ben Olson.

DEFENSIVE LINE

2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Ryan Boschetti  5 SR   2003 Junior Lemau�u  4 USC,Cal,Or    
Rodney Leisle   4 SR   2003 Kevin Brown     4 FlaSt,SDSU    
David Ball      3 SR   2003 Bruce Davis     3 Ok,LSU,Colo  
Mat Ball        3 SR   2003 William Snead   2 Cal,UW,ASU    
Asi Faoa        3 SR   2003 Noah Sutherland 2 Ind,Mary,ECar
David Tautofi   1 SR   2004 Brigham Harwell 4 USC,ASU,Ar                                    
C.J. Niusulu    4 SO   2004 Kyle Morgan     3 Ala,TA&M,Ill    
Kevin Harbour   4 FR   2004 Justin Hickman  3 Or,WSU,ASU                  
Thomas Patton   3 FR   2004 Kenneth Lombard 3
                       2004 Chris Johnson   2
                       2004 Tony Lee        2 Fres,BSU
                       2005 Jess Ward       3 Cal,Fres,UTEP
                       2005 Chase Moline    2
                       2005 Chin. Anyanwu   2

ANALYSIS:  No doubt Dorrell faced a quandary when he took over the program in 2003:  six of the nine defensive linemen on the roster were seniors.  But two of them, Asi Faoa and David Tautofi, weren't exactly huge contributors.  And the 2003 recruiting class, between Toledo and Dorrell, included five more linemen, and the 2004 class six more.  The real problem isn't the quantity of linemen on the roster -- it's the quality.  Dorrell simply hasn't brought in much talent.  His "sleepers" have performed like, well, the unheralded recruits that they were, and his JC
transfers have been little more than space-fillers -- no better than quality depth on a decent team.  And given how poor the DL performed in 2004, the 2005 recruiting at the position was inexcusable.  Overall, it's easy to find excuses for the defensive line recruiting during the Dorrell era, if you're looking for them, but at the end of
the day it's going on three years now, and the DL looks as questionable as ever from here.  At some point, that stops being Toledo's fault.  RECRUITING GRADE:  C.

LINEBACKER

2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Brandon Chillar 3 SR   2003 MilVon James    2 Or,UW,WSU    
Dennis Link     3 SR   2003 A. Whittington  2 Neb,Colo,Pur  
P. Pierre-Louis 3 SR   2004 Dan Nelson      3                                                
Tim Warfield    3 JR   2004 Fred Holmes     2                                                
Spencer Havner  4 SO   2005 Reggie Carter   3
Justin London   4 SO   2005 Kyle Miller     2 Kan,ISU,Ut
Wesley Walker   2 SO   2005 Korey Miller    2 Kan,ISU,Ut
Xavier Burgess  3 FR   2005 John Hale       2 BSU,Ida,Fres

ANALYSIS:  If the DL recruiting has been nothing to write home about, the linebacker recruiting has been absolutely atrocious.  Dorrell has turned a roster stocked with difference-makers into, after next season, a linebacking corps consisting mostly of players arguably incapable of playing at a Pac-10 level.  Only two of Dorrell's linebacker recruits garnered more than two stars, and one of them, Dan Nelson, proved in 2004 that he is not ready to contribute (before suffering an injury).  Given the glaring need, it borders on coaching malpractice to end up with the group of "sleepers" Dorrell brought in with the 2005 recruiting class.  The paucity of quality linebackers on the roster is likely to haunt the Bruins' defense for
years to come.  RECRUITING GRADE:  F.                                                                  

DEFENSIVE BACK

2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

Keith Short     3 SR   2003 Dennis Keyes    4 UW,UA,Colo    
Kevin Brant     1 SR   2003 Chris Horton    3 Ark,Tul,LaTech
Matt Ware       5 JR   2003 Trey Brown      2                
Ben Emanuel     4 JR   2004 Rodney Van      4 LSU                                                                
Matt Clark      3 JR   2004 Byron Velega    2 Cal,Or,WSU    
Marcus Cassel   3 SO   2004 Michael Norris  2              
Jarrad Page     4 SO   2005 Shawn Oatis     4 ND,OhioSt  
Eric McNeal     4 FR   2005 Aaron Ware      4          
Joe Garcia      4 FR   2005 Robert Kibble   3 Neb,Wisc,TA&M          
Jebiaus Brown   3 FR   2005 Bret Lockett    3 OSU,UA

ANALYSIS:  This is about the only position where
Dorrell has recruited both quality, and quality depth.  Van, Oatis, and Ware, along with Horton and Trey Brown, join Toledo holdovers Keyes, Page, McNeal and Cassel to form a deep unit filled with quality talent.  The thing about recruiting, though, is you have to keep the pipeline going, and DB will be a recruiting need again by -- well, by 2006, with Page and Cassel graduating and neither Trey Brown, Horton, or Van yet proven commodities.  
RECRUITING GRADE:  B+.

SPECIAL TEAMS

POS 2003 RETURNEES  * CL   RECRUITS 2003-05     * OFFERS INCL.

K   Justin Medlock  4 FR                                        
P   Chris Kluwe     2 JR   2004 Aaron Perez     4
LS                         2003 Joe Tomasello   2 UA

ANALYSIS:  Not much to say here.  Perez, the lone
special teams recruit still on the roster, has yet to play as a Bruin.  He'll have a tough time matching Kluwe's performance, but we shall see.  RECRUITING GRADE:  
Incomplete.

OVERALL DEFENSIVE RECRUITING GRADE:  D.  Dorrell has done OK at the easiest defensive position to recruit -- defensive back.  His linebacker recruiting has been abysmal and his defensive line recruiting just marginally passable.  Overall, he has not brought in the level of recruit on the defensive side likely to turn the defense into anything more than an average Pac-10 unit.  Even worse, the gaping hole at linebacker threatens to keep the defense in the bottom half of the conference for years to come when the current starters graduate after the 2005 season.  Dorrell has recruited a defense that, at best, might hold off opposing offenses in spurts, but will never become the kind of dominating unit necessary for UCLA to return to the elite level.

OVERALL RECRUITING GRADE:  C-.  Count us as atheists on the argument that Dorrell has a special knack for picking sleepers who fit his unique scheme, and agnostics on the claim that he has recruited enough talent to win big with the right coaching.  First, we see no evidence that
Dorrell has turned down higher-ranked players in favor of lower-ranked ones (obviously, there may be individual exceptions, but there is no clear pattern of such an unorthodox strategy).  Second, we see no evidence that the players Dorrell has brought in share any particular characteristic (e.g. blazing speed, enormous size) other than their willingness to attend UCLA and play for Dorrell.  Third, the weird allocations of recruits, including the absence of impact recruits at positions of glaring need -- e.g., only five linemen on offense and defense combined, no impact linebackers, no impact receivers, but a ton of defensive backs -- smacks far more of "take who you can get" than a coherent strategy.  It reminds us a little of Steve Lavin's recruiting in the final days, which ended up with a team filled with wings (the easiest position to recruit in
college basketball) but no point guards or centers who could play.  It all adds up to, in our estimation, a jumbled mess.  

But on the positive side, Bob Toledo managed to finish 10-2 and in the Top 5 in 1997, with a roster that consisted of recruiting classes that ranked 28th (1994), 17th (1995), 25th (1996), and 29th (1997) (per SuperPrep). So yes, it can be done.  It just takes a little luck -- and a little
coaching.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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