UCLA Football Recruiting Update

Coach Jim Mora is officially on the job as of yesterday. He had already applied for an NCAA waiver, allowing him to recruit prior to the dead period, but now it's official.

Last weekend was a busy week. Ishmael Adams won MVP of the Army All Star game. We also landed commitments from RB Tairen Owens and C Carl Hulick, and there are rumors that highly sought after S Joshua Shaw will transfer from Florida to UCLA, possibly with a hardship waiver which will allow him to play next season. On the downside, Shaq Thompson, Jordan Payton, and Ellis McCarthy all committed to Cal. The commitments from Thompson and Payton came as no surprise, and I would be disappointed if our staff did not continue to put as many resources as possible into landing McCarthy.

Next weekend will be a big recruiting weekend for UCLA. We'll have a number of recruits on board, including Justin Combs who is a bit of an attraction. We'll break down the landscape after the jump.

Quarterback

Status: Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut, Nick Crissman, and Darius Bell will all be seniors next year, leaving Brett Hundley as the only scholarship QB on the roster past next season. In my opinion, a quarterback is a must sign this offseason.

Commits: None.

Targets: Devin Fuller; Nathan Sudfield; T.J. Millweard; Case McCoy

Outlook: Fuller is a highly sought after 4* dual threat quarterback out of New Jersey. He has a pretty impressive list of offers that includes Alabama, Nebraska, Michigan, Florida St., TCU, and Ohio St. He's being recruited by Mike Johnson, but he has yet to schedule a visit to UCLA. Nebraska, TCU, and Rutgers are the only schools who have scheduled visits.

Sudfield was an Arizona commit that is getting a lot of attention lately. Despite rave reviews from ESPN's scouts, he's flying under the radar. At 6'5 220 lbs., he certainly looks the part. His only firm offer is from Arizona, and it's not clear if we have offered him yet or not. He will take an official visit to Westwood on 1/20/12.

Millweard was a recent offer who was committed to ASU with Mazzone as his primary recruiter. Mazzone was able to pull him out of a prior commitment to Virginia Tech, so there is clearly something that Mazzone likes. Millweard is a Texas product with good size (6'5 205 lbs.) and his tapes show good mobility.

McCoy is an interesting rumor, but he recently tweeted that he's not leaving UT.

Running Back

Status: Jonathan Franklin will be a senior next year, leaving Damien Thigpen, Malcolm Jones, Jordon James, Anthony Barr, and Steven Manfro at the position.

Commits: Steven Lakalaka; Psalm Wooching; Paul Perkins; Tairen Owens

Targets: D.J. Foster; Imani Cross; Fabian Moreau; Christian Powell

Outlook: Lakalaka and Wooching are both 3* prospects out of Hawaii who committed to UCLA early in the process. Lakalaka has not wavered, while Wooching has essentially reopened his recruitment and will be taking a visit to Colorado later in January. Of the two, Wooching is the more sought after player (he might end up at LB), but Lakalaka is out of the Punahou School, which is a very important pipeline in Hawaii.

Perkins played at Chandler with Brett Hundley, and he is listed at a DB but allegedly recruited at RB. He's light (175 lbs.), so expect a red shirt if he sticks at RB.

Owens is a recent addition to the class. He was a prior Husky commit who flipped as soon as UCLA offered. At only 5'9 165 lbs., he's not a workhorse, but he is incredibly quick and electric with the ball in his hands.

Foster and Cross are both highly sought after out of state recruits. Foster was previously an ASU lean, but the hiring of Broussard and Mazzone gives us a fighting chance. He would be ideal in Mazzone's offense given his pass catching ability. Former targer Barry Sanders Jr. committed to Stanford last weekend.

Moreau is probably a better receiver than runner, so expect him to be moved to the slot. He's a good but not elite athlete, and has offers from Boston College, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern. He visited last weekend and is said to have been impressed.

Powell is a 6'0 250 lbs. fullback out of Upland. He visited last week and put UCLA at the top of his board. He was told that we will use a fullback, but he also said that he wouldn't be opposed to a future position change if the staff chose to use him another way. He has the size to bulk up and become a squatty DT.

Wide Receivers

Status: The last two classes were thin at WR. Devin Lucien certainly has the potential to become a good WR, but the position needs to add depth quickly to facilitate Mazzone's wide open attack.

Commits: Taylor Lagace.

Targets: Deontay Greenberry; Bryce Treggs; Jordan Payton; Kenny Lawler; Jaydon Mickens; Fabian Moreau

Outlook: Taylor Lagace could end up at S or WR, and my guess is that his destination ultimately depends on how the class fills out.

Greenberry is a longtime Notre Dame commit, and Treggs is a longtime Cal commit, but they are both coming to Westwood on January 13. Greenberry is apparently set on playing with his cousin, Tee Shepard, and they are both committed to Notre Dame at this point. If Shepard opts elsewhere, I think we have a fighting chance at landing Greenberry.

Payton committed to Cal over the weekend, but our staff won't give up on him yet.

Lawler is a 4* WR out of Upland HS and Mickens is a 3* out of Dorsey. Lawler is a big outside WR, while Mickens is a smaller slot receiver. They would both fit well in Mazzone's system, but unfortunately Lawler recently trimmed his short list to Oregon St., Washington St., and Oklahoma St., while Mickens is apparently choosing between Oregon and Washington. I suspect that some of the DB recruits will play WR, but our staff should not give up on these two yet.

Tight End

Status: Mazzone did not really use a TE at ASU, but I suspect that he might figure out a use after working with Fauria. John Young is the only TE on the roster for the foreseeable future following Nelson's dismissal, and Anthony Barr could be explosive at this position if Mazzone finds a way to exploit his athletic ability.

Commits: Ian Taubler

Targets: Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick

Status: Taubler was an early commit who has reopened his recruitment and will take visits to USC and UW. Cope-Fitzpatrick is a longtime USC commit who visited last weekend. He still has official visits to Colorado and USC. Frankly, both of them could be moved to the offensive line on the next level once they add weight.

Offensive Line

Status: Rick Neuheisel left the offensive in exponentially better shape than the condition it was in when he arrived. Jake Brendel, Ben Wysocki, Torian White, and Will Oliver were all able to red shirt this year. Xavier Su'a Filo returns this year, and Kody Innes, Alber Cid, Chris Ward, and Wade Yandall all have at least 2 years of eligibility remaining.

Commits: Hiva Lutui; Lacy Westbrook; Isaiah Folasa; Mario Yakoo; Alex Ceachir; Carl Hulick

Targets: Arick Armstead; Kyle Murphy; Jeremiah Poutasi; Colby Cyburt; Max Tuerk; Jordan Simmons

Outlook: This is one of the richest offensive line classes in the west in recent memory. Of the commits/targets, only Lutui is from east of Nevada, and he is from Texas. Lutui has apparently reopened his recruitment, but he is being recruited by Inoke Breckterfield.

Recent commit Hulick was previously committed SMU. Like Ceachir, Hulick was targeted by Klemm. He's a 2* center from Esperanza HS listed at 6'3 280 lbs.

Armstead is arguably the #1 recruit in the country, and Mora visited him during his trip to Sacramento. He would be a huge coup, but he may end up on the DL. Tuerk and Simmons are both USC commits, but there are rumors that Adrian Klemm has a good relationships with both of them and has both of their ears. Cyburt visited Westwood last weekend and came away impressed.

Defensive Line

Status: There is young talent on the roster. Cassius Marsh, Seali Espenesa, Brandon Willis, Kevin McReynolds, and Brandon Tuliaupupu all have at least two years of eligibility remaining on the inside, while Iuta Tepa, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Keenan Graham, and Sam Tai all have at least two years of eligibility remaining from the end position.

Commits: Eli Ankou

Targets: Ellis McCarthy; Aziz Shittu; Milo Jordan; Arick Armstead; Nate Iese; Polo Manukainiu

Outlook: Ankou is a Canadian native who has flown under the radar but is said to have been very impressive in the camp circuit.

Of the targets, McCarthy is one of the best DT's in the country, and Shittu is not far behind. McCarthy recently committed to Cal, but do not expect our staff to give up. McCarthy's father is apparently very close friends with DeMatrice Martin. Shittu has indicated that he wants to stay in California, but he has offers from all Pac-12 California teams and hasn't given a leader at this point.

Armstead played DL in the Army All-Star game, and he apparently is determined to play DL on the next level. He's a phenomenal athlete, and he could probably play TE if he wanted to.

Jordan is a previous ASU commit from Centennial who appears to be a UCLA lean at this point. Manukainiu is from Trinity HS in Euluss, TX and a teammate of Lutui and fellow commit Moeakioli. Iese is another Sacramento product. He appeared to be a Nebraska lean, but we have made a late push.

Linebacker

Status: Jordan Zumwalt, Erick Kendricks, and Isaiah Bowens all have multiple years of eligibility, but there is not much behind them.

Commits: Aaron Porter; Kenny Orjioke; Psalm Wooching

Targets: Seth Jacobs; Salamo Fiso; Matthew Rowe; Deaysean Rippy; Brian Nance; Kache Palacio; Jeremiah Allison

Outlook: Porter was an early commit who appears to remain solid. Orjioke may end up at DE, OLB, or S, which is a testament to his size and athletic ability. Wooching's most likely landing spot is LB.

With regard to our targets, there is a nice mix of local and out of state talent. Fiso and Rowe are former ASU commits from Long Beach Poly recruited by Coach Broussard. Rippy is close friends with Justin Combs, and Combs has made no secret that he is actively recruiting for UCLA.

Nance is another Trinity HS product out of Euluss, TX. He committed to Baylor at the Army All-Star game, but made it clear that he was only doing so because he had always wanted to experience the "on air commit". UCLA has shot up his recruiting board lately, and he's taking an official visit on January 13.

Palacio was recently offered. He was recruited by Klemm while Klemm was at SMU. Palacio is out of Serra HS and is said to have very good burst on the outside. He's a bit undersized, but he could end up being a very good pass rush specialist from the outside.

Allison is another recent offer out of Dorsey HS. He's also undersized at 6'1 210 lbs., but he's very athletic and projects to be a solid pass rusher.

Secondary

Status: We have ran out of warm bodies in the secondary for two straight years due to injury. The staff has made a clear effort to rebuild the secondary, and it's showing by the sheer number of offers given out at these positions. It should be noted, however, that many of the commits may move to WR or LB.

Commits: Marcus Rios; Ishmael Adams; Kenny Orjioke; Taylor Lagace; Paul Perkins; Justin Combs; Trayvon Watson; Laiu Moeakiola; Jerico Richardson; Shannon Edwards

Targets: Shaquille Thompson; Davonte Neal; Kevon Seymour; Gabriel Marks; Brandon Beaver; Randall Goforth; Richard Smith; Alphonso Marsh; Bryan Harper;
Raymond Ford; Joshua Shaw (Florida transfer)


Outlook: The number of secondary recruits is staggering, but it goes to show the depth of secondary talent in the west this year as well as indicates the amount of help the staff believes we need.

Technically, Orjioke was recruited as a safety but should be included in the list of commits here as well due to the fact that he has been promised a shot at competing for a safety position. Rios and Adams are both 4* DB's, but Rios is a long, lean CB while Adams reminds me of Tony Dye and has the body type to end up at safety. Lagace may end up at WR, and Perkins was allegedly recruited as a RB, but both of them are primarily listed as DB's.

There does appear to be some movement imminent here. Ray Ford took an official visit to Nebraska and there have been a few rumors that he may be on the move. There are also some rumors that some of our earlier DB commits may be asked to greyshirt soon.

With regard to potential additions, Thompson would be a huge recruit, but he committed to Cal over the weekend and narrowed his top 3 down to Cal, UW, and ND prior to the committment. It would be an extreme longshot for us to sway him at this point. Seymour committed to USC, but I think we'll continue to go after him until he signs papers.

Goforth and Smith are both ASU commits who are looking our direction, and Marks was a former SMU commit who is also being recruited hard by WSU.

Harper recently indicated that we were #1 on his board. He was previously committed to UW, but he clearly likes Coach Martin and stated that he was the main reason for vaulting us to the top.

Shaw decided to transfer from Florida. He was a highly rated CB recruit in 2010 out of Palmdale. He primarily played S at Florida. It's unclear at this point whether he is transferring due to family hardship. If so, he could apply for an NCAA waiver and not be forced to sit out a year. He would still have to pass UCLA admissions, which haven't been kind lately.

Special Teams

We signed K Ka'imi Fairbairn from the Punahou School. We all witnessed what can happen if the team doesn't have a healthy kicker, and the offer makes me wonder if Kip Smith is ok. I do not know if Fairbairn has potential as a punter.

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