UCLA Football Recruiting Update: Ellis McCarthy Addition Edition

A week after landing RB Tairen Owens and C Carl Hulick, Jim Mora and Co. landed WR Fabian Moreau, OT Colby Cyburt, FB/DT Christian Powell, 2013 QB Eddie Printz, and last night's big catch, 5* DT Ellis McCarthy. We now have two "commits" for next year's class in Printz and CB Dashon Hunt, and currently have 26 "commits" for this year's class.

Many people will look at the number of commits compared to the number of open slots we currently have, approximately 20, and conclude that we are oversigning. In reality, that is pure oversimplification of fairly complex set of variables. We don't know how many players currently on our roster will transfer/retire/quit, how many of our currently "committed" players will look elsewhere, and of course, how many of our players will not qualify academically. There is also the option of early enrollments and greyshirting. Needless to say, there is no sense in worrying about the number of "commits" at this stage.

Next weekend will be a hugerecruiting weekend for UCLA. McCarthy's commitment vaulted us to #12 in Scout.com's class rankings, and we could jump inside the Top 10 with more action. 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 and Jerry Neuheisel as the only scholarship QBs 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

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 visited UCLA last weekend and appears to have had a good time. Fuller wants to play QB, but he also appears to understand that his best shot at playing beyond the college ranks may be at WR, where he played during the Army All-Star Game.

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. He recently indicated that we have jumped to the top of his leaderboard.

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. Barr is a candidate to move elsewhere, and Thigpen and James may end up in the slot, so we are not as deep here as one might think.

Commits: Steven Lakalaka; Psalm Wooching; Paul Perkins; Tairen Owens; Fabian Moreau; Christian Powell

Targets: D.J. Foster; Imani Cross

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. His tapes are impressive, and he definitely looks the part.

Owens 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. He reminds me of the playmakers that ASU have had recently, dynamic in special teams, passing game, and running game.

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 had offers from Boston College, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern.

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.

Foster and Cross are both highly sought after out of state recruits. While Foster would be a great fit, I do not see us taking another RB at this point.

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; Fabian Moreau

Targets: Deontay Greenberry; Bryce Treggs; Jordan Payton; Kenny Lawler; Jaydon Mickens; Devin Fuller

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. Scout lists him primarily at S while ESPN lists him primarily at WR, for whatever that's worth.

Greenberry appears headed to Notre Dame with his cousin, Tee Shepherd, but I doubt our staff will give up on him easily. He's a big, dynamic WR who was upgraded to 5* recently.

Treggs and Payton are both Cal commits, but we witnessed what happened with McCarthy after Lupoi bailed on the Cal Gang. Treggs has been vocal in his pro-Cal stance during his recruitment, and our staff is said to be lukewarm on Payton, but you never know.

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. Anthony Barr could be explosive at this position, but the better way to exploit his athletic ability is probably at LB.

Commits: Ian Taubler

Targets: Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick; Caleb Smith

Status: Taubler was an early commit who reopened his recruitment for a short time before confirming his commitment to UCLA after last weekend's visit.

Cope-Fitzpatrick is a longtime USC commit who visited last weekend. He still has official visits to Colorado and USC.

Smith is an Oregon St. commit who we have gone after lately. He visited Westwood on 1/07, and the interest in him is picking up nationally.

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; Colby Cyburt

Targets: Arick Armstead; Kyle Murphy; Jeremiah Poutasi; Max Tuerk; Jordan Simmons; Shane Brostek

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., and has a mean streak. If he doesn't see the field, he'll make the team better by his aggressiveness and tenacity during practice.

Cyburt visited Westwood committed shortly after his visit to Westwood. He's a big guy who'll benefit a lot from a dedicated S&C program.

Armstead is arguably the #1 recruit in the country, and Mora recently visited him in Sacramento after Lupoi left for UW. Armstead was said to be close to committing to Cal, so who knows what happens at this point. He would be a huge coup, but he may end up on the DL.

Tuerk and Simmons are both USC commits, and although Coach Klemm has good relationships with both of them, we haven't made much headway.

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, Wesley Flowers, and Sam Tai all have at least two years of eligibility remaining from the end position.

Commits: Ellis McCarthy; Eli Ankou

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

Outlook: McCarthy is one of the best DT's in the country and was my personal #1 target from the beginning of the year. McCarthy has a Brian Price-esque first step, but he's taller, leaner, and has more top end speed. He was said to have destroyed the Army All-Star Game practices, and I can't wait to get him on the field. He can play inside in a 4 man front or outside in a 3 man front. His commitment may also be a huge momentum swing with regard to new recruits.

Ankou is a Canadian native who has flown under the radar but is said to have been very impressive in the camp circuit. At 6'3 245, Ankou is supposedly athletic enough to play a hybrid DE/OLB spot, which could be crucial if Mora employs a multiple front defense.

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. He's visiting Stanford this week, and I suspect that his recruitment will come down to Stanford, USC, and us after Cal's loss of Lupoi.

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. He's visiting this weekend and may have some extra incentive to commit fast after the McCarthy commitment. 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. He visited Westwood last weekend and is set to visit Cal this weekend. Once again, Cal's loss of Lupoi really alters his recruiting.

Linebacker

Status: Jordan Zumwalt, Erick Kendricks, and Isaiah Bowens all have multiple years of eligibility, but there is not much behind them. Obviously, if John Pagano is the new DC and linebackers coach, we should see an interest boost.

Commits: Aaron Porter; Kenny Orjioke; Psalm Wooching

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

Outlook: Porter was an early commit who appears to remain solid. He has flirted somewhat with Oklahoma, but is said to be 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 if he comes to Westwood.

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 is said to have really enjoyed his visit to Westwood last weekend. He's visiting Baylor this weekend, which is good for us considering he'll have recent images of the UCLA setting in his mind.

Palacio recently committed to WSU. 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.

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

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.


With regard to potential addition, Thompson would be a huge recruit. He committed to Cal but essentially reopened his commitment after Lupoi left for UW. He has indicated that his final two were Cal and UW, and his brother, Syd'Quan Thompson, was coached by Justin Wilcox at Cal, which leads me to believe that UW has a very good shot at him. Nonetheless, Coach Mora had a recent in-home visit and has been relentless in his pursuit.

Goforth and Smith are both ASU commits who are looking our direction, and Marks was a former SMU commit who recently committed to 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.

Special Teams

K Ka'imi Fairbairn indicated that he's choosing between us and Cal.

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