UCLA Football Recruiting Update: Coach Mora Rolls On

Coach Mora walked off the podium and hit the recruiting trail.

Coach Mora and Co. had another busy week on the recruiting front. As many of you know, Justin Combs and his father, Diddy, came to Westwood for an official visit last weekend. The turnout was as good as expected, with visitors ranging from commits Ellis McCarthy and Ishmael Adams to prospects committed to other universities including Bryce Treggs and Kodi Whitfield.

Of course, the big news of the weekend was 4* OLB/DE Jeremy Castro flipping from Oregon to UCLA. In addition to Oregon, Castro had offers from LSU, Oklahoma, and Clemson, but the Vista Murrietta product decided to stay in Southern California for college.

In addition to Castro, 3* OLB/DE/TE Nate Iese committed to UCLA on Thursday. The battle for Iese came down to Nebraska, Cal, and UCLA, but once Iese visited Westwood he decided to cancel his visit to Cal and commit to UCLA. He joins 4* CB Marcus Rios to form a pair of highly sought after Sacramento area products who are coming to Westwood.

On the flipside, Hiva Lutui, Psalm Wooching, Mario Yakoo, Laiu Moeakiola and Isaiah Folasa all decommitted last week. We have repeatedly indicated that the class would take care of itself, and the decommitments are part of the normal process. Coach Mora has done a fantastic job in transforming the class he was left with when he was hired into the class we currently have. He has held on to the players that he wanted, specifically Aaron Porter, Ian Taubler, and Lacy Westbrook, while aggressively pursuing his targets.


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: T.J. Millweard

Targets: Devin Fuller; Nathan Sudfield

Outlook: Millweard's commitment last week came as no surprise. Coach Mazzone previously pull him away from Virginia Tech, and was able to pry him away from ASU to Westwood. Millweard is a Texas product with good size (6'5 205 lbs.) and his tapes show good mobility. He'll undoubtedly redshirt next year and provide Brett Hundley with some much needed competition in 2013.

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 a few weeks ago and appeared 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. He is visiting Arizona soon, and there is no doubt that RichRod would love to have Fuller pulling the trigger for his offense.

Sudfield was an Arizona commit that started to flirt with UCLA when Mazzone came aboard. 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. With Millweard on board, it's unclear if Coach Mora will take another QB.

Running Back

Status: Jonathan Franklin will be a senior next year, leaving Damien Thigpen, Malcolm Jones, Jordon James, and Steven Manfro at the position. Thigpen and James may end up in the slot, so we are not as deep here as one might think.

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

Targets: D.J. Foster; Imani Cross

Outlook: As expected, former commit Psalm Wooching decommited and committed to UW last week. Wooching and Lakalaka both committed to UCLA early in the process, but while Lakalaka has not wavered, Wooching essentially reopened his recruitment after Coach Neuheisel was let go, and the rumors really began to swirl when Christian Powell committed.

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: Bryce Treggs; Jordan Payton; Kenny Lawler; Jaydon Mickens; Javon Williams; Kodi Whitfield

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.

Williams visits next week and is an intriguing prospect. He's Hundley's former teammate at Chandler HS, and his 6'5 frame is similar to the outside receivers Mazzone utilized at ASU. He has offers from Arkansas and Oklahoma St., who know a thing or two about receiving talent, and it's said to be down between Arkansas and UCLA with Williams visiting UCLA next weekend.

Treggs and Payton are both Cal commits, but they're both looking around. Treggs visited last weekend and will visit USC this weekend. It doesn't appear that the new staff ever warmed to Payton, who looks to be choosing between Cal and UW.

Whitfield is the son of Bob Whitfield and Stanford commit. He has been admitted to Stanford, and it would be hard to pull him away at this point.

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. Neither has committed, and 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, and a TE or two is a must if Mora wants to mix in some pro-sets as he has previously indicated.

Commits: Ian Taubler; Nate Iese

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 a couple weekends ago. While it did appear that he was wavering for a while, he appears fairly firm to USC at this point.

Smith is an Oregon St. commit who confirmed his commitment to OSU yesterday..

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: Lacy Westbrook; Colby Cyburt; Alex Ceachir; Carl Hulick

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

Outlook: This is one of the richest offensive line classes in the west in recent memory, and Coach Mora's recruiting changes are very apparent here, where only Westrbook and Folasa remain from Coach Neuheisel's early commits.

Coach Klemm made quick work signing JC OT Alex Ceachir, who is already enrolled at UCLA. Ceachir was formerly targeted by Coach Klemm while he was at SMU.

Hulick was previously committed SMU. Like Ceachir, Hulick was targeted by Coach Klemm from his arrival. 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.

Brostek is the son of former Husky C Bern Brostek. He doesn't play against Hawaii's top competition, but he certainly looks the part.

Goines visited last weekend and appears to have been thrilled. The massive (6'8 295 lbs.) tackle from Texas formerly committed to Missouri but may be leaning towards Westwood.

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; Nate Iese; Eli Ankou

Targets: Aziz Shittu; Milo Jordan; Arick Armstead; 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.

Iese is a solid Sacramento product that may end up being a sleeper. He also plays some TE and has expressed his desire to play both ways, but his best position my be OLB.

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, but with the loss of Lutui and Moeakioli, UCLA may have lost the draw for Manukainiu.

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; Jeremy Castro; Kenny Orjioke; Nate Iese

Targets: Seth Jacobs; Salamo Fiso; Matthew Rowe; Deaysean Rippy; Brian Nance
Outlook: Porter was an early commit who appears to remain solid. He 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.

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.

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; 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. Coach Mora has been relentless in his pursuit of Thompson and UCLA will not give up until signing day.

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. He has UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona as his final choices.

Special Teams

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

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